The beauty of Richmond lies in it’s wealth of green space. From large parks to riverside fields to hidden “pocket” parks throughout the city, it’s easy to find a pretty patch of green to spread out a blanket and enjoy a spring feast. However, with so many options available, we thought we would help you narrow down the options just a bit with a list of our favorite Richmond parks and picnic spots.
As always, when we bring you the “best of the best” of Richmond, we identify certain categories that our selections must meet in order to make our “favorites” list. Here’s what we kept in mind when picking our favorite picnic spots:
- The view and/or location
- Amenities (picnic shelters, restrooms, etc.)
- Available activities (other than just picnics)
The following five places offer just the right amount of everything to make a family picnic fun and relaxing for the whole crew.
For me, William Byrd Park, or Byrd Park, offers the trinity of perfect picnicking. There are waterfront views; there are picnic tables or beautiful, grassy fields to choose from; and last but not least, there are activities from paddle boats to walking paths to historical exploration available for pre- or post-picnic fun.
Byrd Park features 287 acres that are prime for exploration. Picnic by one of the park’s three lakes: Swan Lake, Fountain Lake or Shield Lake. At Swan Lake, you can watch swans and geese on the banks of the lake while you enjoy a meal. Or you can set up camp at Fountain Lake for paddle boat rides in the summer and a full-service concession stand offering snacks, lunch, restrooms and free Wi-Fi during the summer season. At Shield Lake, the park’s southernmost spot, you’ll find large picnic shelters complete with outdoor grills.
If waterfront dining isn’t your thing, head over The Carillon, a World War I memorial bell tower that holds fifty-three bells. Enjoy your picnic in the shade of this beautiful, towering memorial and let the kids run wild through the nearby grassy mall. Or maybe you’ll want to head over Dogwood Dell Amphitheater and Ha’Penny Stage. These outdoor entertainment venues host free entertainment throughout the summer months and are perfect for picnicking anytime.
There really is no wrong way to enjoy a picnic at Byrd Park. With a little bit of something for everyone, this city park provides amenities, activities and beauty to spare.
Why we love it: What we love the most about picnicking at Byrd Park is that you can choose your own adventure. Sit by the shores of a lake, explore walking trails, picnic beneath a bit of history or enjoy a picnic on the grassy hills of the amphitheater. In other words, there’s very little you can’t do at Byrd Park. So pack a picnic and start exploring!
600 South Boulevard
Richmond, VA 23220
Dogwood Dell Event Line
In addition to having a cool name, Belle Isle is an adventure from the get go. Your kids, especially, will love that the main point of access for this picturesque city park is actually a pedestrian that runs under the Lee Bridge (access the bridge from Tredegar Street). You can also take the wooden bridge near 22nd Street or – and if the weather and water levels are right, you could even rock hop your way to Belle Isle from the south shore of the James. However, you choose to get there, you won’t be disappointed. Spread out a picnic blanket and have a feast on the shores of the James with stunning views of the city skyline, Hollywood Cemetery and Historic Tredegar Iron Works. Sunbathe, dip your feet in the cool water or rock hop your way across the river. Just keep in mind that the rapids near Belle Isle can be very strong, so swimming is not a great idea – and of course, you’ll want to keep an eye on the little ones. But for a picnic that is pure natural beauty in the heart of the city, Belle Isle is a must.
For other activities, be sure to check out the beautiful wooded walking trails, mountain biking trails, interpreted historical sites, rock climbing walls and fishing options at the quarry pond.
Why we love it: We love the uniqueness of Belle Isle. Every city has that one thing that makes it feel special – and for many Richmonders, that one thing is the powerful beauty of the James River. Belle Isle provides the perfect place truly soak in the beauty of the river and the city, simultaneously. To me, that sounds like picnic paradise.
