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  • Writer's pictureThe West End Mom

10 Family-Friendly Adventures that Will Keep You Cool this Summer

Updated: Jul 25, 2021

Summer days in Virginia can be scorching, so we alternate our adventures with visits to our pool, local splash pads, local beaches, and indoor spots.

Here are ten adventures that are fun for children of all ages around Richmond:

1. VMFA: We love visiting the Virginia Fine Arts Museum in the City of Richmond. Visiting both the museum and the the Claiborne & Lora Robins Sculpture Garden is free, and it's a perfect for children of all ages! We absolutely love the childhood art classes and art camps. Sign up for these as soon as you can - they are popular & they fill up! Family Days are also back at the museum, and the next one is August 1. These are free community events geared towards children 3-12 year olds that celebrate art and culture.

The Claiborne & Lora Robins Sculpture Garden is a 3.5 acre garden, and it is part of the Richmond Garden Trail . It has green space, blooms, waterfalls & paths. The garden has large trees and tables with umbrellas that provide shade. It’s one of only 8 museums to have a permanent work by Chihuly!

*Check here for my full of the garden, and check here for my review of the childhood art classes. More pictures from VMFA's childhood art classes are also saved in my "Art Classes" highlight.

2. Keystone Truck and Tractor Museum: This truck & tractor museum is located in Colonial Heights, about 30 minutes from Richmond. It has 140 restored, antique tractors, and over 140 restored, antique trucks & cars. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children 6-17, and children 5 and under are free. The museum is open every day from 9-5. It also has a family-friendly restaurant inside with views of the tractors.

My children really enjoyed running through all the trucks, and we spent almost two hours there (including eating brunch). Stick with your littles as you explore - some of the trucks and tools have sharp edges. The only downside is that little ones can only sit on one tractor - the rest are for looking only.

*Keystone Tractor Museum is about 10 minutes from White Bank Park that has an all-inclusive playground. Exit 53 has a Chick-Fil-A, and Saucy's is one of our favorite BBQ restaurant (under 20 minutes away).

3. Maymont's Nature Center: The Robins Nature Center is an indoor exhibit at Maymont that showcases the animals & plants of the James River and Chesapeake Bay. Children can learn and explore the ecology of the James River through play, aquariums & interactive animation. This 29,000 square foot attraction also has bathrooms including a family restroom, a sitting area, a gift shop & beautiful views of the park. ⁣⁣King of Pops is usually by the buffalo exhibit, and this is a fun add on after visiting the nature center.

Advanced reservations are recommended, but walk ups are allowed as space permits. The ticketed time slots are available in 45-minute time slots with a limited number of guests. It costs $8 for adults, $6 for children (ages 3-12) & seniors.⁣⁣ Children 2 & under are free!

We also really enjoy Maymont's children's program. They offer a Toddler Time class, family programs and more. Read about our experience at Toddler Time here.

4. Regency Mall: This indoor mall in Henrico County is a great space to walk around with an infant, new walkers and children. When my son was 3 months old, I came here all the time to walk inside because the weather was so bad that winter! A lot has changed in the mall since then, but it's still a great spot to escape the weather.

There is a new Virginia LOVEworks sign and a fish pet store inside the mall. Recently, we spent about an hour and a half exploring the mall without playing at Surge.

Surge Adventure Park: This adventure park is located inside of Regency Mall. It opened in October 2020, so everything is brand new. Surge Adventure Park has trampolines, a ninja course, climbing walls, basketball hoops + more! I also love that it has a 3-floor play area for children 4 & under. We’ve been purchasing 1.5 hour tickets, and my 3.5yo + 19 mo are *exhausted* when we leave.

*Check here for my full review. We've also been to Sky Zone and Launch - they are just as fun.

5. The Science Museum: We love visiting The Science Museum in the City of Richmond. This family-friendly museum has four floors of interactive exhibits on the massive 33 acre property! There are so many exhibits to experience: Boost, Speed!, Green Science, The Hyperwall, The Light Place, and the outdoor exhibits. The two newest exhibits are Mental Health: Mind Matters & Tyrannosaurs: Meet the Family. Our favorite places to play with our 1.5 year old and 3.5 year old are The Light Place and Boost.

The museum is open 7 days a week from 9:30-5. From June 24-October 1, you can visit during extended hours on Fridays & Saturdays to see the new exhibit -Extended, exhibition-only hours Thursdays and Fridays, June 24 - October 1 from 5 - 8 p.m. to see Tyrannosaurs: Meet the Family. Purchase your tickets in advance to guarantee admittance; the museum still has a reduced capacity.

6. Local Story Times: We are so excited that story times are back at Henrico libraries! Classes start for children at 6 months old through adults, and all of the programs are free. Some of the classes we have tried are "Baby Songs & Stories," "Family Fun" and "Music, Rhymes & Wiggle Time." HCPL is also offering Outdoor Family Storytime, weather permitting.

