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  • Writer's pictureThe West End Mom

RVA's Best Experience Gifts for Kids

Want to be the best gift giver this year? I've got you covered with all the best experience gifts around Richmond, Virginia. RVA has plenty of special experiences, museums, and amusement parks that are perfect for kids and the young at heart.

I've broken down all of the best experience gifts in Richmond for kids into categories: year long memberships, class packs, and gift cards for individual experiences. I've also included who each experience would be great for -- animal lovers, thrill seekers, nature lovers and ADA accessible properties. There are over 20+ kid-friendly experience gifts in Richmond that are fun for the whole family!

Pro Tip: Most of these places offer Black Friday discounts or participate in Museums for All.

Museums for All is a national program that encourages everyone to visit museums and gardens. If you are receiving food assistance, you can access reduced or free admission to a lot of museums, zoos and gardens.

1. The Children's Museum of Richmond: All guests who present their SNAP EBT card, EBT App, or WIC card will receive $2 admission for up to 6 people. If you would like to purchase your ticket online, use code "MFA" and bring your card to the check in desk.

This museum also offers Scholarship Family Memberships at both the downtown location and the Chesterfield location. This membership is available to families with a household income of $35,000 or less per year at the downtown location, and to families with a household income of $40,000 or less per year at the Chesterfield location.

A complete guide to experience gifts around Richmond, Virginia:

2. Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden: All guests who present their SNAP, WIC EBT card, or the Fresh EBT app will receive $1 admission for adults & free admission for up to 6 youth (17 years old and younger). There is also a membership option for under $10. Email for more information.

3. The Science Museum of Virginia: All guests who present their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card at the admissions desk can receive a membership for the reduced rate of $20. This family deal is for 2 adults and all children under 18 in the household.

4. Maymont: While admission to Maymont grounds is free, guests who present a SNAP EBT card can receive free admission for themselves and up to three guests in The Robins Nature Center and Maymont Mansion. Call (804)358-7166 for more details!

Please check here for most information on Museums for All and the 10 RVA museums and gardens that participate.

A complete guide to the best experience gifts around Richmond, Virginia:

Here is a comprehensive guide to experience gifts for Richmond area families. A membership to one of these Richmond locations would allow you and your family to drop in to play anytime without paying at each visit. Many memberships also come with extra perks like early registration for special events and programs.

The Best Memberships in Richmond for Families:

1. The Children's Museum of Richmond: With locations in the city and Chesterfield, this museum has been a favorite of families in Richmond since 1981. I’ve been visiting The Children's Museum since I was little, so it’s such a special experience to bring my children here. It’s geared towards children 0-8, and there are exhibits for interactive & imaginative play + learning & creating.

Annual family memberships cost $149, and this includes 2 legal guardians and up to 6 children in the same household. Members also get access to the ACM Reciprocal Membership program. This program allows CMoR members to visit partnering museum for a reduced admission cost.

This membership is worth it if your family plans on visiting 5 or more times a year. Since this museum has a large indoor space, and a recently updated outdoor space and splash pad, this is a great membership for families with children ages 0-8.

Perks: Early access to Legendary Santa tickets, ACM reciprocal museums

Great for: indoor play, pretend play, little kids

*Check here for my review, and check here for more videos.

2. The Science Museum of Virginia : The Science Museum has four floors of interactive exhibits on the massive 33 acre property! It has plenty of space to move around, and it's fun with a group of all ages. Our favorite exhibits are The Animal Lab, The Speed Exhibit, The Boost Exhibit and The Light Place.

The Supernova membership costs $160, and that includes access to all special exhibits, 4 Dome Theater passes, 4 guests passes, and ASTC Travel Passport Program reciprocity.

It costs a family of 4 around $52 a visit. Adult tickets cost $16, youth tickets cost $13.50 (ages 6-12), preschool tickets cost $10 (ages 3-5), and children 2 and under area free. The membership is worth it if you plan on visiting 4 or more times in a year.

This is my family's most used membership. I like it because it provides an indoor space for us to explore on cold or rainy days. I also like that it has something for all ages - the Light Space for under 5 and exhibits for bigger kids. It also comes with a large reciprocity program - we love to visit museums while we travel.

