One of America’s oldest cities, Richmond, Virginia, is steeped in American history. The Virginia capital played a pivotal role in the Revolutionary War when Founding Father Patrick Henry declared, “Give me liberty or give me death” in its St. John’s Church. Its neighborhoods still boast Federal-style mansions because Richmond served as the Confederate capital during the Civil War.

No matter your reasons for visiting Richmond, you’ll find a charmingly diverse city with notable landmarks, vibrant arts communities, and world-class eateries. Find out how to plan your ideal trip to Richmond and discover the best places to stay.

Arrive at the Airport

Richmond is served by the Richmond International Airport (RIC), which is about 7 miles southeast of downtown. The airport recently underwent a $300 million renovation to provide travelers with a convenient, stress-free experience with spacious baggage claims and easy-to-navigate services.

Richmond International Airport features two concourses: Concourse A and Concourse B. Concourse A mainly serves American and JetBlue flights, while Concourse B focuses on Allegiant, Delta, Southwest, and United. Security checkpoints are located between the concourses.

Upon arrival, make your way to baggage claim on the airport’s first level. There’s also a Visitor Center between the two baggage claim areas if you need more information. Valet parking and ground transportation are also located on the first level. The second level features ticketing and gates, curbside check-in, and security checkpoints.

The Richmond International Airport offers several ground transportation options to get you to your accommodation. The airport itself is conveniently located near I-64, I-295, I-85, and Pocahontas 895, making it easy to get around in a rental car.

Nine rental car agencies are located on-site near the terminal building’s central entrance on the lower level. You can also reserve a limo service, town car, or taxi. Stop by the James River Transportation counter for assistance with hiring limos and executive sedans.

Public transportation is generally the cheapest way to get to central Richmond. The Greater Richmond Transit Company offers a public bus service to and from the airport and several other Richmond locations. Download a route schedule or the official GRTC Mobile app for real-time bus arrival information.

If someone is waiting to pick you up at the Richmond International Airport, there is a cellphone waiting lot located off Terminal Drive near the entry plaza. Instruct your friends or family to park and wait for your call or text, then have them pick you up curbside!

Early Morning: Grab Breakfast

Your first meal in Richmond can be overwhelming given the broad range of choices. If you love cozy eateries, head to the Early Bird Biscuit Co. on North Robinson Street. This quaint shop features pastries, coffee, and biscuits in imaginative flavors. The daily “unique biscuit flavor” varies, so you never know if you’ll find something sweet or savory. Favorites have included the Pineapple Upside Down, the Parmesan Black Peppercorn, and the Old Bay Cheddar. Other than biscuits, Early Bird Biscuit Co. also serves housemade Pop-Tart-style pastries, chocolate banana doughnuts, Earl Grey tea cakes, oatmeal cream pies, and other delights!

Looking for an eclectic breakfast option? Millie’s Diner on Main Street is a must! Richmond’s landmark eatery is housed in a traditional diner but boasts seasonal fare and an unforgettable brunch menu. Brunch specials change each week, but favorites have included eggs Benedict with a housemade English muffin, a Virginia omelet with lump crabmeat, a scrambled egg enchilada, and a Cuban-inspired breakfast “mess.” Millie’s tends to be quite popular, especially with the brunch crowd, but any wait is worth it.

A low-key neighborhood favorite, City Diner is open daily from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. When you walk in, you can’t help but notice the friendly buzz and the fact that the locals come here to hang out. The $4.50 breakfast special is great if you’re traveling on a budget, and it includes two eggs with your choice of meat and a side of home fries, fried apples, or grits. Other breakfast options at City Diner include biscuits and gravy, breakfast burritos, creamed chip beef, omelets, French toast, waffles, pancakes, and salmon cakes.

Maymount Park
Maymont Park in Richmond.

Midmorning: Stretch Your Legs

One of the best ways to experience Richmond is to wander around the city and discover its historic landmarks and buildings firsthand. Start your tour of the city at the Virginia State Capitol in downtown’s Capitol Square. The building has received a National Historic Landmark designation to fully reflect its significance in history.

Capitol Square consists of 12 acres of landscaped grounds for both public and civic use. The Capitol itself was designed by none other than Thomas Jefferson, who made it a centerpiece on the Square. In fact, the Capitol was the first building in the New World constructed as a monumental classical temple.

As you wander around the Square, notice the collection of more than 130 statues and paintings that depict distinguished figures in American history. One example is the George Washington equestrian model just west of the Capitol, which features General Washington atop a horse.

Depending on the day, you can tour the Virginia State Capitol building and the Governor’s Mansion for free.

