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Bordered to the south by Petersburg, to the east by the Appomattox River, and by Chesterfield County to the north, The City of Colonial Heights is located 20 miles south of Richmond, Virginia's state capital, and 120 miles south of the nation's capital and lies directly across the Appomattox River.

The City's location as part of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area provides the City with access to the area's dynamic business complex. In addition to serving as a manufacturing, distribution, and trade center, Richmond is also the financial center of the Mid-Atlantic region. Government is a major employer in the immediate Tri-Cities area (Colonial Heights, Petersburg, and Hopewell) with its proximity to Fort Lee. The City is also the site of a regional shopping mall, Southpark, which opened in spring of 1989.

The name Colonial Heights results from an incident during the American Revolutionary War. In 1781 the French troops of Lafayette, known as the Colonials, set up artillery on the heights overlooking the Appomattox River and Petersburg, where British forces were located. Legend indicates that an English soldier stationed in Petersburg, upon seeing Lafayette’s troops across the river, exclaimed, “Look! There are the Colonials, up on the Heights!” Hence, the name Colonial Heights was born. The area came to be known as Colonial Heights and the name was given to a subdivision of the Oak Hill tract in 1906.