Things to Do in Richmond, Virginia — Canal Cruises to the Capitol Building

As the capital of the Confederacy during the American Civil War, Richmond, Virgina, is one of the oldest cities in the United States. Steeped in rich history, it’s got plenty of museums and historic markers for anyone interested in taking a trip back in time. In recent years, Richmond has also become known for its modern attractions. With so many great things to do in Richmond, it’s the ideal place for a fun city break.

To make the most of your stay in Richmond, consider booking one of the budget-friendly hotels near the Virginia State Capitol, the oldest continuously operating legislature in the nation. For something a little different, you can take a Segway tour of the grounds to learn more about the many exciting events that have occurred at this National Historic Landmark throughout history.

Historical Sites
Things to do in Richmond
Image via Flickr by Ron Cogswell

History buffs will want to stop by Monument Avenue to pay tribute to some of the greatest Civil War heroes, including Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis. Next up, visit the Confederate White House to take a tour of the official residence of Jefferson Davis during the Civil War. Then, head next door to the Museum of the Confederacy to view some of the best-preserved artifacts of the war, including several flags.

Afterward, make a stop at Historic Tredegar, a private museum dedicated to Civil War history. The museum shares its grounds with Richmond National Battlefield Park, the site of many Civil War battles. Encompassing 80 square miles of land, the park includes 13 battle sites, several original fortifications, the Confederacy’s largest hospital, and four visitor centers. You can take a tour of the park, watch a living history demonstration, or attend one of the many special events that take place here each year.

Outdoor Activities
Things to do in Richmond
Image via Flickr by Ron Cogswell

Anyone who enjoys taking a walk through nature will want to check out Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. With 50 acres of gardens, dining, and shopping, it’s one of the most-visited attractions in Richmond and the ideal place to enjoy flower displays, learn about plants, or take a gardening class.

If you love a little adventure in the outdoors, be sure to check out the James River. Try rafting, swimming, kayaking, or tubing in Virginia’s largest river. Spanning 1.25 miles along the James River and the Kanawha and Haxall Canals, Richmond’s Canal Walk is one of the city’s top outdoor attractions. Stroll or bike along the walkway to enjoy the many natural and historical sites found here. For a memorable afternoon, you can take an informative 40-minute cruise along the Canal Walk.

Food, Shopping, and Entertainment
Things to do in Richmond
Image via Flickr by Gamma Man

Richmond is known for its more than 25 breweries. One of the most popular, Hardywood Craft Brewery, offers tours and the opportunity to sample some of its brews. The brewery often hosts festivals, food trucks, and musical events. For a little retail therapy, make your way to Short Pump Town Center, which is home to more than 140 shops, restaurants, and more. From high-end brand names to local boutiques, this outdoor mall has something for everyone.

If you’re planning to take a trip to Virginia, there are many exciting things to do in Richmond. Whether you’re looking to learn more about American history or you simply want to spend some time outdoors, you’ll find it here.

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Travel to the United States without a Visa using ESTA

Guest post by Josh Hobson and Sophie Jones

Applying for a visa can be a lot of work.

Traveling to the United States can be a chaotic experience. When planning a holiday, there is so much to consider, including where to go, where to stay, when to go, which airline to fly with, and applying for visas. Fortunately, one of those considerations can now be taken off that list for many travelers. You guessed it. It’s the visa. Now, citizens of more than three dozen countries can travel to the United States without one under the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP).

What is VWP?

The VWP was created to boost tourism into the United States, helping to decrease wait times at airports. Through the program, travelers from any of the participating countries can enter the United States without a visa. They need only complete an electronic system for travel authorization (ESTA) application.

What is ESTA?

ESTA was launched by the US government and is ideal for anyone entering the United States by boat or plane for a short stay. Simply complete the online application available through the US Department of Homeland Security website at least 72 hours prior to departure. If you’re traveling with a group, you can submit an ESTA application for up to 50 people.

Simple and Cheap

An ESTA, unlike a visa, is very easy to obtain. Applications are completed solely online, the applicant will receive a response within minutesalthough some cases may take up to 72 hours. Not only is the ESTA a time saver,  it’s also cost-effective, at a mere $14. A trip to the embassy to file paperwork—not to mention the costly fees and long wait time—are a thing of the past. Bare in mind that to apply for an ESTA, you must hold an electronic passport.

Who Can Apply?

You may be wondering who can apply for the ESTA. There are 38 countries that are eligible for the ESTA program,  including Spain, the United Kingdom, France, Malta, and Chile. The program is intended for tourists, businesspeople, and those with a flight that connects through the United States.

Basic Needs

Anyone entering the United States under this program can remain in the country for up to 90 days before they have to leave. The ESTA is valid for 2 years and holders can enter the US as many times as they like during that period.

Important Information that You Must Consider

Even if your ESTA is approved, you are not 100 percent guaranteed entry into the United States. Officials at the border have the ultimate say about who can enter the country. Your application may be rejected. If so, you must apply for a conventional visa.

For more useful information about ESTA, check out this video

Author bio: Josh Hobson and Sophie Jones are students in Liverpool. They created  to provide awareness about this wonderful program. Reason? Josh was stranded in Mexico one summer when his visa expired. Luckily, someone explained the ESTA program to him, and he was allowed back into the country. Who knows, maybe it’ll save you, too.