27 Delightful Day Trips from Richmond, Virginia

Are you looking for fun ideas for day trips from Richmond, Virginia? Look no further!

Richmond is the capital of Virginia and one of the best places from which to explore so much that the state has to offer. From historical sites and outdoor adventures to unique attractions, there are plenty of places to see within a reasonable driving distance from Richmond.

The day trip ideas in this article are arranged in order of distance from Richmond (closest to the farthest). All are less than a 2.5-hour drive from Richmond. And distances are calculated from the state capitol.

Listed drive times are approximations. The time it takes you to drive to the suggested day trip destination will depend upon several factors including your exact starting point, the time of day, weather, etc.

Richmond Virginia cityscape

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Some of these day trip ideas are in proximity to each other, so you could even combine multiple destinations and enjoy half a day at each. I have done this myself by visiting Mount Vernon and Arlington National Cemetery in one full day.

Pocahontas State Park

Distance from Richmond: 22 miles

Approximate drive time: <30 minutes

Pocahontas State Park is a great day trip destination from Richmond, Virginia. Located just 22 miles away, it’s an easy 30-minute drive to this beautiful natural escape.

Pocahontas State Park offers something for everyone, whether you’re looking to explore nature trails or take part in some recreational activities like fishing and swimming. Boat on the Swift Creek Lake or explore the Civilian Conservation Corps Museum. Concerts and family-friendly entertainment events are held in the park’s 2,000-seat amphitheater.

Petersburg, Virginia

Distance from Richmond: 29 miles

Approximate drive time: 40 minutes

With its vibrant history, Petersburg, Virginia, on the Appomattox River makes a great day trip. Its proximity to Richmond makes it very convenient for a half-day trip if that’s your preference.

As a renowned historical city, it offers many sites to explore and appreciate. These range from the remarkable Petersburg National Battlefield (the site of America’s longest Civil War military campaign) to the Centre Hill Mansion Museum.

Colonial Williamsburg

Governor's Palace in Colonial Williamsburg with Christmas garlands on the front gate.
Colonial Williamsburg makes an outstanding day trip from Richmond, Virginia. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

Distance from Richmond: 52 miles

Approximate drive time: 50 minutes

If early American history interests you, then a visit to Colonial Williamsburg is an absolute must. As the biggest living history museum in the world, Colonial Williamsburg is one of the great Virginia day trips.

You’ll have so much fun experiencing colonial life as it was hundreds of years ago. From 1699 until 1780, Williamsburg held the title of Virginia Colony’s capital before Richmond took its place.

Here you can explore various sites such as the Governor’s Palace and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, enjoy costumed programs, attend a talk with a Colonial Williamsburg historical reenactor, and so much more.

Or try a guided tour of the Colonial Williamsburg historic area.

For more details about this great day trip idea, see my post all about what to do with one day in Colonial Williamsburg.


Replica 17th century ship on a pier.
Susan Constant replica ship at Jamestown Settlement. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

Distance from Richmond: 58 miles

Approximate drive time: 1 hour

In 1607, Jamestown, Virginia, was founded and became the location of the first permanent English settlement in the Americas. It makes an excellent day trip from Richmond.

Out of this small settlement in North America eventually emerged a nation whose history is full of both triumph and tragedy.

There are a lot of things to do in Jamestown. Jamestown Settlement is an educational, interactive museum that immerses its visitors in the history of Jamestown. Through videos, displays, and re-enactments of life at Jamestown during its inception, guests can gain a greater understanding of the significance and impact of this colony.

You can also visit Historic Jamestowne, the actual site of the colony at Jamestown, Virginia. A unique combination of both a U.S. National Park (Colonial National Historical Park) and an active archaeological site administered by Preservation Virginia, Historic Jamestowne is a great place to explore.

Read my article about how to visit Jamestown for more details.

Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park

Chatham Manor, a Georgian-style home completed in 1771 on the Rappahannock River in Stafford County, Virginia, opposite Fredericksburg

Distance from Richmond: 54 miles

Approximate drive time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

I could have included this as part of the Fredericksburg day trip (see below) but decided to separate it because it really is a day trip (or multiple-day trip) unto itself. And not everyone is as into Civil War battlefield sites as others.

Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park actually manages four battlefields over several counties, the nearest to Richmond being Spotsylvania. In addition to the Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg, and The Wilderness battlefields, this historic park also marks the site of General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson’s death. These are some of the best battlefields to visit near Washington, DC.

TIP: Keep track of all of your important travel details with a digital travel planner like this.

Fredericksburg, Virginia

Distance from Richmond: 59 miles

Approximate drive time: 1 hour+

Fredericksburg is only about an hour from Richmond. It’s full of historical sites like George Washington’s boyhood home at Ferry Farm as well as his mother’s residence, Mary Washington House.

You can also explore the lovely 40-block historic downtown area, which features hundreds of original 18th- and 19th-century buildings. The downtown area near the river also features 100 restaurants and shops waiting to be discovered.

High Bridge Trail State Park

Distance from Richmond: 61 miles

Approximate drive time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

High Bridge Trail State Park is a great day trip from Richmond, Virginia. And of course, without a doubt, High Bridge is the highlight of the park.

This impressive 2,400-foot bridge towers 125 feet above the Appomattox River and holds the special distinction of being Virginia’s longest recreational bridge. It’s listed on both the National Register of Historic Places and is a Virginia Historic Landmark.

Yorktown, Virginia

An American Revolution cannon on a battlefield
Yorktown Battlefield. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

Distance from Richmond: 64 miles

Approximate drive time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

Historic Yorktown was the site of the last major battle of the American Revolution, and it’s perfect for a historical day trip from Richmond, Virginia. Yorktown was where General Lord Cornwallis’ forces surrendered to George Washington.

And as it goes in the musical Hamilton, the world turned upside down. 

When visiting Yorktown, I recommend that you start your day at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown before you head to the battlefield. But you could easily spend nearly one full day at Yorktown Battlefield alone. 

There are so many things to see and do in Yorktown. For more details about this wonderful day trip check out my article on tips for visiting Yorktown.

Charlottesville, Virginia

large brick house with a domed roof
Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello is just outside Charlottesville, Virginia. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

Distance from Richmond: 72 miles

Approximate drive time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Charlottesville is a charming town probably best known as the home of the University of Virginia (founded by Thomas Jefferson). You can take a leisurely walk around the campus to appreciate its history.

History and American literature enthusiasts will want to check out the Edgar Allan Poe Room. This room has been accurately restored to Poe’s time as a student here and is marked by a historical marker.

For those seeking other activities in Charlottesville, the Fralin Museum of Art and Virginia Discovery Museum offer much to explore. Located very near Charlottesville you’ll find the breathtaking Monticello estate of Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe’s Highlands residence.

Learn more about how to visit Monticello.

Belle Isle State Park

Distance from Richmond: 72 miles

Approximate drive time: 1 hour, 25 minutes

Explore the unforgettable tidal wetlands of Belle Isle State Park, situated along seven miles of Rappahannock River shoreline in Virginia’s Northern Neck.

This park is the ideal destination for a day trip from Richmond, Virginia. With its campground, three picnic shelters, and trails perfect for walking or biking – not to mention the convenient boat launches – it simply has everything you need.

James Madison’s Montpelier

front of a large brick house with white columns
James Madison’s Montpelier makes one of the best day trips from Richmond. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

Distance from Richmond: 77 miles

Approximate drive time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

James Madison, the fourth President of the United States, and his wife Dolley called Montpelier home for their entire lives. Situated in the scenic Piedmont area of Virginia, Montpelier is located in Orange County.

Montpelier, formerly named Mount Pleasant, was founded in 1723 and served as the residence of James Madison starting at a young age up until he died in 1836. The early stages of what is today known as the mansion began to take shape during the 1760s.

