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  • Writer's pictureThe West End Mom

The Best Parks with Shade in RVA

Updated: Feb 7

Looking for a park to visit during the hot Richmond summer? Us too! I love taking my children to parks all year because parks are a budget-friendly place visit with kids -- most are free! Summers in Richmond can be hot, so I look for parks that have great shade to keep us exploring.


I've rounded up the best and worst parks in Richmond based on their shade! I'll update this guide as we visit more parks around RVA with great shade. Here's to getting outside even on the hottest days in May, June, July, August & September!


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


Here is a round up of the best parks and playgrounds with shade in Richmond, Virginia.


1. Byrd Park: This City of Richmond park has 287 acres of open space, paths, lakes, tennis courts & fields. There are three lakes with sidewalks around them and lots of geese. During the summer, Fountain Lake has pedal boat rides, and a concession⁣⁣⁣that offers snacks, lunch, restrooms and free Wi-Fi. This park is stroller friendly, and my children like the "secret garden." While the paths around the lakes are full sun, there are plenty of shady spots on the lawn.



2. The Carillon’s Tot Lot: This playground is located next to the Virginia World War Memorial Carillon. I like it because it’s fenced in (except a gate) and it’s perfect for the 6 and under crowd. The main play structure has three slides and climbing features. It has two swings, two baby swings and a swing that holds a big kid & a baby! Bigger kids would enjoy the large climbing feature, see saws and other balancing structures. While the playground has full sun most of the day, there are plenty of large trees to escape the heat outside the fenced in area.



3. Cheswick Park: Henrico’s oldest park often goes unnoticed with its almost hidden entrance. Located across from Henrico Doctors Hospital, Cheswick Park has a playground, bathrooms, picnic shelters, open spaces to run, a stream to splash in, and a mile of walking trails. The best shade is found on the walking trails, by the stream and by the picnic shelters. The playground has a little bit of tree coverage, but for the most part it is in the sun.



4. Crump Park: Crump Park has a massive playground, picnic shelters, trails, large open fields, a fishing pond, and historic Meadow Farm. Meadow Farm is an 1860 living history farm site & museum, plus it has animals, too! As a bonus, RF&P Park is located inside Crump.


The best shade is found around the playground and on the walking trails in the woods. This playground is great for all ages and the tree coverage is similar to Deep Run's! There's lots of shade around the perimeter with sunny spots in the middle - the swings, the smaller play structure and parts of the little kid play area have the best shade. Meadow Farm is located inside of Crump Park, and it has direct sun other than a few trees that provide shade.


Heads up: The largest play structure, the tractor and the corn stepping stones are in full sun. This equipment gets very hot on sunny days.



5. Deep Run Park: This 165 acre park is at the corner of Gaskins Road and Ridgefield Parkway. Deep Run has a pond, 3.4 miles of trails, three separate playgrounds, picnic shelters, bathrooms, a basketball court, soccer fields, and multiple open spaces.


This park has a lot of shade! The two main playgrounds (by the first parking lot & by the soccer fields) have a lot of tree coverage. All of the trails, except the ones around the soccer fields & around the lake, are in full shade. The trail around the lake has partial shade. The soccer field and the toddler playground across from the rec center are in full sun. Check out my reviews on the first playground, the largest playground, and the trails.


Heads up: The best shade is found around the two larger playgrounds and on the walking trails in the woods. Equipment that does not have tree coverage will get very hot!



6. Dorey Park: At 400 acres, Dorey Park is the largest park in Henrico. With 7 athletic fields, 8 baseball fields, tennis courts, a recreation center, a dog park, two playgrounds, a lake, and a frisbee golf course, there’s plenty of places to explore! The little kid playground has great shade, while the big kid play area has full sun. The entire playground space is surrounded by trees too.


It’s also has a connector trail to the Virginia Capital Trail. Located in the East End, Dorey Park is less than 5 minutes from Richmond International Airport.


Heads up: The large play area is in full sun! The equipment gets hot on summer days. The smaller playground has better tree coverage.


*Check here for my full review, and more pictures are in my "East End Parks" highlight.


7. Dunncroft Castle Point Park: This hidden gem is at the entrance of Hungry Creek Middle School. Dunncroft Castle Point Park is located off Francistown Road & it has so much to offer: trails, a frisbee golf course, a soccer field, splash pad and playground. It also has a picnic shelter and bathrooms. While the soccer field, splash park and playground have full sun, the walking trails have shade. We like to visit this playground in the evenings during the summer.


Heads up: The playground has full sun. The best shade is found on the walking trails (all toddler friendly).