Perks: free access into all rotating exhibits and special events like the Railroad Show

Great for: indoor play, learning, all ages

*Check here for my review and check here for more videos.

3. Maymont: The Robins Nature Center is an indoor exhibit at Maymont Park 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. ⁣⁣

It costs a family of 4 about $28. Adult tickets are $8, children's tickets are $6 (ages 3-12), and children 2 and under receive free admission to the nature center.

Annual family memberships cost $60 for 2 adults and 6 children under 18 years old. While visiting the outdoor park and gardens is free, a membership includes access to Maymont's Nature Center, discounted admission to early childhood classes & programs, and a discounted ticket for special events like Garden Glow.

This membership is worth it if you plan on visiting 3 or more times. Plus the childhood classes and camps, like Toddler Time, are fantastic!

Perks: Discounted tickets for classes, camps and special events like Garden Glow

Great for: animal lovers, indoor play

*Check here for my review.

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

Membership costs: memberships start at $20 per person. Children under 1 are free.

Great for: animal lovers

*Check here for my review, and check here for more details.

5. Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden: It costs a family of 4 $50 a visit. Adult tickets are $17, children's tickets are $8 (ages 17 to 3), and children under 3 are free.

Annual family memberships cost $135 for a family of 2 adults and up to 6 children under 18. This membership includes 2 free guest passes and access to Garden Fest for free (specified dates each year). Members can attend Flowers after 5 (a summer concert series) without an additional ticket cost, and they also get a discount on summer camps and classes, and they also get library borrowing privileges.

This membership is my family's most used membership. We have kept our membership for 6 years. It worth it if you plan on visiting the garden 3 or more times, and if you'd like to visit the GardenFest event for free.

Perks: Free, members only Garden Fest weekend

Great for: nature lovers, all ages, ADA accessible property

*Check here for my review, and check here for more videos of recent visits.

6. Busch Gardens Williamsburg: This 422-acre amusement park has rides, attractions & events for thrill seekers & families, including concerts & holiday events. It's about an hour from Richmond, so it is perfect for a day trip or it's really fun during summer break & on holidays.

Membership costs: Starts at $138 per person (includes Water Country & Busch Gardens). Children 3-5 years old can get a Preschool Pass for free, but you need to visit by Memorial Day to activate it. Children under 3 are always free.

Great for: thrill seekers, water park enthusiasts, ADA accessible property

*Check here for my review of The Count’s Spooktacular and check here for my review of Christmas Town.

7. Kings Dominion: Open since 1975, this theme park is located in Doswell, about 25 minutes from Richmond. Kings 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!

Membership Costs: Starts at $94 per person (includes Soak City too). Children 3-5 years old can get a Preschool Pass for free, but you need to visit by Memorial Day to activate it. Children under 3 are always free.

Great for: thrill seekers, water park enthusiasts, ADA accessible property

*Check here for my review, and check here to see more of the park. For all my tips and tricks for visiting King Dominion with little kids, check this guide.

8. Keystone Truck & Tractor Museum: Located in Colonial Heights, this truck & tractor museum is so much fun for tractor lovers & history buffs. There are over 200 trucks & tractors on display, a toy shop & a restaurant. The museum also hosts birthday & special events.

Membership costs: individual memberships start at $30. Children 5 years old and younger are always free.

Great for: someone who loves things that go, indoor space

*Check here for my review.

9. The Virginia Museum of History and Culture: Recently renovated, the VMHC tells the story of Virginia. The highlight for families is the Commonwealth Explorers exhibit, a 700 square foot area geared towards children 8 and younger. It has hands-on, interactive stations and opportunities for free play, including a story nook with campfire, mailboxes & post office, a food truck with a kitchen and food, and toys from the past.

Membership costs: family memberships start at $95

Great for: history buffs, inside play

*Check here for more.

10. Agecroft Hall & Garden: This 16th century mansion was originally built in Lancashire, England. In 1925 it was dismantled & shipped across the Atlantic. Now in Windsor Farms, Agecroft Hall overlooks the James River and the railroad tracks, and it’s surrounded by intricate gardens. As a part of the RVA Garden Trail, it’s the perfect spot for an afternoon picnic or to explore the beautiful green space.

