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The Best Ways to See Downtown Richmond

Take in the sights and hear the stories of Richmond's history by bike, trolley, tuk tuk, canal boat, kayak and more when you explore RVA with any of these amazing tours and adventures.

16 Essential Tours to Take in Downtown Richmond

1. Basket & Bike

Basket & Bike offers three types of downtown bike tours:

Every tour ends with a voucher for a free coffee, tea, wine or beer at Urban Farmhouse and Cafe.

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

2. 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. These tour will focus on Manchester, Brookland Park and the work of Hamilton Glass and Mending Walls RVA. Hamilton's 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 with a fun-filled morning.

You will be sure to leave satisfied, with a new friend or two, and stories to tell. This ride includes stops at landmarks and murals that offer a reminder of the history, culture and legacies at the heart of downtown Richmond. This one-of-a-kind, casual tour aims to exude positive vibes, treat the communities and residents with respect and nourish the mind and body.

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!
16 Essential Tours to Take in Downtown Richmond

3. Elegba Folklore Society

Journey into Richmond’s history to visit the sites where few monuments exist. Elegba Folklore Society’s interactive experience along the Trail of Enslaved Africans gives attendees the chance to ponder the impact of enslavement on the enslaved as shared in their own words and from their own point of view.

Tour participants will walk in the footsteps of their ancestors from their arrival point at river’s edge into Shockoe Bottom, the area of Richmond that housed the holding pens, jails, blocks and burial ground. The interpreters will interweave the narratives of enslaved Africans with the historical record, characterizations of the day and music.

Find more information about Elegba's tours here!
16 Essential Tours to Take in Downtown Richmond

4. 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 downtown-focused ghost tours: Shadows of Shockoe, Haunted Capitol Hill, Phantoms of Franklin and Haunted Pub Hops.

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. Haunted Pub Hops 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!
16 Essential Tours to Take in Downtown Richmond

5. Historic Riverfront Canal Cruises

The Riverfront Canal Cruises in downtown Richmond feature historically-narrated tours of the James River and Kanawha Canal designed by George Washington. Hear about centuries of Richmond’s history, from Powhatan’s Chiefdom to the first commercially successful electric streetcar in the world, while traveling in authentic, 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.

Tours depart from the canal’s Turning Basin at 139 Virginia Street. The canal cruise tours run annually from April thru November. All boats are handicap accessible and covered.

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

6. The JXN's Project Vanguard Route

We all stand on the shoulders of many notable Jackson Wardians and while the list of giants who helped future generations to see further is vast, The JXN Project hopes that the set of honorary designees for "Unveiling The Vanguard" is a representative sample of the rested and readied shoulders whose stories are often overlooked and under-told. While only a few could be chosen to receive honorary street designations, the project endeavors to curate an installation to pay homage to the many others who were called to leave a mark on Jackson Ward.

Community members are invited to engage in a self-guided tour of the honorary street signs either via personal vehicle, bicycle or on foot. You'll find directional "JXN Ward" stamps installed on the sidewalks to guide tourists along the route, which starts at the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia located at 122 W Leigh Street and ends at Maggie L. Walker Plaza located at N Adams and W Broad Street.

Find more information about the JXN Project's Vanguard here!
16 Essential Tours to Take in Downtown Richmond

7. Richmond Food Tours

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

Discovering Richmond Food Tours means exploring the Arts District as an insider. You will sample delicious food and snacks from 6 different restaurants like: Wong Gonzalez, Lift Coffee Shop, Charm School, Mama J's, Chez Foushee, Lillie Pearl, Bar Solita, NAMA and more. You’ll meet chefs and business owners and discover their passion for their craft. You’ll hear the stories that make this one of Richmond’s most defining and vibrant neighborhoods. But most of all, Richmond Food Tours will make sure you're full and have had fun by the end of it!

Find more information about Richmond Food Tours here!
16 Essential Tours to Take in Downtown Richmond

8. 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 different neighborhood tours, like downtown's Jackson Ward.

On the Richmond Mural Tours, three things are guaranteed: you will have a dedicated guide that knows the city, see a lot of street art (at least 15 murals) and have fun!

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

9. 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 offer walking tours of Richmond that 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!
16 Essential Tours to Take in Downtown Richmond

10. Riverside Outfitters

For the past 16 years, Riverside Outfitters has offered first-class outdoor adventures perfectly matched for your desired level of thrill and relaxation. Their excursions range from paddleboarding, SUP and kayaking tours to rafting trips along the Falls of the James, upper river and lower river and focus on team-building, connecting to nature and creating memorable moments together.

Find more information about Riverside Outfitters here!
16 Essential Tours to Take in Downtown Richmond

11. 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 and commemorate's each month's newest exhibitions, collections and showcases into a night of special programming and celebration of RVA's arts and culture.

Explore the Arts District and all of its shops, galleries and restaurants through this self-guided walk. RVA First Friday's activities extend from Gallery5 and Art180 in Jackson Ward all the way to the ICA at VCU.

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

12. RVA Historic Trolley Tours

Whether you were raised in Richmond, visiting or just passing through, you can travel by trolley 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 offers tours aboard their classic, air-conditioned trolley with cushioned seats, intricate seat frameworks and social 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!
16 Essential Tours to Take in Downtown Richmond

13. RVA Paddlesports

Based along the James River, RVA Paddlesports offers whitewater kayak and rafting instruction for all levels of paddlers. Whether it's your first time in a boat, or you want to paddle a multi-day trip overseas, RVA Paddlesports offers excursions and adventure programs for every step of the way.

Find more information about RVA Paddle Sports here!
16 Essential Tours to Take in Downtown Richmond

14. 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 Capitol, 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. They 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 1.5 hour 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 that's appropriate for all ages. Explore the city on a quest that will put a smile on everyone’s face. Designed for families or groups with children 12 and younger.
Find more information about RVATukTuk here!
16 Essential Tours to Take in Downtown Richmond

15. 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 tours here!
16 Essential Tours to Take in Downtown Richmond

16. Walking the Ward with Gary Flowers

Gary L. Flowers provides walking tours of Historic Jackson Ward featuring 20 stops in the downtown neighborhood 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."

Two types of tours are offered:

  • Basic: This 20-stop tour does not include viewing of videos from The Black History Museum or The Maggie Walker Statue.
  • Enhanced: 20-stop tour with historic videos provided by the Black History Museum and Cultural Center and the Maggie Walker Historic Site.
Find more information about Walking the Ward with Gary Flowers here!
Find more downtown RVA attractions here!