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5 free things to do in Richmond, Va.

  • This Oct. 1, 2013 photo shows a sculpture by internationally renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly in the sculpture garden of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Va.  The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts houses more than 33,000 works of art spanning 5,000 years of world history. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

    This Oct. 1, 2013 photo shows a sculpture by internationally renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly in the sculpture garden of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Va. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts houses more than 33,000 works of art spanning 5,000 years of world history. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

  • This Oct. 1, 2013 photo shows the graves of some of the 80,000 people buried in Hollywood Cemetery on the James River near downtown Richmond, Va.  The cemetery opened in 1849 and has grown to more than 135 acres with more than 80,000 people buried there, including Presidents James Monroe and John Tyler, as well as Confederate President Jefferson Davis and numerous Virginia governors.  (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

    This Oct. 1, 2013 photo shows the graves of some of the 80,000 people buried in Hollywood Cemetery on the James River near downtown Richmond, Va. The cemetery opened in 1849 and has grown to more than 135 acres with more than 80,000 people buried there, including Presidents James Monroe and John Tyler, as well as Confederate President Jefferson Davis and numerous Virginia governors. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

  • This Oct. 1, 2013 photo shows a visitor looking over a work titled "Brainwaves" by Katie Grinnan in an exhibit area of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Va. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts houses more than 33,000 works of art spanning 5,000 years of world history. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

    This Oct. 1, 2013 photo shows a visitor looking over a work titled "Brainwaves" by Katie Grinnan in an exhibit area of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Va. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts houses more than 33,000 works of art spanning 5,000 years of world history. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

  • This Oct. 1, 2013 photo shows runners and pedestrians along a bridge suspended under the Lee Bridge over the James river from Belle Isle,  in Richmond, Va., where you’ll find locals exploring the 54-acre island and resting on its rocky shores.  Belle Isle was first explored in 1607 by Capt. John Smith, who helped establish England’s first North American settlement in Virginia. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

    This Oct. 1, 2013 photo shows runners and pedestrians along a bridge suspended under the Lee Bridge over the James river from Belle Isle, in Richmond, Va., where you’ll find locals exploring the 54-acre island and resting on its rocky shores. Belle Isle was first explored in 1607 by Capt. John Smith, who helped establish England’s first North American settlement in Virginia. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

  • This Oct. 1, 2013 photo shows a bicyclist riding on a bridge suspended under the Lee Bridge over the James river to Belle Isle, in Richmond, Va., where you’ll find locals exploring the 54-acre island and resting on its rocky shores.   (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

    This Oct. 1, 2013 photo shows a bicyclist riding on a bridge suspended under the Lee Bridge over the James river to Belle Isle, in Richmond, Va., where you’ll find locals exploring the 54-acre island and resting on its rocky shores. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

  • FILE - In this Tuesday May 1, 2007 file photo, the Colonial Williamsburg Fife and Drum Corp leads a procession during dedication ceremonies for the newly renovated Capitol at the Capitol  in Richmond, Va. The state Capitol building, designed by Thomas Jefferson in the Monumental Classical style, has housed state government since 1788. The wings of the building were added between 1904 and 1906. The Capitol reopened in 2007 after a $104.5 million restoration and expansion project that began in 2004. Statues of Virginia historic figures dot the grounds. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

    FILE - In this Tuesday May 1, 2007 file photo, the Colonial Williamsburg Fife and Drum Corp leads a procession during dedication ceremonies for the newly renovated Capitol at the Capitol in Richmond, Va. The state Capitol building, designed by Thomas Jefferson in the Monumental Classical style, has housed state government since 1788. The wings of the building were added between 1904 and 1906. The Capitol reopened in 2007 after a $104.5 million restoration and expansion project that began in 2004. Statues of Virginia historic figures dot the grounds. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

  • FILE - This Aug. 9, 2007 file photo shows the George Washington statue in the rotunda at the Capitol in Richmond, Va. The State Capitol building, designed by Thomas Jefferson in the Monumental Classical style, has housed state government since 1788. The wings of the building were added between 1904 and 1906. The Capitol reopened in 2007 after a $104.5 million restoration and expansion project that began in 2004. Statues of Virginia historic figures dot the grounds. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

