58 Best Sights in Richmond, Fredericksburg and the Northern Neck, Virginia

Richmond National Battlefield Park Visitor Center

Fodor's choice

Inside what was once the Tredegar Iron Works, the visitor center is the best place to get maps and other materials on the Civil War battlefields and attractions in the Richmond area. A self-guided tour and optional tape tour for purchase covers the two major military threats to Richmond—the Peninsula Campaign of 1862 and the Overland Campaign of 1864—as well as the impact on Richmond's home front. Three floors of exhibits in the main building include unique artifacts on loan from other Civil War history institutions. Other original buildings on-site are a carpentry shop, gun foundry, office, and company store.

Kids can participate in the Junior Ranger program where they're given a workbook leading them through the exhibits in search of "clues." Once they've completed their book, they receive their choice of an embroidered Ranger patch or a Ranger pin.

Built in 1837, the iron works, along with smaller area iron foundries, made Richmond the center of iron manufacturing in the South. When the Civil War began in 1861, the iron works geared up to make the artillery, ammunition, and other material that sustained the Confederate war machine. Its rolling mills provided the armor plating for warships, including the ironclad CSS Virginia. The works—saved from burning in 1865—went on to play an important role in rebuilding the devastated South; it also produced munitions in both world wars. Free parking is available next door at the Belle Isle lot. Also, be aware that the American Civil War Center is also on this site, but is a private museum that charges admission. However, if you're visiting the museum along with the visitor center, parking is included in the admission.

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Fodor's choice

After a $150 million expansion, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has doubled its exhibition space, added a casual bistro and fine dining restaurant, and expanded its accessibility with a schedule that will keep it open 365 days a year. Already one of the top contemporary art museums in the nation, the VMFA has a fine collection of American art, British sporting art, and Fabergé. Its collection of 22,000 works also includes Impressionist, Postimpressionist, Himalayan, and African art. The soaring limestone and glass of the new wing and the whimsy of the adjacent sculpture garden blend the old and new to create a superb arts complex. Updated holiday hours will allow more visitors to take advantage of the free general admission throughout the year.

200 North Blvd., Richmond, VA, 23220, USA
Sights Details
Rate Includes: Free, Sat.–Wed. 10–5, Thurs.–Fri. 10–9, 12–5 on holidays

Agecroft Hall

Built in Lancashire, England, in the 15th century during the reign of King Henry VIII, Agecroft Hall was transported here in 1926. It's one of the finest Tudor manor houses in the United States. Set amid gardens planted with specimens typical of 1580–1640, the house contains an extensive assortment of Tudor and early Stuart art and furniture (1485–1660) as well as collector's items from England and elsewhere in Europe. A Tudor kitchen lets visitors learn about the culinary tools of that age.

Recommended Fodor's Video

American Civil War Museum

This museum weaves the stories of the Union, Confederate, and African-American experiences during the Civil War into a national context. The permanent exhibit, In the Cause of Liberty, is housed in the old gun foundry, where more than 1,100 Confederate cannons were made. The museum also operates the Museum and White House of the Confederacy and the Museum of the Confederacy in Appomattox.

500 Tredegar St., Richmond, VA, 23219, USA
Sights Details
$8 Tredegar only; $18 Tredegar, MOC and White House; $20 all sites including Appomattox
Rate Includes: Daily 9–5, Admission includes free parking with ticket validation

Barksdale Theatre

Catch a show at the area's oldest not-for-profit theater, which opened in 1953. Performances ranging from classics to innovative new works are staged Thursday through Saturday evening and on Sunday afternoon. And, once again, productions are being staged at the historic Hanover Tavern.

Berkeley Plantation

This James River plantation was the birthplace of William Henry Harrison, the ninth U.S. President, and Benjamin Harrison V, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. It also lays claim to hosting America's first Thanksgiving in December of 1619, long before the Pilgrims arrived. It played a major role in the Civil War, as the headquarters and supply base for McClellan's Union Army. The plantation features five terraced gardens leading from the house to the James River that were dug by hand before the Revolutionary War, and the mansion built in 1726, which is still family-owned.

Beth Ahabah Museum and Archives

Founded in 1789, this Reform synagogue collects and preserves artifacts that relate to the culture and history of Richmond's Jewish residents and is one of the oldest synagogues in America.

1109 W. Franklin St., Richmond, VA, 23220, USA
Sights Details
Rate Includes: Free, $5 donation suggested, Sun.–Thurs. 10–3, Closed Fri. and Sat.

Black History Museum & Cultural Center of Virginia

The goal of this museum in the Jackson Ward is to gather visual, oral, and written records and artifacts that commemorate the lives and accomplishments of blacks in Virginia. On display are 5,000 documents, fine art objects, traditional African artifacts, textiles from ethnic groups throughout Africa, and artwork by Sam Gilliam, John Biggers, and P.H. Polk.

