Richmond Travel Guide

Activities & Events

The James River

The section of the James River running through Richmond offers many opportunities for a day out. Due to Richmond's location at the fall line, the James River has many rapids right downtown which are great for white water rafting. The rapids are class III but may become class IV in the right weather conditions. The ones closest to downtown can be quite dangerous without an experienced guide. However, there are many smaller rapids just slightly upstream which can safely be run in a raft or innertube. One can travel at a lazy pace, stopping to repeat rapids or swim through quickly.

In order to run the rapids in this way, one must have two cars, parking the first at the bottom exit point and the second at the entry point.

There are parks on both sides of the James River above downtown, but the Pony Pasture section of the James River park is an excellent place to begin a few hours on the rapids. Just make sure to pull out when you see a sign on the right side of the river with an arrow directing you to do so; otherwise you will have great difficulty on the larger rapids. The river is quite clean and mostly surrounded by woods for this section. Make sure to try the rope swing under one of the railroad bridges. Many people simply swim around in between the smooth rocks at Pony Pasture without leaving that section. There are excellent trails through the woods on both sides and this section is used for the XTERRA Triathalon in June.

IMPORTANT SAFETY NOTE - due to the river's currents, sudden drop-offs and large (and sometimes hidden) rocks, it has been known to get the best of even those with years of experience. As serene as it may look in places within the city, many locals have stories about someone they know who got in trouble with the river due to not taking the proper precautions, even just a few feet from the river bank. Do not risk it: when rafting or tubing, always wear a life jacket. Do not wade or swim outside of areas known to be safe by locals, such as between the rocks at Pony Pasture. In addition, be aware of weather conditions, as the river is prone to severe flash flooding during rainstorms, which changes conditions very rapidly and without much warning.

Live Music

Despite churning out a good number of internationally known rock, indie, metal, punk and R&B acts, many outsiders don't think of the former capital of the Confederacy as being a hotbed of diverse musical arts. However, largely thanks to the thriving arts scene associated with and around Virginia Commonweath University, Richmond has quite the music scene. Clubs offer a diverse selection of genres from rock, indie, metal, punk, hardcore, alternative, blues, jazz, jam, country and bluegrass. In addition to international and national acts that come through town, there is a vibrant (and often fiercely independent) local music scene which has spawned a good number of internationally renowned acts in recent years.

The Camel1621 West Broad StreetThe Fan Hosts Jazz, jam, indie acts.
The Canal Club1545 East Cary StreetShockoe Bottom 500 capacity club, featuring large stage upstairs and smaller stage downstairs. Hosts internationally known mainstream acts as well as local acts, mostly rock.
Carpenter Theater at Richmond Center Stage600 East Grace StreetThe Fan Theater venue, hosting larger mainstream acts.
Cary Street Cafe2631 West Cary StreetCarytown A self-described "hippie bar" in the heart of Carytown, the Cary Street Cafe features local and touring jam bands, reggae, bluegrass, indie rock and weekly jam-sessions.
Gallery 5200 West Marshall StreetDowntown Art gallery and performing arts center that hosts touring and local indie rock.
Hat Factory140 Virginia StreetShockoe Bottom Located in a converted factory building, hosts national, regional and local rock acts.
The National 708 East Broad Street, Downtown One of the newest venues on the scene, The National filled the much-needed absence of a large club venue in Richmond, and hasn't slowed down since. With a general admission capacity of 1,500, it hosts larger touring and local acts. Features seven full bars, 300 padded stadium seats with cup holders in the balcony, and a state of the art sound system. Attached is Gibson's Grill, which generally allows patrons to enter shows 15 minutes early with the purchace of an entree beforehand.
Strange Matter929 West Grace StreetThe Fan 300 capacity dive bar venue that has had much history in the RVA music scene. Formely known as Twisters, 929 Cafe and Nanci Raygun, it recently re-opened as Strange Matter.

source: Wikivoyage

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