Free Winter Activities in Richmond

Free Winter Activities in RichmondThe first few months of a new year can leave us all feeling a bit pinched in the budget department thanks to holiday spending. And since here in Richmond most of our “real” winter weather doesn’t hit until January or February, by the time the new year is underway, colder weather tends to keep us indoors…which means that it’s not uncommon to start feeling a bit of cabin fever. Fortunately, Richmond offers plenty of cures for these winter woes thanks to a multitude of fun and completely FREE winter activities.

Now, of course, you know for free fun anytime of the year, you can always hit the local parks, try a bike ride, hike some trails, or participate in any of the other great outdoor activities Richmond has to offer. So for this particular guide to free winter fun in Richmond, we looked, specifically, for a good mix of indoor activities, as well as outdoor fun. We think you’ll like what we’ve found!

And as always, if you know of a fun winter activity that’s free (or at least won’t break the bank!), be sure to let us know at

Free Museums

There’s never a bad time to hit up one of Richmond’s many amazing museums – especially considering how much amazing art, culture and history we have in the Greater Richmond area. Here are a few museums that are free (but, of course, donations are always welcome):

Chesterfield County Museum and Old Jail

The Chesterfield Museum is a brick reproduction of the colonial courthouse of 1749, built on a tract of land known in the 18th Century as “Coldwater Run.” In 1749, the courthouse was both a social gathering spot and a political center, serving as the site for speeches, horse trading, and games. The 1892 jail, now commonly referred to as “the Old Jail”, could hold up to 24 prisoners whose meals were prepared by the sheriff and his family. The building was seldom used in the 20th century until 1936, when crime became an issue in the county.  Eventually the building became home for the Chesterfield County Police Department and, later, the Fire Department. It was designated a museum in 1982. The Old Jail is open for tours which begin at the County Museum next door.  

Be sure to click here to see what special exhibits and events are coming up at the museum.

Cost: Admission is free, donations appreciated

Hours: Tuesday- Friday, 10am – 4pm; Saturday, 10am – 2pm 

6813 Mimms Loop
Chesterfield, VA 23832
(804) 768-7311


Crossroads Art Center

Crossroads Art Center is a local gallery that exhibits the work of emerging and established mid-Atlantic artists and promotes awareness and understanding of art forms, from crafts to fine art. With artwork always on display, the gallery is free and open to the public and if you’re in the market to buy, you’ll find something to suit nearly any taste. In addition special exhibitions and events, Crossroads also offers a number of fun classes and workshops for children and adults, although there will be a cost associated with these prgorams. Be sure to check here for their current and upcoming exhibitions.

Cost: Gallery admission is free

Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10am – 6pm; Sunday, 12pm – 4pm

2016 Staples Mill Road
Richmond, VA 23230
(804) 278-8950


Dabbs House Museum & Henrico County Tourism Center

The Dabbs House served as General Robert E. Lee’s field headquarters during the summer of 1862. The museum provides a place to learn about the history of the Dabbs House from its use as a residence for the Dabbs family to its time as the Henrico’s police headquarters from 1941-2005.

Visitors can tour the 1862 field headquarters, browse the exhibit galleries and gift shop, and view a video on the history of Dabbs. The site also provides a picnic area.

The Tourist Information Center offers visitors information about the County’s historical and cultural opportunities. As one of 61 certified visitor centers statewide, it provides maps and guides from the Virginia travel industry as well as brochures from the other 60 centers across the state.

Cost: Admission is free

Hours: Wednesday-Sunday, 9am-5pm (Monday and Tuesday, by appointment)

3812 Nine Mile Road
Henrico, VA   23223
(804) 652-3406


Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site

Visit the former home of Maggie Lena Walker, the first African-American bank president (of any gender) and a devoted civil rights advocate. See exhibits and special displays highlighting Walker’s work as a bank president, newspaper editor, fraternal leader, and spokesperson for economic empowerment and educational opportunities for minorities.

