Summer Bucket List for Richmond: 21 Family-Friendly Ways to Beat the Heat

Summer Bucket ListAfter a long winter, it’s fair to say that summer couldn’t get here quickly enough. And now that it’s in full swing with kids out of school and family vacations underway, you might find yourself wondering how to fill the long summer hours. Fortunately, Richmond offers more than enough to keep your family busy all summer long. To help you get your Summer Bucket List started, we’ve come up with 21 awesome activities and events in and around the Richmond area.

From special events, festivals, and concert series, to local history, to water fun for the whole family, you’ll have no trouble finding ways to beat the heat and spend time together as a family this summer. Get your bucket list started today!

Specific Summer Activities in Richmond 

With so many parks, museums, family-friendly locations around the Greater Richmond area, there’s always something to do. That’s the beauty of living in such a vibrant city. But if you want to narrow the list down just a bit, we’ve got some great ideas for activities that are unique to summer in Richmond.

1. Discover butterflies, larger-than-life origami, water play, and live music at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is worth a visit any time of the year. But there’s no time like summer to catch some of their most popular events – all of which are included in general admission.

Special Summer Events:
Butterflies LIVE!
April 6 – October 14, 2018; 9am – 5pm

Origami in the Garden
April 13 – September 30, 2018; 9am – 5pm

Water Play in the Children’s Garden
April 14 – September 30, 2018 (weather permitting)
Weekends:  April 14 – Sept 30, 9 – 4:45 p.m.
Weekdays: June 11 – Sept 7,  9 – 4:45 p.m.

Flowers After 5
Every Thursday, June 1- September 13, 2018; 5pm – 9pm. Includes live music, wine, beer, and food available for sale.

Location: 1800 Lakeside Ave, Henrico, VA 23228


2. Make the most of Maymont

Undoubtedly one of Richmond’s greatest treasures, Maymont park offers something for everyone. Whether you want to stroll the grounds and gardens, visit the animals in the Wildlife Exhibits, explore the Children’s Farm, tour the Dooley Mansion, or learn about the local habitat at the Nature Center, Maymont has something for everyone. Be sure to visit their events calendar for special summer events and summer camps, as well

Location: 1700 Hampton St, Richmond, VA 23220

Special Summer Events:
Summer Discover Camps
Maymont offers a wide variety of summer camps for kids of all ages. From nature discovery to educational programs, your kids will love the adventures available at Maymont. See a complete list of camps here.

Looking for other special events at Maymont this summer? See their events calendar here.


3. Chill out at the Children’s Museum of Richmond

As a longtime favorite of Richmond parents and kids, the Children’s Museum of Richmond is the perfect place to beat the heat while letting your kids’ imagination run free. CMoR offers four locations with interactive, hands-on displays for everyone from big kids to toddlers. Plus, during the summer months (from Memorial Day until Labor Day), kids can cool down with Front Yard Water Play at the CMoR Central location. This special water exhibit features water jets perfect for hopping, jumping, and skipping. Be sure to check out their summer camps, too! With special events planned all summer long, CMoR will quickly become your go-to spot for family fun.

Special Summer Events:
Front Yard Water Play

Open daily 9:30am – 5pm, Memorial Day through Labor Day

Summer Camps from Brickz 4 Kidz and Engineering for Kids
Available at CMoR Central and CMoR Chesterfield locations, these special mini-camps offer STEAM-related activities for kids from pre-K through 6th grade. Camp costs are not included in museum admission.

CarMax $1 Family Nights
On the second Friday of every month, enjoy $1 museum admission per person. Family Nights feature special performances and events for the whole family.

