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16 Best Things to do with Kids in Richmond, VA

The city of Richmond has no shortage of things to do. As the Virginia state capital, the city is rich in history and natural wonders. In recent years, however, a wave of young and ambitious residents has flooded in and a new Richmond is emerging.

Local staples, classic diners, and 19th-century industrial warehouses are juxtaposed with modern boutiques and gastropubs. This “mish-mash” of new mixed with old, makes for an exciting destination where you can find an array of activities from historical and educational to artistic and artisanal.

This article highlights some of the best things to do with kids in Richmond, Va.

1. Explore Maymont estate

This 100-acre estate is one of the top Richmond attractions, containing a museum, arboretum, Japanese gardens, carriage collection, wildlife exhibit, and nature center.

Kids will especially love the children’s farm and wildlife exhibits where you can see everything from goats and chickens to bison, black bears, and red foxes. Another option is to hop into a whimsical carriage for a fun-filled tour of the grounds.

History buffs will enjoy viewing Maymont mansion, a complete expression of Gilded Age luxury and opulence.

Recommended Ages: Any
Tele: +1 804 358 7166
Address: 1700 Hampton Street, Richmond, VA 23219 USA

2. Visit the Pygmy Hippo at Metro Richmond Zoo

Things to do in Richmond, Pygmy Hippo Zoo
Photo Credit: Metro Richmond Zoo

If you didn’t get your fill of cute fuzzy animals at Maymont’s farm and wildlife exhibits, then a trip to the Metro Richmond zoo will definitely do the trick. Here you can meet the endangered pygmy hippo, feed giraffes, walk through a budgie aviary, and observe a number of other wild animals. The truly adventurous can take part in a Treetop Zoofari course which carries you 12-45 feet above ground, giving you a bird’s eye view of monkeys, kangaroos, giraffes, and more.

Know that your visit supports an organization which is playing an important role in animal conservation. Richmond’s zoo is the recipient of the ZAA Excellence in Breeding award for their work in cheetah conservation. In the past 4 years, they have had 40 cheetah cubs born!

Recommended Ages: Any
Tele: 804-739-5666
Location: 8300 Beaver Bridge Rd. Moseley, VA 23120

3. Book an entire island for the night.

Sharp’s Island is one of the most unique camping sites that you will ever experience. This private 1-acre island is located in the heart of downtown RVA. It is the only legal camping option in the city of Richmond. Guests will need to find their own transportation to the island by kayak, canoe, or some other flotation device; therefore, this outdoors activity is most appropriate for families with older kids.

Once on Sharp’s Island, you can choose any place you like to set up camp. It is also the perfect launching point for other Richmond adventures including swimming, fishing, and rafting.

This “rental” accommodates up to 24 guests including pets. Although there is no potable water, a toilet is available on the small island. Camping on Sharp’s Island is highly rated by locals and tourists, making it one of the top things to do in Richmond.

Recommended Ages: 5 and older
Website: Airbnb

4. Hike along the James River Pipeline Walkway

One of the most unique walking trails in the region is located right here in Richmond, Virginia. The James River Pipeline is a small catwalk located above one of the city’s main stormwater pipes. The walkway cuts across a section of the James River, providing close-up views of the James River and Pipeline Park, home to a large Great Blue Heron rookery.

The metal walkway is just above water level, but is sometimes submerged after heavy rain. Walking along the catwalk, there are several sandy areas that you can climb down to. Its common for locals to sunbathe or enjoy a picnic on one of these sandy “beaches”.

The entrance to the James River Pipeline Walkway is on the river side of the floodwall, near 14th street. There are about seven free parking spots located along the fence. Because the entrance to the walkway is a bit narrow, we would recommend this Richmond activity for older kids.

Recommended Ages: 5 and older

5. Visit one of Richmond’s Award Winning Museums

Richmond Poe Museum
Richmond’s Poe Museum

Like most major cities, there are many museums in Richmond, Virginia to choose from. The Children’s Museum of Richmond is one of the top-rated things to do with kids aged 0 -8. It is a community resource of programs and activities, built around learning through play. Kids will enjoy exploring engaging exhibits including The Cave, a reproduction of a Virginia limestone cave, or the Art Studio where kids can use a variety of materials to express their creativity.