8. Echo Lake Park: Located off Nuckols and Springfield, Echo Lake Park has a lake, nature trails, two playgrounds, a picnic shelter, and bathrooms. There's also lots of open space for children to play. The playgrounds are completely in the shade, and the nature trails are mostly in the shade. The decks overlooking the lake are in full sun.


This is one of the best parks to visit in the summer because the playground has almost complete shade.



9. Hunton Community Center & Park: This Henrico County park is located in Glen Allen right next to the railroad tracks! It has a community center, baseball/soft ball fields, a picnic shelter and two playgrounds.


While the playground with the swings has full sun all day, the other playground has partial shade and sometimes full shade throughout the day. It's also next to the picnic shelter, which provides full shade all day. We like this park because the parking lot is right next to the playgrounds, making it a really easy walk with children, and it is next to the railroad tracks. If you check out Amtrak's "Track my Train," you can time your park play around the train schedule!



10. Larus Park: This is an 100 acre park in the city of Richmond by the Chesterfield County line. The trails are perfect for family hikes and all of them are in the shade. Hikers will see couple of streams, lots of wildlife, a tunnel, and a massive rock. This park only has an exercise trail - it doesn’t have a playground, parking lot or bathrooms either! Almost every portion of the trail is in the shade and there is a shallow stream to splash in. If you've got two little ones, definitely bring another adult with you or save this one for when your kids are a little older.



11. Midlothian Mines Park: Located in Chesterfield, this 44 acre park offers paved walking trails, a tunnel, wildlife, a lake and bridges. What makes this park so unique is that it is where the first commercially mined coal came from in 1701. Throughout the park, there are signs explaining the cut stone ruins, coal mining and industrial revolution.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣ This park is great for riding bikes & scooters and walking with strollers, but it does not have a playground. The best shade is on the paved trail that is on the opposite side of the lake (it's a full loop - perfect for strollers, scooters and bikes).



12. Pocahontas State Park: Located inside Pocahontas State Park, Beaver Lake Trail goes 2.5 miles around Beaver Lake. While it’s rated a moderate hike, we make it kid-friendly & stroller friendly by starting at the CCC Museum, walking down the gravel incline, going around the dam & connecting to the paved trail that goes back up to the CCC Museum. The best part? It will only take ~5 minutes with kids to reach the water fall! Make it even easier by going back up the hill instead of trying our loop (~an hour).



13. Point of Rocks Park: Located in Chesterfield, this park is 176 acres with a lot of history. The grounds of the park were used during the Bermuda Hundred Campaign, and there are remnants of these battles & historical markers around the park. Point of Rocks 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 and swings. The lower area has a play space, 2.7 miles of trails (paved & hard pack), and a floating boardwalk over tidal marsh!  


Heads up: The best shade is on the trails and at the lower playground. The upper playground does have large trees around it and a picnic shelter, providing some relief from the sun.



14. Robious Landing Park: This is a 102 acre park in Midlothian, just 20 minutes from the West End. Located on the James River, the 3.4 miles of trails provide views of the river, wildlife and forest. Since it’s on the river, there’s easy access to the river for boating & fishing. It also has a playground, picnic shelters & a sand volleyball court. The trails are almost completely in the shade.


Heads up: The playground has very little tree coverage.




15. Springfield Park: This neighborhood park is located next to Springfield Park Elementary School. There is a picnic shelter, bathrooms, swings, and a playground. There is also a paved trail that loops around the park and the elementary school. The playground has almost complete shade, even in the afternoons! This playground is great for younger kids with its ramps & smaller slides. The trail only has shade near the playground, and then it is in full sun.


This is one of the best parks to visit on hot days because the playground has complete tree coverage, and the small, paved loop has partial shade.


16. Westham Park: Nestled in the middle of Westham and close to University of Richmond , this park is surrounded by trees and has a stream running through it. Make sure you bring bug spray if you plan on checking out the creek. There’s a playset for younger children, a climbing structure for older children, swings and plenty of space to run. It reminds me of Westwood Park!



17. University of Richmond's campus: The University of Richmond's campus is beautifully manicured and has so many shaded places to explore. We usually park at the lake or near Pitt Field (the baseball field). Most of buildings are also open to the public, so you can grab snacks or drinks while your visiting.


Gamble Mills Eco-Corridor: This paved trail goes from behind Tyler Haynes Student Center to River Road/ Huguenot Road. It's about .6 miles with partial shade in some areas. If you visit before 11, the majority of the trail has full tree coverage! We usually scoot or bike to the end & back, and it takes us around 25 minutes.


