15 Best Things to Do in Richmond, KY

Richmond, KY
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Richmond, Kentucky, is a home rule-class city and the county seat of Madison County.

It is the third-largest city in the Bluegrass region, the sixth-largest in the state, and the eighth largest population center in Kentucky among metropolitan areas.

It was initially named after Richmond, Virginia, and is the home city of Eastern Kentucky University.

It was founded in 1798 by Colonel John Miller from Richmond, Virginia, who successfully lobbied the Kentucky legislature to move the county seat from Milford, Kentucky, to Richmond.

Richmond has a rich past with important figures, such as Kit Carson and Daniel Boone.

Located in the center of Kentucky's lush bluegrass region, Richmond is a small city with nevertheless much to do for people of all ages.

There are attractions aplenty for history buffs, outdoor lovers, art connoisseurs, culinary seekers, and sports lovers in Richmond

If you wonder what else one can find in this little Bluegrass State city, here is a list of some of the best things to do in Richmond.

See How the Settlers Lived at Fort Boonesborough State Park

Wooden houses at Fort Boonesborough State Park.
JNix / Shutterstock.com

When Daniel Boone and his men arrived at the Kentucky River in 1775, they established Kentucky's second settlement known as Fort Boonesborough.

Named after this pioneer frontiersman, Fort Boonesborough is a reconstruction, a replica of a working fort, complete with furnishings, cabins, and blockhouses.

Watch the past come to life with period craft demonstrations such as soapmaking with lye and candle dipping.

Slides for children at Fort Boonesborough State Park.
Michael_Kentucky / Shutterstock.com

Be fascinated by 18th-century life skills and a glimpse of what pioneer life was like in Kentucky.

Encounter archeological findings that have supplied an even more vivid view of the past and read their interpretive signages.

Also, go birding and spot species like pileated woodpeckers and sandhill cranes; have a fun-filled time boating out on the river; and go fishing for bluegill, bass, and catfish.

And pick up something for your loved ones at the gift shop with items reflecting Kentucky's creative heritage.

Ride Horses at Deer Run Stable

The state of Kentucky truly loves horses, and there is nothing like riding through the countryside atop this beautiful animal.

Go for a ride at Deer Run Stable and experience Daniel Boone country on a scenic trail.

This ranch will fulfill your longings for rustic nostalgia and an up-close-and-personal encounter with these beautiful steeds who are all used to being gentle mounts.

Go on a one-of-a-kind ride and put your fears to rest since an experienced trainer will accompany you through the countryside.

Whether you have never been on a horse or are a seasoned rider, the staff is ready to meet your needs.

You will love bonding with the sweet, mild horses as you embark on your journey and connect with their generous and kindly spirits.

Meet riders from other walks of life and discover the beauty of the Bluegrass State on horseback.

Relive the Past at the Battle of Richmond Visitors Center

The Battle of Richmond took place on August 29 and 30, 1862, and was part of the Confederate forces' effort to capture the Commonwealth of Kentucky, in which they were eventually victorious.

It is the second-largest battle of the Civil War fought in Kentucky.

The visitors center is now housed in the 1811 Rogers house, formerly the field hospital, and is like no other Civil War Visitors Center in the country.

Here, you may view the two floors of Civil War display, presentations, and relics, including a unique topographical map that shows a birds-eye view of the battlefield with troop movements, significant buildings, and period homes.

To round out the experience, watch a locally produced documentary or, if you're lucky, chance upon an annual reenactment of the battle and see ghosts of the pasts come to life.

Encounter Alpacas at River Hill Ranch

River Hill Ranch is an alpaca farm in Richmond offering simple, healthy, quality alpaca products.

These soft and fluffy alpacas have become one of America's newest livestock species, and the ranch mainly carries those of the Suri breed.

River Hill Ranch has a reputation as a quality alpaca breeder and even offers consultations to help people start their own ranches.

River Hill offers field trips, a ranch camp, and an after-school program covering alpaca and livestock care; farm operations; textile and fiber art; and nature exploration, conservation, and cultivation.

They also offer tours where you can get close with these cute, cuddly, and curious animals and personal visits accompanied by a handler leading socialized and halter-trained alpacas.

Also, experience Alpaca Vinyasa, relaxing yoga sessions held in a pasture accompanied by friendly and curious herd members.

Take a Tour of White Hall State Historic Site

Exterior of the white hall mansion.
Jim Bowen, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This historic 18thcentury home weaves together the era of 19th-century antebellum abolitionism with the 20th-century civil rights era.

It used to be the home of Cassius Marcellus Clay, a Kentucky legislator, an anti-slavery newspaper publisher, soldier, politician, and in general one of the most passionate abolitionists in the country.

