The city of Richmond has a varied history, serving as an important port along the eastern seaboard since its founding, and as capital of the Confederate States during the Civil War. Today, many aspects of Richmond’s rich history are showcased throughout the city, which makes it an ideal trip for travelers interested in America’s past. However, there are plenty of attractions in Richmond that should appeal to the modern traveler as well.
The Revolutionary Past
If you want to explore Richmond’s history, start back at the beginning. A few historic sites pay tribute to the city’s earliest years. The Kanawha Canal Historic District runs along the James River, and still sports the canal locks of the Kanawha Canal, designed by George Washington and built in 1785, just three years after Richmond’s incorporation as a city. The Virginia State Capital is another standing Richmond monument that holds ties to one of the United States’ first presidents. The cornerstone of the building, also erected in 1785, was designed by Thomas Jefferson.
Perhaps the most important site in Richmond when it comes to the founding of the country, though, is St. John’s Church. This is the site where Patrick Henry delivered one of the most famed speeches in American history, providing generations to come with the highly quotable, “Give me liberty or give me death.”
The Not-Quite-Civil Past
Once you make your way through Richmond’s Revolutionary War history, you can move on to the sites commemorating the city’s important role in the Civil War. At the Museum of the Confederacy, you’ll find a collection of artifacts and documents that reveal the lives of Confederate soldiers and citizens during the Civil War, and a visit to Richmond National Battlefield Park puts you on the front lines.
Complete your visit through Richmond’s Civil War history with a walk down Monument Avenue. The avenue takes you past immortalized Richmond citizens, from Confederate General Robert E. Lee to tennis legend Arthur Ashe.
Not all of Richmond’s history focuses on its war-torn past. The Museum of Edgar Allan Poe, one of Richmond’s most notable former residents, features a collection of first edition works and mementos that any literature fan can appreciate. Additionally, visitors who appreciate architecture can marvel at Agecroft Hall, a Tudor estate that was built in England and relocated to the United States in 1925.
As you step back out of historical Richmond, you’ll find plenty to do in the contemporary city. While visiting the James River waterfront, you’ll stumble upon dozens of shops and restaurants along the route. If you’re traveling with kids, give them relief from the Richmond history lesson by taking a day at Paramount’s King’s Dominion, which features hundreds of rides and a water park. Or, if still want to make the day educational, head on over to the Science Museum of Virginia.
No matter who’s traveling with you, you don’t want to miss out on Richmond’s finest eats. The city features numerous restaurants and cuisines, but its prime location, just off the Atlantic coastline, serves up some of the finest seafood in the country.
Richmond, with its historically significant past, its beautiful scenery, and its position as one of the Virginia’s most vibrant cities, is a great travel destination. It is one of those rare cities that offers a slew of great restaurants, attractions and historical sites that are certain to appeal to the whole family.
Andy Johnson is a lifelong adventurer. When he isn’t working on his Adventure Magazine, Rock-Runner, he can be found looking for another adventure destination. He is at home in the deserts of the American Southwest and is often in the company of his dog Disco or daughter Marina.