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6/29/21

The Best Ways to See Downtown Richmond

When it comes to Richmond, there is no shortage of history or stories that you can learn by bike or trolley with your choice of ghost tours, food tasting tours and more that will make a fun day for locals and tourists alike!

13 Essential Tours to Take in Downtown Richmond

1. Bike & Brunch Tours

This tour will touch your mind, heart and belly.

Join Bike and Brunch Tours for a ride through neighborhoods steeped in culture and history. This tour will focus on Jackson Ward, Brookland Park, sites along the way and the work of Hamilton Glass. His murals help connect us to the stories of trailblazers, residents and organizations behind or continuing the legacy within these communities. Whether you are on a weekend getaway, local and looking for a new activity with friends, considering moving to the city or just want to get out, Bike & Brunch tours will provide you for a fun-filled morning. You will be sure to leave satisfied, with a new friend or two, and stories to tell. This ride includes landmarks and murals. All of these stops offer a reminder of the history, culture and legacies at the heart of Richmond. This one-of-a-kind, easy pace, casual tour aims to exude positive vibes, treat our communities and the residents with respect and nourish the mind and belly.

Make sure you check out Bike & Brunch Tours' newest tour offering: the Mending Walls RVA tour that explore's Richmond's latest mural project centered around starting dialogue and creating collaboration.

Find more information about Bike & Brunch tours here!
13 Essential Tours to Take in Downtown Richmond

2. River City Food Tours

Ready to discover downtown Richmond?

Richmond’s revitalized Arts District, spanning parts of Jackson Ward and Monroe Ward, will capture your imagination with a mix of historically-significant architecture, under-the-radar restaurants and inspiring art galleries.

Joining River City Food Tours means exploring the Arts District as an insider. You will sample delicious food and snacks from 5-6 different restaurants, cafes and shops, possibly including truly authentic southern cuisine, mouth-watering Mediterranean fare, unique ice creams and more! You’ll meet chefs and business owners and discover their passion for their craft. And you’ll hear the stories that make this one of Richmond’s most defining neighborhoods. But most of all, River City Food Tours will make sure you have fun doing it!

Find more information about River City Food Tours here!
13 Essential Tours to Take in Downtown Richmond

3. RVATukTuk

RVATukTuk offers a variety of tours and rides throughout the city of Richmond on their fleet of electric-powered, three-wheeled open-air vehicles.

RVATukTuk tour options include;

  • City Tours: You will discover the city we love including Monument Avenue, the newly installed “Rumors of War” by Kehinde Wiley, the Virginia State Capital, St. John’s Church, site of the famous “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” speech, and Hollywood Cemetery, the final resting place of many famous people including Presidents James Monroe and John Tyler. Explore fashionable Shockoe Slip, the Carytown shopping district, and Scott’s Addition – home of breweries, cideries, wineries and restaurants.
  • City Lights Tours: See what Richmond is all about at night! This is a 1.5 hour private tour that hits all the highlights of Richmond including great city and river views. We will take you through Shockoe Slip, Shockoe Bottom, Carytown, Scott’s Addition and other Richmond hot spots under the lights. Adult beverages allowed onboard, bring your own or grab some take out drinks along the way!
  • Civil War, Slavery & Emancipation: Experience history on an hour and a half long tour through the most historic parts of Richmond. Your expert guide will give you insight into the events of the Civil War and the fall and burning of the city. And you’ll see it all up close on an electric powered Tuk Tuk, where you’ll be able to experience the sights and sounds of Richmond all around you.
  • Scavenger Hunts: The Family Fun Quest (1.5 hour) is a family friendly private scavenger hunt, appropriate for all ages. Explore the city on a quest that puts a smile on everyone’s face. Designed for families or groups with children 12 and younger.
Find more information about RVA TukTuk here!
13 Essential Tours to Take in Downtown Richmond

4. Walking the Ward with Gary Flowers

Gary L. Flowers provides 20-stop walking tours of the Historic Jackson Ward in the downtown section of his hometown of Richmond, Virginia. Tours include historic educational, economic, religious and social institutions that inspired the name "Black Wall Street", and "The Harlem of the South", and reflect the Ward's culturally historic past. Tours may be booked on Mondays and Wednesdays beginning at 12:00pm and 2:00pm and also Saturdays and Sundays beginning at 10:00am, 1:00pm, and 3:00pm.

