I love Richmond VA (aka RVA) and have taken many beautiful pictures of it over the last couple years. I want to share how I see the city and how much it’s become a part of the Doug Ash Photography story. Below is a compilation of everything that RVA means to me.
There’s a lot of photos and links of my own adventures as well as a few other cool things to do Richmond VA. With the intention being that this can be used a resource so you can explore the city as well.
These were mostly based on questions people have asked me so I’ll be updating this as more questions come along. Or even if they don’t, I’m sure I’ll come up with more things to add.
Where’s the best place to catch a sunrise?
My favorite spot is actually one of the easiest and quickest spots to get to. Right at start of the Lee Bridge/Belvidere St exit ramp there’s a wonderful overlook of the city. It’s definitely one of the more popular views of the city but it’s still worth checking out for yourself.
A lot of photographers use the train tracks as a leading line into the city, but you can also walk further down along the bridge to get more water in front of the city for a slightly different scene.
Interested in checking out more places to catch a Richmond VA sunrise, check out one of my other posts here.
How about sunset?
Libby Hill is definitely my favorite spot in the city for a sunset. And I feel like the majority of Richmond feels the same way.
It’s hard to beat such a great view. There’s a lot of space for tripods, proposals, engagement shoots, frisbee tossing, dog walking…you get the idea. Having a date night/picnic here also tops my ‘fun things to do in Richmond VA for couples’ list. More on that way below.
I typically like shooting on the walkway midway down Libby Hill, close to the bench. And also further up the walkway to the left so you can get a shot of the cobblestones acting as leading lines in the city.
If you have been to Libby Hill too many times to count or maybe it’s normally too crowded for your taste. I’ve compiled a few other spots to watch a great sunset in Richmond VA here.
Where’s a good spot to see the Richmond VA skyline?
Many of the same places mentioned for my sunrise & sunset spots, like Libby Hill or from the Lee Bridge. But there’s also the flood wall walking path near/under the Manchester Bridge. It offers an awesome perspective of the Richmond VA skyline but also is a great way to get out and about.
You can start at the Tredager parking lot, use the T Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge to cross the James River then hop off that and go down the stairs at the Manchester Climbing wall. This little footpath takes you past the climbing wall and then up under the Manchester Bridge. Go left to the flood wall and beautiful views of the Richmond city skyline.
Right on that path will circle you back the way you came. But also gives you the chance to check out a nice overlook above the Manchester Climbing Wall. It’s cool being able to see everyone on the memorial bridge and how active the city can be.
What’s your favorite spot to capture fall leaves?
I feel like fall is fickle in Richmond. We wait and wait for it, then it shows up for a week and seemingly disappears. Maybe an exaggeration but I know you kinda feel the same way.
When it does finally hit, you can be certain I am out running around with one of my cameras.
I’d say my favorite spot to capture fall leaves in Richmond is on Monument Ave. I feel like that defines Richmond in the fall. And if the leaves are still there during the Richmond Marathon so it makes for an awesome racing experience as well.
What’s your favorite neighborhood to explore and take pictures?
This is a tough one. I currently live in Scott’s Addition and have been there the last couple years. So although it has a place in my heart and is super easy to take photos of. I often find myself venturing down Sheppard St in the Museum District.
So I think the Museum District takes the cake. Don’t get me wrong I love exploring down by the river and getting epic cityscape/landscape photos. I also enjoy focusing on fine details. Capturing scenes or items that you may walk by without thinking twice about it.
Whether it’s the lighting in an alleyway or the way wet brick looks after a storm. Museum District helps me cure that itch. It also looks really well covered in snow!
If I get out early enough to get the neighborhood before sunrise, I normally find myself at the VMFA watching the actual sunrise. That multi-use spot up top the hill with those fountains and little tables. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. Thats the spot.
After stopping by the VMFA I may venture into The Fan for a few pics but don’t spend as much time there.
If you’re out and about in Scott’s Addition or the Museum District, keep an eye out for my sticker. That thing is all over the place there.
Where’s your favorite spot to watch fireworks in Richmond?
Easy answer would be somewhere down around the James River. Events like the fireworks at Dogwood Dell and the Richmond Squirrels games get a little too busy for me. Don’t get me wrong, they’re a lot of fun, but I normally find myself at odd spots to catch the shows. 2 years ago I caught Rocketts Landing fireworks from an overlook near Mayo Bridge. This year I wanted to go under the Nickel Bridge to catch the Dogwood Dell fireworks but didn’t end up making it. Maybe next year. I wrote about it a little more here: Fireworks in Richmond VA (And Some Epic Pictures)
What’s your favorite Richmond event?
As a runner I might be a little biased, but I love Dominion RiverRock and try to take pictures there every year as well as participate in at least one of their running events. Monument Ave 10k & the Richmond marathon/half in the fall are fun as well. Both to cover and participate in.
Concert or concert series are also worth mentioning here as well. Dominion RiverRock does typically have concerts each night kind of wrapping up the day of fun. But there’s also Friday Night Cheers, Music at Maymont, Innsbrook After Hours, Richmond Folk Festival, Richmond Jazz and Music Festival & many others.
There’s a bunch of other fun events but I’ll direct you to The Richmond Experience for that. Their Instagram page is updated almost daily with fun things going on. But more on that later.
Where can I go to watch lights at Christmas time?
You got a bunch of good places to check out. There’s the Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. There’s a Richmond based tacky light tour, use this guide for more info. But my favorite place to catch Richmond Christmas Lights is….you guessed it! Across the James on the floodwall. The whole Richmond city skyline lights up after the RVA Illuminates event kicks off the holiday season at Kanawaha Plaza. I took this image back in 2018 and it remains one of my best selling prints.