122 W. Leigh St., Richmond, VA, 23220, USA
Sights Details
Rate Includes: $10, Tues.–Sat. 10–5, Closed Mon.; Sun. by appointment only

Canal Walk

The 1.25-mile Canal Walk meanders through downtown Richmond along the Haxall Canal, the James River, and the Kanawha Canal, and can be enjoyed on foot or by boat. Along the way, look for history exhibits such as the Flood Wall Gallery, bronze medallions, and other exhibits placed on Brown's Island and Canal Walk by the Richmond Historical Riverfront Foundation. Many sights intersect with Canal Walk, including the Richmond National Battlefield Park Civil War Visitor Center, and 5th, 7th, Virginia, 14th, 15th, and 17th streets meet the water along it.

The James River–Kanawha Canal was proposed by George Washington to bring ships around the falls of the James River, and to connect Richmond to major trade routes. Brown's Island, once the location of an ammunition factory during the Civil War, hosts festivals and concerts in warmer months.

Chatham Manor

Now part of the Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania National Military Park, Chatham was built between 1768 and 1771 by William Fitzhugh, a plantation owner, on a site overlooking the Rappahannock River and the town of Fredericksburg. Among Fitzhugh's guests were the likes of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. During the Civil War, Union forces commandeered the house and converted it into a headquarters and hospital. President Abraham Lincoln conferred with his generals here, Clara Barton (founder of the American Red Cross) tended the wounded, and poet Walt Whitman visited for a few hours looking for his brother, who had been wounded in a battle. After the war, the Georgian house and gardens were restored by private owners and eventually donated to the National Park Service. The home itself is now a museum. Five of the 10 rooms in the 12,000 square foot mansion house exhibits spanning several centuries, and are open to the public.

Children's Museum of Richmond

A welcoming, hands-on complex for children and families, this museum is a place to climb, explore, experiment, and play. The museum is divided into sections like Art Studio, Tree Climber, Town Square, and Backyard, each with its own activities. The museum also offers classes in painting and music, and hosts special events on holidays. Exhibits and activities are geared toward younger children. The museum has four locations in the Central Virginia area.

2626 W. Broad St., Richmond, VA, 23220, USA
Sights Details
Rate Includes: $9, Labor Day–Memorial Day, Tues.–Sat. 9:30–5, Sun. noon–5; Memorial Day–Labor Day, daily 9:30–5.

Chimborazo Medical Museum

This was once the Confederacy's largest and best-equipped hospital. Chimborazo opened in 1861 and treated more than 76,000 Confederate soldiers between 1862 and 1865. This site—once more than 40 acres—now contains a National Park Service visitor center and a small medical museum that tells the story of the patients, hospital, caregivers, and physicians through uniforms, documents, and other artifacts.

Confederate Cemetery

Historic District

This cemetery contains the remains of more than 2,000 soldiers (most of them unknown) as well as the graves of generals Dabney Maury, Seth Barton, Carter Stevenson, Daniel Ruggles, Henry Sibley, and Abner Perrin.

Confederate War Memorial Chapel

Built in 1887 by Confederate veterans, this tiny nondenominational chapel behind the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts was once part of the old Confederate soldiers' home. A video and displays of Confederate memorabilia pay tribute to the soldiers.

Edgar Allan Poe Museum

Richmond's oldest residence, the Old Stone House in Shockoe Bottom, just west of Church Hill Historic District, now holds a museum honoring the famous writer. Poe grew up in Richmond, and although he never lived in this early- to mid-18th-century structure, his disciples have made it a monument with some of the writer's possessions on display.

1914 E. Main St., Richmond, VA, 23223, USA
Sights Details
Rate Includes: $6, Tues.–Sat. 10–5, Sun. 11–5. Guided tours on the hr; last tour departs at 4, Closed Mon.

Fredericksburg Visitor Center

Historic District

Beyond the usual booklets, pamphlets, and maps, this visitor center offers a money-saving pass to city attractions ($32 for entry to nine sights including Washington's boyhood home, more than a 40% discount over individual admission prices). Before your tour, you may want to see the center's 10-minute orientation slide show. The center building itself was constructed in 1824 as a residence and confectionery; during the Civil War it was used as a prison.

706 Caroline St., Fredericksburg, VA, 22401, USA
Sights Details
Rate Includes: Daily 9–5; hrs extended in summer

Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania National Military Park

Historic District

The 9,000-acre park includes four battlefields and four historic buildings. At the Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville visitor centers you can learn about the area's role in the Civil War by watching a 22-minute film ($2) and viewing displays of soldiers' art and battlefield relics. In season, park rangers lead walking tours. The centers offer recorded tours ($4.95 rental, $7.50 purchase) and maps showing how to reach the Chancellorsville battlefield (where General Stonewall Jackson was mistakenly shot by his own troops), and the Spotsylvania Court House battlefield—all within 15 miles of Fredericksburg.

