Looking for something cool, fun, and free this summer (or at a very low, nearly free, or reasonable cost)? Then check out our list of fun places for kids that won’t break the bank! Be sure to also check our Summer Camps 2012 Listing.
We’re adding to the list daily so check back often. In addition to all of the free events below, always check your Richmondmom.com Savvy Saver card for great savings at many events throughout the summer. Don’t have a Savvy Saver card? No problem – get yours free by clicking here!
Also, check out our extensive listing of free playgroups right here on Richmondmom.com too!
Just About Anything
NEW JULY 23, 2012! Busch Gardens and Water Country USA introduce new summer savings for Virginia residents. For a limited time, Busch Gardens is offering an online only $50 twilight ticket, a complimentary dinner entrée and a non-alcoholic beverage good after 3 p.m. through September 3, 2012. It is the perfect opportunity to visit Busch Gardens during the evening to enjoy cooler temperatures and experience the park’s summer celebration event, IllumiNights, a nightly extravaganza featuring live performances, music and special effects that culminates in a park-wide firework spectacular [IllumiNights closes for the season Aug. 19]. Virginia residents can cool off and save $20 on a single-day ticket to Water Country USA. The mid-Atlantic’s largest water park features resort-style amenities, up-close animal encounters and more than 30 state-of-the-art water attractions including Vanish Point, where riders choose between two wicked-wet ways to drop out of sight.
AMF Summer Unplugged – Free bowling for kids 7 days a week through September 3, 2012. And special discounted prices for bowling for 16 and up too! Then enjoy a kid’s combo meal for just $3.29 per person.
Anthem Lemon-Aid – July 20 – Put the squeeze on childhood cancer! Host a LemonAid stand and raise funds for Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU. Sign up online at www.anthemlemonaid.com. Participation is FREE!
Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program – It’s free and kids get a free book when they participate.
Barnes & Noble – Kids’ Club offers 30% off list price on any one kids’ book for toy for your children. $5 reward for every $100 you spend on kids’ stuff online and in stores. FREE cupcake from cafe for birthdays. FREE digital books created by your child on Tikatok.com for birthdays. 25% off every day on books created by your child on Tikatok.com.
Bumblebee Jamboree: A free family event at Maymont Park. Fun for the whole family! Storytelling, Puppet show, Children’s Crafts area, Facepainting, a Pollinator Parade, Visits to the Butterfly Tent and much more.
Busch Gardens Williamsburg FREE Sesame Street Forest Preschool Pass, valid for unlimited admission through October 28, 2012. Ages 3-5.
Cartwheels & Coffee in Carytown, an indoor play area, that recently expanded, very cheap to play and great coffee, run by Area 10 Faith Community.
Club Mom at Chesterfield Town Center – Bring the kids out to Club Mom on Tuesday’s in the Food Court from 9-11 a.m. featuring great cowboy themed entertainment from Kidsinger Jim and fun giveaways for the adults. Free breakfast for children 12 years or younger. See the CTC website for further detail
Downtown Ashland – Enjoy some ice cream and a hot dog and wait for a train to pass or just enjoy people-watching while you wait.
Family Lifeline needs volunteers and they may be able to pair you up with an elderly adult who enjoys a visit from children. It’s a great way to get your child involved in volunteering and helping the elderly.
Farmer’s Markets around the city. Click for a complete listing. Many markets offer free samples, entertainment, and lots of fun for kids and adults. It’s a festive way to spend a couple of hours. You can also find a listing of Farmer’s Markets at the Faith in Richmond website at this link.
Find Waldo in July – collect cards and win prizes! It’s free.
First Baptist Church – Vacation Bible School: Sonrise National Park June 25-29, 9 am – noon. Ages: 3 (potty trained) through 5th Grade Free. “Discover the best destination of the summer – Sonrise National Park! Come to a land of invigorating power and beauty where there is nothing between you and God’s big sky! Kids will enjoy the thrills of daily treks where they will learn to depend on the promises of Jesus – promises each of us can cling to.”
