• The West End Mom

A Summer Bucket List for RVA Families

Updated: Jul 7

We've got almost two more months to celebrate summer and our kiddos being off from school! In honor of my favorite season, I've created a summer bucket list for Virginia families to make the most of it. While these are summer activities you could try anywhere, I also included specific options for Richmond area families. These activities, events and day trips are the perfect way to make sure you make the most of this summer with your family (all-ages)!


Here are 30+ things to try with your family this summer!


1. Visit a splash park or water park.


Richmond, Virginia has five splash parks that are perfect for children and families - I've seen all ages cooling off at these spots! These splash parks are always open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Depending on weather, they will sometimes open early or extend their season in the fall. All five of these Richmond area splash parks are open to the public for free!


If you have extra money in your budget, check out King's Dominion's Soak City or Busch Garden's Water County. These two water parks are perfect for a day trip!


*Check here for all of our Richmond area splash parks.


2. Go to a farmer's market.


There are so many farmer's markets around Richmond, and these are so much fun to visit as a family. Most markets have live music, food trucks, and lots of vendors!


We like to visit Dorey Park's Farmer's Market at Dorey Park and RVA Big Market at Bryan Park. Both of these farmer's markets are at parks, so there are walking trails and a playground to add onto your adventure.


3. Visit a theme park.


Kings Dominion: Open since 1975, this theme park is located in Doswell, about 25 minutes from Richmond. King's Dominion has 12 world-class coasters, a 20 acre water park, a 14 acre kids’ area, music festivals & seasonal events. You could easily spend a day here & you’d still need more time to explore the entire park!  


*Check here for a full review.


4. Play putt putt.


We love playing putt putt as a family, and it's an activity we started with our son when he was 20 months. We've tried Bogey's Sports Park, Windy Hill, Swader's, and Patterson Golf Park. We especially love Patterson Golf Park because of the Groupon deals!


Patterson Golf Park: This local golf park has been family operated for over 30 years. You can visit the driving range or play the putt putt course. It’s even a great place to host birthday parties. We like Patterson Golf Park because everything is outside, it has 2 putt putt courses with an animal theme, and the customer service.  


*Check here for a full review.


5. Pick your own flowers.


Alvis Sunflower Farm: Located in Manakin Sabot, this sunflower festival usually takes place in late July and early August. It’s hosted by Alvis Farms, a working dairy farm that’s been in Goochland since 1965. Alvis Farms has 50 acres of sunflowers, and we like how this festival has a bunch of activities: touch a truck, lawn games, animals, a misting tent, and food trucks.


It does get very hot picking sunflowers in August. We like to visit early in the morning or at sunset to get the coolest temperatures possible! This is also a very big farm, so depending on the ages of your kiddos, you may need two adults. We've visited as a family the past two years.


*Check here for my full review.


6. Watch an outdoor movie.


Goochland Drive In Theatre: Located in Hadensville, this drive-in theater has been open since 2009. The venue is pet friendly, they have restrooms, and they have an affordable concessions stand. Movies are rain or shine, and most of the nights have double features. Gates typically open around 6/6:30 on movie nights with movies beginning around 8pm. Tickets cost between $18-$25 per vehicle, and all tickets must be purchased ahead of time from Goochland Drive-In Theater's website. I like this theater for families because it is not as expensive as a trip to the regular movie theaters, too!


7. Visit Yorktown.


Located in Historic Yorktown, this beach has 2 acres of beachfront on the York River. It’s family friendly with lots of room to play in the sand & shallow water. There are public bathrooms & outdoor showers. Yorktown also has lots of restaurant options within walking distance. Don’t miss the *free* trolley! We rode the entire loop to cool off (~35 minutes).  There’s a lot to explore nearby: Yorktown Battlefield Visitor Center , Watermen's Museum , the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown , Riverwalk Landing & more.  If you want a day trip to the beach, this is your spot!


*Check here for a full review.


8. Hike by the river.


Robious Landing Park: This Chesterfield County park is a 102 acre park on the James River. The 3.4 miles of trails have views of the river & forest. It has ramps for boating & docks for fishing, including a floating dock. Robious Landing Park also has a small playground, picnic tables & 3 picnic shelters.

*Check here for a full review.


Tyler Potterfield Bridge: Completed in 2016, this pedestrian & cycling bridge connects Brown’s Island to Manchester. It’s 1,600 feet long with gorgeous views of the city & the river. This is one of our favorite places to walk by the river because of the views & the other areas nearby like Brown’s Island, Tredegar Ironworks , Virginia War Memorial & The Canal Walk.

