Cheap Winter Activities for the Whole Family in Richmond

Cheap Winter ActivitiesWhile we’ve been fairly lucky this year in terms of the weather, the cold has definitely settled in and it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere anytime soon. And whether we get all the snow that’s being predicted or not, there’s one thing for certain—winter creates cabin fever even for the best of us. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to have a list of cheap winter activities that will keep the kids from climbing the walls without breaking the bank. We’ve put together some ideas that will keep you and your whole family entertained with your post-holiday budget in mind.

From free museums and outdoor activities to low-cost entertainment and events, you’ll find that there are plenty of things to keep you and your family active this winter. Be sure to try out our list, but if you have other suggestions for cheap winter activities for families in the Richmond area, be sure to let us know! Send us an email at cs@richmondmom.com.

19. Get the whole family moving at Pump It Up

Located in Ashland just north of Richmond, Pump It Up is the perfect place to work out the winter wiggles. Filled with inflatable bounce house fun, Jump It Up offers specially themed jumps including “Bubble” Jump, Family Night, Ice Cream Jump, Glow Jump and many other special events. Event times vary so be sure to check the calendar before planning your visit.

Age Range: All ages. Please note, that some events have a 34” height requirement and/or age restrictions. Click here for event details.

Costs:
Toddler Jump – $6/child
Open Jump – $8/child
Family Jump Night – $8/child (parents free)
Themed Jump – $9/child (unless otherwise stated)
Buddy Jump – $6/child when accompanied by a “buddy”
Parent’s Night Out – $20 per child and $16 per sibling (Advance Reservation); $25 per child and $20 per sibling (Walk-ins)
Parents accompanying a child – Free

Contact:
Pump It Up
9555 Kings Charter Dr.
Ashland, VA 23005
(804) 550-7867

 

18. Go bowling at AMF Lanes

For winter fun that will keep the whole family entertained, it’s hard to beat bowling. Even your littlest family members can enjoy time at the lanes, especially with AMF’s kid-friendly bumpers and lightweight balls designed for smaller hands. AMF offers three convenient locations in Richmond and Mechanicsville, plus great specials throughout the week including $2.22 Tuesdays where games and shoe rentals are only $2.22 each and “Sunday Funday” with $3 games and shoe rentals. With a full menu and arcades at each location, AMF Lanes are the perfect place to beat the winter blues.

Age Range: All ages

Cost: Contact your nearest AMF Lanes location for regular pricing, or click here for specials.

Contact:
AMF Sunset Lanes
6540 W. Broad St.
Richmond, VA 23230
(804) 282-0537

AMF Shrader Lanes
8037 Shrader Rd.
Richmond, VA 23294
(804) 747-9620

AMF Hanover Lanes
7317 Bell Creek Rd.
Mechanicsville, VA 23111
(804) 559-2600

 

17. Stroll the historic Riverfront Canal Walk

Even on the coldest of days, it’s hard not to enjoy the beauty of Richmond’s riverfront and the Canal Walk is the perfect place to take it all in. The walk, which stretches for more than a mile along the James River and the Kanawha and Haxall canals, leads you through nearly four centuries of Richmond’s history. Filled with statues, monuments, and plaques that describe various events and people who helped to shape our city, the Canal Walk is a great way to get everyone out for a day of sunshine and exercise, while offering plenty to see and do. Stroll along the waterfront, then be sure to stop in one of the area’s many restaurants or cafes for a cup of coffee or cocoa to warm up! If you’re up for it, you may want to check out the nearby Richmond Slave Trail or the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar, and in the spring, head back for a Canal Cruise.

Age Range: All ages

Cost: Free

Contact:  For questions or additional information, visit Venture Richmond online or call them at (804) 788-6466. The Canal Walk can be accessed at points on nearly every block between 5th and 17th streets in downtown, with handicapped-accessible entrances at 5th, 10th, 12th, 14th and 16th streets.