Another great place in Richmond to stretch your legs is Maymont. The Gilded Age estate features immaculate gardens and a wildlife center. Tour the mansion from Tuesday through Sunday during visiting hours — noon to 5 p.m. — and explore the farm exhibit with its beautiful pastures. The grounds also feature a gift shop, Visitor Center with exhibits, and a carriage collection.

Noon: Sit Down to a Tasty Lunch

After working up an appetite, it’s time for a wonderful Richmond lunch. The Black Sheep on West Marshall Street is a hip, veggie-friendly spot noted for its Southern fare and giant subs. Even Alton Brown of Food Network fame has eaten at this one-of-a-kind eatery. Try the Sultana sandwich (lamb and beef) with its fragrant spices and loaded toppings. Be sure to come hungry because these sandwiches are huge!

With a name like LUNCH. | SUPPER!, this restaurant piques interest. An unassuming eatery since 2012, LUNCH. | SUPPER! was one of the first modern restaurants in the historic Scott’s Addition. The lunch menu consists of traditional breakfast favorites, a housemade ploughman’s lunch, shrimp and grits, stuffed portabellas, and bacon-wrapped meatloaf.

In the mood for a classic deli? Look no further than Perly’s on East Grace Street. This creative Jewish deli serves up yummy sandwiches, potato latkes, bagels, and blintzes in a funky, retro venue with family photos on the walls. From the outside, Perly’s may look like a hole-in-the-wall, but come on in for big flavors at reasonable prices.

Other great lunch options in Richmond include Mama J’s Kitchen with its Southern soul food, Kuba Kuba’s café-style Cuban fare, and Pasture with its craft beers.

Edgar Allen Poe Museum
Edgar Allen Poe Museum in Richmond.

Afternoon: Hit the Museums

Given Richmond’s rich history, it’s no surprise the city has some of the country’s best museums. Take a trip to the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in the Shockoe Bottom neighborhood. Dedicated to the renowned American writer, the Poe Museum commemorates his life in Richmond. Although born in Boston, Poe considered Richmond his home and even thought of himself as “a Virginian.” He grew up, got married, and gained literary prominence right here, and many local landmarks associated with the writer remain. Make sure you visit the museum store to find Poe memorabilia, including the infamous black raven!

A somber but worthwhile experience, the Virginia Holocaust Museum offers free admission and is dedicated to educating the public about the Holocaust and its victims through their personal stories. Exhibits narrate the sobering history of the Holocaust in chronological order, including the Nuremberg Courtroom where the first international Nazi trials occurred. There’s also a temporary exhibit about Auschwitz, the notorious concentration camp. The museum also houses The Carole Weinstein Holocaust Research Library. With more than 5,000 volumes on the Holocaust, including films and sound recordings, the library is the perfect place to obtain research for academic or genealogical purposes.

Families with small children should check out the Science Museum of Virginia. This hands-on facility offers a broad range of experiences. Learn about Leonardo da Vinci, study the effects of pollution on the world’s oceans, take on fun, interactive challenges, and foster creativity in all ages. If you have time, attend a live astronomy presentation at the Dome, one of the most technologically advanced theaters of its kind.

Late Afternoon: Shop ‘Til You Drop

Richmond may boast a long history, but don’t forget that it’s a modern city alive with contemporary shopping experiences. Stony Point Fashion Park is an upscale outdoor retail center that features trusted names like Tiffany & Co., Dillard’s, and Saks Fifth Avenue. From sporting goods to designer dog accessories, Stony Point Fashion Park has it all!

The Shops at Willow Lawn was the first retail center in Richmond. Now mostly a strip mall, Willow Lawn offers craft shops, designer shoe outlets, discount fashion chains, and beauty supplies. You’ll also find a nice selection of eateries, many of which offer smoothies, coffee, ice cream, and other great treats to fuel you up after an afternoon of shopping.

If you prefer boutique shopping experiences, stop by Need Supply Co. with its trendy men’s and women’s clothing, shoes, and home accessories. For one-of-a-kind finds, check out Halcyon Vintage Clothing on Robinson Street. And for an affordable clothing selection that supports local artists, Rumors Boutique is your dream come true.

Main Street
Main Street in Richmond.

Dinnertime: Savor a World-Class Meal

Start to wind down from your retail therapy with a glass of wine or craft beer and a hearty meal. Heritage Restaurant on Main Street is a contemporary cocktail lounge with amazing food options, giving you the best of both worlds. Try the barbecue pork fries appetizer before digging into a roast half-chicken, steelhead trout, or hanger steak. For dessert, choose from artisanal cheeses, local strawberries with sorbet, or a homemade chocolate candy bar.

