Richmond Summer Bucket List: 19 things to do

2016-Summer-Bucket-List Richmond
It feels like we were just counting down the days until schools got out and summer got underway.  Now, the store shelves are lined with backpacks and school supplies and the countdown clock is rapidly ticking in the opposite direction.  If you feel like summer is slipping away too quickly, don’t worry. There are still plenty of things to do in the Richmond area that will keep those last few weeks of summer busy and fun-filled.

Below you’ll find a complete bucket list to help you make the most of Richmond during the final days of summer, including time-sensitive events at some of your favorite Richmond locations, general activities in (and out) of the city and simple, fun family activities that you can do at home.


Specific Summer Events

1. Discover butterflies, LEGOs and water fun at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

As one of the nation’s top botanical gardens, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is worth a visit any time of the year. But before summer ends, be sure to catch their special summertime events – all of which are FREE with a general admission.

Special Summer Events:
Butterflies LIVE!
Monday July 18 – Sunday, October 18, 2016; 9am – 5pm

Brian Korte: Botanical Mosaics with LEGO Bricks
Friday, May 27 – Sunday, September 18, 2016; 9am-5pm

Building STEAM with LEGO Bricks
Monday, June 27 – Sunday, September 18, 2016; 9am-5pm

Water Play in the Children’s Garden
Saturday, April 16 – Sunday, September 25, 2016; every Saturday and Sunday, 9am – 4:45pm; weekdays, 9am – 4:45pm through September 9, 2016 and 1pm – 4:45pm September 12 – September 30, 2016.

Genworth Free Community Day
Monday, September 5, 2016 (Labor Day)


2. Work out the summer wiggles at the Children’s Museum of Richmond

Richmond (Central), Chesterfield, Short Pump and Fredericksburg

The Children’s Museum of Richmond is the perfect place to let your kids’ imagination and creativity run free in the final days of summer. CMoR offers four locations with interactive, hands-on displays for everyone from big kids to toddlers.

Special Summer Events:
Moon Bounce Mania!
Saturday, August 20, 2016; 10am – 4pm
Moon Bounce Mania features an inflatable slide, a bounce house and inflatable obstacle courses from Astro Jump. FREE with museum admission. Available at CMoR Central only.

2626 W. Broad St.
Richmond, VA 23220
(804) 474-7000


3. Go back in time at Henricus Historical Park

What better way to prepare for back-to-school than with living history? Henricus Historical Park provides an in-depth look at America’s second oldest permanent English settlement. Step back in time to 1611 when colonists led by Sir Thomas Dale came from Jamestown to form the Citie of Henricus. Explore the English home of Pocahontas, re-live the colonists’ journey up the James River and discover the role that this important location played in the evolution of American history.

Special Summer Events:
Henricus Discovery Days Program Series: 17th-Century Games & Songs (ages 3 – 10)
Monday, August 25, 2016; 10am – 1pm
With songs, tours, and hands-on activities, the Discovery Days Program is a great way to teach your kids about Virginia history. Registration is required by August 22. Call (804) 318-8797 to register or find out more.


4. Watch movies under the stars with Movies in the Park

Few things say summer better than an evening in the park. Add a movie on the big screen and you might just have the perfect summer evening. Be sure to catch the final Movies in the Park presentation of “Pan” (PG) at Bryan Park on Hermitage Road. Refreshments will be for sale on site.

Friday, August 19, 2016; 8pm (movie starts at dark)
Bryan Park
3208 Hermitage Road
Richmond, VA 23227


5. Enjoy a summer tradition at its best with The Flying Squirrels

For many of us, baseball is a summer staple. And there’s no team that Richmond loves more than their very own Flying Squirrels. With all home games played at The Diamond in Richmond’s historic Fan district, a Flying Squirrels game is a great end-of-summer send-off for kids and parents alike. Visit the Flying Squirrels Homepage for a complete schedule, as well as a look at special events.

