Richmond Guest Guide...
Welcome to Richmond, a city that I truly love and hope you will as well!
The Metro Richmond Guest Guide is your personal touring companion and information resource during your stay. You can use it to find almost anything youll need while youre in the city.
We recommend reading the following introduction to the Richmond area and then thumbing through the other pages for interesting articles, valuable background, specific area information, unique ideas and our own favorite recommendations.
Let us help you enjoy your stay!
Richmond is a city rich with tradition and ripe with growth. Its a great place to live and to visit. Richmond is at the heart of everything wonderful about the new (and Old) Dominion.
Theres an interesting blend of historic and modern in Richmond. Over a billion dollars of shiny new buildings grace the downtown skyline, but they coexist with restored mansions, museums and warehouses. Richmonders and visitors alike enjoy the new and old riches, but at a southern gentlemans (and gentlewomans) pace.
AN HISTORIC HAVEN
The Richmond area is an historic treasure trove waiting to be discovered. It all started centuries ago, when Indians settled in the area to take advantage of the James River for location, food and transportation. Pilgrims soon followed, creating one of the first English settlements in America.
John Smith and Christopher Newport founded Richmond in 1607, less than 10 days after the English explorer landed in Jamestown. The city was named for Richmond-on-the-Thames in England, because the views along the James River were similar to those found in its namesake English city. That same rolling river is now home to urban whitewater rafting, boat tours and exciting new riverfront development.
From its inception in the 18th century, Richmond quickly developed into a political and industrial power along the river. Its present layout was planned way back in 1737 and survives, though much expanded, today.
The city also played an active role in the development of democracy in the United States. Patrick Henry spoke his immortal words at St. Johns Church on Church Hill: Is life so dear and peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death! The Revolutionary War would start just a month later.
In 1780, the capital of Virginia was moved from Williamsburg to Richmond because of the citys position on the James River. The neo-classical Virginia State Capitol building was designed by Thomas Jefferson in 1785 and is home to the world-famous Houdoun statue of George Washington (said to be the most valuable marble sculpture in America). Today, lucky visitors may get a tour of the Capitol from a true Southern belle, replete with genuine accents and interesting anecdotes. On the grounds of the Capitol are the Executive Mansion (the oldest continuously occupied governors mansion in the United States) and the Bell Tower, which now houses a helpful Visitors Center. As the new nation developed, so did Richmond. The primary industries included tobacco, coal, flour, furniture and textiles, thanks to a canal system that offered an easy way to transport goods along the James River. The city prospered for decadesuntil the interruption of the Civil War changed the face of Richmond forever (see Civil War sidebar).
Richmond became the capital of the Confederacy in 1861 and was the site of many bloody battlesmore than 60 percent of Civil War battles were fought in Virginia. The citys Tredegar Iron Works was the primary producer of cannonballs and artillery during the Civil War.
By 1865, it was obvious that the Union Army would take Richmond. The city was set afire by Confederate troops to prevent supplies from getting into Union hands, and many buildings were ruined. Much of Richmond had to be rebuilt after the Civil War ended that year.
Richmond rebounded quickly from the wars devastation and has been on the move ever since. The city grew consistently in industrial and political importance throughout the 1990s and is poised for continued growth in the 21st century. With more than a dozen Fortune 500 companies, more than $1.5 billion in capital improvements in progress, millions more in museum expansions, enlargement of the Richmond Centre for Conventions and Exhibitions and exciting riverfront development, its a great time to be in Richmond.
JUST BEING NEIGHBORLY
Modern-day Richmond features neighborhoods that are home to more than 30 world-renowned museums and cultural sites, with four centuries of history, Civil War battlefields, distinctive architecture, living history reenactments and elegant estates and gardens. Richmonds architecture is diversethe city preserves its history, creating a striking blend of the past with the present.
Downtown Richmond is at the center of everything. The downtown area is certainly central to the history, culture and business of the Old Dominion, the South and the United States.
From gleaming skyscrapers to teeming renovated warehouse restaurants and shops, downtown Richmond is endlessly interesting to businesspeople, historians and tourists. In many ways, knowing downtown means knowing Richmond. Its a microcosm for all that makes the city tick.
In addition to the continued multi-million dollar downtown investment, Richmond is undergoing a riverfront renaissance (see Canal Walk sidebar.) A 32-acre riverfront development project stretches along a one-mile corridor from the historic Tredegar Iron Works at 5th Street to 17th Street on the East.