 

16. Catch a show or watch a movie at the Henrico Theatre

This beautiful art-deco theater is a Henrico gem. Built in 1938, the theater was added the National Register of Historic Places in 2005 and, today, hosts live theater and movies. “Henrico Live” is now in its fourth season and offers 14 performing arts programs throughout the season, including a children’s series. Tickets are only $10 person, but if you purchase season tickets, you can save up to 50%. Be sure to check out the upcoming performances and show times. For movies, the theater shows a variety of box office hits on select Fridays and Saturdays for only $1 at the door. On select Saturdays, the theater features children’s movies, also for only $1 each. Click here to see the complete schedule.

Age Range: All ages

Cost: $10/person for theater performances; $1/person for movies; $1 concessions

Contact:
305 E. Nine Mile Road
Henrico, VA 23075
(804) 652-1460
HenricoTheatre@henrico.us

 

15. Work out the wiggles at the Sports Center of Richmond (SCOR)

For athletic families, SCOR has it all, from sports leagues and camps to special clinics and family-friendly events. But what makes it truly special is the fact that these incredible resources are available all year long, even in the winter. Featuring a newly renovated state-of-the-art facility, SCOR offers indoor sports and entertainment for the whole family. From soccer fields to a sports café featuring ping pong, foosball, big screen TVs, and more, SCOR allows you to get out of the house and stay out of the cold—all at the same time. You can even try your hand at rock climbing with the new Peak Experiences climbing gym opening February 2018 at the SCOR campus. Family memberships are available for only $30 and are good for one year. Individual activities (including Peak Experiences) have additional costs associated with them, but your membership provides access to a wide range of activities for all ages and skill levels, as well as many discounts from SCOR sponsors.

Age Range: All ages

Cost: Family memberships – $30; Individual memberships – $20

Contact:
Sports Center of Richmond (SCOR)
1385 Overbrook Road
Richmond, VA 23220
(804) 257-7111
info@scor-richmond.com

 

14. Learn more about our great state at the Virginia Historical Society

For free family fun this winter, try the Virginia Historical Society. Filled with exciting hands-on exhibits like “The Story of Virginia,” an interactive exhibit that showcases 16,000 years of Virginia history spanning from earliest man to modern technology, the Virginia Historical Society is a great way to make learning fun while keeping out of the cold. Currently, the featured exhibit is “A Material World,” which showcases photographs from the 1980s, courtesy of the Richmond Times-Dispatch archives. While general admission is free, some special exhibits do have costs associated with them but are usually free to children 18 and under. Be sure to check the upcoming exhibition schedule online or call (804) 358-4901 to learn more.

Age Range: All ages

Cost: Free

Contact:
Virginia Historical Society
428 North Boulevard
Richmond, VA 23220
(804) 358-4901

 

13. Take a walk through time at the Richmond National Battlefield Park

An understanding of the past is one of the most valuable things we can offer our children as they navigate the future. Richmond played a critical role during the Civil War and even now, 150 years later, we can learn from this historic event. Featuring 13 sites, including the site of a naval battle, a key industrial complex, the Confederacy’s largest hospital, battlefields, museums, homes, and more, the Richmond National Battlefield Park covers nearly 80 miles throughout Richmond, Chesterfield, Henrico, and Hanover. With four visitor’s centers along the route, you can easily spend a day (or more) visiting the sites, hiking the battlefields, and driving through the scenic countryside. For directions, maps of the park, and more information about planning your visit, lick here.  Plus, be sure to check out upcoming events to see living history demonstrations and take part in other special events.

Age Range: All ages

Cost: Free

Contact:  Visit Richmond National Battlefield Park online or contact your nearest visitors’ center at:

Chimborazo Medical Museum
3215 East Broad Street
Richmond, VA
(804) 226-1981
Open All Year, 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Civil War Visitor Center at Tredegar Iron Works
470 Tredegar Street
Richmond, VA 23219
(804) 771-2145
Open All Year, 9:00 am to 5:00 p.m.
Ranger Programs offered daily during the summer season

Cold Harbor Battlefield Visitor Center
5515 Anderson-Wright Drive
Mechanicsville, VA 23111
(804) 226-1981
Open All Year, 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Ranger programs offered daily during the summer season

Fort Harrison Visitor Center
8621 Battlefield Park Road (off of Route 5)
Henrico, VA 23231
(804) 226-1981
Open seasonally on a limited basis. Call park for detailed information about Fort Harrison operating hours.