Tours are free and and begin at the start of each hour from 10am, with the last tour beginning at 4pm. Each tour begins in the park’s visitor center on 2nd Street with a viewing of the 20-minute introductory film, “Carry On: The Life and Legacy of Maggie Lena Walker,” and concludes with a 30-40 minute tour of Walker’s home right around the corner on Leigh Street. There are also a number of special programs for kids available at the Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site.

Last but not least, click here to find free, printable coloring sheets and online games that teach about Mrs. Walker, her bank, her home, and her organization, the Independent Order of St. Luke.

Cost: Admission is free

Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 9am – 5pm

600 North 2nd Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219
(804) 771-2017 x 0


Meadow Farm Museum at Crump Park

Crump Park is a great family getaway on its own with playgrounds, picnic shelters, walking trails and more. But the Meadow Farm Museum, which sits adjacent to the park, makes a visit even more special thanks to a living history museum and farm representing life in 1860s rural Virginia. The farm museum features a historic farmhouse, a blacksmith forge, live animals and costumed interpreters. Plus, the museum also hosts special programs and events throughout the year, including hands-on workshops, historical presentations, and activities for all ages – many of which are free or at a low cost. Click here to see a list of upcoming events and programs.

Cost: Admission for both the park and museum are free and most programs are free

Park Hours: Open daily from dawn to dusk

Historic Farmhouse, Orientation Center, and Out Building Hours:
March-November: Tuesday – Sunday, 12pm – 4pm*
December-February (NOTE: closed for the month of January): Saturday and Sunday, 12pm – 4pm*

*Tours of the farmhouse begin at 1pm and the last tour is held at 3:30pm.

3400 Mountain Road
Glen Allen, VA 23060
(804) 652-1455


Richmond National Battlefield Park Museums & Visitor Centers

This collection of 13 historic battlefields throughout Richmond, Hanover, Henrico, and Chesterfield tells the story of one of the bloodiest and most tragic wars in our nation’s history. While exploring all of the battlefields is quite an undertaking, especially in the cold winter months, there are three museums and visitor centers open during the winter season that offer a chance to see highlights of battles that occurred in and around the Richmond area from the comfort of the indoors. All museums and visitor centers offer free admission.

Chimborazo Medical Museum
This museum highlights Confederate medical history with exhibits of period medical equipment and representations of hospital life. The building is also the Headquarters for Richmond National Battlefield Park and Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site.

Cost: Free

Hours: Wednesday – Sunday, 9am – 4:30pm

3215 East Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23223
(804) 226-1981

Civil War Visitor Center at Tredegar Iron Works
This is the main visitor center for Richmond National Battlefield Park. The center includes three floors of exhibits and artifacts with orientation films shown throughout the day. Ranger programs are offered daily throughout the summer.

Hours: Wednesday – Sunday, 9am – 4:30pm

470 Tredegar Street
Richmond, VA 23219
(804) 771-2145

Cold Harbor Battlefield Visitor Center
Exhibits and artifacts are on display throughout the center, including an electric map program that describes the 1862 Battle of Gaines’ Mill and the 1864 Battle of Cold Harbor.

Cost: Free

Hours: Wednesday – Sunday, 9am – 4:30pm

5515 Anderson-Wright Drive
Mechanicsville, VA 23111
(804) 226-1981


Virginia Holocaust Museum

Explore the history of the Holocaust at the Virginia Holocaust Museum. Since opening in 1997, the museum has provided history, artifacts, records, films and both permanent and temporary exhibits that portray the reality of this atrocity through the stories of its victims.

Cost: Free

Monday – Friday: 9am – 5pm
Saturday and Sunday: 11am – 5pm

2000 E. Cary Street
Richmond, VA 23223
(804) 257-5400


Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Since 1936, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has been a center of cultural and artistic discovery. The museum features a permanent collection of more than 33,000 works of art, including one of the world’s largest Faberge egg collections, as well as many temporary exhibits showcasing some of the world’s finest artists and sculptors.