Just outside the Fredericksburg Battlefield Visitor Center is Sunken Road, where on December 13, 1862, the Confederates achieved a resounding victory over Union forces attacking across the Rappahannock (there were 18,000 casualties on both sides). Much of the stone wall that protected Lee's infantrymen is now a re-creation, but 100 yards from the visitor center, part of the original wall overlooks the statue The Angel of Marye's Heights by Felix de Weldon (sculptor of the famous Marine Corps War Memorial statue in Arlington). This memorial honors Sergeant Richard Kirkland, a South Carolinian who risked his life to bring water to wounded foes; he later died at the Battle of Chickamauga.

1013 Lafayette Blvd., Fredericksburg, VA, 22401, USA
Sights Details
Rate Includes: Free, Visitor centers daily 9–5 with extended hrs in summer; walking tours on a seasonal basis dawn–dusk

Gari Melchers Home and Studio

The last owner of this 1790s Georgian-style house was American artist Gari Melchers, who chaired the Smithsonian Commission to establish the National Gallery of Art in Washington. His wife, Corinne, deeded the 27-acre estate and its collections to Virginia. The home is now a public museum and a Virginia National Historic Landmark administered by the University of Mary Washington. You can take a one-hour tour of the spacious house, which is furnished with a rich collection of the owners' antiques. Galleries in the stone studio, built by the Melchers in 1924, house the largest repository of the artist's work. An orientation movie is shown in the reception area, which was once the carriage house.

224 Washington St., Falmouth, VA, 22405, USA
Sights Details
Rate Includes: $10, Sun.–Mon. and Thurs.–Sat. 10–5.

George Washington Birthplace National Monument

After you pass the town of Oak Grove on Route 3, all signs point to the national park on the Potomac River. At Pope's Creek, George Washington Birthplace National Monument is a 550-acre park mirroring the peaceful rural life our first president preferred. The house in which Mary Ball Washington gave birth to George in 1732 burned in 1779, but native clay was used to make bricks for a representative 18th-century plantation home. Costumed interpreters lead tours through the house, which has items dating back to the time of Washington's childhood. The grounds include a kitchen, garden, cemetery with 32 Washington family graves, and the Colonial Living Farm, worked by methods employed in Colonial days. Picnic facilities are available year-round, and children under 15 are admitted free.

George Washington's Ferry Farm

If it hadn't been for the outcries of historians and citizens, a Walmart would have been built on this site, the boyhood home of our first president. The land was saved by the George Washington's Fredericksburg Foundation, and the megastore found a location farther out on the same road. Recently, archaeologists have uncovered the original fireplaces and four cellars from the house where Washington was raised, as well as thousands of new artifacts. Ferry Farm, which once consisted of 600 acres, is across the Rappahannock River from downtown Fredericksburg, and was the site of a ferry crossing. Living here from ages 6 to 19, Washington received his formal education and taught himself surveying while not chopping a cherry tree or throwing a coin across the Rappahannock—legends concocted by Parson Weems. The mainly archaeological site also has an exhibit on "George Washington: Boy Before Legend." The ongoing excavations include a summer program for children and adults, "Digging for Young George." Ferry Farm became a major artillery base and river-crossing site for Union forces during the Battle of Fredericksburg.

268 Kings Hwy., Fredericksburg, VA, 22405, USA
Sights Details
Rate Includes: $8, $15 combo with Kenmore, Mar.–Oct., daily 10–5; Nov.–Dec., daily 10–4

Henricus Historical Park

Visit the home of Pocahontas and the second successful English settlement in the New World. Costumed interpreters reenact the lives of Virginia's Native Americans and English settlers who helped create the nation we know today.

Historic Christ Church

Completed in 1735, this church opened its doors when George Washington was three years old. The Georgian-style structure, included in the National Register of Historic Places, was built by Robert "King" Carter, and contains a rare "triple-decker" pulpit made of native walnut. Bricks for the church were fired in a great kiln near the churchyard. An informative 12-minute video is screened in the museum.

420 Christ Church Rd., Irvington, VA, 22576, USA
Sights Details
Rate Includes: Free, Church daily; museum weekdays 10–4; Apr.–Nov., also Sat. 10–4 and Sun. 2–5, By appointment only Dec. 1–Mar. 31

Hollywood Cemetery

Designed in a garden style along the banks of the James River, the cemetery requires at least an hour to stroll through the grounds. Many noted Virginians are buried here, including presidents John Tyler and James Monroe; Confederate president Jefferson Davis; and generals Fitzhugh Lee, J.E.B. Stuart, and George E. Pickett. Pets are allowed on leashes.

