One of the oldest cities the United States, the Port of Richmond blends colonial and Civil War history with contemporary culture. During the American Civil War, a leader of a slave rebellion had his head hung from a pike in what is today the Shockoe Bottom entertainment area. The Port of Richmond was capital of the Confederate States of America. After it fell to Union troops, Abraham Lincoln visited the Port of Richmond. While the colonial past has few remnants in the Port of Richmond, the city boasts a great number of Civil War historic sites that include Robert E. Lee's house, the original Confederate White House, a Civil War prison on Belle Isle, and the Hollywood Cemetery. The Port of Richmond has one of the country's first African American neighborhoods.
The Port of Richmond has a humid subtropical climate with hot humid summers and mild to cold winters. The mountains to the west of the Port of Richmond block cold continental air in the winter, and the influence of the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay bring humidity in the summer and milder temperatures in the winter than elsewhere in the region. The James River brings occasional tidewater flooding to the Port of Richmond throughout the year, and occasional hurricanes bring record rainfalls. Storms bring snow and freezing rain in the winter and severe thunderstorms in warmer seasons. Temperatures in the Port of Richmond range from an average high of 32°C (89°F) in July to an average low of -2°C (28°F) in January. Precipitation is relatively even throughout the year, peaking in August at 11.8 centimeters (4.7 inches) and falling to a low of 7.7 centimeters (three inches) in January. Humidity levels peak at 90% in August and September and fall to a low of about 76% in April. Snow comes to the Port of Richmond from late November until early April, peaking in January at 10 centimeters (four inches). The Port of Richmond is home to 15 old and historic districts. Its historic downtown, the Shockoe Bottom area, is rich with history.
Located in the middle of the James River, Belle Isle and the James River Park are popular with residents and visitors alike. The island has a mountain biking trail that offers wonderful views of the falls and the James River. Rope swings near the bridges offer and great place for teenagers to swim and sunbathe. Belle Isle is also the main historic site in the Port of Richmond for the Civil War as it was the location for a prison during the war. The Port of Richmond has installed the new Belle Isle Bike Skills Area with tracks for beginning and expert bicyclers, rock gardens, and log-and-rock obstacles. The bike skills area was constructed for the 2015 UCI Road World Cycling Championships. Off-road training facilities are available, and the on-road training facility is suitable for both adults and children.
The Port of Richmond is home to the American Civil War Center and Richmond National Battlefield Headquarters. The iron foundry that was located here supplied ordinance to the Confederate Army. The museum is the first in the United States to interpret Civil War events from the perspective of Union and Confederate States as well as of African Americans. The American Civil War Center is located on eight acres on the James River in the Port of Richmond's historic downtown. Five buildings survive there from the Iron Works era, and the Richmond National Battlefield Park Visitor Center is located in the restored Pattern Building. The center is open every day from 9am until 5pm except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Days. Admission to the center is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, and $4 for children from six to 17. Admission for groups of ten or more is $5 per person, and children under age six are admitted free.
The major exhibit, "In the Cause of Liberty," looks at the Civil War from all perspectives and displays artifacts that are changed regularly. The interpretation tells three stories demonstrating how each group (the Union, the Confederacy, and African Americans) experienced the war. The presentation addresses specific battles and leaders, how the war affected both Northerners and Southerners, and the personal interactions that changed the United States and the American character forever.
The Museum of the Confederacy is headquartered in the Port of Richmond. It contains the biggest collection of Confederate records and artifacts. It also maintains and offers tours of the White House of the Confederacy. The museum is made up of three sites in two locations. In the Port of Richmond, the museum has three floors of exhibits featuring personal belongings, uniforms, flags, military equipment, and weapons. Also included are most of General Lee's war campaign possessions and Confederate artwork and documents. The museum is open from 10am until 5pm every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Days. Admission may be purchased separate for the Museum and the White House or for both.
Because the Port of Richmond is located on the fall line, the James River has rapids in downtown that are great for white-water rafting. The Class III rapids can become Class IV when the weather brings rain, some may become dangerous. Above the downtown Port of Richmond, there are parks on both sides of the James River. The Pony Pasture area in the James River park is a great place to begin the rapids. This section of the river is surrounded by woods, and many people swim at the Pony Pasture and enjoy the rope swings. The woods on either side of the river boast many excellent trails.