I’m planning this trip for a foreign exchange student from Colombia, but I think this would be a great day trip for families with kids in the 10-18 range, especially if they are considering a career in architecture or history! Based on the request, this day is planned for a Thursday, but it would work almost any day of the week.
Start the day right in Richmond’s oldest neighborhood, WPA Bakery in Church Hill. Expect breakfast sandwiches, baked goods, and doughnuts to be on the menu. It has 4.5 stars and 90+ reviews on yelp so it shouldn’t disappoint. It’s open starting at 7am every morning and the earlier you get there the more time you’ll have to explore the architecture of Church Hill.
Spend some time rambling through Church Hill on the lookout for the Greek Revival, Italianate, Federal, and Queen Anne architecture styles that can be found throughout. Read this and this for a little background before you go.
Promptly at 10 am find yourself at St. John’s Church ready for a guided tour of the 1741 church where Patrick Henry first spoke the words, “Give me Liberty, or give me Death.” The 20-25 minute tours start at 10 am every day except Sunday (start at 1 pm) and costs $8 for adults. Children under 7 are free and youth 7-18 are $6.
After the tour you’ll want to hop in your car or uber quickly to make it to the 11 am free downtown walking tour with the Richmond Tour Guys. The Downtown tour is offered at 11 am Thursday, Fridays, and Saturdays, but be sure to check their website for other tours. The 2 hour tour will show you much of what is historic and contemporary in Richmond. The tour is free but please tip your guide and reservations are required.
After all that walking you’ll be hungry, but the famous Jefferson Hotel is only a 12 minute walk from the Richmond Convention center where the tour wraps up. TJ’s in the hotel is open for lunch from 11am – 2pm M-F and 11:30 am – 2 pm on Saturdays. The sandwiches on the menu run from $10-$26 so you can choose just how much to splurge on lunch. The real draw is walking through the Jefferson Hotel lobby and checking out the Tiffany stained glass window and the marble statue of Thomas Jefferson. Before you go, read here for some background on the hotel built in 1892.
After lunch prepare yourself for some architecture and history rare in the US. Agecroft Hall is an English mansion originally built between the 15th and 17th centuries. In the 1920s a wealthy American had the house dismantled and shipped to America where it was rebuilt in Richmond. The architect who oversaw the reconstruction changed the floor plan, so now we have a unique marriage between 17th century England and early 20th century America. The house is open from 10am – 4pm Tuesday-Saturday and 12:30 – 5pm on Sundays. Tours start on the hour and half-hour and adults are $8. Students are $5 and children under 5 are free.
Before they close head to the Branch Museum of Architecture and Design. The 27,000 sq. ft. mansion is impressive enough and it now houses exhibitions on Architecture, Design, and History. The museum is open T-F 10am – 5pm and S-S 1 – 5pm. There is a $5 suggested donation. If you find yourself there on Tuesday or Thursday there is also a 1:30pm house tour.
The Half Way House is about a 20 minute drive outside the downtown Richmond area, but it’s worth it to eat in a house built in 1760. According to Yelp you can expect to pay between $31-60/person while eating in the same place as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and many more.
This day is jam packed and I wouldn’t blame anyone for going straight to bed after dinner, but if you can grab drinks at Legend Brewing Co. and take in the city views from the porch. They are open until 11pm M-Th, 12am F-Sa, and 10pm Su.
Did I miss anything Richmond natives?