In addition, the Richmond National Battlefield Park Civil War Visitor Center is now located within the Tredegar Iron Works complex. Long-range plans for the coming years include pedestrian-friendly walkways, plaza hotels, shops and boutiques.
Richmonds architecture reflects turn-of-the-century splendor and is home to an abundance of charming neighborhoods. Court End was once the most fashionable residential neighborhood in Richmond and is now home to seven National Historic Landmarks. Library of Virginia, Virginia Fire and Police Museum, Richmond History Center (formerly the Valentine Museum), Wickham House and John Marshall House all offer a glimpse of early Richmond life and tradition. Nearby, The Museum of the Confederacy houses the worlds largest collection of Confederate artifacts. To the west, Monument Avenue has been described by many visitors as one of the most beautiful streets in America. This magnificent boulevard is home to a breathtaking array of impressive monuments, including those of Major J.E.B. Stuart, General Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, Thomas J. Stonewall Jackson, Matthew Fontaine Maury, and, most recently, Arthur Ashe, Jr. Other highlights include historic and stately slate-roofed mansions, divided by ancient oaks, maples, magnolias, boxwoods and a broad grass median. To the south of Monument Avenue, the Fan National Historic District, named for streets that fan out from Virginia Commonwealth University, is said to be the largest intact Victorian-style neighborhood in the country. This quaint neighborhood of turn-of-the-century homes features traditional brownstones and townhouses, as well as many charming restaurants and shops.
Nearby Carytown offers blocks of shopping and dining in a friendly atmosphere. Many sites and attractions are also in the area, making for an ideal way to spend a free hour, day or weekend in an area locals call the Smithsonian on the James. The awe-inspiring options include Maymont, Science Museum of Virginia, the Virginia Historical Society & Museum, Agecroft Hall & Gardens and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Hollywood Cemetery, in Oregon Hill to the south, was named for its multitude of holly trees and is noted for its Victorian splendor. The cemetery is the final resting place for Presidents Tyler and Monroe, as well as Confederate President Jefferson Davis. The first battle casualty of the Civil War, many other Confederate notables and more than 18,000 soldiers are buried here.
Shockoe Slip and Shockoe Bottom, just a short walk to the east of downtown proper, provide other unique restored areas, including trendy shops, restaurants and nightlife. Shockoe Slip was once home to the citys largest commercial trading district.
Church Hill, located above the James River, stands as a time capsule of the 18th and 19th centuries. St. Johns Church, the oldest church in Richmond and one of the oldest wooden buildings in the state, has held services for more than 200 years. Visitors can hear Patrick Henrys Give me liberty or give me death speech reenacted here each Sunday during the summer.
Richmonds Jackson Ward area has been called the Birthplace of Black Capitalism, as it was the cultural and entrepreneurial center during and after the Civil War. The neighborhood was the birthplace of Americas first woman bank president, Maggie Lena Walker, and Bill Bojangles Robinson, the famous dancer. A statue honoring Bojangles stands in the area, in commemoration of his donation of a much-needed stoplight.
Richmond has many famous sons and daughters. Maggie Walker led the way for females and blacks in business and Edgar Allan Poe changed the face of American poetry. Arthur Ashe, Jr., Willie Lanier and Lannie Wadkins have graced playing fields, while Bill Bojangles Robinson, Shirley MacLaine and Warren Beatty have entertained America. Many more famous figures have proudly called Richmond home.
The various neighborhoods of Richmond provide an overall view of the past and present in the heart of the Old Dominion. However, Richmond offers much more than a taste of old and new. Area residents exude Southern hospitality and provide a personal touch to Richmonds present and past.
Theres also much more to Richmond a bit farther afield. The fashionable West End takes in the west side of the city of Richmond and part of Henrico County. The West End features great shopping On the Avenues at Libbie and Grove, the Shops at Willow Lawn and many malls. It has upscale homes and play areas in many neighborhoods and at the Country Club of Virginia. There is the beautiful campus of the University of Richmond and Innsbrook, a successful commercial business and residential development.
South of the James River, fast-growing Chesterfield County offers suburban living in successful developments, lots of shopping, many new commercial parks and business developments and a different Richmond lifestyle.
Civil War buffs should also head for Richmond National Battlefield Park. The Park was the site of one of the Confederacys largest hospitals and theres now a medical museum there.