    FILE - This Aug. 9, 2007 file photo shows the George Washington statue in the rotunda at the Capitol in Richmond, Va. The State Capitol building, designed by Thomas Jefferson in the Monumental Classical style, has housed state government since 1788. The wings of the building were added between 1904 and 1906. The Capitol reopened in 2007 after a $104.5 million restoration and expansion project that began in 2004. Statues of Virginia historic figures dot the grounds. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

  • FILE - In this May 11, 2011 file photo, Jeffrey Cole, as Romeo, and Liz Blake White, as Juliet, kiss during the presentation of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" at Richmond's Maymont Park, in Richmond, Va. This 100-acre estate was given to the Richmond community by James and Sallie Dooley, who lived there in a 33-room mansion from 1893 to 1925.Entrance to the gardens, visitors center and wildlife exhibits is free.   (AP Photo/Richmond Times-Dispatch, P. Kevin Morley)

    FILE - In this May 11, 2011 file photo, Jeffrey Cole, as Romeo, and Liz Blake White, as Juliet, kiss during the presentation of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" at Richmond's Maymont Park, in Richmond, Va. This 100-acre estate was given to the Richmond community by James and Sallie Dooley, who lived there in a 33-room mansion from 1893 to 1925.Entrance to the gardens, visitors center and wildlife exhibits is free. (AP Photo/Richmond Times-Dispatch, P. Kevin Morley)

  • FILE - In this Monday April 30, 2007 file photo, the moon rises over the state Capitol in Richmond, Va. The state Capitol building, designed by Thomas Jefferson in the Monumental Classical style, has housed state government since 1788. The wings of the building were added between 1904 and 1906. The Capitol reopened in 2007 after a $104.5 million restoration and expansion project that began in 2004. Statues of Virginia historic figures dot the grounds. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

    FILE - In this Monday April 30, 2007 file photo, the moon rises over the state Capitol in Richmond, Va. The state Capitol building, designed by Thomas Jefferson in the Monumental Classical style, has housed state government since 1788. The wings of the building were added between 1904 and 1906. The Capitol reopened in 2007 after a $104.5 million restoration and expansion project that began in 2004. Statues of Virginia historic figures dot the grounds. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

  • FILE  - In this Aug. 9, 2007 file photo, a tour guide leads a tour in the Old Senate Chambers at the State Capitol  in Richmond, Va.  The Capitol reopened in 2007 after a $104.5 million restoration and expansion project that began in 2004. Statues of Virginia historic figures dot the grounds. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

    FILE - In this Aug. 9, 2007 file photo, a tour guide leads a tour in the Old Senate Chambers at the State Capitol in Richmond, Va. The Capitol reopened in 2007 after a $104.5 million restoration and expansion project that began in 2004. Statues of Virginia historic figures dot the grounds. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

  • FILE  - In this Aug. 9, 2007 file photo, a tour guide leads a tour in the Old Senate Chambers at the state Capitol  in Richmond, Va.  The Capitol reopened in 2007 after a $104.5 million restoration and expansion project that began in 2004. Statues of Virginia historic figures dot the grounds. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

    FILE - In this Aug. 9, 2007 file photo, a tour guide leads a tour in the Old Senate Chambers at the state Capitol in Richmond, Va. The Capitol reopened in 2007 after a $104.5 million restoration and expansion project that began in 2004. Statues of Virginia historic figures dot the grounds. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

  • FILE - In this Saturday Feb. 26, 2011 file photo, flags wave on the roof of the State Capitol in Richmond, Va. The State Capitol building, designed by Thomas Jefferson in the Monumental Classical style, has housed state government since 1788.  (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

    FILE - In this Saturday Feb. 26, 2011 file photo, flags wave on the roof of the State Capitol in Richmond, Va. The State Capitol building, designed by Thomas Jefferson in the Monumental Classical style, has housed state government since 1788. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