The Diamond
3001 N. Boulevard
Richmond, VA 23230


6. Hear live music at one of Richmond’s many music festivals and concert series.

While many of Richmond’s music series are drawing to a close, there are still plenty of chances to catch a live outdoor show before the weather turns cool. Here are a few you won’t want to miss:

Amelia Family Bluegrass Festival
August 18-20, 2016
Amelia Family Campground

Festival of The Arts at Byrd Park’s Dogwood Dell
Latin Jazz Festival
Saturday, August 20, 2016 at 4pm

Opera in the Park
Saturday, August 27, 2016 at 7:30pm

Music at Maymont
Gillian Welch
Sunday, August 21, 2016; 6pm doors, show at 7:30pm

Innsbrook After Hours
Blues Traveler and The Wallflowers with guest Howie Day
Wednesday, August 24, 2016; 5pm doors, show at 6pm


General Activities

The best thing about Richmond is that there is never a shortage of things to do, no matter what the season. But, with so much natural beauty and historic richness, summer is one of the best seasons to get outside and explore the city’s sights, sounds, and fun-filled attractions. Here are a few of our favorite must-do Richmond summer activities:


7. Cool down at a water park

Water parks are a great way to cool off and keep the whole family entertained at the same time. With the heat of summer in full swing, you won’t want to miss Richmond’s best parks.

Cobblestone Park
Located in Glen Allen, Cobblestone Park features “Splash Zone” with giant waterslides, waterfalls and one of the largest swimming pools on the east coast. Open from Memorial Day until Labor Day, the park includes a beach area, party spaces and picnic pavilions, as well as basketball, volleyball and a one-acre fishing lake.

13131 Overhill Lake Lane
Glen Allen, VA 23059
Hours: 10am – 5:30pm

Pocahontas State Park
Pocahontas State Park’s Aquatic Center provides fun for kids (and adults) of all ages with a toddler pool, fountain wet deck, three-foot and five-foot-deep leisure pools, an activity pool and two tubular water slides. Round out your day with boating, fishing, picnicking, hiking or one of the park’s many nature and history programs.

10301 State Park Road
Chesterfield, VA 23838
Hours: 7am to dusk

Willing to travel? Virginia offers many more water parks around the state. For a complete listing of all of Virginia’s water parks, check out our guide here.


8. Have an adventure on the James River

Take a rafting, kayaking or tubing trip down the James River and your kids will have no shortage of things to write about in their back-to-school “What I Did This Summer” essay. Featuring America’s only Class IV/V rapids in an urban setting, Richmond offers incredible water sports opportunities for the whole family. Here are a few places to get you started:

Riverside Outfitters
6836 Old Westham Rd.
Richmond, VA 23225
(804) 560-0068

River City Adventures, LLC
100 Stockton St.
Richmond, VA 23224
(804) 233-4000

RVA Paddlesports
1320 School St.
Richmond, VA 23220
(804) 898-0697


9. Take a guided tour of Richmond and see the city like you’ve never seen it before

When you live in a place packed with history and culture, it’s easy to take it for granted. But with summer coming to a close, it’s time to stop making excuses. With one of Richmond’s many guided tours, you’ll keep minds and bodies busy as you explore the city’s greatest historical and cultural treasures. Walk, bike Segway, or float your way through the city with some of these top-rated tours:

Walking Tours:

The Richmond Tour Guys
Take FREE walking tours of Richmond City, Church Hill and Shockoe Bottom from March – November.
(804) 263-7914

GPSMyCity Self-Guided Walking Tours
Walk the city with a FREE app for iPhone or Android. Self-guided tour options include Richmond City highlights, Civil War history, museums, art galleries, and much more.

Bike Tours:

Richmond Rides
See the city by bike with one of Richmond Rides’ exclusive tours, including the Church Hill Signature Tour, the Foodie Tour, Richmond Highlights and Along the River.

1507 Oakwood Ave.
Richmond VA 23223
(804) 893-5065

Segway Tours:

Segway of Richmond
Roll your way through the city on a Segway and see some of Richmond’s most important landmarks, cemeteries, and battlefields.

1301 E Cary St.
Richmond, VA 23219
(804) 343-1850

Boat Tours:

Venture Richmond Canal Cruises
Take a 40-minute covered boat tour down the James River and Kanawha Canal along Richmond’s historic Canal Walk. Tours depart every hour on the hour from the Turning Basin at the intersection of 14th and Dock Streets on Virginia Street in downtown Richmond.

