Skip to content

5 Best Ecotourism Destinations In Richmond, Viriginia

virginia national wildlife reserve

Virginia National Wildlife Refuge. Photo courtesy of the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Most people don’t think of Virginia as an ecotourism state because of the dense spread of commercial and residential developments. However, the state and federal governments have preserved thousands of acres of land here. To help you plan a nature-infused trip and snag some important Virginia travel tips, here a list of the best ecotourist destinations in Richmond. Which is your favorite?

1. James River Park System

Located directly in the heart of Richmond, James River Park is a spectacular ecotourism destination with 550 acres of shoreline. Adventure-seekers can partake in whitewater rafting, mountain biking, rock climbing, trail running, picnicking, fishing, hiking, and much more. You can stay in a campground or find a hotel in a neighborhood near the park in Richmond. The James River Park has so much to offer, it is an absolute must for anyone wanting to vacation in the outdoors.

2. Virginia National Wildlife Refuge

Situated on the Eastern Shore of the Virginia National Wildlife Refuge are Sunset Beach and 1,800 acres of protected land. It is a beautiful place to experience the sunset — hence the name. Stay at the Sunset Beach Inn for the easiest access and eat at Sunset Grille. There are also lots of activities nearby, such as kayaking, golfing, and biking.
blue ridge mountains

Blue Ridge Mountains. Photo courtesy of Bob Mical.

3. Smith Mountain Lake State Park

Situated in the foothills of the Blue Ridge and protected in Smith Mountain Lake State Park, a spectacular lake vista awaits. There are 500 miles of pristine shoreline and 22,000 acres of crystal clear water. Common ecotourism activities include fishing, swimming, boating, and picnicking. There is also a visitor center and an amphitheater on the north shore of the lake. If you want to explore this dramatic peninsula, stay at Bernard’s Landing — a private resort that gives you access to this beautiful location.

4. Shenandoah National Park

Featuring cascading waterfalls, wooded hollows, and spectacular vistas, Shenandoah National Park is a popular ecotourism retreat for people living in Virginia and Washington D.C. It offers 200,000 acres of protected lands that are home to deer, bears, and all sorts of forest animals and birds. If you plan on hiking or biking in this beautifully preserved land, Brookside Cabins are conveniently located near the entrance of Shenandoah National Park. There are also many other hotel options to choose from if you plan on staying a few nights. Freshwater fishing is also a popular activity in the area.

5. Blue Ridge Mountains

The Blue Ridge Mountains feature freshwater fishing, fly fishing, bird watching, canoeing, hiking, skiing, and all sorts of other outdoor activities. It is the perfect place to escape and enjoy nature. Situated in this magical location is the Montfair Resort Farm — a stunning retreat surrounded by 129 acres of woodlands, meadows, and fishing ponds. Attractions nearby include Shenandoah National Park and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. These are just a few of the ecotourism destinations near Richmond, Virginia. Of course, in the city itself, there are several parks if you just want to get away for a picnic or a quiet stroll with your family.

What is your favorite eco-tourism location in Richmond? 

About Jessie Festa

Jessie Festa is an New York-based travel content creator who is passionate about empowering her audience to experience new places and live a life of adventure. She is the founder of the solo female travel blog, Jessie on a Journey, and is editor-in-chief of Epicure & Culture, an online conscious tourism magazine. Along with writing, Jessie is a professional photographer and is the owner of NYC Photo Journeys, which offers New York photo tours, photo shoots, and wedding photography. Her work has appeared in publications like USA Today, CNN, Business Insider, Thrillist, and WestJet Magazine.

Jessie Festa standing in front of grafitti wall

Hi, I’m Jessie on a journey!

I'm a conscious solo traveler on a mission to take you beyond the guidebook to inspire you to live your best life through travel. Come join me!

Blogging Courses

Want to live your best life through travel?

Subscribe for FREE access to my library of fun blogging worksheets and learn how to get paid to travel more!


Leave a Comment