Richmond, Virginia is home to a wide variety of wheelchair accessible attractions, which include art, history and culture museums, an award-winning botanical garden, public parks, and a state capitol designed by Thomas Jefferson himself. Whether you’re planning to visit Richmond for a day or a week, there are plenty of activities to enjoy, all detailed in this guide to accessible tourist attractions in Richmond.

Tour the Virginia State Capitol Building

The Virginia State Capitol building, located in Downtown Richmond, was designed by Thomas Jefferson and constructed between 1785 and 1788. The structure’s design was modeled on the Maison Carrée in Nîmes, France, one of the most well preserved temples of the Roman Empire. The capitol building houses the Virginia General Assembly, consisting of 100 elected officials in the House of Delegates and 40 members of the state Senate.

Visitors can explore the building’s marbled corridors, tributes to military heroes, and even the legislative chambers themselves, which are open when state representatives and senators are out of session.

The capitol building’s accessible entrance is located at 1000 Bank Street. Elevators make all levels of the building accessible, and visitors are free to explore the building on their own or by participating in a guided tour. Guided tours are free and are available Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and on Sunday from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. The tours last about an hour, and the capitol building closes promptly at 5:00 p.m. daily. For more information on guided tours at the State Capitol, visit the Virginia Capitol website.

Visit the Edgar Allan Poe Museum

Dedicated to American writer Edgar Allan Poe, the Poe Museum is housed inside of Richmond’s oldest remaining residential building, located in the city’s Shockoe Bottom neighborhood. Wheelchair users enter the museum through a marked accessible entrance and must call 804-648-5523 for assistance — staff will open the gate and provide access.

Portable wheelchair ramps providing access to old building, large painting of raven propped up outside one building.

Once inside, wheelchair users will find stone pathways created from the remnants of the demolished Southern Literary Messenger building. The Messenger is where Poe began his career. The pathways which connect the buildings with the memorial garden and shrine are rough and uneven, but I was able to manage with my power wheelchair. The museum has been made partially accessible using a series of portable wheelchair ramps owned by the museum.

Each of the museum’s four buildings are accessible through the use of these ramps, however the second floor of the building pictured above is only accessible via stairs.

Exhibits contain the author’s original notes, furniture and other possessions, and allow visitors to learn a great deal about the author’s life and legacy. A self-guided audio tour is available through the museum’s website, with the audio accessible from a smartphone. Admission is priced at $10 for adults, $8 for seniors (65+) and members of the military, and $5 for youth (ages 7 to 17). Additional information to prepare for your visit is available from the Poe Museum website.

Explore the American Civil War Museum at the Historic Tredegar Iron Works

Located on the site of the historic Tredegar Iron Works, the largest iron works of the Confederacy, the American Civil War Museum presents a holistic account of the American Civil War. Noted Civil War historian and Princeton University professor James M. McPherson, who participated in the museum’s development, called it “a truly comprehensive exhibit and education center weaving together Union, Confederate, and African-American threads.”

The museum exhibits at the Tredegar site opened in 2006, and the facility is wheelchair accessible. Exhibits display artifacts from the Civil War, including weapons, uniforms and documents. Key battles and moments in the war are described through interactive, touch-screen displays, and a number of visual and documentary presentations provide context to visitors.

Admission to the Tredegar site is $18 for adults, $16 for seniors, veterans, teachers and students, $12 for active military, and $9 for youth (ages 6-17). Children under 6 and all Virginia public school students and teachers are admitted free. Additional information to plan your visit is available on the American Civil War Museum website.

Geek out at the Science Museum of Virginia

Located inside of a former train station, the Science Museum of Virginia is a state-owned museum that was established in 1970 with the goal of becoming a “catalyst for inspiration, a place that sparks curiosity, encourages discovery and generates ideas in science, technology, engineering and math.” The museum features a diverse selection of both permanent and temporary exhibitions, a Dome theater with the largest screen in Virginia, and The Forge, a hands-on workshop that invites children and adults to participate in hands-on science, technology, engineering and math projects.

One of the most popular permanent exhibits is Speed, which focuses on the topics of motion and time in science and technology. The exhibit features hands-on and interactive stations, including one which allows visitors to challenge a robot in a game of air hockey.

The Science Museum of Virginia is wheelchair accessible throughout, and has family restrooms on each level. Staff have received disability-specific training, and resources are made available to those who have sensory disabilities and who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind or low vision. The cost of admission is $17 for adults, $14 for seniors (60+) and youth (ages 6-12), and $10 for children (ages 3-5). Admission is free for children aged 2 and younger, members of the military, veterans and teachers. For additional information, visit the Science Museum website.

Spend time outdoors at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Located on 50 acres in Henrico County, approximately 8 miles from downtown Richmond, the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden provides the perfect escape from the big city.

Conservatory building seen through trees with lake in foreground.

Wheelchair accessible pathways comprised primarily ofaggregate concrete, sealed concrete, paving stone, asphalt, and brick lead visitors to themed gardens including the Asian Valley, Cherry Tree Walk, Rose Garden and Victorian-style Garden. The Children’s Garden features wheelchair accessible planters and a tree house built 13-feet above ground with ADA accessible ramps.