Older kids may enjoy the Poe Museum, where they can learn about the popular American writer known for his tales of mystery and macabre. Visitors can snap a selfie in a life-size coffin, and cuddle with the resident Black cats.

The Black History Museum & Cultural Center of Virginia is a statewide resource on Black history through exhibitions, discussions, and celebrations.

The Science Museum of Virginia is geared toward an older audience, but they do have a LightPlace exhibit that promotes skill development and exploratory learning in children 5 and under.

There are also several free museums in Richmond including the Railway Museum and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts encompassing more than 33,000 works of art.

Recommended Ages: Any (Children Museum of Richmond and Science Museum); 10 and older (Poe Museum, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Black History Museum, and Science Museum)

6. Have a Picnic in a Local Park

If you are looking for things to do with kids in Richmond, Va then head over to a local park. Forest Hill Park, Libby Hill Park, and Bryan Park are three of the best parks in Richmond.

Forest Hill Park has plenty of green space and shade, making it a great place to relax with the family. Between May and October, the park hosts the South of the James Farmers Market on Saturday mornings, where you can pick up some fresh fruits and baked goods for a picnic.

Libby Hill is located in the Church Hill district and offers some of the best views in the city. Bryan Park has a number of walking trails, playgrounds, and gardens. There is also a small lake which makes a perfect setting for a picnic.

Recommended Ages: Any

7. Take a Family-Friendly Pedal Boat ride at Fountain Lake

In warmer months, families can go on pedal boat rides at Fountain Lake, a popular lake in Byrd Park. Pedal boat rides are open from 11 am to 8 pm and cost just $12 for half an hour. A full-service concession building offers snacks, meals, and restrooms.

Recommended Ages: 5 and older

8. Splash around with some water sports

Things to do in Richmond with kids, white water rafting
Photo Credit: RVA Paddle Sports

With several small lakes and a river running right through the heart of downtown, it’s no wonder that there are so many water-based activities making the list of things to do in Richmond.

During summer months you can go Paddle Boating at Fountain Lake, tubing at Pony Pasture, paddling (kayaking, canoeing, SUP, etc) at Huguenot Flatwater Park, or exploring at Belle Isle. Some places are not safe to swim in due to the current so do exercise caution in your pursuit of adventure.

For the younger kids, grab some snacks and plan a picnic on the smooth rocks of Belle Isle.

Recommended Ages: 5 and older

9. Spend a day at Hadad’s Lake

Hadad’s Lake is one of the best Richmond attractions for kids. There are 4 pool sections with different activities each appropriate for different age ranges.

A baby pool is available for the smallest of guests. Two of the smaller sections are shallow (up to 4 feet deep) and are ideal for relaxing our playing water volleyball. The largest section is also the deepest (16 feet) and where kids can try out the trampoline, rope swing, and water tower. Hadad’s Lake prioritizes safety and has several lifeguards on duty.

Additional activities include horseshoe, mini golf, fishing, and paddle boats.

Recommended Ages: All ages
Website: Visit Richmond
Tele: (804)795-2659
Location: 7900 Osborne Turnpike Richmond, VA 2323

10. Window shop in a quirky neighborhood

Used Book Shop Richmond VA

Carytown is a mile-long strip of quirky and colorful restaurants and shops. Stroll down the street as you listen to street performers. See if you can spot some of the different murals painted by local artists. Peruse action figures and other collectibles at the Toy Lair or classic toys at Carytown Dolls & Bears. Hunt around for your favorite graphic novel inside the used bookstore Chop Suey. Don’t forget to treat your kids with a stop at For the Love of Chocolate where you can find any treat, delicacy, gift, and novelty related to chocolate.

Recommended Ages: Any

11. Explore the Canal

The canal stretches 1.25 miles along the James River through downtown Richmond. Along the canal, you will find centuries of local history presented through monuments, medallions, and art.

