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  • Writer's pictureThe West End Mom

RVA Christmas Bucket List

Updated: Nov 8

Looking for the best things to do in Richmond this Christmas? You've found the right place!

Whether you want a free activity, an over-the-top Christmas experience, or something festive & fun for the whole family, I've got plenty of Christmas events and activities that are perfect for each family.

Here are 18 of the best things to do around Richmond during Christmas with kids:

1. Cut your own Christmas tree.

The Market at Grelen: Located an hour away in Orange County, Grelen is a 600 acre property with a nursery, PYO fields, a gift shop, 5 miles of trails, and a casual cafe. After Thanksgiving, Market at Grelen opens with cut-your-own Christmas trees, wreath decorating class, special Christmas activities & Santa!   

Cost: free to visit, but tree prices vary on size

*Check here for my review.

While Fruit Hill Orchard doesn't have cut-your-own Christmas trees, they have fresh trees, Christmas wreaths and garland. I love visiting this orchard with children because everything is in close proximity and all the activities are *FREE* (yard games, space to run + cute apple museum)!

Tom Leonards, The Great Big Greenhouse, Cross Creek Nursery, and Strange's also have fresh Christmas trees.

2. Enjoy a Holiday Tea.

Holiday High Tea at Queen Bee & Company: Located in the heart of the city, this English tea room hosts High Tea, Royal High Tea & Holiday High Tea. Queen Bee & Company is elegant & comfortable, making it a kid-friendly option for special events! We tried the High Tea with our littles, a 3 course meal that comes with hot tea & hot chocolate. Reservations are required.

Cost: Holiday High Tea costs $45 per person.

*Check here for my review.

3. Twirl by the Iconic, Pink Christmas Tree.

The Quirk Richmond is a gorgeous, modern hotel in the heart of the city. It is decorated for Christmas with pink decor now through New Year's. The Lobby Coffee Bar is open daily from 7-1, and it's perfect for a *create your own* Christmas Tea.

Cost: It is free to visit. Coffee Bar's prices are very reasonable - we ordered 2 hot chocolates for $3.25 each & coffee cake for $6.

*Check here for my review.

4. Drive through a light show.

Illuminate Light Show & Santa’s Village is the largest drive thru Christmas light show in central Virginia is at the Meadow Event Park from November 11 until January 3. Illuminate Light Show happens nightly from 5:30 to 10pm, and it’s $30 per car. At this rain or shine event, you drive through about 30 minutes of lights & displays that are synchronized to Christmas music! This is a fun and festive multigenerational activity.

Cost: $30 per vehicle

*Check here for my review.

5. Look at Tacky Lights.

One of our favorite Christmas traditions is looking at Christmas lights, and most houses are decorated from the day after Thanksgiving to New Year's Day. I usually *create our own* Christmas light tour, and we start at 4:45/5 (right when it gets dark). I plan it *three* ways: pack everyone up in jammies with homemade treats, stop for hot cocoa along the way or add a visit onto our afternoon adventure.

The *five* best houses we’ve visited:

(1) The Ashbury Court Homes: Located in the West End, “A Phifer Christmas” has two homes that are illuminated with over 1 million lights.

(2)The Ivyglen Court Home: Located in the Wellesley neighborhood, this is probably the most unique home we’ve visited. The house is almost dark until you push one of the 5 “show” options: Fun Christmas, USA, VT, Frozen & Christmas Show. Then the music starts, the inflatables blow up & the lights dance to music!

(3) The River Road House: These homeowners allow visitors to drive thru their driveway & yard. It’s completely decked out in lights that are synced to music. They have a life sized nativity + Santa is in the window! We usually drive thru 2-3 times in a row.

(4) The Walton Park neighborhood: This Midlothian neighborhood goes all out for Christmas, and it is the course for the Tacky Light Run 6K. We drive through “Christmas Court” on Dawnridge Court & Coralview Road. The Urban Farmhouse is less than 5 minutes away.

*Salty Santa of Walton Park and Christmas on Coralview are participating in Worth Day's A Joyful Battle of Lights, to raise money for local children in foster care.

(5) The Wendhurst Drive Homes: Located in Glen Allen, you can either drive by or walk up to the three homes that are decorated together. They have 2,207 homemade decorations on display! We also visit the Coleson Road home after these because it’s 4 minutes away!

(6) RVA Christmas House: Located in the city of Richmond, you can either drive by or walk up to this home at 3209 Hanover Ave. Our favorite part is the giant "RVA" all in lights on the roof.

This home participating in Worth Day's A Joyful Battle of Lights, to raise money for local children in foster care.

(7) Fire Station 13: Located in Henrico near Short Pump Mall, this fire station goes all out for Christmas. They have so many tacky lights and inflatables it's easy to see driving by, or you can check it out next door from Gayton Elementary or across the street at Ray's Italian Ice.

*Check here for my review.

