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Richmond (Virginia)

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Travel Guide North America USA Southern United States Virginia Richmond

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Introduction

Richmond is the capital of Virginia, United States. It is an independent city and not part of any county. The population within the city limits is just over 200,000, with an estimated population of about 1,270,000 for the Richmond Metropolitan Area, making it the third largest in Virginia.

The site of Richmond had been an important village of the Powhatan Confederacy, and was briefly settled by English colonists from Jamestown in 1609, and in 1610–1611. The present city of Richmond was founded in 1737. It became the capital of the Colony and Dominion of Virginia in 1780. During the Revolutionary War period, several notable events occurred in the city, including Patrick Henry's "Give me liberty or give me death" speech in 1775 at St. John's Church, and the passage of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom written by Thomas Jefferson. During the American Civil War, Richmond served as the capital of the Confederate States of America. The city entered the 20th century with one of the world's first successful electric streetcar systems, as well as a national hub of African-American commerce and culture, the Jackson Ward neighborhood.

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Neighbourhoods

  • The Fan
  • Museum District & Carytown
  • Downtown (includes Shockoe (split into Shockoe Bottom and Shockoe Slip), Jackson Ward and Tobacco Row)
  • West End
  • Southside
  • Northside
  • East End (includes Church Hill, Union Hill, Chimborazo, Fulton)

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Sights and Activities

  • Belle Isle - In the middle of the James River, this island includes a mountain-biking trail. Fans of the movies Cold Mountain, Hannibal, and The Jackal may recognize the area. It offers great views of the falls and the river, but be wary of copperheads, which abound on the island. Also many teenagers enjoy swimming and laying out on the rocks. There are even rope swings set up on the bridges nearby. It is a great hangout for teenagers and young adults. The rocks can get overcrowded during the warmer months on the weekend, so plan accordingly. Also, in mainly July and August when the James River water levels are low, the water can get bath-water hot.
  • The Historic Downtown - The cobblestoned Shockoe Bottom area is rich in history, and well-worth the trip, if only to see one of the many Edgar Allan Poe houses in the Northeast. Though much of the area was washed out during Hurricane Isabel and Tropical Storm Gaston, the rebuilding continues.
  • Maymont Park - A wealthy landowner donated his estate to the city, and Richmond turned it into one of the most beautiful urban parks in the nation. Fountains, Italianate gardens, and a Japanese tea garden are a pleasure to walk through. The nature center here is all-encompassing and free, and its exhibits on Virginia Wildlife include two otters who are glad to show off for visitors. Gray foxes, red-tailed hawks, and other exhibits are located outside. Kids like the farm area, where sheep, lambs, chickens, and other sundry animals are exhibited.

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Weather

Richmond has a humid subtropical climate, with hot and humid summers and generally mild winters. The coldest weather normally occurs from late December to early February, and the January daily mean temperature is 3.2 °C. The July daily mean temperature is 26.2 °C. Precipitation is rather uniformly distributed throughout the year. Annual snowfall, is usually light averaging 27 cm per season. Hurricanes passing near Richmond have produced record rainfalls. In 1955, three hurricanes brought record rainfall to Richmond within a six-week period. The most noteworthy of these were Hurricane Connie and Hurricane Diane that brought heavy rains five days apart. And in 2004, the downtown area suffered extensive flood damage after the remnants of Hurricane Gaston dumped up to 300 mm of rainfall. Damaging storms occur mainly from snow and freezing rain in winter and from hurricanes, tornadoes, and severe thunderstorms in other seasons. Damage may be from wind, flooding, or rain, or from any combination of these. Tornadoes are infrequent but some notable occurrences have been observed within the Richmond area.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max7.6 °C9.6 °C15.3 °C21.1 °C25.4 °C29.5 °C31.3 °C30.6 °C27.2 °C21.5 °C16.3 °C10.1 °C
Avg Min-3.5 °C-2.2 °C2.4 °C7 °C12.3 °C17.1 °C19.7 °C19.1 °C15 °C8.1 °C3.3 °C-1.2 °C
Rainfall82.3 mm80.3 mm91.7 mm75.2 mm97.5 mm91.9 mm127.8 mm111.8 mm84.8 mm89.7 mm80.5 mm82.8 mm
Rain Days8.488.77.58.57.98.77.76.266.67.5

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Getting There

By Plane

Richmond International Airport (RIC) has flights to/from Toronto, Orlando, Dallas, Atlanta, Chicago, Miami, Freeport, Cincinnati, New York, Minneapolis, Detroit, Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Cleveland, Houston, Washington, D.C., Charlotte and Philadelphia.

By Train

Several Amtrak trains travel to and from Richmond, Virginia:

By Car

Richmond is on I-95 about 2 hours south of Washington DC. I-64 runs east-west through the city which provides easy access to Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Williamsburg, and Charlottesville. In addition, several other major roadways such as the Powhite Parkway (Route 76), the Chippenham Parkway (Route 150), and Route 288 connect Richmond to other areas such as Chesterfield and Midlothian.

By Bus

Check Greyhound buses for options.

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Getting Around

By Car

The easiest way to get around Richmond is by car. Roadside parking spaces are relatively easy to find but be in the look-out for no parking areas - particularly the "Fan District." The city is laid out on a grid system and is easy to navigate, however, many streets in the oldest parts of the city are very narrow and one-way.

Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.

For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.

By Public Transport

The Greater Richmond Transit Company, or GRTC, operates a bus service across the city and partially into neighboring Henrico and Chesterfield Counties. Their phone number is: +1 804 358-4782. The average fare is $1.50 for local routes and $2.00 for the express routes, exact change or Go-Cards are the only available methods of payment, you can find Go-Cards at local groceries and convenience stores. The system is best utilized if you are already downtown, and need to go throughout the city itself. Many find it easiest to Park at an all day garage and use one of the multiple lines along Broad street to avoid paying for more parking.

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Eat

Many of Richmond's fine restaurants may be found in the historic district downtown called Shockoe Bottom.

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Sleep

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Days Inn Richmond6910 Midlothian Turnpike Richmond, VA 23225HOTEL-
Red Roof Inn Richmond Airport5209 Williamsburg RdHotel-

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Keep Connected

Internet

There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.

Post

The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.

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Accommodation in Richmond (Virginia)

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Richmond (Virginia) searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Richmond (Virginia) and areas nearby.

Richmond (Virginia) Travel Helpers

  • GogirlTaxicab

    I lived in Richmond almost 20 years and I drive a taxi. I believe I know almost every nightlife and hotel in the area and the best restaurants and interesting things to see in the area. Richmond has a lot of history.

    Ask GogirlTaxicab a question about Richmond (Virginia)

This is version 9. Last edited at 9:12 on Sep 9, 16 by Utrecht. 8 articles link to this page.

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