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8 Things To Do To Feel Like a Local in Downtown Richmond

1. Attend One of Downtown RVA's Festivals


There's no shortage of FREE (and affordable) fun to find throughout the year in downtown RVA! In May, take in the extreme sports and activities at Dominion Energy Riverrock, the East Coast's premier outdoor festival. Fridays in the summer are for Friday Cheers, RVA's longest running weekly concert series. Friday Cheers features up-and-coming headliners and local artists, a low ticket price and a family-friendly setting on Brown's Island. October brings two of Richmond's favorite festivals: The Richmond Folk Festival and The 2nd Street Festival in Jackson Ward. The 2nd Street Festival is a weekend-long homecoming celebration centered around the community and history of Jackson Ward and features music, food and fun throughout the festival. The Richmond Folk Festival is a 3-day festival celebrating culture, music and traditions from across the world and takes place along downtown RVA's riverfront.

Explore our downtown RVA events calendar here!
8 Things To Do To Feel Like a Local in Downtown Richmond

2. Opt Outdoors with the James River Parks System

Choose your own outdoor adventure when you explore downtown's parks and riverfront

Downtown RVA offers year-round outdoor amenities and activities like 550 acres of shoreline and islands, 40+ miles of hiking and biking trails and Class IV and V rapids running right through downtown Richmond's riverfront. From Belle Isle to the Floodwall, there are options for all ages and all levels of skills at the Belle Isle Bicycle Skills Area. Manchester Climbing Wall and kayaking and rafting excursions with Waterfront RVA, RVA Paddlesports and Riverside Outfitters. Or enjoy a casual bike ride, run or walk along the T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge, Canal Walk, Virginia Capital Trail and more.

Plan your outdoor adventure in downtown RVA here!
8 Things To Do To Feel Like a Local in Downtown Richmond

3. Try a Signature Dish at an RVA Food Establishment

With more than 250 restaurants to try, find out why our food scene continues to make national headlines

Start your day with breakfast or brunch at Perly's, Lulu's or Saison, relax on an outdoor patio for lunch at Patio Thai, Hot Chick or Oak & Apple or enjoy happy hour at a local watering hole like SWITCH, Capital Ale House, GWARbar, Grandstaff & Stein or Sine Irish Pub. If you're looking for the best birds' eye view of the city skyline, try one of downtown's rooftop bars at Quirk, Graduate Richmond, Kabana or Sonora Cantina + Rooftop. Then, head to dinner for a memorable and delicious meal at Restaurant Adarra, Lillie Pearl, Julep's, The Hard Shell, Max's on Broad and more.

Get a taste of downtown RVA here!
8 Things To Do To Feel Like a Local in Downtown Richmond

4. Walk, Run or Bike the Riverfront Canal Walk

Enjoy a scenic, waterfront trip through downtown RVA's past and present along our canal walk

The Canal Walk has been a staple of Richmond for decades, entertaining visitors and residents alike. Located along downtown’s riverfront, the Canal Walk stretches 1.25 miles along the James River and Kanawha and Haxall Canals and features murals, historic landmarks and more must-see sites and stops. If you're looking for a group outing or excursion, taking a Riverfront Canal Cruise is a great way to explore and learn more about the canal's and Richmond's history. You can start or end your trip on Brown's Island or The Low Line and Virginia Capital Trail.

Learn more about downtown's Riverfront Canal Walk here!
8 Things To Do To Feel Like a Local in Downtown Richmond

5. Explore Arts and Culture in the Arts District

Art galleries, street art, RVA First Fridays and more are waiting for you to discover in downtown RVA

From national exhibits to local artists, downtown's Arts District features 15+ galleries, the Mending Walls RVA mural project, the monthly art walk and events at RVA First Fridays and the nearby Insitute of Contemporary Art at VCU. Beyond the Arts District, you can find 150+ murals throughout downtown that showcase the best of RVA's appreciation for the arts as its turned its streets and buildings into a canvas for creativity. Get started finding all of downtown's murals with our guide to "20 Places to Find Street Art in Downtown Richmond."

Find creativity on every corner of downtown RVA here!
8 Things To Do To Feel Like a Local in Downtown Richmond

6. Catch a Concert or a Show

Find theater, live music, dance and more at RVA's home of arts and culture, downtown RVA

Downtown Richmond is home to not only the Richmond Ballet and Richmond Symphony, but also to several performing arts venues and theaters like the Virginia Repertory Theatre, The National, the Dominion Energy Arts Center and more. If you're looking for laughs, catch a comedy show at downtown's Coalition Theater or the Sandman Comedy Club. You can find more events and fun at other downtown favorites like Gallery5, The Hippodrome Theater and The Canal Club.

Experience the best of RVA's arts and culture scene in downtown RVA!
8 Places To Go and Things To Do To Feel Like a Local in Downtown Richmond

7. Visit the Historic Jackson Ward Neighborhood

Discover Jackson Ward's rich culture, flavors and history

Once known as the “Harlem of the South,” downtown Richmond’s Jackson Ward neighborhood has been home to the US’s first female bank president, Maggie Lena Walker, Hollywood dancing legend, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson and Richmond’s very own 2nd Street Festival. Known as the birthplace of Black entrepreneurship, Jackson Ward’s history and successes continue to attract and cultivate creative enterprises, businesses and institutions. Plan your visit to the Black History Museum & Cultural Center of Virginia, explore the history and art of Jackson Ward on a bike, walking or self-guided tour and grab a bite to eat at any of the restaurants along 2nd Street like Soul Taco, Big Herm's Kitchen, Salt & Forge, J Kogi and more.

Explore the Black-owned businesses in downtown RVA here!
8 Places To Go and Things To Do To Feel Like a Local in Downtown Richmond

8. Find the Perfect Souvenir When You Shop Local

Support RVA small businesses and explore downtown's one-of-a-kind shops

Whether you are sifting through the thrift stores like Rotate, Circle Thrift and 68 Home in the Arts District or a local bookstore in Shockoe Slip, you can find one of everything when you shop in downtown Richmond. While you explore all of the specialty shops throughout RVA’s downtown, make sure to visit the historic 17th Street Market on the weekends for the Richmond Night Market and RVA Black Farmers Market or a curated selection of handmade goods and exclusive gifts at Quirk Gallery's Gift Shop, The Valentine's Museum Store, The Someday Shop and more.

Explore more shopping in downtown Richmond here!