The lake: Lakeview Walk is a paved trail around Westhampton Lake & it’s open to the public. This trail has partial shade, with full shade on one side. Our favorite parts of the trail are the bridges over the lake & the gazebo on its own “island.”There is a trail around the lake that is partially paved & partially gravel. It’s perfect for children to walk or to push a stroller.


Tyler Haynes Commons is located on Lakeview Walk - it is climate controlled, has bathrooms & food options!



18. Westwood Park: This Henrico Park is nestled in a neighborhood close to Willow Lawn and St. Mary's Hospital. It's located at the corner of Morningside Drive & Keystone Drive (5906 Keystone Rd). There is a toddler-friendly playground, swings, and open space to play. There's also a soccer goal. There isn't a bathroom, but it's very close to lots of places with bathrooms (Willow Lawn and the Regency area). The playground and swings are almost completely in the shade!



19. Grayland Tot Lot: Located in Carytown, this park has a *COMPLETELY RENOVATED* playground! The play space now has a turf surface with push toys including a cozy coop. It even has a playground for babies - think crawler to ~2 years old. There are plenty of thrills for preschoolers & big kids too! The 2 story play structure is designed for 5-12 years old & there’s one created for 2-5 year olds. The space net is close to the ground & provides low course challenges. And, the playground has *COMPLETE* shade and a *FENCE*!


Why I like it for babies and new walkers: This playground has complete shade, so you can visit anytime during the day or the year to play. I also love the turf surface - it's easy for babies to crawl and for new walkers to explore. It also has a playground just for babies. It's one of the few playgrounds that has something for a wide range of ages too.



The following schools and churches have shaded playgrounds, and we love visiting them when Sunday School, preschool, school are not in session.


1. All Saints Church Playground: This playground is designed for walkers through 5 year olds with two sand pits, a nature kitchen, a playhouse, swings and more. It also has some more thrilling areas for older kids. It’s been a lifesaver with two little ones 22 months apart because of the shade, the fence & the sand. All Saint's playground is almost completely shaded throughout the entire day!



2. Derbyshire Baptist Church: It’s off Derbyshire Road, between Gaskins and Paraham. Since Derbyshire has a preschool, this play area is designed for walkers through 5 year olds. It’s completely fenced in, and it’s really nice for play dates (you’ll be the only ones there)!


The playground has been recently refurbished with a brand new play set and bus vehicle. There are two basketball hoops in the parking lot that can be raised or lowered (my 5 year old loves them). Across the parking lot is another play space - it has a mini soccer field, large climbing structure and swings.



3. Mary Munford Elementary School: This is one of our favorite playgrounds because there are so many play spaces. Mary Munford has two playgrounds, a climbing playset & lots of swings. There’s a giant picnic shelter, tennis courts, basketball courts, a large athletic field + exercise equipment.


Heads up: While most of the play structures have full sun, there is a huge tree for shade near one of the climbing structures plus there is a large picnic shelter with fans.  



4. St. Matthew's: Located off Forest, this amazing playground has complete shade! It is a great spot for the 7 and under crowd, too. It has two sand play areas, a steep slide, a playground, two playhouses, a climbing structure and a bunch of regular swings. It is also completely fenced in! St. Matthew's playground is only closed to the public during preschool & church hours.



5. Third Church: The ark playground is one of our favorites! It has a giant, wooden ship & wooden train plus a playground. It is completely fenced in, and it has a special area for toddlers. Third Church is walking distance from the Ridge Shopping Center - perfect for snacks after playing!   


*Heads up: This church and playground are undergoing refurbishment. The playground is currently closed.



6. Tuckahoe Presbyterian Church : This church is on the corner of West Franklin & Stafford Place & the playground is completely fenced in! The playground has shade in the afternoon, so save this one for after naps. It’s small, but perfect for the 6 & under crowd. It’s great for play dates or if you want to have a playground for just your group. Church playgrounds like this made life easier for me when I had 2 under 2! It’s also less than 3 minutes from Ukrop's & Christian's Pizza.


Heads up: The shade is only in the afternoon, once the sun goes behind the buildings.



7. Westover Hills Tot Lot : Located in Forest Hill, Westover Hills Methodist Church opens its playground to the community every day after 1. This tot lot is completely fenced in, making it very easy to parent solo with multiple kids. It's designed for children 2-10, but even babies would love the sand pit! The large playground, climbing tunnel, and spider web will keep big kids moving, even on hot days. It also has two big kid swings.


*The tot lot shares a parking lot with Tablespoon Bakery. Grab some treats after you play!


Heads up: The shade is only in the afternoon, once the sun goes behind the buildings.

