Libby Hill Overlook
Libby Hill Park is a short walk from my Church Hill home, making it an obvious first stop when I have visitors who haven’t seen the view that named Richmond. The unrivaled panorama of the James River, Shockoe Bottom and our downtown skyline never fails to impress. It’s Instagram gold for out-of-towners.
Photo by Jeff Bland
Dominion GardenFest of Lights
I love checking out the GardenFest of Lights every year at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. I have a couple of friends who live out of town, and we’ve made it a tradition to see them at the beginning of the new year since the lights stay up through mid-January. We love that the theme changes every year, and it’s nice to get together after the holiday rush but still continue the festivities a little while longer.
—V. Lee Hawkins
North Bank Trail
Hiking, riding or running along the North Bank trail with simultaneous views of the James River, Hollywood Cemetery and the downtown skyline is a classic Richmond experience I love to share with local friends and visiting family alike. It’s a unique opportunity to feel miles away from it all while being only minutes away from the center of the city.
—Jessica Ronky Haddad
City Highlights Tour
When family and friends visit, we always begin their trip at our favorite Church Hill bakeries, Sub Rosa and WPA. On Saturday mornings, we go to the South of the James Farmers Market vendors for local offerings — Mrs. Yoder’s doughnuts are a must-have. Historical sites including Hollywood Cemetery and the Virginia War Memorial are always on our list. If our guests are fortunate enough to be in Richmond during the holidays, a drive along Monument Avenue is always spectacular.
Photo courtesy VMFA
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Many Richmonders (myself included) take the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts for granted. Well-known works have graced its halls, including pieces by Rodin, Picasso and Chihuly. Not to mention it hosts a slew of events such as jazz on Thursdays and happy hour at Best Café (with free guided art tours) on Fridays. Admission is free, with affordable prices for special exhibitions. Plus, it’s open 365 days a year, so it’s always an option when visitors come to town.
Photo courtesy Maymont Foundation
Gorgeous gardens, a wondrous waterfall and amazing animals are all good reasons to bring out-of-towners to Maymont. A Richmond gem, the beauty of the grounds alone on this 100-acre estate is reason enough to bring family and friends, but the history gives the site character. James Henry and Sallie May Dooley bequeathed the estate to the City of Richmond in 1925. A tour of Maymont Mansion (completed in 1893) is a must, as its furnishings are mostly the same as they were when the Dooleys lived there. And be sure to take a horse-drawn carriage ride.
Richmond Bike Trails
As Richmond transplants, we’re always exploring new places in our adopted city (even 11 years later) and sharing them with friends and family who come to visit. Beyond the food, the craft beer, the incredible art and the gorgeous views, we most often share the many places to ride bikes around the area — from the James River Park System trails near our house to the Virginia Capital Trail, Richmond National Battlefield Park and Pocahontas State Park, we’re spoiled for choice.
‘The Phantom of the Opera’
My dad loves to visit Richmond to see “The Phantom of the Opera” at the Byrd Theatre with me every year. Around Halloween, they show the 1925 silent film accompanied by their Mighty Wurlitzer Organ. We both get a kick out of the overly theatrical actors and the amazing party scene with one of the first uses of Technicolor. The beautiful venue and live organ really make it a special, fun tradition for us.
Arts in the Park
Arts in the Park is a Richmond event that I have looked forward to every spring since I was a kid. My grandmother is a painter, so I spent a lot of my childhood at art shows. To me, nothing beats wandering the long rows of artists’ tents around Dogwood Dell and eating an ice cream cone on the steps of the Carillon. The show is large enough to draw new artists each year, but also has the regulars whose familiar tent setups always give me a warm sense of nostalgia. This is what makes it my favorite event to share with friends and family.
Photo courtesy Richmond Region Tourism
My family has a thing for cemeteries (I grew up in a home that backed up to the Victorian-era part of a small-town cemetery; the graveyard was basically an extension of our yard), so Hollywood Cemetery is a favorite stop on the grand tour whenever someone comes to visit. Awesome views of the city skyline, history, beauty and some interesting people watching, too.
I love leading friends down the stone pathways in Forest Hill Park, which were created by Civilian Conservation Corps members in the 1930s. These paths lead to Forest Hill Lake and then up past the rushing waters of Reedy Creek to Forest Hill Avenue. The payoff is a stop at WPA Bakery, where the calories from warm pear muffins in the winter and strawberry muffins in the summer are burned off on the walk back.
T. Tyler Potterfield Bridge
Richmonders have a new pedestrian-friendly crossing, this one linking the South Bank to Brown’s Island. The T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge, dubbed the T-Pot due to its extensive title, gives us a fresh perspective on the river and city surroundings, one that in the past required a kayak. The bridge is no more than 20 feet above the waterline at normal levels, keeping the sounds and activity of the river close by and making it ideal for nature walks and an endless supply of Instagram posts. All that’s missing is a coffee shop at either end.
Photo by Ash Daniel
Richmond Folk Festival
In my family, we start looking forward to the next Richmond Folk Festival as soon as the last one ends, and we encourage friends to come along. (Full disclosure: My husband, Don Harrison, is on the programming committee.) It’s held in October, which is usually, though not always, a beautiful time to be outdoors near the river. It's free, and the promise of hearing authentic sounds from places such as the Congo and Nova Scotia — as well as the southern U.S. and the Northern Plains — brings together a diverse crowd of music lovers. Being there always renews my faith in Richmond.