In addition to exhibits, the museum also offers a wide range of special events and programs for kids, youth, and families. Not all of the programs are free, but they are usually offered at a very affordable rate and are provided for a full range of ages, from preschool to adult.

Cost: Admission is free; some special events and programs have an associated cost. Be sure to check the links above to get details.

Hours: 10am – 5pm, daily; Wednesday-Friday, the museum stays open until 9pm

200 N. Boulevard
Richmond, VA 23220
(804) 340-1400


Virginia War Memorial 

The Virginia War Memorial is the Commonwealth of Virginia’s premier monument, museum, and educational center honoring the memory of all Virginians who served and supported the military from World War II through today. The memorial provides educational outreach, exhibits, documentary films, and patriotic programming, and includes a museum, the Shrine of Memory, and the Paul and Phyllis Galanti Education Center. The Virginia War Memorial Museum offers over 14 exhibits including the new Pacific Theater War Trophies and the USS Virginia (CGN-38) Ships bill.

The Virginia War Memorial regularly hosts a variety of school programs, both on and off site, lectures, exhibitions, seminars, and ceremonies. See their programs here or visit the event calendar for upcoming special events.

Cost: Admission is free

Hours: Monday – Saturday, 9am – 4pm; Sunday, 12pm – 4pm

621 S. Belvidere St.
Richmond, VA 23220
(804) 786-2060


Free Nature Centers and Animal Experiences

While the winter months aren’t always the best for exploring outdoor animal exhibits and habitats like those found in local parks or zoos, there are still some pretty great opportunities to learn about nature and wildlife without spending a dime. Check out the outdoor exhibits currently open at Maymont park, as well as the other great nature centers available in the area:


Maymont is undeniably one of Richmond’s greatest treasures. From the beautiful gardens to the open grounds to the historic sites, the park provides something for everyone, including nature and animal lovers. See a list of their nature and animal exhibits below. Please note, that while general admission to Maymont is free, some of the exhibits to have suggested donations.

The Robins Nature & Visitor Center is currently closed until early spring 2020 due to renovations of the exhibits and lobby. Normally, the Nature Center is open Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-5pm and has a small admission fee of $4 for youth and adults ages 13-59 and is $3 for children ages 4-12 and seniors ages 60+. The center is free for Maymont members and children 3 and under.

Maymont Farm and Pasture Habitats
The Children’s Farm at Maymont features barnyard animals of all shapes and sizes. Visit with goats, sheep, horses, cows, rabbits, chickens, ducks and more, while enjoying a stroll through the beautiful Maymont grounds.

Cost: There is no formal admission fee, but a $5 donation is suggested to help with upkeep of the farm and its animals.

Hours: Open 10am – 5pm, daily – weather permitting

Location: (Entrance closest to the farm and paths to the wildlife habitats.)
1001 Spottswood Road
Richmond, VA, 23220
(804) 358-7166

Wildlife Habitats
Just past the Children’s Farm, Maymont’s wildlife habitats feature native Virginia species, including raptors, bobcats, gray fox, black bears and bald eagles. Of course, you’ll want to check ahead because these exhibits are outdoors and the animals may be kept inside in the coldest winter months or in the event of inclement weather.

Cost: There is no formal admission fee, but a $5 donation is suggested to help with upkeep of the farm and its animals.

Hours: Animals are on display daily from 10am until late afternoon – weather permitting

Location: (Entrance closest to the farm and paths to the wildlife habitats.)
1001 Spottswood Road
Richmond, VA, 23220
(804) 358-7166


Three Lakes Nature Center

This winter, learn about local wildlife and nature at the Nature Center at Three Lakes Park. The center features a 50,000-gallon aquarium, as well as exhibits focusing on plant and animal life native to the Richmond area. Through an assortment of live exhibits, dioramas, and interactive displays, the Nature Center offers fun, age-appropriate learning opportunities for the whole family. Plus, they offer special programs year-round. Be sure to check out what’s coming up here.