Richmond (Central): 2626 W Broad St, Richmond, VA 23220
Chesterfield: 6629 Lake Harbour Dr, Midlothian, VA 23112
Short Pump: 11800 W Broad St, Richmond, VA 23233
Fredericksburg:1275 Jefferson Davis Hwy, Fredericksburg, VA 22401


4. Immerse yourself in Richmond’s living history

One of the best things about living in Richmond is its rich history. From the very beginning, Richmond has played a large part in the founding of our nation. Today, there are many locations throughout the city and surrounding counties that offer living history exhibits and demonstrations, allowing you to not only see, but experience firsthand what life was like for Richmond natives throughout history. Here are some of our favorite living history museums and events:

Henricus Historical Park
Travel more than 400 years back in time to the Citie of Henricus, the second successful English settlement in the New World. See how both the English settlers and Native American lived with living history exhibits, displays, demonstrations, and special events. Camps and special theme days are available all summer long.

Location: 251 Henricus Park Rd, Chester, VA 23836

Meadow Farm Museum at Crump Park
Go back to the year 1860 to see how a real-life farming family in Henrico County lived. This living history farm and museum offers programs and exhibits showing the life of Dr. John Mosby Sheppard and his family. Throughout the summer, you’ll find special events and demonstrations showing seasonal activities in the farmhouse, barn, doctor’s office, blacksmith forge, kitchen, fields, and pastures. Admission is free.

Location: 3400 Mountain Road | Glen Allen, VA   23060

“Give Me Liberty, or Give Me Death” Re-enactments at Historic St. John’s Church
Witness the famous speech given by Richmond’s own Patrick Henry at the site where it first happened. It was here, during the Second Virginia Convention, that Henry gave his impassioned plea alongside the likes of Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. Today, you can see how his famous words still ring true. Re-enactments are free on a first come first serve basis, but reserved seating is available for $5/person.

Location: 2401 E Broad St, Richmond, VA 23223


5. See movie classics under the stars with FREE Movies in the Park

Grab your chairs and blankets, then settle in for big screen movie classics under the stars all summer long. Offered by Richmond City Park and Rec, Movies in the Park are shown every Friday night at various Richmond park locations. Click here for the complete line-up of movies and locations.


6. Take your family out to a ball game with Richmond’s very own Flying Squirrels

Nothing says summer quite like a ball game. This summer, be sure to catch The Flying Squirrels at their home stadium, The Diamond, in Richmond’s historic Fan district. Featuring special events, theme nights, a free kids club, and fun for the whole family all summer long, this is one summer tradition your family is sure to love.

See the full schedule of games and special events.

Location: 3001 N. Boulevard, Richmond, VA 23230


7. Enjoy lazy summer nights with free Music Series throughout Greater Richmond

Make the most of your summer nights with family-friendly music series this summer. With a wide range of musical genres, activities, and special events for the whole family, Richmond’s Summer Music Series are the perfect way to spend a summer evening.

West Broad Village
2301 Old Brick Road (The Pad near Aloft Hotel), Glen Allen, VA 23060
June-August, every other Friday (7pm). Live music + raffles & games + food/wine/beer for sale.

Short Pump Towne Center
11800 W. Broad St. (Main Plaza), Richmond, VA 23233
June 8, June 29, July 13 (5:30-8pm). Wine tastings provided by Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant.

Stony Point Fashion Park
9200 Stony Point Pkwy. (Triangle Park), Richmond, VA 23235
1st & 3rd Thursdays of the month (6-8 pm). Beer and wine available for purchase. Collecting new or gently used shoes at every concert for Soles4Soul.

Music in Forest Hill Park
4021 Forest Hill Ave., Richmond, VA 23225
May 13, June 10, July 8, August 19 (6-8pm), September 9, October 7 (5-7pm)

Festival of Arts at Dogwood Dell
600 S Boulevard, Richmond, VA 23220
Click here for the complete schedule.


General Summer Activities in Richmond

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:

8. Volunteer in your community

If you’re looking for ways to keep your kids engaged this summer, then let them volunteer. While it can be tricky finding volunteer opportunities for every age group, we’ve picked our five favorite area organizations that offer volunteer opportunities for kids of all ages. Visit our Best Volunteer Opportunities for Kids in Richmond This Summer or see a complete list of options with Richmond Mom’s Guide to Volunteer Opportunities for Kids in Richmond.