What are the best trails in Richmond VA for hiking/walking/running?
I love running Buttermilk Trail because it’s so green and you can go pretty fast if you start on the trail near Nickel Bridge. A lot of downhill. But Forest Hill Park Trail is my current go-to because of how short and intense the trail is. It’s only 3 miles but has a lot of ups and down. It’s a lot of fun.
Try to make your run/hike/exploring on a Sunday at Forest Hill Park so you can have the option to check out the South Of The James Farmer’s Market. An awesome open air market with a bunch of local goodies, open between 10am-1pm May – October.
Of course I can’t mention those two trails without mentioning North Bank Trail but I think I ran that too much after college, I prefer the other two at the moment.
I go more in depth about my favorite Richmond trails here: Best Trails In Richmond VA For Hiking.
How long have you been taking pictures in Richmond?
Overall I’ve been in the photography game since late 2009 during my college years in Norfolk, VA but I moved back up to the Richmond area in 2010. Although I didn’t actually live in the city, I would drive in town and meet up with a lot of running groups both on the roads and trails so I began to experience what RVA was all about then.
I didn’t actually focus on Richmond photography until I moved into Scott’s Addition in 2016. It was then I dove headfirst into all the RVA photo hotspots.
Not only did I dive into Richmond’s photo hotspots, but I became pretty ingrained with everything RVA! Which in turn, helped my photos and now gives me a perfect segue-way into my next section.
Inspiration, Culture and The Richmond Experience
As mentioned previously I’ve been living in Scott’s Addition for a few years. And those years I’ve been able to watch the neighborhood’s huge amount of growth. I’ve lost track of the breweries, restaurants and apartments that keep popping up.
It’s also made me kinda lazy in terms of checking out new restaurants. I still love checking out new things, but it’s hard to beat having Peter Chang’s, Fat Dragon, En Su Boca and ZZQ within walking distance. Same for all the breweries & spots for alcohol. I won’t even try to go through them all, I’ll leave that to the pros at Discover Richmond Tours. (This isn’t a paid ad, they just really know their stuff)
Interested in a guided tour of Richmond VA
Discover Richmond Tours used to just focus on food tours in specific neighborhoods. Taking people on a guided walk to various restaurant/food options within that neighborhood. Then they added brewery tours and then when COVID hit, they added a few more options. Such as scavenger hunts and gift boxes made with items from other local Richmond businesses.
Check out their website for availability and more details.
Always be in the know
As mentioned earlier, The Richmond Experience is the page to follow on Instagram. They’re one of the best sources for events, restaurants, breweries, local businesses and just about everything else RVA has to offer.
They also have a weekly newsletter for members that give more details so you’re always in the know. At the time of writing this post, the membership is $39 a year. Not bad considering all the insider details and specials they provide.
And if you’re a local Richmond business, you can even partner up with them for promotional services to help support your business. I’ve used it in the past for canvas print giveaway, saw a ton of new followers and interest for my brand.
Fun Things To Do In Richmond VA For Couples
This could probably be it’s own page but I’ll keep it here on this guide as a one stop shop for now. And I mention it at the end of the article because you can do just about everything I mentioned above as a couple and double the fun! But here’s a few specific fun things to do in Richmond VA for couples. (I’ll try not to list a bunch of picnic’y things, but that’s something we do quite often, so no guarantees)
Hang Out On VMFA’s Lawn For Sunset And/Or A Drink
Hanging out on VMFA’s back lawn or their big hill is the perfect end to a nice summer walk. Makes for a perfect napping spot as well. They have plenty of seating and space to chill.
Maybe except on Friday nights during warmer weather where they host After 5 Fridays. A free event with beverages, live music and special galleries/attractions.
I’ve heard it’s a ton of fun, but just a little heads-up, it can get kind of packed. I myself have never been, and my experience with the busy’ness was all pre-covid so something to keep in mind. If you’ve got a free Friday night, it’ll definitely be worth a visit.
I also kinda forgot to mention that actually visiting the VMFA itself is a great thing to do for couples. Especially one of their special exhibits. My girlfriend and I went to the Man Ray photography exhibition near the end of 2021, that was pretty neat.
Have A Picnic At Hollywood Cemetery
I myself had never thought about even considering this, as it might seem a little odd, but my girlfriend introduced this to me and we’ve done it a few times. But having a picnic at Hollywood Cemetery is a unique experience where you can eat lunch while checking out some of the speculator views of the James River down below.
It used to be a more common thing to do in the US. And Hollywood Cemetery even used to host a Friends Of Hollywood Cemetery Annual Picnic which requested you “join us for an annual tradition that dates back to the 1800s!”
Just be sure to clean up after yourselves and don’t leave behind any trash
Take A Ride With RVATukTuk
Tuk Tuk’s are a “three-wheeled, 100% electric, open air-limo” as described by their website. You can book various different tours including; distilleries, breweries, city lights or even just a general city tour to name a few.
They can even be booked for weddings related rides such as wedding pickups, bachelor/bachelorette parties, and more.
And special shout-out to these other local photographers
If you liked checking out Richmond VA from my perspective. Check out some of these other Richmond photographers. They each have their unique take on the city and maybe even a few new spots you can seek out. Click on their hyperlinked names below!
So now, if anyone ever asks, is Richmond VA beautiful? You can most definitely answer Yes it is!
That concludes this article for now, but I also know I don’t have anything close to all the fun things to do here in RVA. So I’ll definitely keep adding to it.
Cheers to Richmond VA, gotta love it!