Blog, Richmond

Outdoor Activities to Check Out in Downtown Richmond, VA

The City of Richmond offers unique outdoor experiences. The James River flows through the city providing spectacular views and awesome options for recreation. For those who prefer to stay dry, downtown has a variety of areas, each with their own unique personality. Stumble upon great opportunities in Richmond whether it’s a friendly park, an informative walking trail or a local farmer’s market.

CityParking has parking lots scattered all throughout the city to help you access some of Richmond’s most engaging and interesting outdoors areas.

Here are some of our favorite outdoor activities:


1. Exploring Famous Landmarks: Downtown & Shockoe Slip

Enjoy both indoor and outdoor sightseeing and explore some of Richmond’s notable sites and attractions.

Start with a Canal Cruise and enjoy a 40-minute historically narrated tour of the James River and Kanawha Canal.  From there, visit the Richmond Slavery Reconciliation Statue.  The Statue is one part of the Richmond Slave Trail (read more below).

Continue East on Main street to Richmond’s Main Street Station. Built in 1901 and renovated in 2018, Main Street Station provides regular rail service and beautifully designed event spaces in its Headhouse and newly renovated Shed. Conclude your walking tour with a stroll to The Valentine First Freedom Center,  located at the site where Virginia’s temporary capitol stood in Richmond. The First Freedom Center commemorates and educates passersby about freedom of religion and conscience as proclaimed in Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom.

Don’t forget to grab a bite to eat at one of the many Shockoe Slip restaurants! CityParking has a nearby parking lot that will make your walking tour a breeze.

2.  Walking the Pipeline Trail

The Pipeline Trail is a unique pathway that takes you over a stormwater pipeline alongside the rapids of the James River.

This section of the river is lush with beautiful green foliage in the spring and summertime, as well as views of some of the river’s islands. This is a great spot to look for birds or whitewater rafters. Try out a quick walk on the pipeline or settle into one of the sandy and rocky spots on the riverbank. During the summer, this can be a great place to cool off and hang out with friends.

It’s important to check the river levels before planning an excursion on the Pipeline Trail. If the river rises too high, it can be unsafe to walk the trail.

If this seems like your kind of adventure, CityParking has a nearby parking lot that can make your day by the river even more easy going than before.


Photo credit: Eli Christman/ Flickr Creative Commons

3.  Strolling Down the Canal Walk

This 1.25 mile long urban walking path follows Richmond’s canal and connects you with Brown’s Island on the western end and the Capital Trail on the eastern end. Walk, run or bike along the path and soak in some of Richmond’s history, art and culture.

In addition to the canal views and glimpses of the river at either end, there are attention-grabbing murals located along the Canal Walk.

The area has a deep historical significance with the canal dating back to the 1780s. As people explore the Canal Walk they will pass by 22 medallions built into the ground. Each one gives detail on places, people, companies and events that are historically linked to the Canal Walk.

The Riverfront Canal Cruises are located along the trail for those who are interested in learning more about Richmond’s history. During the spring, summer and fall there are historic tours every hour and opportunities to book a private charter.

Give yourself plenty of time to explore and drop your car in the nearby CityParking lot. We have a lot located right beside Dock Street that allows you to easily access the Canal Walk.


Photo credit: Eli Christman/ Flickr Creative Commons

4.  Learning Richmond’s History Through The Slave Trail

The Richmond Slave Trail walks you back in time to better understand what enslaved people endured in Virginia. This self-guided tour takes you to the locations of former slave markets, the Reconciliation Statue and more. It runs from the Manchester Docks to Lumpkin’s Slave Jail and the Negro Burial Ground to First African Baptist Church.

Richmond was historically one of the largest exporters of enslaved people. The 17-stop trail educates you on how slavery was enforced in Virginia, where people were sold, attempts at freedom, where people lived and where they were buried.

One of the last stops on the Richmond Slave Trail is the location of Lumpkin’s Jail where enslaved people were held and auctioned off. The site was later owned by Mary Lumpkin, an African American woman who had been married to the jail’s owner Robert Lumpkin. Mary Lumpkin rented the building to a Christian School that was a part of the institutions that led to the inception of Virginia Union University.

If you’re looking to walk this trail, park at one of CityParking’s lots in Shockoe Bottom:


5.  Visiting Local Farmers Markets

For those who want to enjoy the outdoors without physically exerting themselves, Richmond has several farmers markets to check out. Browse through vendors, support local businesses and even treat yourself to some yummy food.

The 17th Street Farmers Market is one of the oldest markets in the city, and has been a center of community and connection for the area. Every Saturday, the market hosts produce vendors with meats and vegetables, along with vendors for baked goods and locally made crafts.

On top of the typical weekly event, the 17th street market will often host special events – everything ranging from live music to festivals, art installations and themed market days.

If you find yourself free on a Thursday, On the Square VA Farmers Market provides a lunchtime opportunity to check out local vendors and their goodies.

Don’t worry about finding parking for either market, CityParking has several lots in Shockoe right by all the action:


6.  Attending Kanawha Plaza Events

The Kanawha Plaza is a three-acre plaza that connects Richmond’s Central Business District with the James River area. One of the main features of this space is the large sunken pool with its pyramid-shaped fountain rising out of the waters.

In addition to being a pedestrian-friendly park for those to stroll around, the Kanawha Plaza hosts a variety of community events in the summer months. These include Brunch on the Plaza (a monthly cookout with food trucks and a DJ), movie nights and even concerts.

Anyone is allowed to attend events, though some require purchasing a ticket.

If you’re looking for a fun activity to take the family to during the warmer months, there is sure to be something going on at the Kanawha Plaza.

With the park being located in-between two busy streets and over top of the highway, it can be difficult figuring out where to park.  No worries, there are a few CityParking lots close by:



Explore the Outdoors with CityParking

Don’t let parking hold you back from all of the outdoors activities in Richmond. CityParking makes exploring your city easy and affordable. The rates for our lots are reasonable and will never cost nearly as much as a parking ticket.

Download one of the apps we partner with or use our parking locator to get started.