*Check here for a full review.


*For more details on kid-friendly walks by the James River, check out my guide.


9. Visit Coastal Virginia. Portsmouth, Norfolk and Virginia Beach are all doable day trips or you could make your stay a weekend getaway!


Children's Museum of Virginia: This children's museum 72,000 square feet - the largest museum for kids in #Virginia ! It has 2 floors of interactive exhibits, including a safety zone, working port, bubble play, and a Tot Lot. Our favorites were the model trains & Toddler Tracks, Happy Paws, My Backyard & Beyond, and Dr. Forces Traveling Energy Extravaganza.

*Check here for a full review.


First Landing State Park: Located in Virginia Beach, First Landing State Park is the most visited state park in Virginia! There’s a lot of history here - it’s the location where the first English colonist landed in 1607. Legend also has it that Blackbeard (the pirate) hid in the Narrows area of the park. The park was built in part by an all African American Conservation Corps between 1933-1940.


It has over 20 miles of trails & 1.5 miles of beach front. It has really easy beach access, and with parking costing $7 on weekdays and $10 on weekends, it’s cheaper than most VB oceanfront day parking options. The waves are very small, making it kid friendly (it’s on the Chesapeake Bay). We used a stroller from the car to the beach (just leaving it on the boardwalk).


Nauticus Maritime Museum: Located in Norfolk, this maritime museum has interactive exhibits on the environment, industry and military. Nauticus is such a unique destination for families because you also get to board & explore the USS Wisconsin, an authentic WWII battleship.


*Check here for a full review.


Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center: This aquarium features coastal habitats from around the world with animals representing over 300 species! It also has a 1/3 mile nature trail on Owls Creek, a protected salt marsh. The Adventure Park is by the marsh & it has low & high ropes courses plus zip lines! @vaaquarium is about 2 hours from #RVA & only 5 minutes from Virginia Beach’s oceanfront.  


*Check here for a full review.


10. Go summer tubing.


Massanutten Resort: Summer tubing is offered between April and October, and it is set up on two lanes that drop 120 vertical feet over the course of 600 feet. While you also get to ride a conveyor belt to the top of the hill, this is definitely a workout between pulling your tube and carrying your kids (if you need to). Definitely wear comfy clothes!


It costs $10 for 2 rides or $14 for 4 rides. Children must be 36" or taller to ride. While everyone must ride in his own tube, you can connect your tubes together. My children really enjoyed riding in pairs and as a whole family!


*Check here for a full guide to Massanutten Resort.


Liberty Mountain SnowFlex: This mountain top rec center has ski slopes, mountain tubing & a sledding hill. The mountain is covered in Snowflex - a special surface that’s slippy & grippy, essential for snow sports, plus it’s soft to fall on (no hard ice or packed snow)! All ages are welcome & you can even schedule a beginner lesson for any of the snow sports. The views from Liberty Mountain are gorgeous too!


*Check here for a full review.


11. Visit an aquarium.


Bass Pro and Cabela's have large fish tanks, and you can visit them for *free.* They typically have fish feedings around noon on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.


*Check here for a full review of Bass Pro.


Maymont's Nature Center: The Robins Nature Center is an indoor exhibit at @maymont_rva that showcases the animals & plants of the James River and Chesapeake Bay. You 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. ⁣⁣


*Check here for a full review.


SeaQuest Lynchburg: This 20,000 square feet petting zoo aquarium opened in 2019. There are about 1,500 animals - turtles, sting rays, sloths & more. You get to touch & feed animals from around the world! My littles loved this day trip. Some of their favorites were using the vending machines to get animal food, feeding sting rays & touching a giant tortoise & wallaby. After our hour & half visit, we ate at @depot_grille_lynchburg_ with views of the river & the train tracks. It was family friendly with a huge green lawn next to it too.  


*Check here for a full review.


12. Cool down with ice cream.


Bruster's on Robious and on Hull Street are both locally own by the same family, and the owners have made their ice cream joint incredibly family friendly by adding a sand pit, toys, yard games, and chalk.


Bruster's serves over 24 flavors, including vegan & non dairy ones. You can drive thru or walk up to order your sweet treats. With prices between *free* and $7.49 for individual orders, @brusters.robiousrva is budget friendly too! Baby cones cost $1.97, and all kids under 40” can get a *free* one. Also, pup parents can pick up a *free* Doggie Sundae any time!


*Check here for a full review.


13. Visit a farm:


We love visiting local farms so much! Not only are they really fun and family friendly, but they are also hands-on learning experiences.