Hugh Mercer Apothecary Shop

Historic District

Offering a close-up view of 18th- and 19th-century medical instruments and procedures, the apothecary was established in 1761, and demonstrates the work of Dr. Mercer, a Scotsman who served as a brigadier general of the Continental Army (he was killed at the Battle of Princeton). Dr. Mercer may have been more careful than other Colonial physicians, but his methods will still make you cringe. A costumed hostess explicitly describes amputations and cataract operations before the discovery of anesthetics. You can also hear about therapeutic bleeding, see the gruesome devices used in Colonial dentistry, and watch a leeching demonstration.

1020 Caroline St., Fredericksburg, VA, 22401, USA
Sights Details
Rate Includes: $5, Mar.–Oct., Mon.–Sat. 9–4, Sun. 12–4; Nov.–Feb., Mon.–Sat. 10–4, Sun. noon–4

Ingleside Vineyards

Located near the Washington Birthplace Monument about 40 minutes east of Fredericksburg, this vineyard is one of Virginia's oldest and largest wineries, and has won the prestigious Virginia Governor's Cup more times than any other winery. It produces one of the few sparkling wines from Virginia. There are also white wines (viognier, sauvignon blanc, pinot gris, and chardonnay) and reds (sangiovese, cabernet franc, and sauvignon) as well as specially produced labels. The vineyards cover about 65 acres of gently rolling countryside whose climate and sandy loam soil is similar to that of Bordeaux, France. The winery has a tasting bar, a gift shop with grape-related gifts, a large outdoor patio with umbrella tables and a fountain, and a large indoor room for group tastings. There are also two cabins for overnight stays.

5872 Leedstown Rd., Oak Grove, VA, 22443, USA
Sights Details
Rate Includes: Mon.–Sat. 10–5, Sun. noon–5, Free

James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library

Historic District

This tiny one-story building on the site where James Monroe practiced law from 1787 to 1789 before becoming the fifth president of the United States, contains many of Monroe's possessions, collected and preserved by his family until present day. These include a mahogany dispatch box used during the negotiation of the Louisiana Purchase, and the desk on which the Monroe Doctrine was signed.

908 Charles St., Fredericksburg, VA, 22401, USA
Sights Details
Rate Includes: $6, Mar.–Nov., Mon.–Sat. 10–5, Sun. 1–5; Dec.–Feb., Mon.–Sat. 10–4, Sun. 1–4

John Marshall House

John Marshall (1755–1835) was chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court for 34 years—longer than any other. Appointed to the court by President John Adams, Marshall also served as secretary of state and ambassador to France. The Federal-style red brick house, built in 1790, is fully restored and furnished, with a mix of period pieces and heirlooms.


Historic District

Named Kenmore by a later owner, this house was built in 1775 on a 1,300-acre plantation owned by Colonel Fielding Lewis, a patriot and merchant, and brother-in-law of George Washington. Lewis sacrificed his fortune to operate a gun factory and otherwise supply General Washington's forces during the Revolutionary War. As a result, his debts forced his widow to sell the home following his death. The outstanding plaster moldings in the ceilings and over the fireplace in the dining room are even more ornate than those at Mount Vernon. It's believed that the artisan responsible for them worked frequently in both homes, though his name is unknown, possibly because he was an indentured servant. A multiyear renovation returned the grand house to its original state. It is interesting to note that the walls vary in thickness: 36 inches in the basement, 24 inches on the ground floor, and 18 inches upstairs. Guided 45-minute architectural tours of the home are conducted by docents; the subterranean Crowningshield Museum on the grounds displays Kenmore's collection of fine Virginia-made furniture and family portraits, as well as changing exhibits on Fredericksburg life.

1201 Washington Ave., Fredericksburg, VA, 22401, USA
Sights Details
Rate Includes: $10, $15 combo ticket with Ferry Farm, Mar.–Oct., daily 10–5; Nov.–Dec, daily 10–4

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Visit any time of year to witness the beauty of 50 acres of gardens while exploring the historic property's various dining and shopping options. The domed conservatory, referred to as the "Jewel of the Garden," is the only one of its kind in the Mid-Atlantic, and houses ever-changing displays, tropical plants, and more than 200 orchids in bloom. The rose garden, one of the many themed gardens on the property, features 80 varieties, with more than 1,800 roses and a pavilion for special events, including wine tastings and evening jazz concerts. A Children's Garden offers a wheelchair-accessible tree house—fun for kids and adults—an Adventure Pathway, sand and water play areas, as well as the "International Village," with playhouses modeled after homes from around the world, like the traditional Ethiopian tukul. The Dominion Gardenfest's annual light display is a holiday tradition. Dining options include the Garden Café and the Tea House. The Garden Shop offers unique botanical gifts.