Virginias Historic Triangle is a little more than an hour away on I-64. Colonial Williamsburg, Yorktown and Jamestown combine as one of the few reasons to leave Richmond. Smart drivers take Route 5 for the scenery and pretty plantations along the way. Horseracing fans can take I-64 to drive past Colonial Downs racetrack.
With so much to offer for trips to its interesting past and present, Richmond is an ideal destination or stopover. Theres something for the great-grandfather and teenager in all of us.n
THE CANAL WALK
The citys most recent attraction is the stunning new Canal Walk. This multi-purpose development is already a big success story, with thousands of locals and visitors enjoying its many facets. The Canal Walk proper meanders 1.25 miles through downtown Richmond along the banks of the Haxall Canal and the James River & Kanawha Canal, parallel to the James River.
The Haxall Canal has its headgate and western terminus west of 5th Street, across Tredegar Street from the historic Tredegar Iron Works, headquarters for Richmond National Battlefield Park Visitor Center. Though the Haxall Canals eastern terminus is near 12th Street, the Canal Walk continues along the banks of the James River & Kanawha Canal, which starts around 12th Street and runs to the Great Ship Lock at Pear and Dock Streets. The Canal Walk currently extends as far as the Floodwall at 17th Street, with many interesting displays about the history of canals, canal boats, docks, and their uses in downtown Richmond. But theres much more to do along the Canal Walk than just walk.
Canal boating experiences (649-2800) are definitely popular with Canal Walk visitors. For a unique tour with historic interpretation, 38-passenger canal boats with costumed professional drivers may be boarded near the Kanawha Cruises ticket booth in the new Turning Basin (located at the base of Virginia Street, one block west of 14th Street and one block south of Canal Street). Along with a stroll along the Canal Walk, this is a great way to learn first-hand about the history and uses of the canals and canal boats. In addition, six-passenger electric boats are available for rent on an hourly basis from the Kanawha Canal kiosk and pier, which is located at the western end of Browns Island (near the headgate of the Haxall Canal). This is a drive-yourself experience, allowing visitors to be canal boat captains for the day.
In addition, Richmond History Center (649-0711) features history-based guided walking tours along the Canal Walk (and elsewhere). Sites for private functions along the Canal Walk and on Browns Island are available for rent through Downtown Presents (643-2826), which also handles many festivals, concerts, and other public events.
Visitors to the Canal Walk area will find that its bustling with development. New shopping, restaurants, other businesses and condominiums, located in the old warehouses on and near the Canal Walk, are bringing new life to the area, making a Canal Walk experience even more enjoyable.
THE CIVIL WAR IN RICHMOND
Contrary to what many people think, Grant did not take Richmond. In the end, Confederate troops and officials just abandoned the city, setting it ablaze as they went. The 80-year-old mayor, with several companions, rode through burning buildings and unruly mobs to meet the enemies as they arrived, ripping the tails off their shirts to create a white surrender flag. Federal troops were actually invited into the city to restore order.
As the business district went up in smoke, explosions rocked the city and flames licked the edges of wealthy neighborhoods. Mrs. Robert C. Stanard, famous Richmond hostess, packed a trunk with her most valued possessions, had it placed in the yard of her home at 8th and Franklin and sat on it, calmly watching flames engulf her house.
But all was not lost. Today, many sites of Civil War significance still stand.
Just a half block from Mrs. Stanards former home, a water brigade was formed to save the house in which Mrs. Robert E. Lee lived (and to which General Lee returned several weeks later). Just one antebellum jewel in the midst of contemporary office buildings, the house still stands, though its not open to the public.
A block to the east, terrified citizens huddled in Capitol Square. The flames did not reach the brick building that served both the state government of Virginia and the Confederate government. Today it is still the seat of the Old Dominions governmentas its been since 1788.
The squares Executive Mansion still stands, where governors John Letcher and William Smith hosted official events for both the state and the Confederacy. Visitors standing on the steps of the Capitol will see the Old Customs House (now the Federal Courthouse), which housed Jefferson Davis wartime offices.
But this is just the beginning of Richmonds Civil War connections. Thanks to Confederate government officials, soldiers and sailors, doctors, spies, prisoners of war, gamblers, outlaws and prostitutes, Richmonds population tripled during the war. Virtually every building in the city served some wartime function.
