Richmond Is Rolling on the River

Richmond Is Rolling on the River

By Sara Delgado, September 6, 2018

A Local Approach

Staying active in Richmond is not difficult. The region hosts a variety of activities, from conventional sports to quirky activities like archery tag and foot golf. That’s not to mention the city’s placement along the James River, making it a premier destination for exciting whitewater rafting and kayaking for all ages and levels of experience.

Beyond those natural assets is the nonprofit Sports Backers. Each year, Sports Backers puts on Dominion Energy Riverrock, an outdoor sports and music festival that rallies outdoor brands like Subaru, ENO and Keen. “The strategy is pretty simple: We want to give outdoorsy brands primarily located on the West Coast a foothold on the East Coast,” says Sports Backers Executive Director Jon Lugbill.

The three-day festival, which spans downtown Richmond, is packed with activities like stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking, as well as bouldering and slacklining competitions. The family-friendly event sums up the best of Richmond, says Vincenti. “We get to celebrate all of the sports in the region and what makes Richmond so unique right on the James River,” she says of the festival.

Sports, Eat, Play, Repeat

Because sports and outdoor living are Richmond’s primary focus, the city is littered with historical sites and attractions for young athletes’ families and friends in town for a tournament. During downtime before or after events, families can play at G-Force Karts and Kings Dominion amusement park, or take a tour aboard the RVA Trolley. Richmond’s Carytown neighborhood hosts the city’s urban retail district with streets lined with shopping, local restaurants and community events like the annual Carytown Watermelon Festival.   

Looking to draw the tension out of competition? River City Roll, a boutique bowling alley with a heavy focus on food and beverage, just arrived to the city and already attracts large groups hungry for something off the field. The lanes at River City Roll are specifically designed to be just short of those at a competitive bowling alley, keeping the spirit of the venue casual. Richmond is home to a flourishing craft beer and cidery scene with local favorites like The Veil Brewing Co. and Ardent Craft Ales, and also was chosen to be another hub by California giant Stone Brewing.

Rich in Venues 

Greater Richmond Convention Center. Located downtown, the 700,000-sq.-ft. facility spans five and a half city blocks. Inside, there’s 178,000 square feet of contiguous space for indoor competitions like taekwondo and cheer and dance, as well as a 30,000-sq.-ft. ballroom for awards banquets.

SwimRVA Collegiate School Aquatics Center. The centerpiece of the 54,000-sq.-ft. complex—the pool—was used in USA Swimming’s 2008 Olympic trials in Omaha, Nebraska, before setting anchor in Richmond.

Virginia State University Multipurpose Center. Located 20 miles south of Richmond, this multipurpose center and arena can seat more than 6,000.

River City Sportsplex. This 115-acre athletic complex features 12 lighted synthetic fields. It’s hosted several lacrosse, soccer, flag football and field hockey tournaments.

Glover Park. Phase one of the 88-acre complex, opened in March, included eight NCAA-standard sand volleyball courts and four lighted multipurpose fields. More is on the horizon at this new facility, Vincenti says.