6. Watch a Parade.

Dominion Energy Christmas Parade: On Saturday, December 3 at 10 am, The Dominion Energy Christmas Parade returns! This parade takes place on Broad Street, and it travels east to end at the Richmond Coliseum. We are so excited to see the giant balloons, colorful floats, local marching bands, our favorite princesses, and, of course, Santa! Check here for viewing tips.

Cost: This is a free event.

Henrico Holiday Express Tour: Henrico County Parks and Recreation are putting on their annual neighborhood parade. The tour runs from 5-8pm on three different nights, in three different areas of the county. On Tuesday, December 6, it will be in the Brookland and Fairfield areas. On Wednesday, December 7, it will be in Varina. On Thursday, December 8, it will be in Three Chopt and Tuckahoe.

Here is the parade's route. If the parade doesn't come through your neighborhood or you don't live in Henrico, you can also visit the parade's starting point & watch from the various libraries (Libbie Mill, Varina or Twin Hickory).

Cost: This is a free event.

Richmond Boat Parade of Light: On December 10, Christmas-themed boats will take off from Rockett's Landing at 4:45pm. The boat parade ends at Osborne Landing. You can easily view the parade from the Capital Trail in front of The Boathouse and Island Shrimp, or you can view it from Osborne Landing Park. For more details on the Richmond Boat Parade, check here.

Cost: This is a free event.

7. Give back to the community.

Main Street Station is hosting the third annual Christmas Under the Clocktower from December 2 through December 18. At this historic train station, visitors can vote for their favorite Christmas trees. But the best part is that these trees are decorated by 23 local nonprofits, and your votes are donations. Votes are $1 & each vote goes directly to the nonprofit that received the vote! There is also a bonus prize for the top three winners. This is a fun way to support our local Richmond, Virginia community & get in the holiday spirit!

Main Street Station is open 7 days a week from 6:30 to 8pm on weekdays & 8am-8:30 pm on weekends.

Cost: It is free to visit, and you can donate to the charity that you believe has the prettiest Christmas tree.

*Check here for my review.

Henrico Christmas Mother and Salvation Army's Angel Tree are also family-friendly ways to help those in our community at Christmas.

8. Visit Christmas Town.

We visit Busch Garden's Christmas Town every year. It is decked out for Christmas with more than 10 thousand lights! Between now and January 2, you can watch holiday shows, ride select rides & try lots of festive treats. Our favorites this year were meeting Rudolph, riding the Holly Jolly Express & Kinder Karussel and watching Elmo’s Christmas Wish!

*Check here for my review.

*Kings Dominion in Ashland also hosts a special Christmas event, *Winter Fest.*

9. Go ice skating.

Stony Point Fashion Park: This local mall is decked out for the holidays, including a pop-up ice skating rink. Stony Point Fashion Park also has a giant Christmas tree, snow falling during the week, a play area, horse drawn carriage rides, and special themed events.

*Check here for my review.

10. Visit Colonial Williamsburg.

This 301 acre living-history museum is filled with holiday traditions & special events in December. You can listen to ensembles sing holiday music, follow the Yule log to Market Square & watch fireworks! Colonial Williamsburg is hosting three Grand Illumination weekends, December 2-4, 9-11, and 16-18, with firework displays on December 3, 10 & 17. The ice skating rink stays open through the end of February. During our recent visit to Colonial Williamsburg, we loved finding the *every day* items on the handmade Christmas decorations & watching the sheep trim the grass on the Palace Green!

*Check here for my review.

11. See the biggest Christmas trees in town.

Our local shopping malls and centers put up the largest trees in the area - Short Pump Mall, Stony Point Fashion Park, West Broad Village, and Willow Lawn Shopping Center. The Science Museum of Virginia and the VMFA also put up large, beautiful Christmas trees. Don't miss out on seeing them & snapping Christmas pictures.

Cost: Free

12. Watch model trains.

The Great Big Greenhouse: We love this greenhouse because they are very family-friendly & host many events throughout the year. The Great Big Greenhouse currently has Santa visits on weekends (started November 18), a model train display by River City 3 Railers & Christmas trees + decor! Also, mark your calendar for Kids Day in the Garden on January 15. This free event will have an animal petting farm, an instrument petting zoo, a juggler & more!

Cost: free

*Check here for my review.

The Richmond Railroad Museum: Located in the restored Southern Railway Station on Hull Street, this museum is the perfect spot to see & learn about the railroad systems in central Virginia. Outside the museum, you can see railway express cars & steam locomotive. Inside, you can see historic railroading equipment & RVA‘s largest scale model railroad!

Cost: It costs $5 for kids 6-13, $10 for 14 & up & $8 for seniors.Kids under 6 are *FREE*!

*Check here for my review.

The Science Museum's 45th Annual Model Railroad Show: This special event is the weekend after Thanksgiving, November 25-27. There will be 8 different train layouts including different landscapes and cities. The Model Railroad Show is included with museum admission, and all guests need to reserve an entry time on line in advance.

Cost: Tickets costs between $10-16 per person. Admission to the Science Museum is required to see the special event.