 

12. Learn about local plants and animals at the Rockwood Nature Center

Rockwood Nature Center is one of Chesterfield County’s best-kept secrets. Located at Rockwood Park, the nature center is set in a log cabin-style building and gives you the chance to get up close and personal with reptiles and amphibians, explore a honeybee hive, and take part in educational programs designed to teach you more about your local natural environment. The center also offers wilderness classes, an award-winning archery program, and more than five miles of hiking trails. Be sure to check out their upcoming programs and start exploring today!

Age Range: All ages

Cost: General admission – Free
Some programs may have costs associated with them, so be sure to check out the program guide before signing up.

Contact:
Rockwood Nature Center
3401 Courthouse Road
North Chesterfield, VA 23236
(804) 674-1629

 

11. Enjoy the great outdoors (from inside!) at Bass Pro Shops Ashland

While Bass Pro Shops might seem like a strange place to spend a family afternoon, if you’ve ever been there, then you know we’re not crazy for suggesting it! This “outdoors” superstore provides an incredible space for families to have fun away from the winter cold. The store features a virtual living history museum dedicated to Virginia’s wildlife and outdoor legacies. With hand-painted murals, simulated outdoor scenes, an arcade with animated targets, and an in-house restaurant, there’s entertainment for the whole family. Be sure to check their calendar for free events, workshops, clinics, and other special events, as well.

Age Range:  All ranges

Cost: Free

Contact:
Bass Pro Shops Ashland
11550 Lakeridge Parkway
Ashland, VA 23005
(804) 496-4700

 

10. Be a part of living history at the Meadow Farm Museum at Crump Park

With the perfect mix of both indoor and outdoor activities, the Meadow Farm Museum in Henrico is a great way to spend time as a family while learning some local history. The museum offers a living history perspective of life on an 1860s farm. The site features costumed historical interpreters who provide a closer look at the life of Dr. John Mosby Sheppard, the owner of Meadow Farm, and his family. With events throughout the year, you and your family will have the opportunity to explore the farmhouse, barn, doctor’s office, blacksmith forge, kitchen, fields, and pastures. Enjoy special events like guided animal tours, live demonstrations, instructional workshops, and much more. With a gift shop and easy access to outdoor playgrounds and picnic spaces at Crump Park, there’s truly something for everyone.

Age Range: All ages

Cost: Free

Contact:
Meadow Farm Museum at Crump Park
3400 Mountain Road
Glen Allen, VA 23060
(804) 652-1455
MeadowFarm@henrico.us

 

9. Fine Art and Family Fun at Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

What we love the most about this world-class art museum is that it’s free. Granted, donations are accepted and certainly help with upkeep and maintenance of this Richmond City treasure, but whether to donate and how much is totally up to you. In the meantime, there is so much more to love about this museum. Since opening in its doors in 1936, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has been a center for cultural and artistic discovery in Virginia. The museum’s permanent collection houses more than 33,000 works of art, including one of the world’s largest Faberge egg collection. The museum also hosts expansive temporary exhibits showcasing some of the greatest artists and sculptors in the world.

With a café and restaurant in the building, not to mention a fabulous gift shop, you can easily spend a winter afternoon perusing art from around the world (including incredible Egyptian artifacts, Native American art, and much more), while staying out of the cold.

Be sure to check out the museum’s Family Guides, which include printable “gallery hunt” sheets that you and the family can use for your very museum scavenger hunt!