At James Madison’s Montpelier, you can explore the mansion and its grounds. There is a Visitor Center where you can learn more about this fascinating historical property and the people who lived here. You can also explore many of the outbuildings that were once part of the Madison property.

Culpeper, Virginia

Distance from Richmond: 90 miles

Approximate drive time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

Located in Virginia’s Piedmont River Valley, Culpeper offers visitors a peaceful spot about halfway between Washington, DC, and Charlottesville. Surrounded by both the Rappahannock and Rapidan Rivers, this lovely town is worth a visit. Shop with local artisans, check out the growing food scene, or explore the beautiful surrounding countryside.

Appomattox Courthouse National Historical Park

red brick house with a white fence around it
McLean House, Appomattox Courthouse.

Distance from Richmond: 90 miles

Approximate drive time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

A day trip to Appomattox Courthouse National Historical Park is a must for any history buff.

Located 90 miles away from Richmond, this historical site offers visitors the opportunity to explore one of the most important sites in American History. Here you can learn about the events that led up to General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Courthouse on April 9, 1865, effectively ending the Civil War.

Visitors can view preserved buildings such as McLean House where the surrender took place. Or take part in educational programs offered by park rangers that tell stories of those who took part in the events this park helps to preserve.

Blue Ridge Parkway

paved two-lane highway through the Blue Ridge Mountains
Blue Ridge Parkway

Distance from Richmond: 93 miles to the North End in Afton, Virginia

Approximate drive distance: 1 hour, 30 minutes

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a scenic drive that stretches 469 miles from Virginia to North Carolina. This national park is perfect for visitors who love stunning mountain views, hiking, camping, picnicking, and more.

There are many overlooks along the parkway where you can stop and take in the incredible views. Some of these overlooks include The Great Valley Overlook, Grandfather Mountain Overlook, and Elk Mountain Overlook.

You could easily spend a week or more exploring this stunning national park, but exploring a portion of it makes a great day trip. The speed limit along the parkway is 45 miles per hour or less, so plan to take your time. 

Read more about the best national parks in the South.

Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

Distance from Richmond: 95 miles

Approximate drive time: 1 hour, 50 minutes

If you’re looking for a unique day trip destination, then consider visiting Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in Suffolk, Virginia. This refuge covers an impressive 113,000 acres and is the last standing portion of a massive swamp that once stretched over one million acres.

Located just 95 miles away from Richmond, Virginia, this natural wonder is the perfect place to explore some of the most diverse wildlife in the country. Whether you’re a wildlife enthusiast, photographer, or fisher, there is something here to offer everyone: 40+ miles of trails and boardwalks for hiking; a self-guided driving tour; and more.

George Washington’s Mount Vernon

small white buildings with red roofs
Mount Vernon. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

Distance from Richmond: 98 miles

Approximate drive time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

Mount Vernon is a historic site located just outside of Washington, D.C. that was home to George Washington, the first president of the United States, and his wife Martha Washington.

The estate is managed by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association. Its preservation and restoration are privately funded.

Mount Vernon was first open to the public in 1860, and it has since become one of the most visited historic sites in the United States.

You could easily spend an entire day here, but a half day here is also good. Perhaps try a private guided tour. You’ll have the opportunity to explore Washington’s mansion, tour the gardens and grounds, visit the tombs of George and Martha Washington, and learn more about them at the education center.

Learn more about this great Virginia day trip in my post all about visiting Mount Vernon.

Manassas, Virginia

Wooden bridge to a stone house

Distance from Richmond: 103 miles

Approximate drive time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Located less than two hours from Richmond, Manassas National Battlefield Park should be on your list of potential day trips. Manassas, Virginia played host to an incredible two battles within about one year during the American Civil War.

At about 5,000 acres, the park invites visitors to explore and discover more than 40 miles of trails.

Uncover the stories of soldiers and civilians who experienced both the First and Second Battles of Manassas by exploring a series of interpretive trails. Along these routes, visitors can read markers providing details about battlefield action in certain areas.

