Richmond is officially on the radar for travelers seeking great food and beer, cultural attractions, and outdoor adventures – all without the crowds and price tag of more established tourist towns. 

Once you’ve had your fill of Virginia’s capital city, you’re also in the perfect position to explore the rest of the Commonwealth. From its convenient location smack in the center of Virginia, Richmond is an easy drive – or train ride – from the coast, the mountains, and the countryside. Here are the seven best day trips from Richmond, Virginia.

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Horse carriage in front of the Governor's Palace in Williamsburg, Virginia
Travel back in time in Virginia's Historic Triangle cities of Jamestown, Yorktown and Williamsburg © Travel Bug / Shutterstock

1. The Historic Triangle

Why go? To take a step back in time to the earliest days of the American colonies.

Virginia’s Historic Triangle – Jamestown, Yorktown and Williamsburg – is located less than an hour away from Richmond, making this an ideal day trip. Follow the scenic Colonial Parkway to explore historic sites including the first English settlement at Jamestown and the Yorktown battlefield where the Revolutionary War ended. Wrap up at the world’s largest living history museum in Colonial Williamsburg, where you can see what life was like in colonial times before grabbing a bite to eat in the nearby Merchant’s Square.

How to get to Virginia’s Historic Triangle: Follow Interstate 64 east for about 50 miles (under an hour) to reach Williamsburg. Yorktown and Jamestown are about 10 minutes farther on. Public transportation is limited, so a car is recommended to navigate this area.

Great blue heron on a Chesapeake Bay beach at sunset, Virginia
Head to the scenic waterways in Virginia's Northern Neck region on a day trip from Richmond © flownaksala / Getty Images

2. Virginia's Northern Neck

Why go? Because you don’t have to drive all the way to Virginia Beach to find sandy shores and briny oysters.

Virginia’s Northern Neck region follows the western shores of Chesapeake Bay, with tiny fishing villages and historical sites scattered throughout. Start in charming Irvington for a cup of coffee at The Local and then head over to the Tides Inn for lunch with views over the water at Fish Hawk Oyster Bar. Choose from state parks like Westmoreland and Belle Isle for walking and biking trails through the scenic wetlands. On your way back to Richmond, swing by Merroir Tasting Room to sample oysters from the celebrated farms of Rappahannock Oyster Company.

How to get to Virginia’s Northern Neck: Head east of the city on Interstate 64 and then hop on Route 33 to reach the remote wilds of these wetlands. You’ll reach Irvington in about an hour, but you could spend an entire day getting lost on these pretty country roads if you wanted.

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Aerial view of Fredericksburg, Virginia, at sunrise
Explore historic Fredericksburg on a day trip from Richmond © Harlow Chandler / Getty Images

3. Fredericksburg

Why go? To stroll across Civil War battlefields and sip award-winning bourbon.

Fredericksburg is a quaint college town about an hour north of Richmond. The 40-block historic district is brimming with charming shops and restaurants. Try to snag a spot at the seasonally inspired Foode, located in a restored bank building. Just outside of town, you can tour numerous Civil War battlefields; visit George Washington’s boyhood home at Ferry Farm; and get a taste of another sort of history at the A. Smith Bowman Distillery, the oldest bourbon in Virginia.

How to get to Fredericksburg: Fredericksburg is a straight up Interstate 95 about an hour’s drive from Richmond. You can also reach the city via Amtrak train. There’s a direct route from Richmond’s Main Street Station to downtown Fredericksburg.

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A Virginia winery with two horses in the foreground
It's a short drive from Richmond to Virginia Wine Country © Chet Mitchell / Shutterstock

4. Virginia Wine Country

Why go? To sample wine from one of the East Coast’s buzziest growing regions.

More than 300 wineries are located in 10 distinct growing regions in Virginia, and those in the central part of the Commonwealth are known as the Monticello AVA (American Viticultural Area). This pastoral region located on the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains is known for its fertile clay soil and long growing season. With roots reaching all the way back to Thomas Jefferson’s early experimentation with European grape varieties, wines in this region tend to have a complex old-world flavor with a modern twist. From stately Barboursville Vineyards and picturesque Pippin Hill to the quirky Merrie Mill Farm and Vineyard in Keswick, there’s a winery to suit every style of sipper.

How to get to Virginia Wine Country: Head west from Richmond to find some of Virginia’s top wineries, many of which are scattered around the rolling countryside about an hour from the city. You’ll need a car to navigate these country roads, but wine tours are available (and a safer bet than driving).

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Views from Hawksbill Summit in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
A couple of hours from central Richmond, you can hike in Shenandoah National Park © Jon Bilous / Shutterstock

5. Appalachian Mountains

Why go? To see why this part of the Appalachian Mountain range is known as the Blue Ridge.

If you’re craving more dramatic landscapes than Richmond’s gentle hills, head west toward the Appalachian Mountain range for miles of hiking trails, picturesque parkways and breathtaking vistas. Point your GPS toward Rockfish Gap – from this point you can drive north into the Shenandoah National Park on Skyline Drive or head south onto the Blue Ridge Parkway. On either of these scenic drives, you’ll find numerous hiking trails and overlooks where you can pull off to enjoy the views. If you’re road tripping in the winter, you may want to pop down to Wintergreen Resort for a day of skiing.

How to get to the Appalachian Mountains: Drive west of Richmond and you’ll see mountains appear on the horizon within about an hour. You’ll be right in the midst of those mountains not long after that. You will need a car to navigate this rural region. 

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The Jefferson Memorial reflected in Tidal Basin with cherry blossoms in Washington, DC
If you have limited time, the nation's capital is visitable on a day trip from Richmond © Steven Heap / Getty Images

6. Washington, DC

Why go? Because it’s totally doable to hit up DC’s highlights in just one day.

Sure, the nation’s capital warrants a proper visit of its own, but at just about two hours from Richmond, it’s also a very manageable day trip, especially if you take the train and bypass traffic. Leave Richmond early in the morning and you’ll have plenty of time to visit your favorite Smithsonian museum and walk or bike around the monuments. Depending on the season, you may prefer to schedule in some sports: D.C. United, the Washington Nationals and the Washington Capitals are just a few of the teams based here. Grab some grub at a food hall like Union Market or The Roost before hopping back on the train to return to Richmond.

How to get to Washington, DC: If you’re driving up Interstate 95 to reach DC from Richmond, you’ll want to time your trip carefully – traffic can be brutal in northern Virginia. To make the trip easier, take an Amtrak train from one of Richmond’s two train stations. Two hours later, you’ll be right in the heart of the city at Washington DC’s Union Station.

The Rotunda at the University of Virginia at sunset with the Thomas Jefferson statue in Charlottesville, Virginia
Charlottesville gets its youthful energy from the student population at the University of Virginia © BrianPIrwin / Shutterstock

7. Charlottesville

Why go? To experience a small Southern city that balances modern innovation with history and heritage.

Home to the University of Virginia, Charlottesville is a historic town with a refreshingly youthful energy. Visit the pedestrian-friendly Downtown Mall to explore the local shops and restaurants, many of which offer outdoor seating on the shady sidewalk. Nearby Monticello offers a fascinating glimpse into the life and mind of Thomas Jefferson, while Carter Mountain Orchard is a favorite stop for apple-picking and cider-sipping in the fall. 

How to get to Charlottesville: The city is about an hour’s drive west of Richmond on Interstate 64. You’ll need a car to get here. 

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