Clay was a friend of Abraham Lincoln and Minister to Russia throughout the Lincoln, Johnson, and Grant administrations.

His mansion is of the Italianate and Georgian styles that began as a 7-room structure and expanded to 44 rooms boasting 10,000 square feet, including heirloom and period furnishing, and touting innovations from the time period, like central heating and indoor plumbing.

(The name Cassius Clay would, of course, eventually belong to another Kentucky resident, Muhammad Ali, whose unwavering loyalty to his own black identity became symbolic of the civil rights movement.)

Bask in Farm Life at Baldwin Farms

Baldwin Farms is a popular Richmond destination, a working farm that carries traditions for all seasons.

It has landscape trees in the spring; farmers markets and produce in the summer; the Pumpkins & More Festival in the fall; and wreaths, garlands, live greenery, and cut-your-own Christmas trees programs in the winter.

During the Pumpkins & More Festival, families are invited to participate in pony rides for children, climbing Mt. Baldwin Hill, rolled hay caterpillars, pumpkin wagons, rolling tumblers, a corn maze, and more.

Choose your favorite pumpkins from 10 acres: Jack O' Lanterns, Butternut Squashes, Decorative Gourds, Long-Neck Pumpkins, and others.

They grow a variety of firs and spruces during Christmas, and you can invite your loved ones for tree-cutting.

On-site is the Kelly House Market, featuring Amish jams, Baldwin Farms salsas, local honey, farm-grown seasonal produce, and more goodies.

Appreciate Art at the Richmond Area Arts Center

The Richmond Area Arts Council, also known as the Richmond Area Arts Center, offers public visual and performing arts programs.

It is an altruistic and philanthropic organization that supports the cultural development of the city of Richmond by advocating and creating high-quality educational and artistic opportunities.

Over the years, it has maintained the historic Arts Center; presented many art exhibits, concerts, summer, and after-school programs; provided social prospects; created two choral groups; and has paved its way in the community.

Its mission is to be a model organization that secures access to the arts for people from all walks of life, stimulates a community appetite for the arts, and collaborates with others committed to the arts.

In Richmond, it opens up educational opportunities, promotes art groups and artists, presents art forms, and guides advancement in the arts.

Spend a Day in Irvine-McDowell City Park

You might be seeking a day out in Richmond: a romantic date, an outing with friends, or a family day.

In that case, Irvine-McDowell Park, a 20-acre tract of land in the city, can be there to fulfill your wants.

Park amenities include a large round-top shelter, a gazebo, a playground, four softball and baseball fields, a tennis court, and an outdoor basketball court.

Authorities named the place after the Irvine family, who occupied Irvinton House on its grounds, and Dr. Ephraim McDowell, the famous pioneer surgeon to whom they willed the property as a memorial.

Irvinton House Museum in the park has many interesting exhibits like items from the Irvine family and the community, one of the few remaining Revolutionary War Uniforms, and the JT Dorris Collection from Eastern Kentucky University that showcases the lively history of Richmond.

Visit the Eastern Kentucky University Campus

Exterior of burnham hall at eastern kentucky university.
Ktr101, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Eastern Kentucky University, or EKU, is a public university in Richmond and a thriving community of over 10,000 students.

It is a beautiful campus and a place to build, grow, and live friendships, hosting programs and events to help people get involved.

It has a division committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, creating a campus community that accepts diversity, creates equitable outcomes, and is a model of inclusiveness so everyone can fully participate in the life of the university.

Exterior of case hall at eastern kentucky university.
Ktr101, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It hosts several special events every year and holds campus visits designed to give you a detailed view of the university and introduce you to this friendly and inclusive environment.

You can even visit their Hummel Planetarium to have a look at the universe or swing by EKU Center For the Arts to watch star-studded entertainment and lively student performances.

Dig into Japanese Food at Brady's Sushi and Hibachi

Brady's Sushi and Hibachi is a family-operated and locally-owned Japanese restaurant serving traditional sushi roles, inventive Poke bowls, and tasty hibachi, always created using the freshest ingredients.

Sushi is a traditional Japanese dish of seasoned rice garnished with eggs, vegetables, and raw fish.

Hibachi is a traditional Japanese charcoal brazier for heating and grilling meats and vegetables.

Poke may be new to some customers, a Hawaiian dish made of cubed ahi tuna, garnished with scallions and seasoned with sesame oil and soy sauce.

The family that operates Brady's is a veteran handling Asian cuisine and has years of experience behind them.

They have an impeccably bright and clean restaurant with excellent and knowledgeable service.

Their goal is to be the finest fast-casual dining restaurant for hibachi and sushi by giving customers exceptional service and fantastic food.