The pathway is free to walk, or you can also purchase tickets to explore the canal by boat. Richmond Canal Cruises offer 40-minute guided tours aboard one of their canal boats. This family-friendly attraction is seasonal, so be sure to check their website for updated hours.

Recommended Ages: Any
Tele: (804)649-2800
Location: 139 Virginia Street, Richmond, VA 23219

12. Catch a classic movie at The Byrd

Byrd Theater Richmond VA

The Byrd theatre was built in 1928 as one of the nation’s grand movie palaces. At the time, patrons paid 25 cents for a matinee and 50 cents for an evening movie. Since then, prices have soared and they now cost a whopping $4 a ticket! (Do you sense my sarcasm?) The Byrd Theatre is one of the only places in the country that can you find $4 movies every day 365 days of the year!

Not only have they tried their best to stay true to reasonable prices, but they also have stayed true to the look and feel of the theatre. You will be instantly charmed by the bright red carpets leading up to the curtained stage, the marbled walls, gold leaf arches, mezzanine, and the 18 ft. crystal chandelier suspended over the auditorium. There is typically a variety of movies being shown ranging from kid-friendly cartoons to movie classics.

Recommended Ages: 5 and older
Tele: (804)353-9911
Location: 2908 W Cary Street, Richmond, VA 23221

13. Check out Richmond’s nationally recognized street art murals

Things to do with Kids in Richmond, Angel Wings Mural
Colette Miller’s Angel Wings

While wandering the streets of downtown Richmond, it won’t take you long to notice that the entire city is a canvas for art. Thanks in part to the Richmond Mural Project, brick alleyways and walls are adorned with colorful murals from artists all over the world.

Highlights include “Moonshine” by Etam Cru, “Light of Human Kindness” by Patience Salgado, and “Angel Wings” by Collette Miller. There are several tours and festivals celebrating the city’s artwork, although you are always welcome to conduct a scavenger hunt and find the artwork on your own self-guided tour.

Recommended Ages: Any

14. Have fun at the Sky Zone Trampoline Park

When looking for things to do in Richmond with kids, we highly recommend Sky Zone Trampoline Park. All ages are welcome at Sky Zone. Special sessions for “Little Leapers” and sensory play allow for a more toned-down space for younger kids to enjoy the space safely.

Older kids will enjoy the “Glow” session where the trampoline park is transformed into a dance club with lasers, music, and black lights.

Recommended Ages: Any
Website: Sky Zone
Tele: (804) 379-2500
Location: 1345 Carmia Way, Richmond, VA 23235

15. Visit the Ghost Church at Polegreen

Visiting this open-air chapel is one of the more unique things to do in Richmond. Well, technically it is right outside of Richmond in Mechanicsville.

The original Polegreen Church was built in 1764 and played a key role in the struggle for civil and religious freedoms. The church burned down during the Civil War, however, the original foundation remained. The independent white beams and windows that you see today were erected in the same location where the historic Polegreen Church once stood, creating an illusion of a skeleton church with no walls.

Recommended Ages: Any
Location: 6411 Heatherwood Dr. Mechanicsville, Virginia

16. Play at King’s Dominion

This Richmond amusement park offers a variety of fun rides and attractions for the whole family. While most amusement parks are only open during warm summer months, King’s Dominion is open year-round. During the warmer months, kids will enjoy the massive waterpark, Soak City. During colder months, take the whole family to the Halloween Haunt or Winterfest when the park is transformed into a winter wonderland complete with holiday activities and festive displays.

With over 60 rides, a 20-acre waterpark, a kid’s area, and a variety of events and live shows throughout the year King’s Dominion is one of the best amusement parks in Virginia!

Recommended Ages: Any
Website: Kings Dominion
Tele: (804) 876-5000
Location: 16000 Theme Park Way, Doswell, VA 23047

Where to Stay in Richmond, Virginia

The Commonwealth is one of the best places to stay in Richmond given its history, modern suites, and location. The Commonwealth was once the famous Hotel Rueger, which opened in 1901. After several changes in ownership and many renovations, the hotel was reintroduced in 2004 as the Commonwealth, a modern boutique hotel featuring local art, colorful mural, and photography. The Commonwealth is a pet-friendly hotel dedicating 2 entire floors to furry guests.