Shoofly Farm: Located in Chester, this family-owned farm offers *free* farm tours. 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.


*Check here for more local farms.


14. Eat breakfast outside.

We get outside as early as we can to beat the summer heat, and breakfast picnics are such a fun way to start the morning. We really enjoy creating our own picnics, picking up donuts & heading to a park or eating on a patio.


Ironclad Coffee: This locally owned coffee shop has two locations - one in Shockoe Bottom & one in Short Pump! Located at 2100 John Rolfe Parkway, the West End Cafe has a drive thru and an outdoor patio with picnic tables. @ironcladcoffee serves breakfast beverages and breakfast sandwiches plus pastries & treats (vegan items are on the menu too)


*Check here for more details.


15. Visit a dairy farm.


Located in Blackstone, Richland Dairy Farm has been a family farm since the 1700s. There are four generations of the Jones’ family working here, and they have over 500 cows. In addition to their Cremery & Kitchen, Richland Dairy Farm has a lot of family-friendly activities: Dinner on the Farm, Family Farm Day, Fall Festival, and tours.  


*Check here for more details.


16. Pick your own peaches.


Chiles Peach Orchard: Located in Crozet, Chiles Peach Orchard is about 1 hour and 30 minutes from Short Pump. There’s a restaurant, an outdoor patio and open air store. At the peach orchard, you can pick your own peaches, blueberries and strawberries. During “normal times,” there are so many family friendly events, including Pancakes with Santa. The Chiles family also owns Carter Mountain and Spring Valley Orchard.⁣


*Check here for a full review of Chiles.


Hanover Peaches: Located in Mechanicsville, Hanover Peaches is about 30 minutes from Short Pump. This family-owned orchard is 20 acres. They grow peaches and nectarines in the summer and apples in the fall. You can find farm updates on their Facebook page.


*Chere here for my full review of last year's peach picking.


Market at Grelen: This property is a 600 acres with a nursery, PYO fields, a gift shop, 5 miles of trails that connect to Montpelier, and a casual cafe (with bathrooms). It’s located in Orange County, about an hour from Richmond. This is one of our favorite day trips because the property is so beautiful, even if we can't pick any fruit!


The PYO fields opens in June with blueberries. You can also pick blackberries, peaches, plums, and apples throughout the summer and fall.


*Check here for my full review and check here for details on our peach picking experience.


*Check here for more details on PYO farms around Richmond, Virginia.


17. Attend a sporting event.


Our local Richmond Kickers' play throughout the summer, and their games are really fun! They have concessions and local food trucks like Chick-Fil-A, Kona Ice + Dippin' Dots and Cary Street Cafe food truck. We really enjoyed arriving early, getting a free hat, having a picnic and watching the game - there was so much for the kids to see.


The Red Army, the most loyal fans, have flags, red smoke and drums - my kids loved watching them cheer on the team!


If you purchase your tickets before the day of the match, they are $15. Children 4 and under are free. Another bonus is that the stadium seats are completely shaded in the evening!


18. Attend a concert.


We have so many concert series around Richmond, including Friday Cheers, Innsbrook After Hours, Lewis Ginter’s Flowers after 5.


Sippin' on Summer Concert Series: Short Pump Mall is hosting free summer concerts on Thursday nights. We have two more coming up in July - on July 7 and July 21 from 6-9. These are very family friendly because you can walk around the mall, grab something to eat, and the kids can move around while adults listen to music.


Westchester Commons Concert Series: The next concert is on July 14 from 5:30-8:30. This is a free series and you’re allowed to bring your own food and chairs. They will also have food and soda on sale from local vendors.


19. Explore the Capital Trail.


This paved path starts at Great Shiplock Park and goes all the way to Jamestown. It is stroller, scooter and bike friendly!


Great Shiplock Park to Rockett’s Landing on The Capital Trail is one of the most popular portions of The Capital Trail is this 1.2 mile portion (the round trip is 2.4). It’s stroller and bike friendly, plus it has incredible city and river views.


*Check here for our experience on the trail.


20. Play at an adventure park.


Swader's Sports Park: Located in Prince George, this sports park is about 30 minutes from Richmond. Swader's has outside attractions like go karts, putt putt, driving range + batting cages. It also has an inside play area, arcade, laser tag, bowling & food options! We visited recently on a week day, spending 2 hours playing putt putt, riding go karts & running around the play area.


*Check here for a full review.


Surge: This adventure park is located inside 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. Bonus: Surge is open for field trips, slumber parties & private events.


