Seniors who want to remain active have long known that walking can bring significant health benefits as well as helping to maintain independence. Adults who are 65 or older can benefit from at least 150 minutes of walking each week.
Active adults can be seen taking to the treadmills at the local gym or YMCA. Mall walking groups allow seniors to walk in comfort in the early mornings before shopping hours begin.
But some would suggest that the change of scenery could provide added benefits to the experience of walking. Studies have shown that walking in comfortable settings can improve the cognitive abilities of seniors.
Fortunately for the Richmond, Va. area there are plenty of opportunities to walk in safe and pleasant surroundings.
Here are some of Richmond’s best offerings for taking a stroll.
A stroll down Monument Avenue is always a delightful experience. Enjoy the beautiful homes or take in the many historical monuments. The Monument Avenue Historic District extends from Roseneath Avenue in the west to Birch Street in the east and is a classic example of the Grand American Avenue. The first statue on Monument Avenue was that of Robert E. Lee, erected in 1890. Other monuments include J.E.B. Stuart, Jefferson Davis, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, Matthew Fontaine Maury and Arthur Ashe.
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is one of Richmond’s most visited attractions. Lewis Ginter does require membership or an admission fee, but it’s a beautiful place to stroll through diverse gardens and to learn about nature or even take a gardening class. The Garden is open year-round. There are more than 50 acres of gardens, as well as shopping and dining opportunities. The Garden is open daily from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. it is closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
The Virginia State Capitol is home to the oldest continuously operating legislative body in the Western Hemisphere. Tours of the historic Virginia State Capitol designed by Thomas Jefferson are free to visitors. The renovated visitor’s center has wheelchair accessible restrooms, elevators and ramps. Handicapped parking is available along Bank Street near the entrance. Guided tours are available Monday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. and on Sunday from 1:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. There are also self-guided tours available.
Hollywood Cemetery offers one of the best views of the James River. The cemetery is open to the public from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. daily. This beautiful, historic cemetery is the final resting place for thousands of Confederate soldiers as well as Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart. U.S. Presidents James Monroe and John Tyler are also buried here. While beautiful, the terrain is very hilly.
The Richmond Canal Walk follows the banks of the Haxall Canal and the James River and Kanawha Canal. Visitors can view four centuries of Richmond history. Richmond’s Canal walk provides a beautiful stroll and a trip around Brown’s Island. Brown’s Island is a popular place for special events such as concerts and festivals. While there, there’s the opportunity to visit the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar.
Nearby Belle Isle is accessible by a suspended pedestrian and bicycle bridge under the Lee Bridge at the end of Tredegar Street. Park of the James River Park System, Belle Isle has nature walks and views of the Hollywood Rapids. During the Civil War Belle Isle was used as a prisoner-of-war camp. It has also been used as a granite quarry, a nail works and a hydroelectric plant.
Richmond’s unique Fan District gives the opportunity to walk through and observe some 85 blocks of Colonial Revival, Queen Anne and Italianate architecture. The Fan was named because of the way the streets fan out from Belvidere Street. It borders Richmond’s Museum District and the Carytown district.
Carytown is located at the southern end of Richmond’s Museum District. The area is a collection of boutiques and trendy retail shops with a bohemian flair. The historic Byrd Theatre has operated continuously since 1928. Readers of Southern Living Magazine voted Carytown the “Best Neighborhood to Shop in.”
Maymont Park could be considered Richmond’s crown jewel. The 100-acre estate given to the city by James and Sallie Dooley offers the opportunity to stroll through the gardens, tour the historic mansion or watch the river otters play. The terrain through Maymont is quite hilly.
Richmond’s Byrd Park is next to Maymont and has 400 acres which includes access to the James River and nearby historical neighborhoods. Byrd Park has three lakes: Shields, Swan and Boat Lake. Boat Lake is also referred to as Fountain Lake and in season offers pedal boats for rent. The Carillon as built in 1926, is a memorial to those who died in World War I. There is a mile-long trail that includes exercise stops.
Other walking options in the Richmond area include some of the many parks.
The James River Park system runs from the Huguenot Bridge to the I-95 Bridge and includes some of the already mentioned locations like Belle Isle and Byrd Park. There are many trail and walking options to consider. The James River Park is also the location of the X-Terra-Off-Road Triathlon.
Forest Hill Park is the site of the former Forest Hill Amusement Park. It includes two trails, a lake, a stream. The Forest Hill Trail connects to the Buttermilk Trail of the James River Park system.
Chimborazo City Park offers great views of the southern end of the city. This includes Richmond Battlefield Park and is adjacent to the restored Church Hill area of Richmond. Chimborazo Park was the site of the Chimborazo Field Hospital during the Civil War. There are multiple trail options to follow.
Huguenot Park in Chesterfield County offers trails that are generally flat that wind through forests of hardwood and pine. The park has an azalea garden, picnic shelters and a fitness trail.
Also in Chesterfield County, Robious Landing Park along the James River provides easily walkable trails through sycamore, pine, sweet gum and tulip trees.
Deep Run Park in Henrico offers multiple biking and hiking trails. The park is located at Gaskins Road and Ridgefield Parkway.
These are just a few of the many walking and hiking opportunities in the Richmond area. So, no more excuses. Lace up the walking shoes and get moving.