Linden Row Inn is a 70-room boutique historic hotel located in the heart of downtown Richmond. The inn is comprised of seven-row houses built in the mid-1800s that have been restored over the years. Guests will enjoy modern luxuries mixed with European style and old-world charm.

According to the property, Edgar Allen Poe spent his childhood playing in the garden that is not the hotel’s garden courtyard. The historic Linden Row Inn is located just two blocks from the bustling Cary Street and about 1 mile from the James River.

The Berkley Hotel is steps away from capital parks, trending restaurants, and panoramic views. Many of the rooms have a private terrace providing views of downtown Richmond. The Berkley Hotel is also pet-friendly offering boutique pet experiences and inclusive pet packages.


Cecilia is a bubbly Filipino-American with an affinity for constant change...that or a 10 second attention span. Refusing to sit still, she travels the world, in pursuit of adventure, excitement and meaningful experiences. She holds a Masters degree in International Development and Public Policy, and a BA in Business Management.

This Post Has 21 Comments

  1. It’s actually a nice and useful piece of information. I am glad that you just
    shared this useful info with us. Please stay us
    up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Jane Dempster-Smith

    There is so much to do. Thanks for the article. The Maymont reminds me of a French Chateau. I enjoy street art when I travel and adored the angel wings.

  3. Anda

    Ah, lots of fun things to do in Richmond! I had no idea there are Pygmy Hippos. How cute! For me just strolling down Monument Avenue and taking pictures would be fun enough. I would also like to take a boat trip along the Canal and see Richmond from the water. Looks like fun.

  4. Shreya Saha

    Gwar bar looks creepy but I would love to try having a meal there – it’s like a challenge to me. Haha! The museums and monuments are beautiful places I would love visiting while in Richmond. It will be a memorable vacation.

  5. Daniel

    I never realized there are so many things to do in Richmond. The city sure seems to have some impressive museums and monuments. I would love to visit someday. Thank you for the lovely recommendations

    1. Lovicarious

      So glad you found it helpful! It is a great place to visit if you are ever in the area.

  6. Lisa

    Gory intergalactic cooking is definitely a new one for me! Virginia is a state I’ve yet to visit when in the US and it’s clear there’s plenty to do. I’m surprised by the pygmy hippos there, that’s quite exotic! Will bookmark this for the future.

    1. Lovicarious

      Haha yes, intergalactic cooking is not something you see every day. The GWAR bar did a good job in capturing the attention of people with that tagline!

  7. Katie

    Wow what a beautiful place in Virginia! It actually reminds me of the Richmond area of london! Love the quriky neighbourhoods too – so picture perfect!

    1. Lovicarious

      I didn’t realize there is a Richmond area of London! We visited London a few years back and stayed in Putney with a friend’s family. I feel like there is just so much to explore in that city!

  8. Paula

    This was very interesting to read since I have yet not been to Virginia. I think I would especially enjoy the canals at the downtown, and the museums. Looks like there is a lot to do and see in Richmond. The pygmy hippo is very cute too! I would definitely have to visit that.

    1. Lovicarious

      Yesss! The pygmy hippo is just the cutest little thing. He is a must-see when in Richmond 🙂

  9. Sinjana Ghosh

    Thats a detailed andcrisp travel guide to a city not much blogged about. Richmond seems to have everything- monuments, museum, canals, zoo and even river rafting! The Gwar bar is the most unique thing i have heard about, but i am not going there to eat.

    1. Lovicarious

      Haha I wanted to eat at the GWAR bar, but we ran out of time. I sure did research it though because it seemed so quirky and fun.

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    I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great.
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  11. Haley

    Awesome article! I love the pictures! Where is the “we are lovers” picture taken at?

    1. Lovicarious

      So glad you liked our article 🙂 The We are Lovers mural is right outside this cute little restaurant called the Fancy Biscuit at 1831 W Cary St, Richmond, VA 23220. Their biscuit sandwiches are delicious too!

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