Overview of Richmond, Virginia

Downtown Richmond

Richmond, Virginia is the state’s capital and the fourth-largest city in Virginia. With a history stretching back to the 1730s and a vibrantly diverse population, this city has plenty to offer to residents and visitors alike.

The city lies near the James River, nestled at the intersection of I-95 and I-64. With its proximity to Washington, D.C., the local economy is driven in large part by law and government jobs. Many popular banking firms and Fortune 500 companies call the city their home.

There are many things to do in Richmond. Whether you’re looking to explore its historic districts, enjoy the city’s rich shopping and dining opportunities or stay in town for Richmond events and festivals, you’re sure to enjoy your stay in this history-rich capital city.

History of Richmond

Richmond was initially settled by English colonists in 1609, but the city as we know it today wouldn’t be founded until 1737. It came to replace Williamsburg as the capital of the Colony of Virginia in 1780, meaning Richmond has been a capital longer than Virginia has been a state. Locals are proud of the city’s rich and lengthy history.

Some of the many historic events to take place in the city include Patrick Henry’s famous “give me liberty or give me death” speech and Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. It served as a capital of the Confederacy during the Civil War and rose to prominence as an economic powerhouse in the postbellum years. It’s also a cultural hotbed for African-American history, especially in music and art.

Historic Sites to Visit

When visiting the city, there are countless historic districts and sights to see. Here are a few top spots to visit:

Virginia Capitol building: the seat of Virginia’s state government.

St. John’s Episcopal Church: Built in 1741, St. John’s is the oldest church in the city, a National Historic Landmark and the site where Patrick Henry gave his famous speech at the Second Virginia Convention (“give me liberty or give me death!”)

Malvern Hill Battlefield: The location of the final battle of the Seven Days Battles during the Civil War.

The Dabbs House Museum: A historic house museum, tourist information center and research library that once served as General Robert E. Lee’s field headquarters.

Henricus Historical Park: Located just outside of Richmond in Chester, VA is Henricus Historical Park, known as “the second successful English settlement in the New World.”

American Civil War Museum: a museum with three sites, including The Museum and White House of the Confederacy, the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar and the Museum of the Confederacy–Appomattox.

A tour of the city is like a tour through the historical roots of the United States. You can’t help but be inspired by the history of Richmond, especially as it pertains to the founding of the nation and, later, the American Civil War.

Richmond Hotels

Visitors to the state capital can find a variety of accommodations to meet any taste and budget. Aside from affordable Richmond hotels and chains, there are historic hotels and even bed and breakfasts that offer a unique glimpse of this colorful city. Be sure to take a look at the stunningly decorated Jefferson Hotel or the chic and modern Quirk Hotel to get an idea of the full breadth of variety in the city’s accommodations.

Richmond Restaurants and Breweries

From fine dining to street food and barbecue, Richmond restaurants offer some of the best food in the state. Some stand-out favorites among locals include Lemaire Restaurant, The Boathouse at Rocketts Landing, Buz and Ned’s Real Berbecue, Eat 33 and Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant.

No discussion of local eating would be complete without a mention of the local craft brews. A few places that are worth exploring include 7 Hills Seafood & Brewing Co., Castleburg Brewery and Taproom, Final Gravity Brewing Company and Extra Billy’s Smokehouse & Brewery.

Richmond breweries are known across the country for quality beers, and entire vacations can be planned around following the beer trail.

Things to Do in Richmond

Once you’re done exploring the history of Richmond, the city has even more to offer. Breweries, shopping, dining and city events all make Richmond the bustling, tourist-friendly destination it is.

Richmond Events

From concerts to art exhibits and craft fairs, Richmond events happen year-round. A few of the highlights you definitely shouldn’t miss include the Richmond Jazz Festival, the National Beer Expo, Dominion Riverrock Outdoor Sports and Music Festival and the NASCAR championship playoff races.

The city is also home to some top-quality barbecue, and the Richmond breweries and restaurants are famous. You can get a sampling of small plates from the city’s top restaurants at Broad Appetit, a food and beer festival occurring every June.

Richmond Colleges and Universities

College students looking to study near the state capital have plenty of options to choose from. There are 18 colleges and universities within 50 miles of the city, ranging from small private institutions and community colleges to large state universities. Some of the better-known schools in the city itself include:

– Virginia Commonwealth University
– Virginia Union University
– Virginia College
– Bon Secours Memorial College of Nursing
– J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College

Whatever your field of study, you can find a university or college to suit your needs without straying far from the city center.