• The West End Mom

8 Free Things to do in Richmond this Fall

Updated: Sep 21

We love celebrating autumn, but the admission cost for visiting the fairs, pumpkin patches and festivals can add up quickly. Luckily, we have *plenty* of ways to enjoy the cooler temperature and changing of seasons around Richmond. I've rounded up 8 of our favorite, free activities and events from last year, and none of them require advanced registration either!


Here are 8 free events and activities to try with your family this fall in central Virginia.


1. Snap your fall-themed pictures.


So many of our local nurseries and markets decorate for the fall. These are easy spots to grab pumpkins and snap your "pumpkin patch" pictures without spending the day at the patch!


The Great Big Greenhouse: This locally owned nursery is in the Huguenot Village Shopping Center. We love this greenhouse because they are very family-friendly & host many events throughout the year. The Great Big Greenhouse has a large Halloween display in October... and they host Children's Garden Days & a farmers’ market throughout the year.


On Saturday, September 17, The Fall Gardener's Fair is from 10 am - 2 pm. At this free event, families can enjoy free seminars and kids' activities. The Great Big Greenhouse will be ready for Halloween around September 24th.


*Check here for a full review.


Hanover Vegetable Farm: Located in Ashland, this family owned farm has animals, a farm market and nursery, and a pick your own pumpkin patch. If you want to avoid the pumpkin patch's admission cost, visit outside of the pumpkin patch's hours or just visit the farm market and nursery! The market that sells local foods (including meat & produce) and plants & flowers.


Hanover Vegetable Farm usually set up a "mini pumpkin patch" in the open air market. These are pre-picked pumpkins, but my kids have just as much fun picking out their favorites here as they do in the patch.


*Check here for a full review.


Wegman's: This grocery store is ready for fall with the cutest, pumpkin patch inspired photo op. This picture is from the Short Pump location (9/6/2022) -- I am hoping the Midlothian store will have one too! While you are at Wegman's, grab an easy family lunch, like pizza by the slice, and sit in the kid's section. They've got a kid's sized table with cartoons on the TV.


2. Go for a hike.


We especially love hiking in the fall because of the cooler weather and the beautiful leaves.The peak time to see peak fall colors is between October 10 and October 31 this year.


Dodd Park: This park is 176 acres with a lot of history & a lot of areas to explore! The grounds of the park were used during the Bermuda Hundred Campaign, and there are remnants of these battles & historical markers around the park. Dodd Park has two main areas: an upper area & a lower area. The upper area has athletic fields, picnic areas, a large playground with two play sets & swings. The lower area has a play space, 2.7 miles of trails (paved & hard pack), and a floating boardwalk over tidal marsh!


The floating boardwalk has gorgeous views of the fall foliage, but the boardwalk itself is not stroller friendly.


*Check here for a full review.


Maymont Park: With 100 acres and 400 animals, Maymont Park is the perfect spot to explore with children, and it is always free to visit the outside park. Most of the paths are easy to navigate with children & strollers, plus there are large, grassy areas for play, hills to run, and old trees to climb.


We especially love visiting in the fall because the property looks gorgeous - you'll see all the colors of fall and the trees reflect on the pond in the Japanese Garden. We enjoy taking the path from the Children's Farm to the Japanese Garden & back (it takes us at least an hour to walk). This is stroller friendly, and we sometimes park our stroller in the garden to explore the more narrow paths. Maymont is a workout - especially coming back up the hills and carrying kiddos.


*Check here for my full review.


Saunders Monticello Trail: Located in Charlottesville, this ADA accessible trail is worth the drive! It's in Kemper Park, this 2 mile trail is wheel chair accessible! We like this trail because we can easily bring a stroller, it has beautiful mountain scenery, there are unique boardwalks & it has lot’s of the shade! There are also a bunch of other hiking trails that connect to it. These gravel paths, boardwalks & woodland trails weave through the trees, by a pond & Palmer Woodland Theater, and all the way up to Monticello Visitor Center.


This entire trail has gorgeous views of the fall foliage, and it's entirely stroller friendly.


*Check here for a full review.


3. Get free candy.


Even if your kids aren't in high school, they will most likely enjoy watching your local school's homecoming parade. Almost every high school in the Richmond metro area hosts a Homecoming parade prior to the homecoming football game, and this parade is open to the community. If you want to watch the football game too, tickets are around $5.


I've been taking my kids since they were babies, and they've enjoyed playing in the open green space at the school, watching the parade, and, of course, collecting candy.


Don't know of a local high school? Try one of these:

Atlee High School in Hanover

Freeman High School in Henrico

Goochland High School in Goochland

James River High School in Midlothian


*Visit this schedule for all the high school football games in central Virginia.


4. Explore a Farm.


Visiting a farm is one of our favorite things to do, and the cooler fall temperatures make it even more enjoyable.


Maymont Park: Yes, Maymont Park is on my list twice - and for good reason! This free park has 400 animals, and you can feed them (for a quarter). I've been bringing my children here since they were newborns because it's all stroller friendly, and the Children's Farm has goats, sheep, pigs, chickens, cows and horses. I also like the Children's Farm because it is next to the parking lot, so you can make this visit quick if you want to.


The Children's Farm also has a play area with stepping stones, a tunnel and things to climb on. It's the perfect place to picnic, especially on cooler days.


*Check here for my full review.


Shoofly Farm: Located in Chester, this family-owned farm offers free farm tours on Fridays from 9 am- 1 pm. They also operate without reservations, so you can just drop in while they are open to visit with the animals. During a self guided tour, you can meet pigs, goats, bunnies miniature horses and more. You can also purchase a pony ride or hayride. In addition to farm experiences, Shoofly Farm offers private tours, horse boarding & birthday parties, and they host special events.