139 Virginia St
Richmond, VA 23219
(804) 649-2800

Discover the James
Travel the James River on a 24-foot pontoon boat for a fresh perspective on the natural and historic significance of our city’s famous river. Tour options include bald eagle tours, Civil War history tours, history and wildlife tours, osprey tours and Atlantic Sturgeon tours.

7239 Lookout Drive
Richmond, VA 23225


10. Grab the season’s best produce at one of Richmond’s many Farmer’s Markets

Summer brings more than just vacations and time off from school. Summer is also the time for some of Virginia’s best produce. From juicy Hanover tomatoes to sweet Silver Queen corn, Richmond’s Farmer’s Markets are the best way to guarantee the freshest offerings of the season. See our complete listing of Famer’s Markets here.


11. Head to the Goochland Drive-In Theater for movies and memories

For many of us, warm, starry nights with popcorn and a big screen were part of our childhood. While many drive-ins have disappeared, Goochland Drive-In Theater keeps childhood memories alive – and offers the chance to make new ones with our own families. See a complete listing of upcoming shows and showtimes here.

4344 Old Fredericksburg Rd.
Hadensville, VA 23067


12. Sun yourself on the rocks at Belle Isle or Pony Pasture.

With more than 550 acres of shoreline and islands throughout Richmond, the James River Park System is nothing short of spectacular. With 14 sections it’s a nature lover’s playground. But Belle Isle and Pony Pasture with their large rocks and cool water are among our favorites. See a complete list of all of the James River Park locations here.


13. Go ice skating while it is still a novelty

Let’s be honest. Once the cold weather hits, ice skating won’t seem nearly as exciting as it does when temperatures are in the 90s. Take advantage of the summer heat to make a cool day on the ice that much cooler. Be to check out these rinks in the Richmond area that offer summer hours.

Richmond Ice Zone
636 Johnston Willis Dr.
NorthChesterfield, VA 23236
(804) 378-7465

Skate Nation Plus
4350 Pouncey Tract Rd.
Glen Allen, VA 23060
(804) 364-1477


Family Fun Activities

Summer fun doesn’t always mean leaving the house. There are plenty of things that you can do right at home that will help make your summer one to remember.

14. Play in the sprinklers

Play in the sprinklersWith so many communities and neighborhoods offering pools, it’s easy to forget that we used to find a simpler way to cool down in the summer months. Pools are great, but you can have fun and beat the heat right at home. For memories that will last a lifetime, turn on the sprinklers or get out the hose and make an afternoon of it.


15. Take a picnic to your favorite Richmond park, overlook or even your own backyard.

Family meals are hard to schedule once homework and after school sports and activities take over our lives. Before the busyness of another school year hits, pack some summery treats and take the time to sit with your family in the beauty of Richmond’s great outdoors. Try a scenic spot like the Church Hill Overlook, head to your neighborhood park or set up in your own back yard to enjoy and a meal and conversation without the distractions of every day life.


16. Make homemade ice cream

Few things make a hot summer night better than a bowl of ice cream made right at home. And while Richmond offers some of the best ice cream shops in the state, it’s easy to make your own. Search for top-rated recipes at AllRecipes, Country Living or any of your favorite recipe sites.


17. Have a water fight

You’ll spend the rest of the year trying to get your kids to stop fighting, so you might as well let them get it out of their systems now. Fill water balloons, stock up on water guns or give them a garden hose – they’ll entertain themselves for hours and you’ll be surprised at how much fun you have along the way. Trust me, the water bill will be worth it.


18. Host a luau right at home

No need to travel when you can bring the party to your own backyard. Celebrate the end of summer in style with your very own Hawaiian luau. Find inexpensive decorations and accessories at your local dollar store and get the party started with fresh fruits and Hawaiian themed foods. Invite friends over on the last day before school starts – or keep it as a family-only affair. You really can’t go wrong.


19. Make your own slip-n-slide

All you need to become the coolest house in the neighborhood is a large tarp and a garden hose. Set up the tarp in a grassy patch of yard, spray it down and watch kids and adults alike make the most of this simple and oh-so-entertaining activity.


Summer is a magical time. Maximize your last few weeks of school-free time with our bucket list and be sure to let us know if you have any must-do activities and events for summers in Richmond!