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  • Writer's pictureThe West End Mom

The Best Indoor Activities for Kids in Richmond

Updated: Feb 7

Rainy days, freezing days and the dog days of summer - they've all got us looking for somewhere inside to explore! Luckily, we have so many indoor spaces around Richmond that are fun to try with kids and to explore with the entire family. I've rounded up all of the indoor spaces around Richmond that we've tried, and I've put them in categories to make it easier for you to figure out which one is best for your family!

*Follow @thewestendmom on Instagram for things to do with kids in Richmond and around Virginia!

Here are 30+ inside activities, museums & classes to try with your kids!

RVA's Best Indoor Places with Paid Admission: While these museums, art studios, trampoline parks have an admission cost, you can visit them daily. They do not require reservations ahead of time - you can just stop by with your family when it works for you!

1. All Fired Up: With locations in Short Pump and Midlothian, this art studio is open daily for painting. You can pick your own piece of pottery and decorate it however you'd like! They also host classes and special events.

We've tried “Preschool Pottery Time." In this mommy and me class, there is a class theme, and our art project went along with a story. First, our teacher read us a story, “A Unicorn Named Sparkle”After the story, the children had the rest of class to paint their pottery {ours was a unicorn mug}. The children had fun picking the colors and the method to paint their pottery. They could use different size paint brushes or sponges.

Hours: Monday-Saturday from 10am-6pm, Sundays from 1pm-6pm

2. Art Factory Play Place: 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.

Hours: It’s open on Mondays through Fridays from 7am-6pm and on Saturdays from 7am-4pm, and on Sundays from 8am-4pm Sundays.

3. 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. My children’s current favorite exhibits are the trains, apple tree, the water play & the carousel.

Hours: It’s currently open Tuesday through Sunday from 9:30-5. We’ve found the crowds to be very small after 12:30 on weekdays (no field trips) and the first hour of opening on weekends.

4. Defy Richmond: Located in front of Virginia Center Commons, 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. It’s open at 9 each day, and it closes at 9pm Monday-Thursday & at 11 pm on Friday & Saturday.

Hours: It’s open at 9 each day, and it closes at 9pm Monday-Thursday & at 11 pm on Friday & Saturday.

5. Defy Short Pump: This *brand new* trampoline park is located by Short Pump Town Center! Defy Short Pump has wall-to-wall trampolines, a dodgeball area, basketball, and jump pit. It also has one of the largest ninja courses & high ropes courses I’ve ever seen. Definitely bring your elementary- high school kids to try these courses!

Hours: It’s open 10-8 Sunday-Thursday, and 10-9 on Friday & Saturday.

6. 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.

Hours: It is open every day from 9AM-5PM, except for major holidays.

7. 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.

Toddler Time is every Saturday 10-12. This is the first trampoline park we visited, and I went just for this program (solo with a 2.5 year old and 6 month old!). When we have been here during Toddler Time, I haven't been worried about my little, little kids getting bumped around.

Hours: It's open Thursday from 4-8pm, Friday from 3-8pm, Saturday from noon-9pm, and Sunday from noon-6pm. It's closed on Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday.

8. Maymont's Nature Center: 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. ⁣⁣

Hours: It’s open on Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays from 10-5.

9. Peak Experiences: Want to try rock climbing in RVA? Check out Peak Experiences for the top rope routes & bouldering… and their facilities are INSIDE! They have climbing instruction every day of the week, including drop in yoga classes. Peak Experiences also has one of the largest adaptive climbing programs in Virginia.

I like the 3 Peaks Climbing Sampler for kids, families & beginners because you get an instructor. Our climbing instructor Sean guided us through the gym & helped up climb 3 routes on ropes terrain. This class is available every day from 10am-4pm & it costs $25 pp.

There is a location in Scott's Addition and one in Midlothian.

10. 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! An all day pass will cost you $12 per kiddo. Off the Wall is such a fun spot to get the wiggles out when you can’t play outside!

Hours: It’s open 12-7pm every day except Mondays. It is closed on Mondays.

11. 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! My favorite part about Richmond Railroad Museum? Kids under 6 are *FREE*!

Hours: It’s open on Saturdays 11-4 and Sundays 1-4.

