Now that summer break is finally here, we’re all breathing a sigh of relief…until we realize that now we have to keep kids entertained for the next two and a half months. Fortunately for those of us who live in Richmond and its surrounding communities, boredom doesn’t have to be a problem. Richmond is packed with fun, family-friendly activities, especially during the summer months. And to make sure that you take advantage of all that the city has to offer this summer, we’ve created a summer bucket list of 10 must-do activities.
Take a look at our summer bucket list activities in the Richmond area, and if you’re still looking for ideas, be sure to visit our guide to Free and Almost Free Summer Activities for Families in Richmond for even more ideas that are fun AND budget-friendly!
1. Explore Maymont
This Richmond gem is part park, part historical site, and part animals lover’s paradise. Simply put, Maymont 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 local fish and wildlife at the Nature Center, Maymont provides the perfect summer destination for all ages. For fun that is both educational and entertaining, be sure to try one of Maymont’s many Summer Discovery Camps. Or stay up to date on special events, concerts, and activities being hosted all summer long with Maymont’s full event calendar.
Location: 1700 Hampton St, Richmond, VA 23220
2. 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 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
Cost: $15/person; children under 32 inches are free; $80/person season pass; click here for coupons
Hours: Open May – September 2, 2019 (7 days a week beginning June 15); 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
Cost: $5/ages 3-12, $6/ages 13 and up, free for kids under 2; Weekends – $7/ages 3-12; $8/ages 13 and up; free for kids under 2; Seasonal Swimming Permits – $66/ages 3-12, $77/ages 13 and up; Swimming Coupon Books (all ages) – $99/20 passes, $50/10 passes
Hours: The park is open daily from 7am to dusk; the aquatic center opens for the season on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend and remains open through Labor Day. Monday – Friday, 10am – 6pm; Weekends and Holidays, 10am – 7pm
Short Pump Park Splash Pad
Location: 3329 Pump Road, Henrico, VA 23233
Hours: (Memorial Day through Labor Day) Open daily 9am – 7pm
The Sprayground at Eastern Henrico Recreation Center
Location: 1440 N. Laburnum Avenue, Henrico, VA 23223
Hours: (Memorial Day through Labor Day) Open daily 9am – 7pm
Stony Point Fashion Park Splash Pad
Location: 9200 Stony Point Parkway. Richmond, VA 23235
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10am – 9pm, Sunday, 12pm – 6pm
Twin Hickory Parks and Recreation Splash Pad
Location: 5011 Twin Hickory Road. Glen Allen, VA 23059
Hours: (Memorial Day through Labor Day) 9am – 7pm
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.
3. Discover Richmond’s 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, as well as historical tours, allowing you to not only see, but experience firsthand what life was like for Richmonders throughout history. Here are some of our favorite living history museums and historical tours:
Henricus Historical Park
Travel more than 400 years back in time to the Citie of Henricus, the second oldest successful English settlement in the New World. See how both English settlers and Native American communities once inhabited the area living history exhibits, displays, demonstrations, and special events. For kids who want an even more immersive look at history, be sure to check out Henricus History Camps – 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. Best of all, admission is free.
Location: 3400 Mountain Road, Glen Allen, VA 23060
Riverfront Canal Cruises
To see Richmond’s history from a slightly different perspective, try a Riverfront Canal Cruise. Richmond’s canal system was originally designed by George Washington and today, you can travel these same waterways while receiving historically-narrated tours. Each 40-minute cruise will teach you about hundreds of years of Richmond’s history, covering everything from Chief Powhatan’s Chiefdom to the first commercially successful electric streetcar in the world. See Richmond’s historic railroad Triple Crossing, old tobacco warehouses that have been repurposed in modern times, the Virginia Capital Trail, the Low Line gardens, and James River wildlife.
Canal cruises are available on a first come, first served basis seven days a week from May through September, with varying hours in April, October, and November. The 2019 Canal Cruise season begins Friday, April 5 and ends Sunday, November 10. Click here to purchase tickets online up to 24 hours in advance.
Location: Tours depart from the Turning Basin at 139 Virginia Street, Richmond, VA
History Tours with The Valentine
For more than 100 years, The Valentine has been preserving Richmond’s 400-year history. This downtown museum offers a wide range of options for those wanting to know more about the city in which they live, including family-friendly walking tours. With tours that include everything from the State Capitol designed by Thomas Jefferson to the historic Hollywood Cemetery, to local Civil Rights heroes and the city’s growing art and food scenes, you’ll get to see how our city has grown and changes with time.
From April until October, public walking tours are offered daily, so be sure to see the full calendar of available tours here. Get tickets online, or call call (804) 649-0711 x 301 to make your reservation by phone.
Location: 1015 East Clay Street, Richmond, VA 23219
4. Find Butterflies, Water Play, Live Music, and More at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
One visit to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden and you’ll easily understand why it has been named one of the top botanical gardens in the nation. And while Lewis Ginter is worth a visit any time of the year, 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:
Get up close and personal with hundreds of tropical butterflies as they feed and take flight in front of your eyes. This is an indoor exhibit.