(for access to the pedestrian bridge)
300 Tredegar St.
Richmond VA 23219
Libby Hill Park is known as the home of “the view that named Richmond.” Legend has it, William Byrd II (founder of our fair city), stood on top of the hill in the early 1730s and declared the view to be so similar to that of the view of Richmond upon Thames in England, that he named his newly formed city “Richmond.” Libby Hill Park was created in 1851, and since that time, has continued to be a favorite hideaway for Richmond natives to walk, reflect, picnic or just enjoy the view.
The park boasts a number of historical markers and monuments, including a Confederate Soldiers’ & Sailors’ Monument modeled after “Pompey’s Pillar” in Alexandria, Egypt, as well as an ornamental fountain and park house. With beautiful trails, benches, picnic tables and plenty of grassy hillside that just begs for a picnic blanket, Libby Hill Park provides a small, yet quaint, picnic place for the entire family.
Why we love it: While Libby Hill Park doesn’t have play equipment, on-site museums or nature centers like some other popular Richmond spots, what it does have is beauty and simplicity. For me, picnics are all about the communion with the outdoors. Libby Hill Park puts you in an urban oasis and allows you to relax and soak in the beauty of the view around you.
2801 East Franklin Street
Richmond, VA 23223
For park scheduling: (804) 646-0036 or (804) 646-0761
You may start to think that I’m just biased to waterfront picnics. And you might be right, but even if that weren’t the case, water is one of Richmond’s greatest features and many parks offer the chance to be close to it with lakes, rivers and ponds. Deep Run Park is no exception. This beautiful, multi-functional park and recreation center serve as part of the Henrico County Park System and features ponds, trails, playgrounds and plenty of picnic shelters, you could easily spend the day at this 167-acre park.
We’ve picked it as a favorite picnic spot because it offers so many options. You can picnic on a blanket in the grass, set up at a picnic table, or you can reserve one of the park’s picnic shelters and have a larger gathering of friends and family. And if your family is anything like mine, no one will want to do the same thing at the same time. Deep Run Park allows for that with playgrounds, walking and hiking trails, fishing, sports’ facilities, and year-round family friendly activities hosted by the Henrico County Parks and Rec Department. However you decide to take advantage of this park, we’re sure it will become a go-to for your family picnics in the future.
Why we love it: Deep Run Park is beautiful, accessible and entertaining for the whole family. We love it because it easily matches all of our standards for a great picnic. There’s plenty of parking, plenty of space and plenty of activities. So, I guess it’s not so much about what we love – it’s that there’s really nothing NOT to love about Deep Run Park.
9900 Ridgefield Parkway
Henrico, VA 23233
With picnicking as our priority, we picked Crump Park and Meadow Farm Museum because it offers beautiful open fields and an actual living history farm – which means you certainly won’t lack views or ambiance as you enjoy your outdoor meal. Of course, what makes this picnic spot even better is the fact that everyone can be entertained here – regardless of age or interests.
Crump Park offers ideal picnic conditions with shelters, tables and open fields to choose from. And when it comes to after-picnic activities, you won’t be disappointed. This site contains plenty of playgrounds, walking trails and even a fishing pond. But what really sets it apart is the Meadow Farm Museum.
The Meadow Farm Museum is an 1860 living history farm site and museum. Throughout the year, they offer programs and exhibits, complete with costumed interpreters, that provide a look into what life would have been like for Dr. John Mosby Sheppard, the owner of Meadow Farm, and his family. You can picnic on the grounds of the farm, then take time to explore the farmhouse, barn, doctor’s office, blacksmith forge, kitchen, fields, pastures and more.
What we love about it: This picnic spot is special because it offers so much in an easily accessible space. Seriously, how lucky are we to have so much amazing history in our own backyard? Combine that with an all-around great park that is loaded with picnic facilities and overall amenities and Crump Park and Meadow Farm Museum is a picnic haven. Plain and simple.
3400 Mountain Road
Glen Allen, VA 23060
With flowers already starting to bloom, Richmond’s top parks and picnic spots are about to become prime real estate. Get a jump on the crowds and start trying out our top five Richmond picnic locations. Or if you already have some favorite picnic places in the Richmond area, let us know about them in the comments below!