Visiting the library is also a free activity. Children can register for a library card, search for a new bedtime story or read in the children's area. We also enjoy going to Chesterfield County Public Libraries and Ashland Branch Library.

*Check here for my review of an infant storytime , here for the full schedule of events at Henrico County Public Libraries, and here for Chesterfield County Public Libraries.

7. Cabela's & Bass Pro: This is another one of our easy activities & we usually explore for about an hour. Cabela's is located in Short Pump near Wegman's and Bass Pro is located in Ashland. We love watching the fish in the giant tanks, checking out the ATVS & boats, and counting the animals.

8. Local Art Classes: Besides the VMFA's art classes, there are a couple other art studios around the Richmond-metro area that we have really enjoyed!

All Fired Up: This paint-your-own pottery studio has two locations, one in the West End and one in Midlothian. I started bringing my son to "Preschool Pottery Time" at 2 years old, and he loved being able to pick out an item and paint it. All Fired Up has family-friendly seasonal events, Kids Fun Night, and art camp for kids.

A&R Workshop: This art studio has a couple locations around Richmond, one at Stony Point Fashion Park and one in Mechanicsville . They offer DIY take home projects, youth projects, and classes for adults. During the summer, there are camps for children. You can pick the camps based on the topics like tye-dye, abstract frame making, and more.

*The Mechanicsville location is located in the same shopping center as to Crumbl Cookie, a delicious bakery!

Happy Palette: Located in Henrico, this art studio has classes for 1 year olds to teenagers. Happy Palette offers classes as a single class, as sessions and as pop ups. Children 6 to 15 years old can also participate in Happy Palette‘s open studio time where they have access to art supplies & create whatever they want!

9. Local Airports: My children love things that go, so visiting the airport is one of our favorite activities. We like visiting Richmond International Airport, Hanover Municipal Airport and Chesterfield County Airport because you can watch the landing strip outside, from your car or inside the airport (Richmond & Chesterfield only).

We found two spots at the Richmond International Airport that are outside and easy to access. We saw 6 airplanes take off, and we watched a private jet load and take off, plus lots of airport busyness!   We found an open parking lot to watch the runway & the planes at Hanover Municipal Airport, and since it has a flying school, there's always a lot of activity too!

Chesterfield County Airport has King's Korner, a restaurant, inside with a full view of the landing strip. It also has a patio with umbrellas if you order your meal to go. During our last visit, we took a free tour of Richmond Executive Aviation airplane hanger too!

10. Local Train Stations: We love visiting Main Street Station & Staples Mill Station to watch for trains. At Main Street Station, you can go inside & explore. The "Welcome to Virginia" center is on the first floor, and the trains come by all the windows on the second floor. There's also a balcony to watch the busyness of city! At Staples Mill Station, we like to have car picnics on rainy or very hot/cold days.

Have children 6 and older? Check out Taylor Made Chocolate in Chester, Virginia. This local chocolate store offers factory tours on Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10-6. Tours are about 30-45 minutes, and they are drop-in style if your group is less than 10 people. Tours cost $12.00 for adults, $8.00 for children 7-18, and children under 6 are free You get two free chocolate bars per adult, too. This tour is a great add-on after visiting Point of Rocks Park or eating at Saucy's in Hopewell.

These educational tours are designed for children 6 and older. I only took my 3.5 year old son on the tour, after skipping 5 minute educational video on cocoa beans. He also opted to wear his baseball hat instead of the net chef hat. Once the tour started in the factory, my son loved seeing the big machines and learning about chocolate making process. Mr. Hawkins was engaging and kind. During our 30 minute tour, we were the only ones in the group and my son got to sift chocolate beans, work the machines that grind the beans, help operate the chocolate spinner and taste locally made chocolate.

Looking for a day trip? Check out Bounce, Play 'n' Create in Charlottesville, about an hour away from Richmond. I like this spot because it is clean and not too long of a drive, and I was able to take my littles alone when they were 2.5 year old & 6 month old.

Bounce, Play 'n' Create is for children 0-10, and there are so many activities for kids. It even has a special area fenced in area for the 3 and under crowd. The area for little kids has a sensory wall, jumbo trucks, a playhouse and more.

Children can play with trucks in rocks, build trains, paint the walls, explore an indoor playground and jump in bounce houses. After an hour and a half, my littles were worn out! We visited The Dairy Market afterwards for dinner - it's less than 10 minutes away.

Looking for more ways to stay cool this summer? Check out this post on local beaches and this post on playgrounds with shade!

Don't forget to tag @thewestendmom and #thewestendmom in your adventures! I love seeing all the fun your family has!


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