*Check here for a full review.


Windy Hill Sports Park: Located on 150 acres in #chesterfieldva , Windy Hill has a driving range, batting cages, 2 putt putt courses, go karts, a regulation 9-hole golf course & a lighted Par 3 course. There is a snack bar & patio with lawn games. @windyhillgolfcourse also has PGA Junior League team for kids 4-17 years old!


*Check here for a full review.


21. Bike High Bridge Trail.


This state park is a 31 mile trail perfect for hiking, biking & horseback riding. It is located in Cumberland, Nottoway & Prince Edward Counties, about an hour & 30 minutes from #richmondva ,and it has 9 different entrances. The highlight of this state park is the High Bridge itself, standing 125 feet over the Appomattox River.


*Check here for a full review of High Bridge Trail.


*Check here for more stroller-friendly & bike friendly trails in Richmond, Virginia.


22. Visit a zoo.


Richmond Metro Zoo: Located on 150 acres in Moseley, @metrorichmondzoo is home to 2,000 animals and 190 different species! Besides walk-in tours, guests can zip line on the @treetopzoofari or participate in kids camps. Our favorite part about this zoo is the feeding experiences with the giraffes, barn yard animals and birds. 


*Check here to see one of our visits and check here for a review.


The Virginia Zoo: Opening in 1900, the Virginia Zoo is on 53 acres & it’s home to over 700 animals! You can explore a variety of habitats like the Africa-Okavango Delta and Asia - Trail of the Tiger to see animals native to that region, including a zoo farm. Our favorites were seeing the baby rhino & giraffe, playing in the nature discovery zone & riding the Norfolk Southern Express! @virginiazoo is the only AZA-accredited zoo in #Virginia.


*Check here for a full review.


23. Explore the RVA Garden Trail.


There are 10 gardens within 10 miles of each other that are a part of the RVA Garden Trail. You could try one or visit each on this summer. Here are two we love:


Agecroft Hall & Garden: This 16th century mansion is on 23 acres in Windsor Farms. It’s surrounded by intricate gardens & overlooks the James River. We love to visit @agecrofthallgardens in spring & summer to see the flowers - the daffodils have just started blooming! We also like to explore the woodland trail in winter because you have river views for the entire walk.


*Check here for a full review.


The VMFA Sculpture Garden: We love visiting the @vmfamuseum & the Claiborne & Lora Robins Sculpture Garden is perfect for littles! The 3.5 acre garden is part of the @rvagardentrail . It has green space, blooms, waterfalls & paths. It’s *free* to visit + it’s one of only 8 museums to have a permanent work by Chihuly!    


*Check here for a full review.


24. Go Bowling.


Uptown Alley: This is so much more than a spot to bowl! Besides the 38 bowling lanes, Uptown Alley has a restaurant & sports theater, an arcade, billiards and virtual reality arena. They offer daily specials so you could create a family date on a budget or go all out!


*Check here for a full review.


25. Visit Powhatan State Park.


This local state park has 1,565 acres on the James River. It has about 7 miles of trails for hikers, cyclists and horses. These trails are incredibly peaceful & family friendly, going next to the river and through woods & meadows. It also has a campground, boat ramps, wildlife observation areas, picnic shelters and a playground.


*Check here for a full review.


26. Visit a historical site.


James Madison’s Montpelier: Located in Orange County, James & Dolly Madison’s historic home is on 2,700 acres with views of the Blue Ridge Mountains! Montpelier has over 8+ miles of trails, historic buildings, gardens & archeological sites. You can explore on your own, take a guided tour, have a picnic & even participate in archeology digs!  


*Check here for a full review.


27. Look for fossils at York River State Park.


This park is 2,531 acres & has more than 30 miles of trails along the marsh, river shoreline and through the woods. This @vastateparks has two playgrounds, an amphitheater, observation decks, boat rentals, and more. The biggest draw for us is the beautiful shoreline, especially Fossil Beach.     


*Check here for more details on York River State Park.


28. Play at a shaded park.


We love visiting parks all year in Richmond, and I love that these are free options for families. We enjoy exploring Cheswick Park, Deep Run Park, and Mid-Lothian Mines Park in the summer because they have so much shade!


*Check here for all the details on the best shaded parks around Richmond, Virginia.


29. Visit Charlottesville.


Bounce, Play and Create: This indoor play space is located in Charlottesville, about an hour from Richmond. We like this spot because it’s a fun indoor adventure & an easy day trip. Bounce, Play and Create is for babies through 10 year olds, and parents can enjoy the fun during Toddler Time each day!  It has a toddler room, a creation station + a room full of inflatables & a play structure with three huge slides!