12. The Science Museum of Virginia: We love visiting The Science Museum. There are 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 Animal Lab has reptiles that you can sometimes touch. The Speed Exhibit has activities like track for racing, a batting cage to check the speed of your kicks & an air hockey game with a robot.   The Boost Exhibit has interactive challenges like a tightrope, a music area & dance challenge.  The Light Place is a special area for children 5 and under. It has a climbing area, a large Lite Brite, puzzles & more.   

Hours: It’s open from 9:30-5 daily, and there are extended hours from 5-8 on Thursdays & Fridays. 

13. 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.

I love the new play area for little kids! It’s only for kids under 48” tall, so you don’t have to worry about little ones jumping with big kids. It’s an excellent spot to play & get energy out when you can’t play outside. Also, the big kids will love the new basketball court. During our recent visit, teens were playing for over an hour.

Hours: It's open on Tuesdays, Wednesday & Thursday from 3pm-8pm, Friday from 3pm-11pm, Saturday from 10am-11pm, and Sunday from noon-8pm. It's closed on Monday.

14. Surge Adventure Park: This adventure park is located inside @shopregencyrva . It opened in October 2020, so everything is brand new. @surgeadventurepark 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: @surgefun is open for field trips, slumber parties & private events.

Hours: Monday-Thursday from 11am-8pm, Friday from 11am-11pm, Saturday from 9am-11pm, and Sunday from noon-8pm.

15. 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.

KidZone is for kids 2-12 years old & your pass is good for the entire day. Socks are required for the KidZone. We wore our special socks from the trampoline park.

Hours: They are open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 - 10:00 and Sunday from noon - 10:00. After Labor Day, they close at 9 daily.

16. 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.

On the first Friday of each month, you can get *free* access to the museum from 5pm-8pm.

Hours: Daily from 10am-5pm

17. 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.

Hours: It’s open Monday-Thursday from 11am-12am, Friday from 11am-2am, Saturday 10am-2am and Sunday 10am-12am.

*If you want to save money on admission cost, check out 7 Tips for Saving Money on Museum Admissions.

Paid Admission & Reservations Required: These Richmond area bowling alleys, art studios and classes require advanced planning. They are only open during certain times, host classes on certain days or you need to make your reservations for the class in advance.

1. 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! Classes start at $20, and you need to preregister on Happy Palette's website.

Happy Palette is less than 10 minutes from Tuckahoe Creek Park, Henrico's Gayton Elementary School's playground & Short Pump Park.

2. Maymont's Toddler Time: We love Maymont's children's program! These classes are geared towards 18 months-4 years olds and an adult must accompany child. Toddler Time classes meet in the recently renovated Children's Farm - there are two classrooms, a breeze way, and a large family bathroom. The Toddler Time classes are hour long classes that meet almost weekly. It costs $15 per toddler/adult pair, and $13 per member toddler/adult pair.

In our classes, we have worked on crafts, listened to stories, had free play time, and met animals. If you have multiples, don't worry - bring them both. I started bringing my son when he was almost two, and his one month old sister came with us. She was slowly able to participate, even before 18 months.

3. Movie Theaters: While we usually want a location that gets all the wiggles out, sometimes a movie at the theater is a special treat! There are a bunch around the Richmond metro area to try too.

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.

4. 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.

5. Skate-a-Way: Located in Midlothian, this roller skating rink offers open skate times, roller skating lessons and classes! We tried Tiny Tots Skating, and my littles *LOVED* it. During class, you get to free skate, have a skating lesson, dance to kid-friendly songs & classics, run around the rink & you get a ice pop! Class costs $7 per child, and it’s a really fun hour & 15 minute activity with toddlers & preschoolers. Older children can join in too - we had all ages in our class.

Hours: Tiny Tots is every Thursday from 10-11:15. Open skating is on Tuesdays from 6:30-8:30, Friday 7:30-10:30, Saturday from 1-4, and Sundays from 2-4:30. Family Night is every Saturday from 7:30-10:30pm.

6. Sporting Events: We love taking our kiddos to sporting events! I love sporting events as a way to get children interested in athletics, to connect as a family & to support the local college communities. The non-ticketed games also make viewing sports accessible to everyone! We love free fun

Both VCU and University of Richmond have a "kids club" for children in 8th grade and younger. Membership is under $15, and it comes with lots of freebies, including discounted or free tickets. Randolph Macon College is less than 40 minutes away, so catching a Yellow Jackets game and visiting Ashland is another fun option. Also, most women's basketball games are free to attend.