Cost: Admission is free

Nature Center Hours (Seasonal):
December-February: Saturday and 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

400 Sausiluta Drive
Henrico, VA 23227
(804) 652-1470


Rockwood Nature Center

Located at Rockwood Park in Chesterfield County, the Rockwood Nature Center is housed in an authentic log cabin and features nature and outdoors programs for kids, families, and groups of all ages. Rockwood Nature Center is the only county-operated nature center in Chesterfield and is home to an array of native reptiles and amphibians, as well as a honeybee hive and visual informative displays and sits in front of over five miles of paved and unpaved trails.

The Nature Center also offers special programs for all ages from pre-k to adults throughout the year. Please note that while admission to the park and nature center are free, formal programs may have a cost associated. See a list of current programs and costs here.

Cost: Admission is free

Fall/Winter/Spring Hours: Friday – Sunday, 12pm – 5pm

Summer Hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 12pm – 5pm

3401 Courthouse Road
North Chesterfield, VA 23236
(804) 768-7448


Free Shopping Center Play Spaces 

There are TONS of indoor play spaces throughout Greater Richmond and the surrounding areas. In fact, you can find five of our favorites in our guide to the Best Indoor Winter Activities In and Around Richmond– and even more in our guide to Richmond Indoor Play Areas for Kids. But like many things, a number of these activities come with a cost. So if you’re just looking for a simple way to get out of the house and let the little ones burn off some energy, be sure to check out these free play spaces.

Chesterfield Towne Center

The Chesterfield Towne Center play area (located near Five Guys Burgers and Fries) features soft climbing structures, age-appropriate interactive toys, and benches for parents – all of which can help to take the edge off a shopping trip. The mall also offers free wi-fi and family restrooms.

Cost: Free

Hours: Monday –Saturday, 10am – 9pm; Sunday, 12pm – 6pm

11500 Midlothian Turnpike
Richmond, VA 23235
(804) 794-4460


Short Pump Town Center

Although Short Pump Town Center no longer offers an indoor play area and food court, they are home to the Children’s Museum Short Pump location (admission fee required). Likewise, if the weather cooperates, Short Pump also offers an outdoor area in the Main Plaza with playhouses, as well as the Short Pump Express, an actual mini-train that takes kids (and parents) through the center. And last but not least, you can join Short Pump Pals for special kids-only activities hosted on the second Tuesday of every month. Short Pump Pals is for kids ages 8 and below and is free to join.

Cost: Kids’ club and all other outdoor play area activities are free. Call (804) 360-1700 to inquire about Short Pump Express Train pricing. 
Children’s Museum of Richmond Short Pump:
$9/Youth and Adult (1-59); $8/Seniors (60+); Children under one and museum members are free.

Hours: Monday – Saturday: 10am – 9pm; Sunday: 11am – 6pm
* Children’s Museum of Richmond Short Pump is open daily from 9:30am – 5pm.

11800 West Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23233
(804) 360-1700


(And of course…) Free Local Libraries

When it comes to free programming, educational resources, and fun activities for all ages, you simply can’t go wrong with Greater Richmond area public libraries. In addition to books, videos, and other entertainment sources for kids (and adults), our local public libraries offer a wide variety of activities, classes, and story time events all year round. Visit the links below to find the library nearest you, then be sure to visit their event calendars to see what’s happening in your area.

Richmond City Public Libraries
Chesterfield County Public Libraries
Colonial Heights Public Library
Henrico County Public Libraries
Pamunkey Regional Public Libraries (includes Hanover, Goochland, King and Queen, and King William Counties)
Petersburg Public Libraries 

Cost: All Greater Richmond area libraries are free and most offer free daily (or almost daily) programs

Contact: Visit the links above to find out contact information for your local public library.