13. See a live nativity.

The Richmond Metro Zoo: Located on 150 acres in Moseley, Richmond Metro Zoo is home to 2,000 animals and 190 different species. In addition to the animal sightings and experiences, the zoo hosts *Miracle of Christmas* each December. This 20 minute performance celebrates the birth of Christ through a live re-enactment of the Christmas story, and it features animals from the zoo. Live performances will be on December 20, December 21, and December 22 at 7pm , 7:45pm and 8:30pm.

Cost: free

*Check here for my review.

St. Stephen's Episcopal Church: Located on Grove Ave, this church is hosting a *live nativity* on Tuesday, December 20. The children of the parish are leading this outdoor event from 5:30-6:30 outside the church. No sign ups are needed to attend.

Cost: free

Slash Christian Church: Located in Ashland, this church is hosting *Why the Star,* a live nativity play that depicts the birth of Jesus. This event will happen on three nights: December 2 (5:30 & 8 pm), December 3 (5, 6:30 & 8), and December 4 (5 & 6:30).

Cost: free - reserve your tickets here.

While not a *live nativity,* Hope Church's Jingle Jam is such a fun, family event that shares the Christmas story like you've never heard it before! Just make sure you grab a free ticket in advance - it fills up quickly.

14. Enjoy a Christmas from the past.

Agecroft Hall & Gardens is hosting its annual Yuletides at Agecroft. This Christmas open ouse is on December 11 from noon to 5pm. Visitors can experience Christmas from three different areas: English in 1640, London in 1860, and Richmond in 1942. We attended this event last year, and my children loved the puppet show & watching *The Night Before Christmas.*

Cost: This event is free & open to the public.

15. Taste the best festive treats.

Coco & Hazel: One of our favorite locally opened treat spots host the *sweetest* festive treats. They have an over-the-top, loaded hot chocolate, and holiday-themed milkshakes.

Krispy Kreme: This doughnut shop always has festive treats. We love visiting for breakfast, watching donuts being made, and eating Christmas-themed treats.

Pearls Bake Shoppe: This locally owned bakery is one of our favorites! Along with cakes, cupcakes & cake pops, Pearls has cookies, muffins, ham biscuits + vegan & gluten free options! The cafe serves Carytown Teas, Lamplighter Coffee, milk & breakfast pastries. They also sell the most delicious hot chocolate bombs!

Cost: Prices vary depending on treats.

16. Stroll Garden Fest.

We always kick off the holiday season with our annual visit to Lewis Ginter's Garden Fest of Lights! You can see thousands of lights, watch model trains, enjoy refreshments in the garden, warm up by the fire pit & tour the Bloomendale House. Lewis Ginter is stroller friendly, and you can borrow one of their strollers & wheelchairs for free. It’s a really beautiful multigenerational event.

This ticketed event is open now through January 9 from 4pm-10pm daily. It’s closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve & Christmas Day.

Cost: Tickets range from $5 to $18 depending on the night. Visit between Nov. 22-Dec. 16 and Jan. 3-9 for the best prices. Children 3 & under don’t need a ticket.

*Check here for my review.

17. Watch The Nutcracker.

The Richmond Ballet's The Nutcracker: Families can see live performances of The Nutcracker are at the Carpenter Theater from December 9 through December 23. Together The Richmond Ballet and The Richmond Symphony create a magical rendition of this timeless Christmas tale of Clara and her nutcracker. The matinee showings on Saturdays and Sundays are perfect for families.

Cost: Tickets start at $25. Everyone over 2 needs a ticket.

18. See giant gingerbread houses.

This historic Jefferson Hotel turns into a Christmas wonderland from the Monday after Thanksgiving through January 8, 2023. Opening to the public for the first time in 2 years ( yep - you read that correctly), you can now visit to see the iconic Christmas tree, larger-than-life gingerbread houses, live poinsettias, and thousands of twinkle lights and elegant without a hotel or dining reservation.

We like to grab hot chocolate and cookies from the Gator's Gift Shop and wander around in our Christmas best.

Cost: Free to visit. Prices will vary if you order from Gator's.

19. Visit with Santa.

Santa's Winter Wonderland at Cabelas and Bass Pro is open from November 5 – December 24, 2022, and it's free to visit. Your free visit with Santa also includes a free picture with Santa. You have the opportunity to purchase digitals or more pictures if you want. Sign up on Bass Pro's website here. We visited on a week night, and we signed up on the spot. My littles got to spend at least 10 minutes with Santa because there was no one else there, too. This was a great experience for us!

Cost: free

Looking for a full list of places to see Santa around Richmond? Check out my guide to finding Santa in RVA!

Some of the most popular Christmas experiences fill up prior to November. Save these activities for next year: Crozet Trolley's The North Pole Express, The Jefferson's Santa Brunch and Santa Tea, Coco & Hazel's Ice Cream with Santa, and Salem Baptist's Bethlehem Walk.

*For more details on these fun, festive spots and more Richmond adventures, follow our family on @thewestendmom on Instagram!


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