Play Outside at Camp Catalpa Park

Camp Catalpa Park is an ideal outdoor getaway located on the east side of Lake Reba.

They designated the land as a bird sanctuary in the 1970s, and by meeting guidelines, it was mandated that trees should be plentiful, there be a water source, and hunting was not allowed.

Check the Richmond website to find out what kinds of sounds are made by the camp's bird species.

Camp Catalpa has an 18-hole disc golf course, where you can take your friends to see beautiful views and play at the challenging holes and the short and long holes.

Get exercising on the 2-mile loop walking trail, admire the sweeping view of the lake, and pitch a hammock to relax on the grounds afterward.

The place also features a playground, two picnic shelters, and access to fishing, perfect for an idyllic day outside.

Get Active at Lake Reba Recreational Complex

This 600-acre recreational complex is a regional park with endless passive and active recreational opportunities within its grounds.

Families, individuals, and couples can engage in outdoor recreation, athletics, picnics, and more.

Among their facilities are a Little League baseball complex, a soccer complex, a football field, a softball complex, 12 horseshoe pits, three shuffleboard courts, and a golf course.

Lake Reba is a 75-acre fishing and boating lake: rent a kayak and paddle all you want or catch bluegill, channel catfish, largemouth bass, and red-ear sunfish.

For the kids, the Lake Reba Playground features a Universal Playground that is handicap accessible.

If you want to swim, the Paradise Cove Aquatic Center has a diving pool, a feature pool, and slides.

And try stretching your legs on the walking and jogging trail or taking your furbabies to the Judy Raines Memorial Dog Park.

Play Games at Adventure Falls

Bring your loved ones to play a fun round of mini-golf right on Lake Reba, which holds an enjoyable and innovative 18-hole golf course for those seeking a challenge.

It is a nicely landscaped miniature course built by the Harris Miniature Golf Company, with many water obstacles, scenic play, and challenging holes.

Next to the golf course are three shuffleboard courts where people can rent shuffleboard sticks and pucks and contest each other to a game.

Eight batting cages are also available for slow pitch softball, fast softball, and baseball.

The cages feature state-of-the-art Iron Mike pitching hands and are each equipped with a token machine, with each token worth 20 pitches.

Helmets and bats may be acquired when buying tokens, or customers can bring their own.

For safety's sake, helmets are required when utilizing the batting cages.

Taste Wine at Chenault Vineyards

The Chenault Vineyards are nestled within the rolling green hills of Kentucky, a beautiful bluegrass destination.

Here, romantic getaways are ideal: take a partner to stroll down their romantic walking trails and then follow it up with an idyllic glass of wine at their cafe.

It is a family-owned operation created by a couple with professional experience in restaurateurs and luxury properties who set up their business in a place they love.

They continue to find ways to reinvent the land, painstakingly restoring lovely event venues and creating a welcoming atmosphere on the grounds.

The winery and vineyards span 500 acres of picturesque land, intimate views, and endless grapevines.

Chenault Vineyards serves up handmade wines squeezed from Kentucky-grown grapes, including white wines, red wines, and a blush wine.

Visitors can stop for a wine tasting and take it easy with a delicious glass any time.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Explore Raven Run Nature Sanctuary

View of the river and green trees at raven run.
Schwaltz, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located 28 minutes from Richmond, Raven Run Nature Sanctuary is a unique 734-acre nature sanctuary committed to preserving early Kentucky history and the natural loveliness of the Kentucky River Palisades.

It borders the Kentucky River and is a great place for wildlife viewing and hiking.

Visitors may see remnants of 19th-century settlers and 600 species of plants and further appreciate and become acquainted with the natural world.

True to its name, Raven Run is also home to over 200 species of birds throughout the year.

There are over 10 miles of hiking trails that have access to meadows, streams, and woodlands characteristic of the region.

Hikers may encounter the red trail, a single track with exposed rock roots and mud, the green trail, made mostly of mowed grass, and the orange trail, with open meadows, wooded areas, and high elevation.

Other points of interest are the Kentucky River Outlook which provides a view of the scenic river, and Evans Mill, a historic grist mill from 1933.

One may also find the grave of homesteader Archibald Moore who died in 1871, and the Prather family homestead, which has a historic home, cemetery, and smokehouse.

There is plenty to see in Raven Run, and it's a fantastic place to relax and explore this storied region of the state.

Final Thoughts

Richmond will usher you into the charm and beauty of the Bluegrass State.

Make a note of this list of the best things to do so you don't miss a thing when you visit Richmond.

Steeped in history come to life, thriving culture, and outdoor excursions, there is much to do in this city, so don't hesitate to make it your next Kentucky destination.