Membership costs: family memberships start at $50

Great for: history buffs, nature lovers

*Check here for my review.

Adventure Park & Indoor Playground Memberships & Punch Cards

The Richmond Metro Area has over 5 trampoline and adventure parks. These are the best ways for kiddos to get exercise when you can't play outside! For a quick comparison for each location, check out The Best Trampoline Parks in Richmond, Virginia.

1. Defy Trampoline Parks: With two Richmond locations , this extreme air sport park has 11,000 square feet of connected trampolines. Defy Richmond has a launching deck, angled trampolines, a dodgeball arena, agility course + foam pit.

Membership costs: individual memberships start at $20.99 per month

Best for: indoor play, indoor athletics, thrill seekers

*Check here for my review, and check here for my review of Short Pump.

2. SkyZone Midlothian: Located in Midlothian, this adventure park has trampolines, a full basketball court (it has springs so you jump extra high), a dodge ball arena, and a brand new little kids’ play area, The Little Ninja Zone! It is a large, two level play structure for kids under 48” tall. There’s a ball pit, zip line swing, climbing features and more. It also has an interactive game screen on the floor, a small slide and soft building blocks.

Membership costs: individual passes start at $14.99 per month

Best for: indoor play, indoor athletics, thrill seekers

*Check here for more details on RVA trampoline parks.

3. Launch Trampoline Park: Located in Midlothian, Launch Trampoline Park has wall to wall trampolines, laser time, arcade games, ninja courses and a soft play area for toddlers and babies. Launch also has a cafe with slushies, ice cream, pizza and snack.

Cost: passes start at $17 per visit

Best for: indoor play, indoor athletics, thrill seekers

*Check here for my review.

4. Off the Wall: Located in Midlothian, this indoor play space is designed for toddlers through elementary age kiddos. You’ll find playhouses & costumes, toys & games, and inflatables! Off the Wall is such a fun spot to get the wiggles out when you can’t play outside!

Cost: All day passes start at $12 per child.

Best for: indoor play, indoor athletics, ages 0-10

*Check here for my review.

5. Kids Empire: Located in Glen Allen, this is RVA's newest indoor play space for kids. It has floor to ceiling climbing walls and structures, multiple slides, a soccer arena, and an area just for children in diapers. The little tots area has a ball pit and little kid-friendly climbing areas and play structres.

Cost: A punch card (10 visits) costs $159. 2 adults are admitted free per child.

Best for: indoor play, indoor athletics, ages 0-10

6. Art Factory Play Place & Cafe: Located in Brandermill, this indoor play space and art studio is for babies through teenagers. While you can always drop-in for open play time, The Art Factory also offers a Little Explorers class for preschoolers, summer camps for all ages, and events for the family. Little Explorers and Musical Storytime with Mr. Beatman are for children 5 and under, and these classes costs $16 and $12 respectively for the parent/child pair. Little Explorers and Musical Storytime fill up quickly, so make sure you sign up online in advance.

Cost: A play space punch card costs $65 (10 visits). This can only be used for play time - not the classes or camps.

Best for: indoor play, little kids 0-5 years olds

*Check here for my full review.

7. Swader's Sports Park: Located in Prince George, this sports park is about 30 minutes from Richmond. Swader's Sports Park 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.

Cost: prices start at $9, and you can get a reloadable "Playtime Card" to use on all attractions.

Best for: indoor play, all ages, sports fan

*Check here for my review.

The Best Individual Experiences For Kids:

A gift card or tickets to one of these locations would allow you to drop in to play, to try one of their classes or watch the event.

1.RVA Tuk Tuk Tours: RVA Tuk Tuk offers so many tour options - brewery tours, city tours, scavenger hunts, tacky lights & custom tours! It's such a unique way to explore the city with kids. My kids loved riding in a tuk tuk! These 3-wheeled, open-air limos hold up to 6 people & you can even bring a car seat if you’d want.

Cost: Prices range between $165 – $300 per tuk tuk (up to six people).

Best for: ages 2 and up - you can bring your carseat too!