Fish Fry and Summer Concert on Sunday, August 5th – 6:30 PM – 7:45 PM – Cool Spring Baptist Church – 9283 Atlee Station Road. In concert “Faithful Praise” a new, unique group with a sound and blend seldom heard. Faithful Praise brings a fresh energy to gospel music. Their harmonies are the type of blend that one would expect to hear from a family that has sung together for years. Based out of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, LaDena Hall, Tommy Fortune, and Shari DeLange have joined together to create a sound that reflects their hearts for the message of the gospel.
Flying Squirrels Baseball – For every “A” on your current K-12 report card during the 3rd and 4th marking period you will earn a FREE General Admission ticket to a regular season Richmond Flying Squirrels game. Each “A” on your report card is good for one ticket per game – if you receive 8 A’s then you’ll receive 8 General Admission tickets to 8 different games.
Hanover Parks – lots of family friendly activities, many free.
Heart the Arts Festival – 2nd Annual Heart the Arts Festival on Sunday, June 24, 2012 from noon until 5:00 p.m. at Short Pump. This FREE street festival features a line-up of live music and dance performances, artist demos, games and hands-on projects, along with delicious food offerings and all kinds of festival fun. Don’t miss it!
Henrico County Parks and Recreation – Great parks like Deep Run Park, Dorey Park, and Three Lakes where there are nature trails, playgrounds, picnic areas, and lots more. Crump Park/Meadow Farm Museum has an historic house which is open for tours at various times throughout the week, and they have animals for the kids to enjoy – they offer lots of outdoor fun with plenty of room to run and play.
Home Depot Kids Workshops – FREE – first Saturday of each month. Ages 5-12 between 9 and 12 noon; kids learn do-it-yourself skills, tool safety and more. All kids get to keep their craft and receive a free Kids Workshop Apron, commemorative pin and certificate of achievement. June 2 is make a gift for dad time and in July, kids build a moving truck (7/7).
Jamestown Settlement is the story of America’s first permanent English colony. See the replicas of the three ships that sailed from England to Virginia in 1607. Other highlights include the colonists’ fort and a Powhatan village. Kids will enjoy this fun tour of the “old days” – be sure and take a picnic to enjoy right by the waterside.
James River Park – hiking, canoeing, biking, picnicking, birdwatching, photography, and many more activities – create your own fun!
Kid’s World! The first Thursday of every month Kids World will meet at the Fit & Fun Play Area for a fun activity or craft. Moms will enjoy special discounts, free samples and more!
Library Fun – Chesterfield, Henrico, Heritage, Pamunkey Regional (serves Goochland, Hanover, King & Queen and King William) and Richmond, they have a lot of free programs, story time, puppets, games, computers, puzzles, and lots more (varies by location).
Lowe’s Build and Grow Clinics – It’s a fun time for kids to build a special project each month for free – it’s twice each month and kids will learn as they build. Registration is required. June 9 and 10 is Monkey Powered Plane; June 23 and 24 is Madagascar 3 Luxury Assault Vehicle; check website each month.
Maymont Park – Lots of fun, outdooractivities, a petting zoo, trails, and more. Visits are free or have a recommended fee of $2-$5. The Children’s Farm Barn is a major attraction and hit with the young ones! Visit the website for details.
Mommy & Me and Daddy Too at The Shops at Willow Lawn. Mommy & Me is Willow Lawn’s kids club for parents, grandparents or any caregivers and children ages 1 – 8 years old. Join them on the second Wednesday of each month through October from 10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. for FREE morning out with live entertainment and activities designed for children. Silly Bus, Peter McCory, Mad Science, The Diggity Dudes, Kamp Kreatures Puppet Theatre and more fun guests throughout the summer and it’s all free.
National Battlefield Park – Richmond was the scene of a number of battles during the Civil War, and the park encompasses 13 separate sites with four visitor centers along a 80 mile route through the City of Richmond, and Henrico, Hanover and Chesterfield counties. Park admission is free. Visitor centers at Tredegar Iron Works (fee), Chimborazo and Cold Harbor are open daily 9am to 5 pm. Visitor centers at Glendale and Fort Harrison are open daily June through August, 9 am to 5 pm.
Old Time Music Jams at Rockwood Park – Bring a chair and don’t hesitate to tap your feet at this monthly informal gathering of musicians playing old timey instruments on the porch at the nature center. Enjoy tunes from yesterday played on fiddle, bass, mountain dulcimer, banjo, autoharp, guitar and many more. Play an instrument yourself? Bring it and join in the fun! Free for the whole family, donations to the nature center warmly accepted. Held outdoors on the front porch or inside the classroom in the event of inclement weather. Fourth Tuesday of every month, 7 p.m. Call 748.1623 with questions.
