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History has no real price, so you can go one of two ways with things: heirlooms will either be priceless, or come with no cost at all. Well, Richmond is full of heirlooms and as much history as any city in the U.S., so to save you a few dollars with the kids, here are the five best free attractions you’ll find in Virginia’s capital:
1. Richmond National Battlefield Park. Dozens of battlefields and Civil War memorial sites pepper this park; beautiful views of historic landmarks will please the nature enthusiast, history buff and even kids who need to run around. Don’t miss out on the Garthright House and Dewry’s Bluff; read up on some of the history to get the full effect.
2. Maymont Park. Donated by the Dooley Family, wealthy Richmond landowners way-back-when, Maymont Park sprawls over 100 stunning acres. With a traditional Japanese tea garden, fountains and even a river full of animals, this park is perfect for a cheap thrill.
3. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. General admission to the year-round exhibits is free, though special exhibits and programs may have fees. Fabergé eggs and the works of Sean Scully and John Walker compose part of the oeuvre at what some call the ‘Mini-Met.’ Even if you aren’t an art enthusiast, you can’t beat free — though the Faberge eggs are anything but.
4. Virginia State Capitol Building: Recently remodeled and reopened, the Capitol building offers guided tours daily. No, it’s not the Capitol in Washington, D.C., but it’s almost as good. Originally built in 1788, then expanded in 1904, the Capitol in Richmond has been returned to its early 1900s splendor, giving you a glimpse back in Virginia’s time.
5. Canal Walk: Though you don’t have to pay to walk, it’s always fun to spend a few bucks for a boat ride down the James River; and what better way to woo your special someone than with a sunset stroll by the water?
The five best free things to do in Richmond are:
1. Tour the grounds at Maymont: This 100-acre estate was a gift to the city of Richmond from James and Sallie Dooley and is now operated by a private foundation. Tour the gardens and the exhibits of more than 100 animals for free. A tour of the Victorian mansion is available for $5.00 per person.
2. Visit the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts: Over 22,000 pieces of art, including permanent exhibits from The Lillian Thomas Pratt Collection of Fabergé; Art Deco, Art Nouveau and Modern and Contemporary art from the collection of Sydney and Frances Lewis; and The Jerome and Rita Gans Collection of English Silver are free to view. Traveling blockbuster exhibits are at a charge.
3. Window shop in Carytown: Enjoy browsing in the one-of-a-kind boutiques, people watching and exploring the neighborhood.
4. Take a stroll down the Canal Walk: This 1.25-mile walk takes you through downtown Richmond along the banks of the Haxall Canal, the James River and Kanawha Canal.
5. Take a drive down Monument Avenue: This historic street, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is lined with architecturally significant homes from the early 1900s and is punctuated with statues that tell the history of the city.