At the center of the Botanical Garden is a classical domed Conservatory, filled with colorful flowers and plants that have been artfully arranged to delight and inspire. Outside, with beauty tucked around every corner, visitors are invited to wander the gardens, explore the many pedestrian bridges and waterways, and enjoy the Richmond weather in every season.

Admission is $17 for adults, $14 for seniors (age 65+) and members of the military, $8 for youth (ages 3-12). Additional information can be found on the botanical garden website.

Tour the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Opened in 1936, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is a state-owned and privately endowed museum that has become one of the most important cultural attractions in Richmond. Its collection of more than 20,000 pieces includes American and African art, as well as Asian, European and Ancient art. Some galleries come as a surprise, inviting visitors to explore British sporting art, Fabergé, and Himalayan art.

Painting of people on a sailboat placed in a prime location in a museum.

The museum’s galleries are wheelchair accessible and provide ample seating to those with limited mobility. Both manual and powered wheelchairs are available for use in the museum on a first-come, first-served basis. Other investments in accessibility have been made and are detailed on the VMFA accessibility page.

Following a 2010 expansion which saw more than 165,000 square feet added to the museum, VMFA introduced a Modern and Contemporary collection which added to the diversity of the artwork on display. This diverse collection ensures that there are pieces to respond to every interest and curiosity, making for a more enjoyable visitor experience.

Admission to the VMFA is free, however fees may be charged for select special exhibitions. To learn more and to prepare for a visit, see the Museum of Fine Arts website.

Visit the Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site

The Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site is a United States National Historic Landmark located in Richmond’s Jackson Ward neighborhood. Now managed by the National Park Service, the landmark and historic site includes the home of African American businesswoman Maggie L. Walker, who in 1902 notably became the first African American woman to both charter a bank (St. Luke’s Penny Bank) and to serve as a bank president.

Guided tours of the historic site are provided by park service rangers and begin with the showing of “Carry On,” a film which provides important context about the era in which Walker lived. The tours, which are offered Tuesday through Saturday at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m., allow visitors to enter Walker’s home, which is furnished with period furniture and Walker’s personal belongings.

Visitors to the site will find it to be wheelchair accessible, not as a result of National Park Service investment, but because Maggie L. Walker was herself a wheelchair user later in life. Though not in use today, Walker had installed an elevator to provide access to her bedroom on the second floor. Admission to the historic site is free of charge, and additional information can be found on the National Park Service website.

Spend an afternoon at Maymont, the 100-acre historic estate and park with wheelchair accessible trails and exhibits

Maymont is a 100-acre park managed by a privately owned foundation — admission to the park and outdoor activities are free and open to the public, however admission is charged for tours of the Victorian-styled mansion and the Robins Nature Center. Located just a couple of miles from downtown Richmond, Maymont is easy to access with a car or public transportation.

The park presents a diverse array of habitats and exhibits for the public to enjoy. Wildlife habitats feature black bears, bald eagles, elk, owls, a resident bobcat and more — all safely enclosed by fences to keep visitors and wildlife safe. The Maymont farm offers hands-on animal encounters and an opportunity to feed alpacas, goats and more, a popular draw for children and families.

Maymont is also home to a number of specialty gardens, including the popular Japanese Garden with its colorful plants, manicured lawns and beautiful water features. Pathways throughout much of the park are wheelchair accessible, often paved but occasionally composed of hard-packed gravel or dirt. Some “shortcuts” through the park, which has multiple elevation changes, require the use of stairs. During my exploration of the park, I was able to find an alternate accessible route in each of these cases.

To learn more about the park’s features and amenities and to plan your trip, visit the Maymont website.

Visit the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia

Opened in 1991 in Richmond’s historic Jackson Ward district, the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia has been located in the Leigh Street Armory building since 2002. The armory building has seen a tremendous renovation to make it wheelchair accessible, including ADA compliant bathroom facilities. Though small in size, the museum presents a trove of information detailing the Emancipation, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, Desegregation, and Civil Rights eras.

On display in the first floor gallery is a 13-foot statue of Virginia native Arthur Ashe, the Black male tennis player who won singles championships at Wimbledon, the US Open and the Australian Open. Interactive children’s displays will keep youth entertained while parents engage with the museum’s more advanced content.

Admission is priced at $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and students, and $6 for children (ages 5-12). For more information and a list of current exhibitions, see the Black History Museum website.

See the Virginia War Memorial

The names of nearly 12,000 Virginians killed while serving in the United States Armed Forces are enshrined at the Virginia War Memorial, located in the City of Richmond. The memorial and adjacent museum/education center are wheelchair accessible, with adapted bathrooms.

War memorial with names of soldiers carved into wall and written on glass.

The memorial commemorates the service and sacrifice of those who lost their lives during World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Desert Storm/Desert Shield, and the Global War on Terror. The names of fallen soldiers are engraved on the Shrine of Memory’s glass and stone walls, which overlook the City of Richmond.

The site is also home to the Paul and Phyllis Galanti Education Center, which includes a variety of exhibits and documentary films. The museum and education center is free and open to the public. Additional information can be found on the Virginia War Memorial Foundation website.