Find more information about Walking the Ward with Gary Flowers here!
13 Essential Tours to Take in Downtown Richmond

5. RVA Historic Trolley Tours

Whether you were raised in Richmond or are visiting or just passing through, you will travel through a rich narrative of 400 years of history in one of the most fascinating and oldest cities in America. See the sights and learn about Richmond’s landmarks, riverfront, architecture and history. RVA On Wheels offer tours aboard their classic air conditioned trolley with cushioned seats, intricate seat frameworks and social rather than traditional bus seating. Their comfortable trolley will take you to many of the most historic and popular landmarks in the city, with both a driver and guide who combine the rich history of Richmond with great stories, humor and wit.

Find more information about RVA Historic Trolley Tours here!
13 Essential Tours to Take in Downtown Richmond

6. Historic Riverfront Canal Cruises

The Riverfront Canal Cruises in downtown Richmond features historically-narrated tours of the James River and Kanawha Canal designed by George Washington. Hear about centuries of Richmond’s history, from Chief Powhatan’s Chiefdom to the first commercially successful electric streetcar in the world, while traveling in authentic, covered, flat-bottomed boats. See the unique railroad Triple Crossing, tobacco warehouses that have been converted into trendy lofts, the Virginia Capital Trail, the Low Line gardens and James River wildlife.

The 40-minute boat tours travel along downtown's Richmond Canal Walk and depart every hour on the hour during operating hours and accommodate up to 28 passengers. This year, public tours are available Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays with varying hours in April, October and November. Private charters are also available to reserve if you are looking for a unique group outing or way to celebrate your special occasion. Tours depart from the canal’s Turning Basin at 139 Virginia Street. Tickets are sold on a first come, first served basis at the Turning Basin’s ticket kiosk or online 24 hours in advance. All boats are handicap accessible.

Find more information about Historic Riverfront Canal Cruises here!
13 Essential Tours to Take in Downtown Richmond

7. Richmond Mural Tours

Explore the art around you at some of Richmond's most historically significant neighborhoods and discover Richmond's beautiful murals, painted by local and international artists through two, different tours: Jackson Ward and VCU-Carver.

If you join one of their tours, three things are guaranteed: you will have a dedicated guide that knows the city, you will see murals and you will have fun!

Find more information about Richmond Mural Tours here!
13 Essential Tours to Take in Downtown Richmond

8. Haunts of Richmond Ghost Tours

Explore the dark side of Virginia's capital city on a Haunts of Richmond Ghost Tour. After the museums close and the sun goes down, the spirits rise! Richmond has its share of ghostly and ghastly tales, and Haunts of Richmond can't wait to share them with you on one of their four downtown-focused ghost tours: Shadows of Shockoe, Haunted Capitol Hill, Phantoms of Franklin or Spirits & Spirits Pub Crawl!

Shadows of Shockoe is a fascinating nighttime exploration of Shockoe Bottom, the oldest and most haunted neighborhood in Richmond. Haunted Capitol Hill finds what elected officials and security guards walk the hallowed halls of Virginia's seat of power. Phantoms of Franklin discovers the eerie beauty of Richmond's turn of the century Franklin Street. Spirits & Spirits Pub Crawl offers a visit to some of Richmond's most haunted pubs, where you can toast some of the regulars who are still hanging around, and hear their stories.

Find more information about Haunt of Richmond's ghost tours here!
13 Essential Tours to Take in Downtown Richmond

9. RVA First Fridays Art Walk

The RVA First Fridays Art Walk happens the first Friday of every month in multiple locations along and around Broad Street like galleries, shops and restaurants! The rough center of the Arts District action is at Adams & Broad St, but events stretch down Broad from Monroe to 7th Streets, and off Broad on Grace, Franklin, Marshall, and Leigh Streets.