Big Ask: if you sign up for kids club, please let the college know you found out about it from me :)

7. 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.

We started taking my son to art classes when he was 4 months old. This was one of the first “mommy and me class” we did together, and I definitely recommend it to new moms & moms of multiples. It's a great place to meet other parents, and it's easy to help your children participate. I also managed this class easily with a toddler and a newborn by bringing a baby carrier.

RVA's Free Indoor Places and Activities: These RVA museums, malls and *mom hacks* are almost always open, and they are free to visit. These locations are the most fun for children 6 and younger.

1. Airports: My kids love things that go, and two of our local airports have inside viewing areas that's I've relied on since my son was 2 years old.

Chesterfield County Airport: 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!

REA provides aeronautical services, aircraft storage & rentals as well as flight instruction. If your children aren’t ready to participate in their flight school, they can still meet pilots & see airplanes up close. On our *free* tour, we were able to walk across the runway, visit the airplane hangar, watch mechanics work on small aircraft & meet pilots. The highlight of our visit was sitting in a 2007 Diamond D 40 aircraft & chatting with Maggie & Nick, our pilots & tour guides.

Richmond International Airport: My kids love watching planes, so if the weather isn't nice, we watch from inside the airport. We parked in the hourly section and walked in. On the ground level, you can watch the baggage claims. You can also watch the planes from Applebee’s.

2. Bass Pro Shop: Located in Ashland, Bass Pro Shop is a fishing, hunting & outdoor store. We love to visit it because the entire store is themed for the outdoors: there a giant tree, a massive aquarium, a stream, pretend animals & an old fashion store. They have fish feedings at noon on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Hours: Monday-Saturday from 9am-9pm, Sunday from 10am-7pm

3. Cabelas: Located in Short Pump by Wegman's, Cabelas is a fishing, hunting & outdoor store - owned by Bass Pro. We love to visit it because the entire store is themed for the outdoors: a massive aquarium, pretend animals, boats, and ATVs. They have fish feedings at noon on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Hours: Monday-Saturday from 9am-9pm, Sunday from 10am-7pm

4. The Great Big Greenhouse: This locally owned nursery is in Huguenot Village Shopping Center. We love The Great Big Greenhouse because they are so family-family & host many events throughout the year. They have Santa & model trains in December & January, festive seasonal displays throughout the year, petting zoos + bounce houses & a farmer’s market. During colder months or bad weather days, the farmer's market even moves inside the greenhouse!

Heads up: This greenhouse does not have a changing station in the bathroom. I typically use my stroller & to-go changing station.

Hours: Monday-Saturday from 9am-7pm, Sunday from 9am-6pm

5. Krispy Kreme Doughnuts: This is one of our favorite treat spots on rainy days & special occasions. I like it because we can watch doughnuts being made - easy entertainment for kids! I also love the mini doughnut options - these are perfect for little hands! There are two Krispy Kreme locations in Richmond: one on Broad Street & one in Midlothian on Tim Price Way.

Don't forget: Students can get one free original glazed donut for each A on his/her report card!

Hours: open 24 hours a day

6. Home Depot: This home improvement store has ride on mowers and fork lifts are the store. My kids love to search the aisle for the favorite big machines. Home Depot also hots a *free* kids workshop on the first Saturday.

Each workshop has a themed project - we recently made a Picket Fence Planter. A Fish Tank + Constellation Viewer are the next projects! All materials, directions + tools are provided by Home Depot, and staff members help families with their project. I love that these are drop-in style workshops - you don’t need a reservation, you can just show up!

Hours: Monday-Saturday from 6am-9pm, Sundays 8am-8pm

7. Libraries: 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 love the story time classes & family programs at Henrico County Public 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.

*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.

8. Main Street Train Station: This historic train station is a must visit for little ones & big kids. While it opened in 1901, Main Street Station got a major expansion in 2017 & now Virginia's official Welcome Center is on the first floor! It’s free to visit 7 days a week & this is one of our favorite indoor adventures in the city.   

Hours: It’s open 7 days a week from 6:30 to 8pm on weekdays & 8am-8:30 pm on weekends. Passenger trains arrive at 6:35AM, 10:05AM, 6 pm & 6:57pm on weekdays + 9:34, 9:42, 6pm & 7:40Pm on weekends.

