Virginia is a commonwealth with the nickname “Old Dominion.” Oftentimes, it is also referred to as the “Mother of Presidents” because eight of our U.S. Presidents were born there. The area’s history began with the founding of the Virginia Colony in 1607 as the first permanent English colony in the new world. The capital of the Commonwealth is Richmond. Virginia Beach is the most populous city, Fairfax County is the most populous political county, and the region’s main seaport and military facilities are located in the Hampton Roads/Tidewater area.
Virginia is definitely for lovers – of history, beaches, wineries, mountains, rivers and the great outdoors. Throughout the Commonwealth there are many fun things to do. In this installment of Traveling Around Virginia we’ll visit the capital, Richmond, and explore sites to visit that are absolutely – free!
The city of Richmond is located at the intersections of Interstate 95 and Interstate 64, and surrounded by Interstate 295 and Virginia State Route 288 in central Virginia. The present city of Richmond was founded in 1609 and its economy is primarily driven by law, finance, and government. Tourism is an important aspect of the city. Here is just a sample of the activities and attractions in historic Richmond that you can do for FREE:
Stretching 1.25 miles along the James River and the Kanawha and Haxall Canals, the Canal Walk provides you with four centuries of Richmond’s history. Multiple access points between 5th and 17th streets allow you to view many monuments and exhibits. For more information contact (804) 788-6466 or visit www.venturerichmond.com.
Maymont House Museum
The museum can be found on Hampton Street and is open daily. You can explore the museum, Italian and Japanese gardens, a carriage collection, 700 animals in wildlife exhibits, and the nature center. (804) 358-7166.
This site begins at the Fan District at the intersection of Harrison Street and proceeds west to Horsepen Road. It became a National Historic Landmark in 1890 with a monument to General Robert E. Lee. There are also statues of three Confederate leaders. In the 1990s a statue of Arthur Ashe was also added.
Old Dominion Railway Museum
The museum is housed in a restored Railway Express Agency car and features photos and artifacts. It is only open on weekends and is located on Hull Street. (804) 233-6237 or www.odcnrhs.org.
Richmond National Battlefield Park
At the park, you can see 3 floors of exhibits, maps and programs that show the story of Richmond during the Civil War. Located on Tredegar Street and open daily www.nps.gov/rich.
Virginia Historical Society
This tells the story of Virginia’s history. The 13 galleries feature the largest display of Virginia artifacts on permanent view. Located on N. Boulevard it is open every day but Monday www.vahistorical.org.
Virginia Capitol & Executive Mansion
The Virginia Capitol, designed by Thomas Jefferson, houses America’s oldest legislative assembly. Daily one-hour guided tours showcase historical statuary and painting, rare exhibit objects and newly restored legislative chambers. Self guided tours are also available The entrance is at 10th and Bank Streets; www.virginiacapitol.gov. The Executive Mansion is the oldest continuously occupied governor’s home since 1813 in the country. Visit www.executivemansion.virginia.gov.