Age Range: All ages

Cost: Free

Contact:
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
200 North Boulevard
Richmond, VA 23220
(804) 340-1405
info@vmfa.museum

VMFA is open 365 days a year.
Museum galleries and the VMFA Shop:
Sunday – Wednesday and Saturdays: 10 am – 5 pm
Thursdays and Fridays: 10am – 9pm

 

8. Family Movie Night at The Byrd Theatre

A family outing to the movies is hard to beat – until you look at the bill and realize that a simple movie with snacks can easily cost up to $75 or more. Thank goodness for The Byrd. The Byrd Theatre captures the “good old days” in every sense of the phrase. With most shows costing $4/ticket, you can catch a movie, with snacks, without breaking the bank. The theatre itself is a trip back in time, featuring much of the original architectural detail and décor from its opening as one of the nation’s “Grand Movie Palaces” in 1928. You can even hear the legendary Bob Gulledge on the Mighty Wurlitzer organ, a rare historical treasure that dates back to when most movies were still silent.

The Byrd is open 365 days a year, but the schedule changes frequently, so be sure to visit The Byrd Theatre online or call the box office at (804) 353-9911 to find out what’s playing. With a good mix of both kid-friendly and “grown-up” movies, you’re sure to find something that works for the whole family.

Age Range: All ages

Cost: $4/ticket (some special events may be slightly more, so be sure to check online before visiting)

Contact:
Byrd Theatre
2908 West Cary Street
Richmond, VA, 23221
Showtimes: (804) 353-9911
Office: (804) 358-3056 (Please leave a message)
manager@byrdtheatre.com

The Byrd Theatre is open 365 days a year.
Check here for showtimes. The box office opens 30 minutes before each show and there are no previews.

 

7. Spend a Day in the Park at Maymont

There are some places in Richmond that are worth the trip ANY time of the year and Maymont Park tops the list. With both indoor and outdoor activities available, not even the cold weather can keep your family from having fun at this Richmond park. The main park includes a Japanese Garden, an Italian Garden, and an arboretum; a Children’s Farm with a petting barn, as well as wildlife exhibits including bears, foxes and other Virginia animals and birds; and a Nature Center with fish, reptiles and playful James River otters.

If history is more your thing, be sure to stop by the Dooley Mansion and Carriage houses to see the elegantly restored Victorian home of Major James H. Dooley and his wife, Sallie, who built the house in1893 and donated the Maymont grounds after their deaths in 1925.

All outdoor portions of this amazing park are free, however, for upkeep, the Nature Center does charge admission fee of $4 for youth and adults aged 13-59; $3 for children aged 4-12 and $3 for seniors aged 60+ (free for Maymont members and children under 4). Tours of the Dooley Mansion (including guided tours of the upstairs and self-guided tours of the “below stairs”) and the Children’s Barn each have a suggested donation of $5.

Age Range: All ages

Cost:
Ground and Gardens: Free
Nature Center: $4 (ages 13-59); $3 (ages 4-12) and $3 (ages 60+); free for Maymont members and children under 4.
Dooley Mansion: $5 suggested donation
Children’s Barn: $5 suggested donation

Contact:
Maymont
Visitor Center
2201 Shields Lake Drive
Richmond, VA 23220
(804) 358-7166

Grounds and Garden:
Open daily
April – September, 10am – 7pm
October – March, 10am – 5pm

Children’s Barn, Farm Pastures and Wildlife Exhibits:
Open Daily, 10am – 5pm (weather permitting)

Maymont Mansion and Carriage Houses:
Tuesday – Sunday, 12 pm – 5pm

Nature Center: Tuesday – Sunday, 10am – 5pm


6. Go on a Richmond City Scavenger Hunt with Puzzling Adventures

Described as a cross between a scavenger hunt, a self-guided city tour and The Amazing Race, Puzzling Adventures is a crazy, outdoor adventure for the whole family. Simply sign up online, get the “adventure” send to your phone and get started!

Here how it works: You’ll be given a starting point where you’ll have to solve puzzles in order to receive a clue sending you to the next destination. Along the way, you can stop to see the sights and sounds of the city, or take time to grab a bite to eat, get a hot chocolate, or just warm up for a bit. Compete as a family team (you can even pick your own team name) and at the end, you’ll be ranked against other teams. The best part is that there is no time limit. You can even take several days to complete your adventure. You’ll only be timed for puzzle solving and travel time from one destination to the next.