  • This  Oct. 1, 2013 photo shows graves of some of the 80,000 people buried in Hollywood Cemetery on the James River near downtown Richmond, Va. The cemetery opened in 1849 and has grown to more than 135 acres with more than 80,000 people buried there, including Presidents James Monroe and John Tyler, as well as Confederate President Jefferson Davis and numerous Virginia governors.  (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

    This Oct. 1, 2013 photo shows graves of some of the 80,000 people buried in Hollywood Cemetery on the James River near downtown Richmond, Va. The cemetery opened in 1849 and has grown to more than 135 acres with more than 80,000 people buried there, including Presidents James Monroe and John Tyler, as well as Confederate President Jefferson Davis and numerous Virginia governors. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

  • This Oct. 1, 2013 photo shows a sculpture by internationally renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly in the sculpture garden of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Va.  The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts houses more than 33,000 works of art spanning 5,000 years of world history. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
  • This Oct. 1, 2013 photo shows the graves of some of the 80,000 people buried in Hollywood Cemetery on the James River near downtown Richmond, Va.  The cemetery opened in 1849 and has grown to more than 135 acres with more than 80,000 people buried there, including Presidents James Monroe and John Tyler, as well as Confederate President Jefferson Davis and numerous Virginia governors.  (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
  • This Oct. 1, 2013 photo shows a visitor looking over a work titled "Brainwaves" by Katie Grinnan in an exhibit area of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Va. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts houses more than 33,000 works of art spanning 5,000 years of world history. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
  • This Oct. 1, 2013 photo shows runners and pedestrians along a bridge suspended under the Lee Bridge over the James river from Belle Isle,  in Richmond, Va., where you’ll find locals exploring the 54-acre island and resting on its rocky shores.  Belle Isle was first explored in 1607 by Capt. John Smith, who helped establish England’s first North American settlement in Virginia. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
  • This Oct. 1, 2013 photo shows a bicyclist riding on a bridge suspended under the Lee Bridge over the James river to Belle Isle, in Richmond, Va., where you’ll find locals exploring the 54-acre island and resting on its rocky shores.   (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
  • FILE - In this Tuesday May 1, 2007 file photo, the Colonial Williamsburg Fife and Drum Corp leads a procession during dedication ceremonies for the newly renovated Capitol at the Capitol  in Richmond, Va. The state Capitol building, designed by Thomas Jefferson in the Monumental Classical style, has housed state government since 1788. The wings of the building were added between 1904 and 1906. The Capitol reopened in 2007 after a $104.5 million restoration and expansion project that began in 2004. Statues of Virginia historic figures dot the grounds. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
  • FILE - This Aug. 9, 2007 file photo shows the George Washington statue in the rotunda at the Capitol in Richmond, Va. The State Capitol building, designed by Thomas Jefferson in the Monumental Classical style, has housed state government since 1788. The wings of the building were added between 1904 and 1906. The Capitol reopened in 2007 after a $104.5 million restoration and expansion project that began in 2004. Statues of Virginia historic figures dot the grounds. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)
  • FILE - In this May 11, 2011 file photo, Jeffrey Cole, as Romeo, and Liz Blake White, as Juliet, kiss during the presentation of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" at Richmond's Maymont Park, in Richmond, Va. This 100-acre estate was given to the Richmond community by James and Sallie Dooley, who lived there in a 33-room mansion from 1893 to 1925.Entrance to the gardens, visitors center and wildlife exhibits is free.   (AP Photo/Richmond Times-Dispatch, P. Kevin Morley)
  • FILE - In this Monday April 30, 2007 file photo, the moon rises over the state Capitol in Richmond, Va. The state Capitol building, designed by Thomas Jefferson in the Monumental Classical style, has housed state government since 1788. The wings of the building were added between 1904 and 1906. The Capitol reopened in 2007 after a $104.5 million restoration and expansion project that began in 2004. Statues of Virginia historic figures dot the grounds. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)
  • FILE  - In this Aug. 9, 2007 file photo, a tour guide leads a tour in the Old Senate Chambers at the State Capitol  in Richmond, Va.  The Capitol reopened in 2007 after a $104.5 million restoration and expansion project that began in 2004. Statues of Virginia historic figures dot the grounds. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
  • FILE  - In this Aug. 9, 2007 file photo, a tour guide leads a tour in the Old Senate Chambers at the state Capitol  in Richmond, Va.  The Capitol reopened in 2007 after a $104.5 million restoration and expansion project that began in 2004. Statues of Virginia historic figures dot the grounds. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
  • FILE - In this Saturday Feb. 26, 2011 file photo, flags wave on the roof of the State Capitol in Richmond, Va. The State Capitol building, designed by Thomas Jefferson in the Monumental Classical style, has housed state government since 1788.  (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)
  • This  Oct. 1, 2013 photo shows graves of some of the 80,000 people buried in Hollywood Cemetery on the James River near downtown Richmond, Va. The cemetery opened in 1849 and has grown to more than 135 acres with more than 80,000 people buried there, including Presidents James Monroe and John Tyler, as well as Confederate President Jefferson Davis and numerous Virginia governors.  (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