Free Farm Visits are on Fridays in September and November. During October, Shoofly Farm is hosting a bunch of Halloween themed events. Haunted Hayrides will be on Friday and Saturday nights from 6:30-11. Spookfest Saturdays are from 10 am-2 pm in October, too. These Saturday events are less spooky!


*Check here for my full review.


5. Watch a movie at Tom Leonard's.


Visiting Tom Leonard's Pumpkin Patch is one of our family traditions. They have Halloween inflatables, an antique tractor, Halloween music & lots of pumpkins. This is an especially easy place with little ones to pick out pumpkins, get your fall pictures & to explore during that short preschool window. Tom Leonard's is already decorated for the 2022 pumpkin season too!


I also love that Tom Leonard’s hosts *free* family friendly movies every Friday night in October. They start at 7pm on Fridays in October. The movie titles for these movie nights have not been released yet - keep your eyes peeled for updates!


*Check here for a full review.


6. Attend a Festival.


There are so many fall festivals, fairs and farmer's markets around town that do not have an admission cost. Below are some of the ones we've enjoyed.


Hardywood's Oktoberfest: Hardywood's West Creek location is one of our favorite family friendly breweries, and they host great events, too! Oktoberfest is on Saturday, October 1, and it is free to attend. They will have polka tunes, German fare from local food trucks, and plenty of green space to picnic on the lawn.


*Check here for more information.


Party on the Avenues: This annual event is on Sunday, September 25 from 12-6pm. It's located on Libbie Ave. between Patterson and Guthrie - the whole road shuts down for this party! They have live music, a Children's Area, local vendors, food trucks and more!


*Check here for more information.


RVA Big Market: This year-round farmers market is one of the biggest outdoor markets around RVA! RVA Big Market has live music, lots of food trucks, and plenty of produce. They also have fresh cut flowers, baked goods & handmade gifts by local artisans. It’s such an easy Saturday outing - grab breakfast as a family, pick up fresh produce & play at the park.


*Check here for a full review.


Scott's Addition Pumpkin Festival: This annual, family friendly event is on Saturday, October 15 from 12 - 6 pm. It takes place outside on Arthur Ashe Boulvard by Movieland to Broad Street. They have an expanded Kids' Area, live music, lots of vendors, and a costume contest (even one just for kids). While it is free to attend, food and drinks are not. So pack a picnic or visit one of the vendors!


*Check here for more information.


St. Benedict's Oktoberfest: Hosted by St. Benedict Catholic Church, this annual festival is on Friday, September 16 through Sunday, September 18. It is free to attend, and it's a rain or shine event. This family-friendly event has a Children's Area with moon bounce, live music and entertainment, and plenty of food and drink (*available for purchase).


*Check here for more information.


University of Richmond's Trick or Treat Street: The University of Richmond has cancelled this event for 2022.


Last year's event was a drive-thru parade (the students brought trick or treating right to your car), and they haven't released details just yet for the 2022 event. Be on the look out!


*Check here for more information and check here for a look at the events prior to 2020.


70th Chickahominy Fall Festival & Pow Wow: While we haven't visited this event before, it's been on my list since seeing families attend last year's event! On Saturday, September 24 and Sunday, September 25, families can attend the Chickahominy Tribe's fall festival. This is a free, family event with American Indian music and dancers. There will also be food like Indian Fry Bread, fish and chips, popcorn, ice cream and desserts. Bring your own picnic blanket or lawn chairs.


*Check here for more information.


7. Visit an apple orchard with no admission cost.


Fruit Hill Orchard: Located in Palmyra, this family owned orchard has over 2,000 fruit trees & thousands of vegetables. You can pick your own apples, explore the orchards, take pictures in front of the seasonally themed LOVE sign, or play with the yard games. Fruit Hill Orchard also has an apple museum - it's a small cabin filled with artifacts from their family. My kids loved this "play house" - they didn't want to leave this area!


Fruit Hill Orchard also does not require tickets or reservations this fall, making it an easy option to drop in when it fits your schedule.


*Check here for a full review.


Market at Grelen: Located in Sumerset, this 1000 acre tree nursery has PYO fields, a gift shop, 5 miles of trails, and a casual cafe with outdoor seating. Don't miss their ice cream flights! Throughout the year, you can pick-your-own blueberries, blackberries, peaches, plums & apples. Market at Grelen is about an hour from Richmond, making it an easy day trip option for families!


I really like this orchard because you can enjoy the gorgeous grounds for free, pack a picnic, and only pay for the apples you pick (or just enjoy the views!).


*Check here for a full review.


8. Visit a pumpkin patch with no admission cost.


Gallmeyer Farm: Located in Varina, this 100 year old family farm has a veggie stand (June- October), berry patch (open spring & summer) & a pumpkin patch (open in the fall). @gallmeyerfarms is also famous for their sweet corn - make sure you grab some next summer. Right now, the veggie stand & pumpkin patch are open 7 days a week from 8am to dusk, and it’s free to visit! 


*Check here for a full review.


Skinquarter Farm Market: Located in Mosley, this farm & market has PYO berries & pumpkins, and it also sells fresh produce and locally made items like Montana Gold Bread. This is a great *free* farm to visit - it has no admission costs for the PYO fields. Skinquarter’s pumpkin patch is open daily in September & October, so it’s perfect for a morning adventure or after school.


The free admission includes hayrides and access to the corn maze and pumpkin patch. Skinquarter typically offers 10% off on their PYO pumpkins if you bring a canned good donation and your driver's license correlates with a different area of Richmond (varies each week).


*Check here for a full review.


Did your favorite free, fall activity make my list? If it didn't, send me an email at megan@thewestendmom.com , so we can check it out! Don't forget to tag @thewestendmom and #thewestendmom in your adventures! I love seeing all the fun your family has!

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