Find more information about RVA First Fridays here!
13 Essential Tours to Take in Downtown Richmond

10. Richmond Tour Guys

Walk in the footsteps of 400 years of history with the Richmond Tour Guys while being captivated by the colorful stories of Richmond’s past and what it’s become. The Richmond Tour Guys’ free walking tours of Richmond are the perfect way to discover why Frommers said “While you weren’t looking, Richmond got cool.”

Their Downtown Sampler, Shockoe Bottom and Capitol Square tours are acclaimed by locals and visitors who discover fun stories and ways to experience the city like they never have before; exploring and seeing Richmond through new eyes.

Find more information about Richmond Tour Guys here!
13 Essential Tours to Take in Downtown Richmond

11. The Valentine Tours

The Valentine's newest tour offering is Monument Avenue: Origins and Reverberations, a walking and augmented reality tour from ARtGlass that will lead you through the infamous sites that sparked a national discussion.

Their other tour options include:

  • Figures of Freedom Downtown Walking Tour: This tour invites attendees to tour Shockoe Bottom, one of Richmond’s oldest historic districts, while exploring the struggles for freedom that helped shape America. This tour will include stories of Virginia’s earliest indigenous inhabitants, Thomas Jefferson’s Statute for Religious Freedom, the struggle of Richmond’s enslaved population and more.
  • Murals of Jackson Ward Walking Tour: Join the most experienced tour guides in Richmond to explore the diversity of one of city’s most vibrant neighborhoods. Visit murals, revitalized buildings and historic homes and learn the neighborhood’s rich history. As the Valentine traces its evolution from immigrant working-class neighborhood, to the “Harlem of the South” and a modern community today, you'll explore how art is telling the story of Jackson Ward.
  • Origin Stories: Court End Walking Tour: On this downtown walking tour, you’ll visit the Valentine museum’s Court End neighborhood, uncovering surprising examples of architecture and Richmond history along the way. Join the most experienced guides in Richmond to discover architectural gems and stories of the city’s early beginnings as the Capitol of Virginia. The historic Court End neighborhood grew as a prestigious area in the early 19th century due to its proximity to Thomas Jefferson’s new Virginia State Capitol building.
Find more information about The Valentine's new tours here!
13 Essential Tours to Take in Downtown Richmond

12. Basket & Bike

Basket & Bike offers two types of downtown bike tours: a Downtown Sunset Bike Tour and a Discover Downtown Bike Tour. The Downtown Sunset Bike Tour takes you along downtown streets and the Virginia Capital Trail and includes a complimentary coffee, cocoa, beer or wine from Urban Farmhouse and Cafe daily (except for Tuesdays) from 5PM to 7:30PM. The Discover Downtown Bike Tour features a leisure tour of downtown RVA, ends with a free beverage from Urban Farmhouse and Cafe and happens daily (except for Tuesday) 10AM-12:30PM or 2-4:30PM.

Bike tours are 2.5 hours long, start at RVA on Wheels in Shockoe Slip and $5 of each rider's ticket goes to support our rotating conservation partners: Capital Trees, James River Association, VCU Rice Rivers Center and BridgePark RVA.

Find more information about Basket & Bike tours here!
13 Essential Tours to Take in Downtown Richmond

13. Wonderstruck Weekend

Wonderstruck Weekend offers a History and Street Art in Jackson Ward walking tour that starts at the Black History Museum, then heads toward the Maggie Walker historic site and passes the statue dedicated to Mr. Bojangles and local street art.

As you cover the almost ten block tour, you'll see Maggie Walker herself by way of her dedicated plaza, Gallery6 and the historic Hippodrome, ending back at the Black History Museum where you can explore more of the history in Richmond by visiting nearby shops, galleries and restaurants.

Find more information about Wonderstruck Weekend tours here!
Find more downtown RVA attractions here!