9. Short Pump Mall: This local open-air mall has multiple spaces to play & explore with kids. The best place to play inside at the mall is Pal’s Clubhouse. This indoor play spot is designed for children 42” and smaller. It has a pretend village, two climbing features & soft flooring. Short Pump Pals Clubhouse is closed during Santa's visit (November-December) and The Easter Bunny's visit (April).

You can walk under cover the entire walk to Chick-fil-A on the first floor. We also enjoy eating at Bakers Crust and Rock Bottom - they are very causal & are easy with kids.

Hours: Monday-Friday from 11am-8pm, Saturday from 10am-8pm, Sunday from 11am-6pm

10. Staples Mill Station: Located in Henrico County, this station is the busiest Amtrak station in the Southeast! Our favorite thing about this station is the visibility of the trains from outside! You can watch next to the fence or in your car on rainy days.  

Hours: It’s open from 5:30AM to 10:30 PM.  

11. Regency Square Mall: This indoor mall in Henrico County is an easy space to walk around with infants, new walkers & children. It’s currently undergoing a massive renovation, but it's still a family friendly spot to escape the weather. Regency has a Virginia #LOVEworks sign, a fish pet store, and lots of room to get wiggles out. Since becoming a mama, this has been one of my go to spots when we need to get out of the house but can’t explore outside.  

You will find Surge Adventure Park and Play RVA, ride on trains and play area, inside, too.

Hours: Monday-Saturday from 11am-7pm, Sunday from noon-6pm

12. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts: Opening in 1936, this art museum is free for the public to visit. Only special exhibits and classes require an admission cost. We enjoy exploring the exhibits near the children's art classrooms - these are interactive.

The Best Cafe is open 10-4:30 daily & until 8:30 on Wednesday-Friday. This is an easy spot to grab food with children & the pizza slices are big enough for littles to share.

Hours: Every day from 10am-5pm, extended hours on Thursday and Friday night until 9pm

Ready for a day trip? Here are some indoor adventures that are 2 hours or less from Richmond. These museums and adventure parks have an admission cost, but some allow for membership swaps (if you are a member of The Children's Museum of Richmond or The Science Museum of Virginia).

1. Bounce, Play N' 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 N' 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!

Location: Charlottesville

Hours: It’s open from 9:30-6 Monday to Saturday and from 11-6 on Sunday

2. Children's Museum of Virginia: The Children’s Museum of Virginia is 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.

Location: It’s an hour & 45 m. from #rva & at the same exit as The Outer Banks.

Hours: It’s open Wednesday-Sunday from 9-4. You could easily spend 3-4 hours here.

3. Great Wolf Lodge's water park: The water park at @greatwolflodge is so much fun!! It’s perfect for all ages, and I especially like how much there is for little kids. The zero entry *Cub Paw Pool* has a max depth of 1.6 feet! The three little kid-friendly water slides & water sensory station were such a hit with my 2.5 yo & 4 yo. And the absolute favorite for us was the wave pool!!

You can purchase day passes for the water park! Make a *family fun day* & visit during the week. The weekday passes are much cheaper than weekend ones ($30ish vs 100ish).

Location: Williamsburg

Hours: Everyday from 9am-8pm

4. Nauticus: 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. Science Museum of Virginia members get *free* admission to Nauticus and Battleship Wisconsin!

Location: Norfolk

Hours: It's open Tuesday through Saturday from 10-5, and on Sundays from 12-5. Nauticus is closed on Mondays.

5. SeaQuest Lynchburg: SeaQuest is a 20,000 square feet petting zoo aquarium that 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 crew loves visiting this aquarium. Some of our favorites are using the vending machines to get animal food + feeding sting rays & giant tortoise. We usually spend an hour & half to 2 hours exploring.

Location: Lynchburg

Hours: It is open everyday: Monday-Saturday, 10-8 & Sunday, 12-6.

6. Virginia Living Museum: This museum is such a fun day trip! It features over 250+ species of animals & 450+ plants living in Virginia, including a 30,000 gallon Chesapeake Bay aquarium! Virginia Living Museum‘s inside exhibits are separated by region with multiple aquariums, hands on animal experiences & a pretend play “vet” area. The outdoor exhibits are on Deer Park Lake & you use a boardwalk to see animals like foxes, deer, bald eagles & even dinos.

Location: Newport News

Hours: It’s open daily from 9-5. 

*For even more things to do with kids in Richmond, follow our family on @thewestendmom on Instagram!

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