One benefit of living in Richmond is the abundance of public parks. Richmond parks are accessible to the public, diverse, and visited by a large number of people. Unlike wilderness areas, parks are created for people. Richmond parks range from urban spaces and rich natural areas. Here are some of my favorites:
1. Capitol Square – Walk from your downtown office space and eat your lunch in the shadow of a Jefferson architectural masterpiece. Unlike nearly all other state Capitols, the building is a unique structure and it integrates well with its grounds. The grounds are completely accessible to the public and are a quiet respite in the heart of the central business district.
2. Maymont/Byrd Park – There are several different experiences found in these two contiguous and popular parks. Special features found at this park include the Carillon, Dogwood Dell, the Nature Center, animal area, Dooley mansion, and the gardens. Spread across its open space and lakes, one can find something for every age and interest.
3. James River Park – The 550 acres of river and forest that bisect the city is at one moment a wilderness experience and the next urban. It boasts class 3-4 rapids, many bike and hiking trails, and a sea of river boulders that form Richmond’s version of a beach. It is best experienced from the river or the pedestrian bridge to Belle Island. This park tries to balance its environmental richness with the many people who use it.
4. Hollywood Cemetery – This is much more than a place of burial. It is a well-designed park that is scenic and historic. From the bluffs, you will have one of the best river and skyline views in Richmond.
Other city parks have a more neighborhood flavor. One of the best is Forest Hill Park located just south and east of downtown. It is currently getting a much-needed overhaul. A couple others are east of downtown - Libby Hill and Chimborazo Parks. They host cultural events, open space, and also provide special views of the James River.