Alexandria, Virginia

brick buildings in Old Town Alexandria
Alexandria, Virginia.

Distance from Richmond: 105 miles

Approximate drive time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Alexandria is a great town to visit. It has something for everyone—from historical sites to modern boutiques, restaurants, and entertainment.

And don’t miss Old Town, the city’s historic district. Here you’ll find tons of shops, cafes, and restaurants serving up delicious eats. Or enjoy a scenic lunch cruise on the Potomac River.

If you want to enjoy the outdoors, walk or bike along the scenic Mount Vernon Trail. It’s an 18-mile multi-use trail that follows the Potomac River. Explore renowned spots like the Alexandria Black History Museum, Carlyle House, and Gadsby’s Tavern Museum when you come to town.

Mallows Bay, Maryland

The ghost fleet of Mallows Bay, a collection of historic shipwrecks on the Potomac River.

Distance from Richmond: 106 miles

Approximate drive time: 2 hours

Kayaking in Mallows Bay Maryland makes an excellent day trip from Richmond, especially for those who enjoy both the outdoors and history. Mallows Bay-Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary safeguards the remarkable “Ghost Fleet,” a collection of more than 100 wooden steamships from the World War I era.

For a captivating experience, explore the one-of-a-kind “water museum” by kayak. As the tide recedes, you will discover the ships that serve as habitats for ospreys, bald eagles, herons, and many species of fish and other wildlife.

To get an optimal experience exploring the wrecks, plan your trip to coincide with low tide. May through September is the best time to paddle for favorable water and climate conditions.

Arlington, Virginia

United States Army officers in front of the Tomb of the Unknowns
Arlington National Cemetery. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

Distance from Richmond: 107 miles

Approximate drive time: 1 hour, 50 minutes

For many, Arlington is best known as the site of Arlington National Cemetery. With an immense 400,000+ gravesites, it has become one of the most visited sites in the area. Arlington National Cemetery is free to visit.

While you’re there, don’t miss the opportunity to witness a unique and solemn ceremony – the changing of the guard at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Dedicated members of the U.S. Army Honor Guard vigilantly uphold this post 24/7 with remarkable reverence, making it an unforgettable experience.

Combine a guided tour of Arlington with a tour of the top sites in Washington, DC.

Aside from the world-famous Arlington National Cemetery, there are many remarkable sites to visit in Arlington, Virginia. The 9/11 Pentagon Memorial, the United States Air Force Memorial, and the US Marine Corps War Memorial (often referred to as the Iwo Jima Memorial) are all highly recommended.

Virginia Beach, Virginia

wide walkway boardwalk at Virginia Beach in Virginia

Distance from Richmond: 108 miles

Approximate drive time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

Less than two hours from Richmond, Virginia Beach sits on the Atlantic Coast and offers everything from sandy beaches and boating to great restaurants and shopping.

If you’re in search of a relaxing day, just head to the beach. Lounge about on a towel, take a dip into the ocean, or enjoy a walk down the boardwalk.

Outdoor enthusiasts might want to try parasailing or surfing. If you’re in the mood for something a bit tamer, maybe take a look around at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center or Cape Henry Lighthouse.

Middleburg, Virginia

Distance from Richmond: 115 miles

Approximate drive time: 2 hours, 10 minutes

If you’re searching for a charming and tranquil day trip from Richmond, then Middleburg is the place to go. Located right at the core of Virginia horse country, this quaint town offers charming boutiques and eateries that make it an ideal spot to explore.

Make sure to drop by one of its shops and pick up something unique made by a local artisan as a souvenir. Moreover, don’t miss out on exploring the National Sporting Library and Museum too since this area is well-known for equestrian sports.

Shenandoah National Park

early autumn covers in Shenandoah National Park

Distance from Richmond: 116 miles

Approximate drive time: 2 hours, 10 minutes

Just over two hours from Richmond, you’ll find one of the most scenic of all U.S. National Parks. It’s one of the best national parks on the East Coast.

Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah National Park is a natural paradise of rolling hills, tranquil wooded hollows, beautiful waterfalls, and an abundance of wildlife.

The popular 105-mile Skyline Drive will guide you through the center of Shenandoah National Park and lead you to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Due to heavy snowfall at higher elevations, the drive is often closed during wintertime. As it’s also one of the most-traveled roads in the National Park System, be certain to plan accordingly.

Washington, DC

Capitol building in Washington DC in sunlight

Distance from Richmond: 120 miles

Approximate drive time: 2 hours, 25 minutes

Washington, DC is always a great idea and the perfect destination for a day trip from Richmond. Located less than two and a half hours away by car, visiting the nation’s capital is a drive worth making.

From iconic landmarks such as the White House and Lincoln Memorial to world-class museums like the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air & Space Museum, there are plenty of activities to fill your day with fun and adventure.

I could say more, but I don’t really think I have to. Washington, DC, kind of sells itself as a great place to visit. But there are sooooo many things to do, it might be overwhelming to decide.

Here are a few great options:

Explore stunning art with this guided small group tour of the National Gallery of Art.

Try a private walking tour of the National Mall.

Explore Washington, DC, on a Segway tour. Or check out the National Mall by electric vehicle.

Luray Caverns

Distance from Richmond: 123 miles

Approximate drive time: 2 hours, 20 minutes

For an unforgettable family day trip from Richmond, look no further than Luray Caverns. They’re the biggest caverns in the eastern United States with 10-story high ceilings.

Not only do you get to explore these magical chambers filled with awe-inspiring rock formations but admission also gives you access to other attractions such as the Car & Carriage Caravan Museum, Shenandoah Heritage Village, and Toy Town Junction.

Shenandoah River State Park

Distance from Richmond: 136 miles

Approximate drive time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Raymond R. “Andy” Guest Jr Shenandoah River State Park is the perfect place to soak up some breathtaking views of Massanutten Mountain and Shenandoah National Park from the South Fork of the Shenandoah River.

The park is about 1,600 acres and includes 5.2 miles of riverside scenery for you to explore with 24 miles of trails. This park is a favorite among families, fishers, and canoeists.

Annapolis, Maryland

Annapolis, Maryland, USA downtown view over Main Street with the State House.

Distance from Richmond: 143 miles

Approximate drive time: 2 hours, 15 minutes

Although it’s a little ways from Richmond, I’d say that Annapolis, Maryland, is worth the trip from Richmond. You’ll love strolling through the historic streets.

You can tour the Maryland State House, once the home of the Continental Congress and the oldest state house still in use legislatively. The public is invited to visit every day of the year, excluding Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

You can also visit the campus of the U.S. Naval Academy (be prepared to show your ID) or go sailing on the Chesapeake Bay.

Where to stay in Richmond, Virginia

You’ll find the greatest concentration of hotels in Richmond near the capitol area and the convention center. Here are a few recommended options:

Hilton Richmond Downtown: Located just about half a mile from the Virginia State Capitol and a third of a mile from the Greater Richmond Convention Center. This hotel has two restaurants, a lounge, and a coffee bar. Check rates here.

Courtyard by Marriott Richmond Downtown: Located in the heart of Richmond, this convenient hotel is just half a mile from The Poe Museum and the Virginia Holocaust Museum. Find your room here.

The Commonwealth: This popular hotel is right across the street from the Virginia State Capitol. It’s pet friendly and offers a fitness center. Check rates here.

Final thoughts on the best day trips from Richmond, Virginia

Planning a day trip from Richmond, Virginia, can be so much fine. Whether you are interested in exploring the history of George Washington at Mount Vernon or learning more about American Civil War history.

Other great destinations that show off Virginia’s beautiful scenery include Belle Isle State Park, Shenandoah National Park, and Luray Caverns.

With so many options available within a short drive away from Richmond, it’s easy to plan an unforgettable day out with family and friends.

What’s your favorite day trip from Richmond?

More articles to help you plan your day trip from Richmond

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