There’s no shortage of history in Richmond. The city practically overflows with it, from the cobblestone streets to world-class museums to buildings and sites that provided the backdrops to some of the most pivotal moments in American’s past. But it’s easy to take it for granted, and even easier to do so when kids come into the picture. It can feel daunting to bring the whole family along to a historical site. As parents, we worry our kids will complain, get bored, or accidentally topple over a centuries-old antique. The good news is Richmond has plenty of historical sites that work for adults and kids alike.
Because Richmond has so much rich history to offer, the hard part can be deciding where to begin. To help get you started, we’ve picked our five favorite historical sites for families in the River City. To narrow down Richmond’s enormous list of historical sites, we focused on ones that met the following criteria:
- Family-friendly/kids welcome.
- Interesting and interactive historical features.
- Room to run and explore.
So, the next time you’re looking for a fun family outing, check out one of these sites that embrace Richmond’s multifaceted and vibrant past. It’s a great way to get your kids excited about learning and introduce them to all the dynamic, complex layers of history beneath the surface of their hometown.
A cemetery may not seem like the first choice for a family outing, but Hollywood Cemetery is one of the richest and most beautiful historical sites in Richmond and the second most-visited cemetery in the nation. Walk the winding paths of this 135-acre “garden cemetery” and visit the resting places of two American presidents, six Virginia governors, and two Supreme Court justices, among other notable figures. Beyond the history, it offers absolutely spectacular views of the river and city skyline.
Why we love it: Whether it’s the serene setting, winding paths, gorgeous stone and iron architecture, or simply its function as the resting place of so many souls, there’s a quiet, timeless kind of beauty that permeates Hollywood Cemetery. If you have children who are old enough to treat the cemetery grounds quietly and respectfully, it’s a wonderful place to take a long family walk and point out some of the most notable figures in Richmond’s past. And, with thousands of both Union and Confederate graves dotting the hilly landscape, it’s an ideal opportunity to have an honest talk with your kids about the more painful parts of Richmond’s legacy.
Location: 412 South Cherry St, Richmond, VA 23220
Hours: Daily (8am-6pm)
Williamsburg is great, but it’s also an hour away and often overrun with tourists. Luckily, you can have a very similar experience at this Chester outdoor living history museum that recreates a 1611 English settlement with 12 recreated colonial structures and interactive encounters with costumed actors. There’s also a recreated Powhatan Indian village with several long-houses and the chance to see canoe crafting or the cultivation of corn and tobacco. Through September 3, there are also summer theme days, with offerings like “Talk Like Pocahontas Tuesday” and “Skills for Kids Saturday.”
Why we love it: History and kids don’t always mix, and straightforward museum exhibits tend to elicit blank stares or yawns in the younger set. But when history comes alive in an interactive format, kids can truly engage. This interactive historical park is a great way to get your kids excited about Virginia’s past because they can actually see, touch, hear, smell, and taste Virginia’s history. It’s also a great local alternative to Williamsburg that’s both much closer and far less crowded.
Location: 251 Henricus Park Rd., Chester, VA 23836
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday (10am-5pm)
Cost: Adults: $9, Children (ages 3-12): $7, Military: $1 off, Children Under 2: Free, Members: Free
When it comes to Richmond’s history, the Civil War looms large. And there are few better places to learn about one of the most painful chapters in American history than at the American Civil War Museum at Tredegar. The museum encompasses several experiences, including Historic Tredegar in downtown Richmond, with exhibits that confront the causes and legacy of the Civil War from Confederate, Union, and African American viewpoints, as well as the Museum & White House of the Confederacy and the American Civil War Museum in Appomattox.
Why we love it: There’s no escaping the wounds left by the Civil War in Richmond, and the American Civil War Museum is dedicated to exploring this painful period from all perspectives. In a modern nation that feels increasingly divided, it feels particularly important to show our kids the lessons of the past and reinforce the enduring values that ultimately bring us together. And with a river-adjacent location downtown, it’s a great jumping off point for a day exploring other parts of Richmond’s history, from the canal walk to Belle Isle to the other great museums nearby, particularly the wonderful Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia.
Location: 500 Tredegar Street, Richmond, VA 23219
Hours: Daily (9am-5pm)
Cost: Historic Tredegar Museum Only: $12/adults, $10/Senior, Retired Military, Teacher, Student), $6/youth ages 6-17, free for children 5 and under and active-duty military.
Historic Tredegar Museum & Tredegar History Tour: $15/adults, $13/Senior, Retired Military, Teacher, Student), $9/youth ages 6-17, free for children 5 and under and active-duty military.
It’s one of those strange Richmond anachronisms that smack dab in the middle of Windsor Farms sits a perfectly reconstructed 16th century English Tudor mansion. Brought over piece by piece from Manchester in the 1920s, Agecroft Hall is a chance to experience the English countryside without the 6-hour trans-Atlantic flight. It’s also a great activity for families, as its huge, lavish gardens provide a great place for kids to play and run. The house is open for tours, but if you have little ones with sticky fingers or a tendency to knock expensive items of furniture over, you may want to stick to the grounds.
Why we love it: It’s just so wonderfully weird that this slice of British history surreptitiously fell into Richmond’s lap. If there’s any testament to the stubbornness of a Southerner, it’s in the determination of Richmond businessmen T. C. Williams Jr. to dismantle an enormous English manor and ship it across an ocean. Take advantage of his crazy dreams and bring your kids to experience the English countryside without ever leaving Richmond. The house is fascinating, but the gardens and grounds are equally impressive. With 23-acres overlooking the James, it’s a great place to spend a pleasant, civilized afternoon.
Location: 4305 Sulgrave Road, Richmond, VA 23221
Hours: Tuesdays – Saturdays (10am to 4pm), Sundays (12:30pm to 5pm)
Cost: General Admission: $8/adults, $7/seniors, $5/full-time students. Garden Admission: $4/adults, $3.50/seniors, $2.50/students
Nothing says kid-friendly quite like a historical attraction that’s also part playground, park, and petting zoo. If you need some non-history features to lure your children, Crump Park features playgrounds, picnic shelters, trails, large open fields, and a fishing pond. Once they’ve had their fill of slides and swings, head over to Meadow Farm Museum, an 1860 living history farm site and museum with programs and exhibits on the culture of the rural South. And if all that isn’t enough, the farm is also home to sheep, pigs, cows, and a few other farm animals.
Why we love it: Where else in Richmond can you find a place that combines playgrounds, walking trails, fields, farm animals, period-costumed actors doing live demonstrations and history? It’s a rare combination and one that’s perfect for kids with short attention spans. Adults can enjoy the glimpse into 19th century American farm life while kids pet some cute sheep or run around the nearby playground. It’s a low-stress, zero-cost way to experience history with the whole family.
Location: 3400 Mountain Rd., Glen Allen, Virginia, 23060
Hours: Crump Park Grounds are open daily from dawn to dusk; Meadow Farm Museum, Historic Farmhouse, Orientation Center & Out Buildings: March-November: Tuesday-Sunday, Noon-4pm (CLOSED July 4th, 2018) December-February*: Saturday & Sunday, Noon-4pm *Closed first two weeks of January
While these are our favorite Richmond historical sites for families, we’d love to hear about yours. There are so many great options in Richmond, so let us know what we missed by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org!