9. Get into the summer groove at a Richmond Festival

Richmond offers many things, but few that we love as much as their vibrant festival scene. With festivals of all kinds, from music to food to culture, there’s truly something for everyone. Be sure to visit our Guide to Summer Festivals in Richmond to see what’s coming up next!


10. Beat the heat at a water park, pool, or splash pad

Summers can get hot here in Richmond. So what’s the best way to beat the heat? Water fun, of course! Take advantage of Richmond’s water parks and free splash pads this summer for an easy way to keep your whole family cool and happy. Here are some local water parks and splash pads to start you off:

Cobblestone Park
 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.

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

Pocahontas State Park
Pocahontas State Park’s Aquatic Center features a toddler pool, fountain wet deck, three-foot and five-foot-deep leisure pools, an activity pool, and two tubular water slides. Once you’re done swimming, be sure to enjoy the park’s many other offerings, including boating, fishing, picnicking, hiking, and nature and history programs.

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

Short Pump Park Splash Pad
Location: 3329 Pump Road, Henrico, VA 23233
Cost: FREE
Hours: (Beginning May 12, 2018 – end of September) Open daily 9:00am – 7:00pm

The Sprayground at Eastern Henrico Recreation Center
Location: 1440 N. Laburnum Avenue, Henrico, VA  23223
Cost: FREE
Hours: (Beginning May 12 through the end of September) Open daily 9:00am – 7:00pm

Stony Point Fashion Park Splash Pad
Location: 9200 Stony Point Parkway. Richmond, VA 23235
Cost: FREE
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10:00am – 9:00pm, Sunday, 12:00pm – 6:00pm

Twin Hickory Parks and Recreation Splash Pad
Location: 5011 Twin Hickory Road. Glen Allen, VA  23059
Cost: FREE
Hours: (Beginning May 12, 2018 – end of September) 9:00am – 7:00pm

Looking for other ways to cool down in the water? Be sure to see Richmond Mom’s Guide to Richmond Pools and Splash Pads or find water parks throughout the state with our Guide to Virginia Water Parks.


11. Make the most of the James River

We are fortunate here in the Richmond area to have one of the most beautiful rivers in the state right in our own backyard (so to speak). The James River features America’s only Class IV/V rapids in an urban setting and offers water sports opportunities for the whole family. Try rafting, kayaking or tubing down the James, and make this summer one to remember. 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


12. Enjoy fresh fruits, veggies, and locally sourced foods from Richmond’s Farmers Markets

Surrounded by rich farmland, Richmond is a haven for fresh produce. From Hanover tomatoes to juicy strawberries, Richmond’s farmers markets are filled with the best our area has to offer all summer long. Be sure to check out Richmond Mom’s Guide to Richmond Farmers Markets for the one nearest you!


13. Soak in the sun at a James River Park

While the James River Park System offers more than 550 acres of shoreline and islands throughout Richmond, Belle Isle and Pony Pasture with their large rocks and cool water hit the top of our favorites list. These iconic Richmond locations are perfect for a day of wading, sunning, and having fun as a family. See a complete list of all of the James River Park locations here.


Other Summer Activities for the Whole Family…

Richmond is packed with summer activities, but there are plenty of ways to have fun as a family this summer without even leaving the house. Here are a few family activities that we think should make everyone’s Summer Bucket List:

14. Play in the sprinklers or water hose.

15. Catch fireflies.

16. Make homemade ice cream.  

17. Camp out in the backyard.  

18. Blow bubbles.

19. Build a fort or treehouse.

20. Take family nature walks.

21. Make homemade popsicles.

What’s on your summer bucket list this year? If you have ideas for summer fun in the Richmond area that we may have left off the list, be sure to let us know at!