April 12 – October 14, 2019; 9am – 5pm
The Art of Play
This special 2019 outdoor exhibit features six new interactive sculptures from Virginia artists that will inspire you to see play in a whole new way.
March 29 – September 30, 2019; 9am – 5pm (with extended hours until 9pm on Thursdays during Flowers After 5)
Water Play in the Children’s Garden
Splash through bouncing water jets, spraying fountains, and more in the Children’s Garden. Don’t forget to bring a swimsuit and towel!
April 13 – September 30, 2019 (weather permitting)
Weekends: April 13 – Sept 29, 9am – 4:45 p.m.
Weekdays: SUMMER – June 10 – Sept 13, 9am – 4:45pm; FALL – September 16 – September 30, 1pm – 4:45pm. Extended hours are available until 8pm on Thursdays during Flowers After 5.
Flowers After 5
Enjoy live music in the garden every Thursday. With food and drinks for sale, plus special Fidos after Five (dog-friendly nights), it’s the perfect way to spend a summer night.
Every Thursday in June, July (except July 4), and August, plus the first two Thursdays in September; 5pm – 6pm: Family activities in the Children’s Garden; 5pm – 8pm: Water Play in the Children’s Garden (weather permitting); 5pm – 8pm: Wine, beer and food available for purchase on the lawn at historic Bloemendaal House; 5pm – 8pm: Live music concerts at Bloemendaal House.
Location: 1800 Lakeside Ave, Henrico, VA 23228
5. Chill out at the Children’s Museum
As a longtime favorite of Richmond parents and kids, the Children’s Museum is the perfect place to beat the heat while letting your kids’ imaginations run free. The Children’s Museum 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) at the downtown location, kids can cool down with Front Yard Water Play. This special water exhibit features water jets perfect for beating the summer heat.
And of course, don’t miss special summer events at the museum, including Summer Service Saturdays where emergency medical technicians, firefighters, law enforcement, military, veterans, and their immediate families receive FREE admission, as well as CarMax $1 Family Nights (on select Fridays) with special hours and only $1 admission. With events planned all summer long, the Children’s Museum will quickly become your go-to spot for family fun.
Richmond (Downtown): 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
6. Catch FREE and Almost Free Family-Friendly Movies
When the summer heat gets to be too much, few things are better than catching a good movie. But movie tickets and snacks can add up quickly. Fortunately, there are several ways you can catch your favorite family-friendly flicks this summer without breaking the bank.
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.
Regal Summer Movie Express
At participating Regal Cinemas throughout the Greater Richmond area, you’ll find some of the past years’ top blockbusters every Tuesday and Wednesday – all for only $1. With new movies highlighted each week from June 18 until September 4, the whole family can enjoy a trip to the movies for a bargain price. See the full line-up of movies (and find participating theaters) here.
Free Summer Kids’ Series at Bow-Tie Cinemas
Richmond’s local Bow-Tie Cinema, Movieland at Boulevard Square, is also providing free kids’ movies this summer, starting June 25. Every Tuesday and Wednesday morning at 10am, you’ll find free family-friendly movies, with a new movie being featured each week. Be sure to see the full line-up here.
7. Start A Summer Tradition With Flying Squirrels Baseball
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 for fans 14 and under, and fun for the whole family all summer long, this is one summer tradition your family is sure to love.
Location: 3001 N. Boulevard, Richmond, VA 23230
8. Listen to Live Music at Richmond’s Summer Concert Series
Make the most of your summer nights with family-friendly music series. Most of the concert series in Richmond offer free admission, making them the ideal way to get out of the house after the sun goes down and enjoy a night together as a family. With a wide range of musical genres, activities, and special events for the whole family, Richmond’s summer concert series are both a fun and affordable way make your summer memorable. See our list of Summer Concert Series in Richmond to find out dates, locations, and music line-ups.
9. 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. 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.
Or…simply enjoy a lazy day on the rocks or river bank at a James River Park. The James River Park System offers more than 550 acres of shoreline and islands throughout Richmond, including local favorites like Belle Isle and Pony Pasture.
Here are a few sites to help you get started:
Riverside Outfitters – Water sports equipment rentals, sales, lessons, and tours.
6836 Old Westham Rd.
Richmond, VA 23225
RVA Paddlesports – Water sports equipment rentals, sales, lessons, and tours.
1320 School St.
Richmond, VA 23220
10. Find Fresh Produce and Locally Sourced Foods at Richmond’s Farmers Markets
Surrounded by rich farmland, Richmond is a haven for fresh produce. From Hanover tomatoes to juicy strawberries, Richmond’s farmer’s markets are filled with the best produce and locally sourced foods that our area has to offer all summer long. Be sure to check out Richmond Mom’s 2019 Guide to Richmond Farmers Markets for the one nearest you!
What does your summer bucket list look like? Do you have favorite activities in the Richmond area that you don’t see on our list? If so, let us know! You can reach us anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.