Offering a playful spin on French cuisine, L’opossum is an eclectic space with hilarious menu items. Where else can you order “Darth Grouper Held at Bay by a Rebellious Coalition?” Or a “Vegan Orgy on Texas Beach?” Essentially, you’ll find all your French favorites on the menu, but the restaurant’s creativity is a fun conversation starter.

Housed in a former pharmacy with wooden booths, tin ceilings, and chandeliers, Tarrant’s Café stands out as one of the city’s best restaurants. Dinner items include filet mignon, pork chops, seafood combos, pasta, pizzas, and sandwiches. It’s on the pricier side, but the flavors are worth every penny!

Late Night: Catch a Show

One of the best ways to end your day in Richmond is to attend a live performance. Luckily, the city offers several venue options to cater to every taste.

The historic National Theater hosts a broad range of performers, including Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox, Shinedown, and Beres Hammond.

Altria Theater at the corner of Monroe Park is the largest of Richmond CenterStage’s performing arts complexes. Performers have included John Cleese, ZZ Top, Gabriel Iglesias, and many others. You can even catch a smash-hit musical like “Mama Mia!”

Larger concerts and events typically take place at the Richmond Coliseum. In addition to sports championships, the Coliseum hosts WWE SmackDown Live and comedy events featuring the likes of George Lopez and Cedric The Entertainer.

Would you rather be scared than see a Broadway play? You’re in luck! Ghost stories abound in cities like Richmond, and you can encounter them yourself by taking a ghost tour. Companies like Eerie Nights Ghost Tours and Haunts of Richmond take you through the city’s most haunted neighborhoods, bringing age-old tales alive with fascinating commentary.

Walking ghost tours depart in the late evening after dark. Depending on the tour, you’ll discover stories related to the Old Stone House, the Church Hill tunnel collapse, the area’s Civil War hospitals, and even Capitol Hill. Come prepared with comfortable walking shoes, appropriate clothing, and good health since you’ll be walking around these haunted locations for the duration of the tour.

Washington Monument Historic Landmark
The Washington Monument Historical Landmark in Richmond.

Where to Stay in Richmond

Since Richmond is such a diverse destination, it’s equally popular with leisure and business travelers. As such, you’ll find countless accommodation options from Richmond hotels and hostels to private rentals. No matter your preferences, you can create your ideal trip to Richmond.

Top Hotels

Richmond hotels are scattered throughout the city, but the most convenient location for exploring is downtown. Crowne Plaza Richmond Downtown is a 4-star option offering free Wi-Fi, late checkout, and quiet-zone rooms to keep the outside noise to a minimum. In addition to contemporary rooms, the hotel also features on-site fitness and wellness facilities, including an indoor pool

The Berkeley Hotel is an upscale accommodation that’s perfect for those romantic getaways. Rooms are elegant and luxuriously furnished with warm gold tones, soaring ceilings, and cherry furnishings. The Berkeley also features an award-winning restaurant, even spaces, and other classic amenities.

Business travelers will want to book a room at the Hilton Richmond Downtown. This smart business hotel features a partner salon, three on-site restaurants, discounted access to the YMCA, a fitness center, flexible meeting spaces, and a complimentary shuttle service within 2 miles of the hotel. Guest rooms, suites, and executive rooms are freshly decorated with plenty of natural light, work desks, and extra phone lines for those who need them.

Best Hostels

Staying at a hostel is a good way to save money, especially if you’re traveling on your own. Richmond’s only hostel, HI Richmond Hostel on North Second Street, is located inside a renovated historic building. Hostels like this one provide a social element to traveling you won’t find at a traditional hotel.

At HI Richmond Hostel, book a room in one of the dormitories and enjoy communal social spaces during the day. Amenities include a pool table, free continental breakfast, weekly tours and activities, a fully equipped guest kitchen, and free Wi-Fi.

Best of all, hostels like HI Richmond Hostel provide volunteer opportunities that allow you to work at the facility in exchange for room and board.

State Capitol
State Capitol in Richmond.

Coolest Private Rentals

Staying in a hip dorm is nice if you’re single, but if you’re traveling with the whole family or a large group of friends, or even if you just like extra space and privacy, consider a private rental. Richmond private rentals run the gamut from cozy apartments to entire homes. With a private rental, you can find an accommodation that meets your travel needs.

Do you want a full kitchen to save money on dining out? What about a washer and dryer to keep your luggage weight in check? Need more than one bedroom? Private rentals have all the perks of home with the added benefit of immersing you in Richmond life as if you were a local. Consider Richmond’s various neighborhoods and notable attractions when researching your options, since staying close to your favorite hangouts is preferable.

Are you ready to take the trip of a lifetime? Plan and book your personalized Richmond trip, from accommodations and attractions to tours and transportation, right here on GoDoTrip.