Along the way, you’ll discover parts of Richmond you’ve probably never seen before, you’ll have a blast trying to solve puzzles with your family and you’ll get out of the house – together!

Normally priced at $49.99 for a team puzzle challenge (which is still a good deal for a family of 4 or more!), be sure to check for special deals. Currently, on Groupon, you can purchase a Puzzling Adventures Richmond Team Tour for only $24.99.

Age Range: All ages

Cost: $49.99 for a team adventure tour or check out special discount tours on Groupon.

Contact:
Puzzling Adventures
Throughout the city of Richmond
(888) 433-8966

 

5. Living History at Henricus Historical Park

As Virginians, we’re lucky to have so much history right in our own backyards. For example, we have the nation’s oldest permanent English settlement just a couple of hours away from Richmond in Jamestown. But did you know that the second oldest permanent English settlement was even closer? The Citie of Henricus was founded in 1611 and is located just outside of Richmond in Chester. And with tickets at only $8 for anyone 13 and older, $6 for kids aged 3-12 and free for anyone under 3, you can spend an afternoon – or a day—in a living history museum, without traveling far or spending a fortune.

Through its living history exhibits, Henricus Historical Park tells the story of how Sir Thomas Dale led 300 settlers from Jamestown, traveled 80 miles up the James River and built a successful, new colony, despite threats from Native Americans and Spanish explorers, uncertain weather, and unknown conditions. Today, Henricus offers historical interpretations and reenactments of both Native American and colonial life as it was in the 17th and 18th centuries. With special events throughout the year, plus daily exhibits and shows, the park provides a close-up, hands-on look at some of the nation’s earliest history.

Age Range: All ages

Cost:
$8 – adults and children 13+
$6 – children (3-12)
Free – children under 3
Free – Members (learn about membership here)

Contact:
Henricus Historical Park
251 Henricus Park Rd.
Chester, VA 23836
(804) 748-1611
Tuesday – Sunday, 10am – 5pm

 

4. Head to the Nearest Richmond Public Library

The library can be a great place to go any time of year – but when the weather’s cold and cabin fever sets in, your local public library can be a lifesaver. In addition to books, videos and other great ways to entertain kids (and adults), the Richmond Public Library system offers a wide variety of activities, classes and story time events all year round. Visit the Richmond Public Library Events Calendar to find an event that works for you.

Don’t live in the city of Richmond? The Greater Richmond Area offers an extensive public library system, including public libraries in Henrico and Chesterfield, as well as the Pamunkey Regional Library system, which serves the Hanover, Goochland, King and Queen and King William counties. Be sure to visit your county library system to find a branch offering activities near you.

Age Range: All ages

Cost: Free

Contact: Click here to find contact information for your nearest Richmond Public Library branch.

Visit Richmond Public Library to see a complete list of city locations as well as their hours.

 

When the winter weather keeps everyone indoors for too long, you can start to feel the effects. But if super cold temperatures and/or snowy weather make outside play too tough, an indoor play space can be a lifesaver. There are many options in the Richmond area – from indoor trampoline parks to laser tag to play spaces at local malls. But finding something for the whole family, especially when you have an age range to work with, can be difficult.

Off the Wall Indoor Bounce and Party Place offers inflatables, obstacle courses, playhouses, toys, Legos, dress-up and more to keep everyone’s imagination going full-speed ahead for hours. With a separate area for little ones from just-walking to 3 years old, you won’t have to worry about little ones getting run over by the big kids…and the “big kids” are free to have fun!

Adults are free with a child and kids 17 and under are just $6 each – but unlike other places that give you a time limit, $6 at Off the Wall provides you all-day access, even if you need to leave and come back. Just remember to bring socks as the Off the Wall is completely shoe-free. This shouldn’t be a problem in the winter months, but just in case you forget, they’ll have socks available for $1.50 a pair.