Open Gym: Family Fun Time For all ages. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Attention parents! Bring your kids out for some Family Fun Time. Every Sunday our gym will be set up with a different sport each week, as well as activities such as ping pong, billiards, air hockey, and foosball. Participants will be required to sign a liability waiver provided on site and an open gym access card will be issued. (Parents or guardians are required to sign a waiver for participants under age 18.) Information: 225-2056. Sun, Apr 1-Aug 19, 1-3 p.m. Eastern Henrico Recreation Center. Free.
Piano Lessons for beginners! Check out this great offer for kids 4-17 for Free Summer Piano Lessons!
Pocahontas State Park – Biking, fishing, swimming, hiking and more. Special summer weekend events too.
Pottery Barn Book Club – Every Tuesday from 11 – 11:30 a.m. (check with store near you to verify actual times). Members receive special Book Club Passport and special gift if they attend 5 times. It’s all free.
PBK Summer Reading Challenge! Summer is the perfect time to instill a love of reading in your child. From now through August 22nd, read all the award-winning books on one of our recommended lists and qualify for fun prizes.
Richmond Flying Squirrels Kids Club – FREE Tickets to Kids Club Games – Squirrel Tails members receive a FREE General Admission Ticket for Sunday home games. Seats can be upgraded to reserved Silver Level seats or Diamond Club.
Richmond Rocks – Free readings by author, Kate Hall. Kids will love Richmond Rocks and it’s available for playgroups, non-profits or other groups where kids and moms get together.
Richmond SPCA – The Richmond SPCA is a great place for kids to learn the enjoyment of cats and dogs.
Rock the Block – For all ages. Come out and join your community for free mid-week family entertainment in your neighborhood park. Enjoy live music, contests and games, and more! Concessions will be available for purchase. Information: Rachel Moore, 501-5134.
Rockwood Nature Center– Visit our live snake, turtle, and honeybee exhibits to learn more about the plants and animals that live in the fields, forests, pond, and marshes of Rockwood Park. Take an archery lesson, have fun geocaching, follow a letterboxing trail, learn map and compass navigation, and much more! Call 804.674.1629 with questions. Location: Rockwood Park, 3401 Courthouse Road (804) 674-1629 – Hours: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, noon – 5 p.m. Summer Hours: (June 12-Sept. 2) Tuesday-Sunday, noon-5 p.m. Volunteer for Nature: We have a variety of volunteer opportunities for adults and teens.
Scavenger Hunts at Rockwood Park – Just $2 per person. Learn to look at your surroundings in new ways as you seek and discover new things every month on the trails around the nature center. Enjoy time with the family as you set out on an adventure with a different theme each month. Youth aged 10 and under must be accompanied by an adult. $2 per person – Saturdays, 1-2 p.m., June 9, July 14, August 11.
Science Museum of Virginia. From bugs to space and what’s inside human bodies … explore. The IMAX DOME & Planetarium is the biggest in Virginia and puts the audience in the middle of all the action. Reasonable fees.
Short Pump Pals Club – Different activities and guest each week. Visit website for details for Tuesday fun at 11 a.m. in the Food Court.
Summer Family Fun Carnival at Virginia Center Commons Mall from 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 30 from 11am-5pm. Beat the heat with tons of indoor activities including a bounce house presented by Roll-N-Bounce Party Rentals, balloon animals and face painting by Traveling CarniBall, fun games and much more! Snack on popcorn and cotton candy and enter to win great prizes throughout the day! Free for Kidgits Members; $5 for Non-Kidgits Members. For more information, please visit website or Facebook page.
The Nature Exhibit at Three Lakes Park – plenty of free fun and something for all ages. Kids love it.
Virginia Historical Society – For older ones, the VHS is open every day with free admission to exhibits.
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts – Free general admission. Admission to permanent collection galleries is always free. The cost for special exhibitions and programs varies. Members enjoy free admission to all exhibitions and discounts on programs. Different events and programs all summer so click here for details and don’t miss the delicious cafe while you’re there.