Many buildings still stand and have special stories. For instance, Richmonder James G. Brooks entertained Confederate congressmen and senators in his home at 11th and Clay. The home had been built in 1812 for John Wickham, the lawyer who represented Aaron Burr in his treason trial. Today it is the keystone of the Valentine Museum/Richmond History Center.
Nearby, the White House of the Confederacy housed Jefferson Davis and his family. Here he governed, as best he could, a nation that would not survive for five years. Today the house is restored to resemble its 1860s style, while the nearby Museum of the Confederacy holds the most comprehensive collection of Civil War memorabilia and artifacts in the nation. Down by the James River, Tredegar Iron Works served as the Confederacys most important iron foundry and manufacturer of heavy armaments. The Richmond National Battlefield Park Civil War Visitors Center is now located within the Tredegar complex (including the film, Richmond Remembered.) They can also provide details about tours of Richmond-area battlefields and significant sites (including the new Pamplin Park Civil War Site near Petersburg). Though the guns are silent now, those who want to see them can visit the Virginia Historical Society & Museum, where items from the most extensive collection of Confederate-manufactured weapons are displayed.
Of course, the men who fired the guns are gone, too. Many of them (more than 18,000) are buried in Hollywood Cemetery, including James Ewell Brown (J.E.B.) Stuart, Jefferson Davis and George Pickettmaking it a fitting place to finish a tour of Richmonds Civil War legacy. n
RICHMONDS AFRICAN AMERICAN HERITAGE
Richmond is a city that honors its various past and present ethnic populations. Museums and sites are filled with artifacts and artwork honoring Native Americans (such as the Henricus site, the Virginia Historical Society, Chesterfield County Museum, Mattaponi Museum and Pamunkey Museum), Jewish citizens (see Jewish Heritage sidebar) and African-Americans.
Richmond's share of firsts include the country's first black woman bank president (Maggie Walker), the first African-American male to win Wimbledon (Arthur Ashe, Jr.) and the nation's first elected black governor (Douglas Wilder.)
William Byrd I, father of Richmond's founder, brought African laborers with him to the then-frontier outpost in 1671. By 1860, more than 2,500 free blacks lived in Richmond, making it one of the largest black populations in the antebellum South. After the Civil War, the Jackson Ward area became the center for African-American culture, business, politics and entertainment. This fascinating neighborhood is now the center for exploration of Richmond's African-American heritage.
Maggie Walker said, "Have hope, have courage, and carry on." Her words and accomplishments were (and are) inspirational to African-Americans and women. The bank she opened still operates today as the Consolidated Bank & Trust Company, the nation's oldest continuously African-American owned bank. Her residence on Leigh Street is a National Historic Site and is open for tours. There are 11 other National Historic Sites located in Jackson Ward, known as the birthplace of black entrepreneurship.
The Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia is another highlight. Founded in 1981, changing exhibitions include documents, artifacts, photographs and art.
The district's 2nd Street was a hopping entertainment hub and the setting for great performers, including Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway and Ella Fitzgerald. The Hippodrome Theater was one of three locations that gave Jackson Ward the nickname "Harlem of the South". Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, Lena Horne, Billie Holiday, Nat King Cole and James Brown all used Richmond as a career stepping stone.
Other Jackson Ward sites of interest include: the "Bojangles" monument at Adams and Leigh Street; the Consolidated Bank & Trust Company on 1st Street; the Ebenezer Baptist Church on Leigh Street (where public education for Richmondís African-Americans began); and Sixth Mount Zion Church on Duval Street, founded by renowned antebellum preacher and former slave John Jasper.
Farther afield, Richmond has more possibilities. Visitors won't want to miss the Arthur Ashe, Jr. statue on Monument Avenue, which depicts Ashe holding a tennis racquet and book, surrounded by children. In addition, interested visitors may want to contact the Elegba Folklore Society (644-3900), which offers enriching programs, special events and exhibits.
From what is thought to be the first inn in Richmond to one of its newest hotels, Jews and their meeting places have been a part of Richmonds community since the 17th century.
Jews settled in Richmond as early as the 1760s and opened the Bird in Hand, a tavern and inn at the foot of Church Hill, for locals and visitors.
The areas first synagogue, Kahal Kadosh Beth Shalom, House of Peace, was established as a Sephardic synagogue in 1789. German Jews, emigrating in the mid-1800s, brought Ashkenazic traditions and eventually withdrew from Beth Shalom to form Beth Ahabah, House of Love. After the Civil War, Beth Ahabah began the Reform tradition and, in 1898, the two factions reunited under the Beth Ahabah name.