*Check here for my full review.

2. Sweet Wynns Kids Ice Cream Workshop: Sweet Wynns offers an ice cream workshop for kids & their grownups on weekends. Sweet Kids Workshops are an hour & 30 minute, hands on workshop where kids & their grownups make their own ice cream. For learning about the ingredients & measuring them to taste testing your own creation, you’re involved in the entire process. This class is perfect for pre-k & older!

Cost: Classes cost $30.75 per child. If you sign up for emails or follow them on social, you’ll see discount codes regularly!

Best for: 3+, family activity, indoor classes, children who love to cook

*Check here for my full review.

3. University of Richmond sporting events: The University of Richmond's football, lacrosse and basketball games are some of my family's favorite sporting events. We started taking our children at 2 years old, and these games are so much fun for sports fans!

During select home football games and basketball games there is a free Kids Zone. Your kids can get their face painted, get balloon animals and play in the inflatables for no extra cost.

Cost: Tickets start around $25, and children 12 and younger can get Kids Club Passes

Best for: sports fans, indoor activities

*VCU athletics also have plenty of sporting events too!

4. Tickets for live shows & performances: Both Altria Theater and Dominion Energy Center have family-friendly shows -- from Broadway in Richmond to the classic Nutcracker. I started taking my children to the kid-specific shows like Daniel Tiger Live at 2 years old, and The Nutcracker at 3 years old. Both my 4 year old and 6 year old loved Broad's Frozen this year!

Upcoming Kid-Friendly Shows:

1. Hip Hop Nutcracker on November 29

2. Elf in Concert on December 1

3. Peppa Pig on December 1

4. The Richmond Ballet Presents: The Nutcracker from December 8-24

5. Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical from December 12-17

6. Annie from January 16-21

7. Soul Aerial's Alice in Wonderland from March 7-9

Pro Tip: Consider your child's bedtime & try to grab the earliest time available. Matinee performances are usually around 1pm and 2pm - these are perfect for little kids. Sunday nights also usually have an earlier show time around 5/5:30pm.

*Check here for my review of Dominion Energy Center.

5. Happy Palette's Art Classes: 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!

Cost: classes start at $20.

*Click here for my full review.

6. Tree Time Adventures: Tree Time Adventures is an outdoor aerial obstacle course. It has 4 tree top courses that take you on ~2-3 hour tour through the tree canopy. There is even a course for beginners & children as young as 3 years old. With almost 60 obstacle bridges, 8 zip lines, axe throwing & 2 nature trails, this adventure park has the *MOST* activities for all ages in RVA.

We recently tried The Thorn, the low ropes course. It’s specially designed for little kids & those with a fear of heights. My (almost) 4 year old & 5.5 year old *LOVED* their thrilling climb almost as much as they loved the zip line. We got to climb the course & ride the zip line as much as we wanted during our 2.5 hour visit.

Great for: Active kids, thrill seekers, ages 3+

*Check here for my full review.

7. Uptown Alley Richmond : 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! They also hosts birthday parties & school events.

Costs: lanes start at $35 per hour

Best for: ages 2 and up

*Check here for my review.

8. VMFA's Childhood Art Classes: The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts offers childhood art classes for children starting at 3 months old. In these classes, children have free play time, story time, a tour of one exhibit, and an art art activity that connects with the exhibit.

Cost: classes start at $18 for a child/parent pair

Best for: all ages, creatives, indoor play

*Check here for my full review.

9. River City Roll: This locally owned bowling alley is off Boulevard near the Scott’s Addition breweries. We like River City Roll because it's more than just a bowling alley! While there are bowling lanes & other games, the food is delicious, there's a pet-friendly outdoor space, and they typically have live music on the weekends. If you're a competitive bowler or just like a challenge, River City Roll is one of 8 bowling facilities in the world to have HyperBowl. Reservations are encouraged.

Costs: Lanes start at $15 per house

Best for: ages 2 and up

*Check here for my review.

For more gift experience ideas, check out The Best Day Trips from RVA.

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

topics: the best experiences in Richmond, things to do with kids in RVA, experience gifts for kids in RVA, Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, experience gifts in Virginia for families


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