Richmond is beautiful, but like many state capitals, it's not always cheap. Visiting any city on a student budget can be difficult but we're here to help you out! Named by Travel + Leisure as a top worldwide destination for 2016, Richmond obviously has a lot of potential. See all the sites you desire, taste the best in Richmond cuisine without breaking the bank, and have a blast with your friends on this amazing and affordable student trip to Richmond!
Honestly, the lodging prices in Richmond are relatively fair so long as you stay away from downtown hotels and historic B&Bs (it's a racket). You can go just a few minutes away, still in city limits, and stay for half the price. If you're willing, airport hotels are even cheaper but they do come with a certain amount of noise. Double up in your rooms and split the cost with a bunkmate or two. That way none of you have to pay full price and your trip can go on as planned.
Richmond is pretty walkable and what you can't reach by foot, you have the GRTC (Greater Richmond Transit System) which links all the major areas of the city. We recommend that you don't rent a car or take taxis unless absolutely necessary. It'll be a drain on your trip budget and it'll be, in the end, unnecessary. The bus system has an extremely affordable day pass available for people just like you plus easy to follow maps and transit schedules.
Things to do for cheap or free:
- River District - This trendy historic district affords beautiful views and plenty of shopping and dining options.
- Maymont ($ suggested donation) - A flowing Gilded Age estate on 100 acres, this landmark includes the historic Victorian house, stunning gardens, and even wildlife exhibits including animals like black bears, alligators, and a petting zoo.
- Richmond National Battlefield Park - The park commemorates a total of 30 Civil War sites in Richmond as the capital of the Confederacy.
- Virginia Capitol - Opened in 1785, this historic center of democracy went through a period of unrest during the Civil War. Today, the capitol gives free tours showcasing the building and the state's history.
- St. John's Church - The famous church where patriot Patrick Henry gave his "Give me liberty or give me death" speech now gives live reenactments which are free on Sundays.
- Virginia Museum of Fine Arts - Showcasing Van Gogh, Manet, and Matisse among others, the VMFA is a wonderful art museum.
Attractions worth seeing for the price:
- White House of the Confederacy ($) - How many times can you say you've been to the Confederacy's White House? It's definitely worth seeing.
- Agecroft Hall ($) - You wouldn't expect a 15th century English Tudor house in the middle of Virginia but that's what you find with Agecroft Hall. Learn how they moved it over to the New World, see a live performance, and tour the historic grounds.
- Edgar Allan Poe Museum ($) - Richmond was the writer's birth town so come by this historic museum and learn about one of America's greatest authors.
- Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden ($-$$) - Recognized by USA Today as the second-best botanical garden in the country, come by the Lewis Ginter Garden for a tranquil and fascinating afternoon outing.
As a capital city, Richmond has its fair amount of culinary diversity. This, however, often comes with a big price. Affordable ($) options include the Naked Onion serving sandwiches and American eats, the Italian Bombolini, Mediterranean Coriander, and Pepe's Mexican Restaurant. Moderate pricing ($$) gets you restaurants such as the new American restaurant Heritage serving everything from chicken and waffles to bourbon barrel smoked pork belly. The cozy eatery Lunch & Supper is also a popular choice for young groups who enjoy brunch meals and American cuisine which seems to reign supreme in Virginia's capital.
Extra tip: Split the bill and share plates between group mates to cut on costs and try new things.