Also in 1898, the Richmond Section of the National Council of Jewish Women was formed. This evolved into the Jewish Community Center on Monument Avenue, which (along with the Jewish Community Federation) is a renowned resource for recreational, social, cultural and religious activities.
The Virginia Holocaust Museum (257-5400) on Roseneath Road is the most recent addition to the cultural landscape. Visitors to this museum can step into a ghetto, crawl through a re-creation of a potato field hiding place for 13 Jews, view a scene in a crematorium and review a Richmond mans memory of the Holocaust. The highly visited museum will be moving into a larger space at 2000 E. Cary Street in mid-2002. In either location, its an extraordinary place to visit and experience.
November 9, 1938 marked the beginning of government-sanctioned-and-sponsored violence against Jews in Germany and Austria. On the Sunday closest to November 9th, a Kristallnacht memorial service is held at the Emek Sholom Holocaust Memorial Cemetery at Forest Lawn Cemetery.
Jewish visitors will also find many accommodating services. The Kosher Hotel of Virginia (740-2000) features kosher breakfasts, dinners and all three Shabbos meals. Kosher box lunches can also be purchased, as can kosher foods from Westbury Pharmacy, Ukrops Supermarkets and Kroger (and even kosher bagels at Chesapeake Bagel Bakery). In addition, visitors can contact the Kol Emes synagogue about their Mikvah bath facilities.
CITY OF MONUMENTS
Monument Avenue, a few tree-lined blocks that stretch along the western edge of town, is rightfully called one of the most beautiful streets in the world. Besides the impressive statues for which it is named, the avenue boasts park-like medians and stunning mansions. The creation of Monument Avenue originally caused consternation among Richmonders; many believed their heroes deserved a more prominent tribute than donated pasture land that was then outside the city limits. Soon enough, though, the city would grow up around the monuments. Listed from west to east, the statues along Monument Avenue are:
Arthur Ashe, the tennis legend, author and famous Richmond son, is the most recent hero to warrant a statue along Monument Avenue. Ashe's contributions to the tennis world were numerous--he was the first African-American man to win the U.S. Open (1968), the Australian Open (1970) and Wimbledon (1975). He championed human rights issues, especially opposing racial discrimination, and campaigned for AIDS-related causes. He also wrote A Hard Road to Glory, a history of blacks in sports. His monument is at Roseneath and Monument Avenues.
Matthew Fontaine Maury, known as the father of modern oceanography, was a Confederate naval officer credited with inventing the electronic torpedo. Maury's monument, created by William F. Sievers and erected in 1929, shows Maury atop a granite pedestal, in front of a bronze globe. At the base of the globe are figures tossed by waves, representing Maury's study of ocean winds and currents. Maury is at the corner of Belmont and Monument Avenues.
General Thomas J. (Stonewall) Jackson faces north, supposedly in deference to the local Confederate veterans who insisted he be placed looking into the eye of the enemy. Also created by Sievers, this statue was erected in 1919 after a huge parade that included hundreds of Jackson's old soldiers. The bronze equestrian figure is at Boulevard and Monument Avenues.
Jefferson Davis, first and only president of the Confederate States of America, was originally supposed to be erected at a site in Monroe Park chosen by Mrs. Davis. Designed by Edward V. Valentine and dedicated in 1907, the statue depicts a bronze Davis in front of columns representing the Confederate states and those that contributed soldiers. It is located at Davis and Monument Avenues.
General Robert E. Lee was the first Richmonder to warrant a statue on what would become Monument Avenue. The monument, designed by Jean Antoine Mercie and dedicated in 1890, depicts Lee on horseback. The two face Lee's beloved South. Legend has it that Lee and Traveller would come down off the monument at night so the horse could get something to eat and drink. Traveller, though, wasn't even used for the sculpture because his appearance wasn't "grand" enough. Amid the bickering over where the statue should be placed arose another problem--Mercie had to redesign his sculpture so that it was "not one inch lower" than the statue of George Washington in Capitol Square. The statue is at the corner of Allen and Monument Avenues.
General J.E.B. Stuart, the Confederate cavalry commander who died just a few blocks from his statue's site, was memorialized on Monument Avenue in 1907 almost simultaneously with Davis's sculpture. The 15-foot bronze figure is portrayed atop a high-stepping horse at Stuart and Monument Avenues.