Volunteer Virginia – great opportunities for kids to volunteer and participate in fun activities at the same time.
Bow Tie Cinemas – June 19 – August 15 at Bow Tie Cinemas. Free Admission! Movieland 17 at Boulevard Square.
Byrd Theatre offers lots of low-cost, family friendly movies all summer long for $1.99. Check the website for information.
Cinema Classics – “Experience olde time cinema” at Henrico Theatre in Highland Springs. Tickets are only $1 per person and can be purchased at the door. Information: Henrico Theatre Staff, 328-4491.
Regal Cinemas – SUMMER MOVIE EXPRESS – Moviegoers of all ages can climb aboard the Summer Movie Express to enjoy a great selection of films. During this 9-week festival, participating Regal Cinemas, United Artists and Edwards Theatres will offer selected G or PG rated movies for only a dollar on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings at 10:00. A portion of proceeds from the Summer Movie Express will be donated to the Will Rogers Institute.
Under the Stars – For all ages. Grab your blanket and your family and come out to enjoy family flicks in the park. Experience the thrill of outdoor movies and fun! Concessions available for purchase. Information: Rachel Moore, 501-5134.
Free Summer Concerts
Bluegrass Coffeehouse – For all ages. Participants under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult. For musicians of all ages and abilities! Come out for a jam session with fellow bluegrass musicians! Never played bluegrass? Now’s the time to give it a try! Acoustic only. Information: 795-2334. Thur, June 14, July 12, Aug 9, & Sept 13, 6:30-9 p.m. at Dorey Recreation Center. Free.
Dogwood Dell – concerts all summer long; 2012 schedule released in early June. Visit website for information.
Forest Hill Music in the Park – Click here for dates; bands to be announced.
Friday Cheers each Friday from 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Brown’s Island $5 and $10 depending on the show, children under 12 are free.
Jammin’ on the James – free concerts and great fun for all ages.
Short Pump Summer Concert Series – The Summer Concert Series returns beginning June 2nd and continuing every Thursday evening (weather permitting) through August 25th. Families are invited to enjoy FREE live music performed by local bands, great food, PRIZES and of course, fabulous shopping! Concerts begin at 6:00 PM and run until 8:00 PM in the Main Plaza.
Summertime – And The Livin’ Is Easy For all ages. Join us in the gardens at The Armour House for a relaxing reminder of how easy livin’ should be. Enjoy live music and a free ice cream treat. Bring your favorite lawn chair or blanket and just relax! Information: 343-3506. Mon, June 11 & Sept 10, 7-8:30 p.m. The Armour House & Gardens. Free.
Henrico Concert Band & Henrico Community Band For all ages. The Henrico Concert Band and the Henrico Community Band will each perform a series of three outdoor concerts. Bring a blanket or lawn chair and spend a casual evening in the park listening to your favorite band music! In case of inclement weather, the concerts may be cancelled. There will be no rain dates. Information: Amy Perdue, 501-5859. Henrico Concert Band Mon, June 25, July 30, & Aug 27, 7 p.m. Dorey Park by the lake. Free. Henrico Community Band Thur, June 28, July 26, & Aug 30, 7 p.m. at Deep Run Park Nature Pavilion. Free.
Walkerton Summer Concert For all ages. Join the Hanover Concert Band for an evening of music on the lawn at Walkerton Tavern. Bring the whole family and your lawn chair for some summer fun! Information: 261-6898. Sun, Aug 26, 6 p.m. Walkerton Tavern. Free.
VACATION BIBLE SCHOOLS
VBS at First Baptist Church – 2709 Monument Avenue – Ages: 3 (potty trained) through 5th Grade. Free Event Information and registration at this web page. “Discover the best destination of the summer – Sonrise National Park! Come to a land of invigorating power and beauty where there is nothing between you and God’s big sky! Kids will enjoy the thrills of daily treks where they will learn to depend on the promises of Jesus – promises each of us can cling to.”
Amazing Wonders – Tuesday, June 26th – 9:00 AM – 12:00 noon – Mount Vernon Baptist Church – 11220 Nuckols Road. Vacation Bible School – Amazing Wonders ages 4 (by July 1) – rising 6 graders. Contact: Kimberly Braine-Tillem • 270-6600 x118 • firstname.lastname@example.org.