With terrain varying from the mountains to the coast, Virginia offers an array of fall colors for leaf-peepers. But before or after your drive along one of the state’s many scenic byways, consider a fix of Southern city living with a visit to the state capital, Richmond. Located along Interstate 95, it’s an easy stopping-off point. And whether you like the outdoors, art or history, there’s plenty to do here – and you don’t have to spend a dime.

Canal Walk/Brown’s Island/Belle Isle

Find out why Outside magazine readers voted Richmond the nation’s most livable river town in 2012 by taking in the scenic James River. Canal Walk runs more than a mile through downtown Richmond along the river and the banks of the city’s canals, with monuments and exhibits along the way highlighting Richmond history.

With various access points around the city, Canal Walk eventually leads to Brown’s Island, a popular venue for concerts and festivals located between the canals and the river. It has a series of walking trails and bridges, including one that takes you to the middle of the river. Just steps away, a pedestrian bridge suspended under the Lee Bridge takes visitors over the river to Belle Isle, where you can explore the 54-acre island and rest on its rocky shores.

Belle Isle was first explored in 1607 by Capt. John Smith, who helped establish England’s first North American settlement in Virginia. The island was once home to a granite quarry and hydroelectric plant. It was also used as a prisoner-of-war camp during the Civil War. It features several bike trails, a rock climbing wall and tons of off-the-beaten-path areas to explore.

Virginia State Capitol

The State Capitol building, designed by Thomas Jefferson in the Monumental Classical style, has housed state government since 1788. The wings of the building were added between 1904 and 1906. The Capitol reopened in 2007 after a $104.5 million restoration and expansion project that began in 2004. Statues of Virginia historic figures dot the grounds. Also onsite is the historic Bell Tower, which houses a state welcome center and, at the other corner of the grounds, the Virginia Executive Mansion, where the governor’s family lives.

Hollywood cemetery

The cemetery along the James River is named for its plentiful holly trees. But while the Hollywood Cemetery isn’t a graveyard for famous actors, it has its own who’s who from Virginia history. The cemetery opened in 1849 and has grown to more than 135 acres with more than 80,000 people buried there, including Presidents James Monroe and John Tyler (who was William Henry Harrison’s vice president and became president in 1841 after Harrison died), as well as Confederate President Jefferson Davis and numerous Virginia governors. The first battle casualty of the Civil War is buried there along with more than 18,000 Confederate soldiers.

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts houses more than 33,000 works of art spanning 5,000 years of world history. Highlights include Faberge objects, Art Nouveau and Art Deco collections, Asian and African art, and paintings ranging from French Impressionist to modern and contemporary American.

Maymont

This 100-acre estate was given to the Richmond community by James and Sallie Dooley, who lived there in a 33-room mansion from 1893 to 1925. The grounds feature elaborate Italian and Japanese gardens, an arboretum, butterfly trail and other smaller gardens. A wildlife exhibit includes animals native to Virginia, such as black bears, bison, white-tailed deer, bobcats, bald eagles and other birds of prey. A children’s farm features goats, pigs and other animals.

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