GREAT PARKS & OUTDOORS
This beautiful English manor home sits on 23 landscaped acres on the James River, just outside downtown Richmond. Brought over from Lancashire, England, in 1926. Features 23 landscaped acres along the James River. Admission. 4305 Sulgrave Road, Richmond. 804-353-4241.
Fabulous azalea gardens splash bright colors throughout this turn-of-the-century park. Also has tennis courts, lake and fishing. Bellevue Avenue and Hermitage Road, Richmond.
Home of the Carillon Memorial, honoring World War I veterans. Offers ball fields, tennis courts, three lakes, paddleboats and fishing. Dogwood Dell Amphitheater is home to the June Jubilee. Boulevard and Idlewild Avenue, Richmond.
THE CANAL WALK
The 195-mile long canal system, which runs from Richmond to Buchanan, Va., provided a vital link to the west for a century. This self-guided tour along the Richmond riverfront includes the James River Canal (1789), the James River and Kanawha Canal (1840), the Great Basin (1840) and the Tidewater Connection (1854). Begin at Canal Walk Park at 12th and Byrd Streets, Richmond.
DUTCH GAP CONSERVATION AREA
This 810-acre wildlife preserve in Chesterfield features an array of birds, waterfowl and wildlife. Also offers boating, fishing and hiking. Take Route 10 to Old Stage Road, Chesterfield. 804-748-1623.
Located downtown at 6th Street Marketplace, Festival Park hosts concerts and special events such as Friday Cheers and a New Year's Eve party. Call Downtown Events for a list of events. Between the Coliseum and Crystal Palace, Richmond. 804-643-2826.
HENRICUS HISTORICAL PARK
Sir Thomas Dale established this site in 1611 as the second permanent English settlement in the New World. The visitors center is decorated with the 11 flags that have flown over Henricus. Accessible by a mile-long path along the river. Take Route 10 to Old Stage Road, Chesterfield. 804-748-1623.
JAMES RIVER PARK
Richmond's Urban Wilderness Park offers walking trails with great views of the river, as well as a visitors center and fishing. Historic sites, nature trails and access to flatwater and white-water rafting and canoeing also available. 22nd Street and Riverside Drive, Richmond. 804-780-5311.
LEWIS GINTER BOTANICAL GARDEN
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden offers more than 15 acres of spectacular gardens on the historic Bloemendaal estate. Operated by a private, non-profit foundation, the Garden educates children and adults about our interdependence with the plant world, utilizes and promotes the best landscape design and horticultural techniques and strives to be a field leader in applied botanical research. Relax and have fun in eight garden areas. Admission. 1800 Lakeside Avenue, Richmond. 804-262-9887.
MAYMONT HOUSE AND PARK
100-acre turn-of-the-century estate overlooking the James River offers spectacular Japanese, Italian, English and herb gardens. 1700 Hampton Street, Richmond. 804-358-7166.
POCAHONTAS STATE PARK
Covering more than 7,600 acres, Pocahontas is Virginia's biggest state park. Boating, camping, biking, fishing and swimming pool are available. Also offers trails around Beaver Lake and wildlife exhibits. 10301 State Park Road, Chesterfield. 804-796-4255.
RICHMOND NATIONAL BATTLEFIELD PARK HEADQUARTERS
During 1861 and 1865, Union armies frequently tried to take Richmond, capital of the Confederacy, and end the Civil War. The park established in 1936, protects 763 acres of historic battlegrounds. Visitors will find an educational film presentation, exhibits and map guides for the 97-mile tour. 3215 E. Broad Street, Richmond. 804-226-1981.
This 163-acre site features a complex of ballfields and tennis courts, archery range, garden plots. The park also boasts a superb nature center and a system of nature trails. Gregory Pond Trail provides a self-guided nature/history walk. 3401 Courthouse Road, Richmond. 804-745-7020.
THREE LAKES NATURE CENTER AND AQUARIUM
Surrounded by a 90-acre park perfect for watching plant, fish, bird and animal life, the Three Lakes Nature Center also features a 50,000-gallon outdoor aquarium--the largest in Central Virginia. Visitors can go below the aquarium to see the fish that live in the park's lakes. Wetland exhibits, classes, recreation activities and more are also available. Free. 400 Sausiluta Drive, Richmond. 804-261-8230.