*Check here for a full review.


Sanders Monticello Trail: Located 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.


*Check here for a full review.


30. Visit Bear Creek State Park.


This Virginia State Park is less than an hour from Richmond, next to Cumberland State Forest! It has trails for hiking, biking & horseback riding trails, archery ranges and two playgrounds. Bear Creek Lake State Park also has cabins & camping sites. The highlight for visiting in the summer is the 40-acre lake with a boat launch, fishing pier, boat rentals & swimming!



31. Watch a movie at the theater.

CineBistro: If you haven’t seen a super saver movie at CineBistro , you need to add it to your list! It’s very kid friendly & tickets are $5 each. You can explore the mall + run around in the play space before or after your movie, too.


*Check here for a review of CineBistro.


Regal's Summer Movie Express: Starting on June 7, Regal is offering $2 tickets to family-friendly movies on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 12pm. Movie titles vary by location, and there are 6 participating Regal Theaters in the Richmond metro area (Colonial Heights, Glen Allen, Midlothian, and Short Pump).


*Check here for more details.


32. Create Something.


We love making things together as a family from block towers and obstacle courses to homemade bird feeders and planting a garden. We also really like attending Home Depot and Lowe's *free* kid-friendly workshops each month. Home Depot's workshops are drop-in style while Lowe's requires a registration.There will be a total of 6 projects between both stores this summer.


*Check here for a full review of Home Depot's kid's workshops.


33. Visit a museum.


The Children's Museum of Richmond: This museum has been a favorite of families in Richmond, Virginia since 1981. The Children's Museum of Richmond is designed for children 0-8 & it has exhibits for interactive & imaginative play, learning & creating. Children can play in the dairy barn, a service station, ride a carousel & more


*Check here for a look at our recent visit.


The Science Museum: This massive museum has four floors of interactive exhibits on the massive 33 acre property! It has an exhibit on speed where you can race alligators or bears and a wind tunnel that mimics a hurricane. The Animal Lab has a real bee hive, lizards and snakes. We really love The Light Place exhibit, an area just for children 5 and under. The interactive shark exhibit is also on display throughout the summer.


*Check here for a review of the Science Museum.


*Check here for 7 Tips for Saving Money on Museum Admissions.


34. Ride a Boat or Ferry

Canal Cruise: Located on the historic Kanawha Canal, Riverfront Canal Cruises take you on a 40 minute historical boat cruise. These flat bottom boats float in 3 feet to 15 feet of water by the Capital Trail, tobacco warehouses & the Low Line gardens. This was our *third* trip on the canal, and the highlights for us this time were seeing a river otter, watching a heron catch a fish & floating by the Triple Crossing railroad. We didn’t see a train this time, but we heard them!


*Check here for my full review.


Jamestown VDOT Ferry: Jamestown-Scotland Ferry is located between the Jamestown Settlement & Jamestown Beach. It’s free to ride this ferry, and it takes about 30 minutes to cross the James River. Chippokes State Park is in Surry, less than 10 minutes from the ferry’s dock.   


*Check here for my full review.



35. Visit Lake Anna State Park.


This 3,127 acre state park has 10 miles of lake frontage, and it's just an hour & 5 minutes from Richmond. This is one of Virginia's most popular beaches, and this is a great spot for families! We like it because it has shallow water & no waves, and it has a playground, concessions & bathrooms near the beach. Lake Anna State Park also has trails for biking, hiking & horses plus yurts & cabins.  


*Check here for a full review.


36. Explore a college campus.


We are pretty lucky to have so many colleges around Richmond! We love taking our kids on bike rides at University of Richmond, to watch trains at Randolph Macon, and to stroll around the city at VCU. If you aren't a grad of a local college, visiting your alma mater is always a fun day trip or weekend one!


*Check here for more details on University of Richmond.


*Check here for more details on visiting Ashland.


37. Attend the Chesterfield County Fair.


The Chesterfield County Fair is August 26 through September 3, and weekday hours are 5-11 and weekend hours are 11-11. Tickets cost $10 for adults, $7 for seniors, $5 for children 4-12 and children 3 and under are free. Families can enjoy the usual fair favorites like rides, animals, races, and other live entertainment. Some of our favorites were riding the ponies and the camel, playing laser tag, riding the free barrel tractor, and watching the model trains.


*Check here for our experience at the 2021 fair.


For more details on these getaway spots and more Virginia adventures, follow our family on @thewestendmom on Instagram!



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