Age Range: All ages

Cost:
$6 for children 17 and under
Free for babies not yet walking
Free for adults with a child

Contact:
Off the Wall, Indoor Bounce and Party Place
721 West Hundred Road
Chester, VA 23836
(804) 717- JUMP (5867)
otwparties@gmail.com

Daily, 10am – 7pm

 

2. Enjoy “Hands On” Interaction at Three Lakes Park and Nature Center

Three Lakes Park makes a great outdoor destination with playgrounds, walking trails and picnic areas. But for those especially cold days, the Three Lakes Nature Center offers something even better. Not only can you get in out of the cold, but this 6,500 square foot facility provides hours of fun. A 50,000-gallon aquarium offers a close-up look at the fish and plant life that live in the local waters. Plus, the center offers a wide variety of exhibits and educational programs that provide a better understanding of the plants and animals that are native to the Richmond area, as well as the wildlife living in the wetlands and woodlands of the park. You and your family can learn and explore with live exhibits, dioramas, and interactive displays that offer something for every interest and age level.

There is no admission fee for the park or the Nature Center, but we do have to note that the Nature Center is closed the first two weeks of January and is only open on Saturdays and Sundays from December to February. However, for those cold winter weekends, it makes for an awesome family outing. Be sure to check the latest program schedule here!

Age Range: All ages

Cost: Free

Contact:
Three Lakes Park and Nature Center
400 Sausiluta Drive
Henrico, VA 23227
(804) 652-1470
ThreeLakes@henrico.us

Three Lakes Park:
Open daily, dawn to dusk

Nature Center:
December – February: Saturday & Sunday, 12pm – 4:30pm
March – May: Tuesday – Sunday, 12pm – 4:30pm
June – August: Tuesday – Friday, 10am – 4:30pm; Saturday and Sunday, 12pm – 4:30pm
September – November: Tuesday – Sunday, 12pm – 4:30pm

 

1. Play More, See More and Do More at CMoR

Talk to parents with older kids, and they very well might tell you that The Children’s Museum of Richmond (CMoR) is the only thing that allowed them to survive the winter months when their kids were younger. In fact, CMoR is one of the most visited attractions in the city – and one of the most visited children’s museums in the nation. With arts and crafts, dress-up, make-believe, water play, hands-on science exhibits and so, so much more, you’d have to try hard not to have a good time at this amazing museum. The best part? There’s not just one, but four locations throughout the Greater Richmond Area.

While CMoR is primarily focused on elementary-aged kids, it’s still a great place to take the whole family. If you have older kids, they’ll still get a kick out of playing with the younger kids. And while they may not be able to do every exhibit, you’ll be surprised at just how much fun they have. And the same goes for parents, too. With so much to inspire the imagination, it’s hard not to feel like a kid again. Take a look at the full list of exhibits for each CMoR location here, or check out their calendar of special events to find what works best for your family.

CMoR is not the least expensive activity on our list, but at $9 a person (children under 1 are free), you can still easily while away an entire morning or afternoon for under $40.

Age Range: All ages

Cost:
$9/ person
Children under 1 are free

Contact:
CMoR Central
2626 West Broad St.
Richmond, VA 23220
(804) 474-7062

CMoR Short Pump
11800 West Broad St.
Richmond, VA 23233
(804) 474-7070

CMoR Chesterfield
6629 Lake Harbour Dr.
Midlothian, VA 23112
(804) 474-7075

CMoR Fredericksburg
1275 Jefferson Davis Hwy.
Fredericksburg, VA 22401
(540) 656-2233

All CMoR Locations
Year Round: 9:30am – 5:00pm, daily
Closed: Easter Day, 4th of July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day

 

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Anna Strock
Anna has spent the last 18 years writing, directing creative projects, and trying to be the best mom possible to her three girls. When she's not exploring Richmond for the latest and greatest resources, offerings, and activities, she can be found daydreaming on travel blogs, drinking too much coffee, and running kids to endless activities.