Looking for a unique, day trip with shade?


Check out Snead's Asparagus Farm. We spent 3 hours exploring this whimsical, woodland play area, only leaving for food! This sustainable family farm is located in Caroline County, just over an hour from Short Pump . Snead's Farm has pick your own sunflowers in late summer, pumpkins in the fall & cut your own Christmas trees in December. It also has so many areas to play in the shade: the mountain slides, the sand pit, the forest and the creek. The farm currently open daily from 9-5, and their operating hours change throughout the seasons.



The following parks & playgrounds have very little shade. Playground equipment can get very hot in the middle of the day, too! If you want to visit them on hot days, try early in the morning (breakfast playdate), in the evenings (dinner playdate), or on rainy days.


1. Glover Park: Henrico’s newest park is located in Glen Allen, just minutes from Lavender Fields Herb Far, . The 200 acre park has turf fields, volleyball courts, restrooms, lots of parking, and a paved path around the park. It’s perfect for running around, playing in the sand or watching games. A running trail, a playground and more fields will be added soon! This entire park has full sun throughout the day.⁣⁣⁣⁣



2. Meadow Farms: The historic farm at Crump Park has very little shade. You can check out the turkeys and chickens under the shade of some trees, and there are some shady spots when you first walk onto the farm.



3. RF&P Park: This athletic park is located next to Crump Park. There are trails, tennis courts, a football field, and baseball fields, including The Glen Allen Stadium. There’s lots of parking, side walks + places to run around. Most importantly, there are four restored RF&P train cars, perfect for train lovers!⁣⁣⁣ This entire park has full sun during all parts of the day.




4. Park 365: Formerly known as ArcPark, Park 365 is an outdoor play area that is open to all ages & all abilities. It’s open every day of the year from dawn to dusk. While this is one of the best playgrounds in the Richmond area, it has full sun throughout all parts of the day. There are two large picnic shelters and a water play area that provide some relief.




5. Play 60 Obstacle: Located at Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center, this obstacle course has Ninja steps, floating boards, a traverse wall, a turf floor and more. Families can enjoy the park and obstacle course daily from 8:30-5:30 even though training camp was cancelled this year. This green space is next to The Science Museum of Virginia and The Children's Museum of Richmond , and it’s close to the interstate.  While it’s the perfect park for sports fans, it has full sun throughout the day.




6. Poucney Track Park: Nestled between Short Pump Middle School & Striker Park in Glen Allen, this park has so much to explore. There are paved paths, nature trails, pickle-ball courts, open space to play, athletic fields, and the historic Springfield Schoolhouse. Also, the playground is brand new! The playground and pickleball courts have full sun, but there is a small picnic shelter by the playground that offers a little relief from the heat.




7. Short Pump Park: Located in the heart of Short Pump, this Henrico park is bigger than it seems! It includes multiple playgrounds, a dog park, walking trails, a football field, a baseball field, concessions, and a restored 1902 Schoolhouse. The paved walking trail is .25 mile, going from the park to John Rolfe Parkway. While this entire park has full sun at all times of the day, it has a large picnic shelter in the middle of the park and there's a hidden playground behind the baseball field that has partial shade.




8. Three Lakes Park & Nature Center: This massive park is in Henrico’s East End. It has two playgrounds, lots of open space, trails, and three beautiful lakes. There is also a 6,500 square foot Nature Center with 50,000 gallon fish tank, exhibits and a beautiful deck overlooking one of the lakes. The Nature Center is open from dawn to dusk on Saturdays & Sunday - it's a great spot to escape the heat.




9. Twin Hickory Park: Located next to Twin Hickory Public Library in Glen Allen, this park has a lot to offer! It has walking trails, open play areas, 4 sand volleyball courts, a splash pad, a picnic shelter with restrooms, and two different play areas. It opened in July of 2014, so it is also relatively new. This playground and splash park have full sun throughout the entire day, but there is a large sunshade with picnic tables in between the two play areas.




10. Westhampton Green: Also known as Libbie Playground, this park located between Granite Ave & Libbie Ave. While it’s nestled in a neighborhood, it has its own parking lot & street parking. We love this park because it’s fenced in. It was one of the places I could handle alone with a newborn & 2 year old! It is also in a great location. This park is best on cooler days because the entire play space has full sun except in the late afternoons. You can walk in one direction to Westhampton and in the other direction to Super Stars Pizza.



Looking for more Richmond playgrounds to visit? Check out my guide to The Best Fenced Playgrounds around Richmond.


For details on these Virginia places and more things to do with kids around Richmond, follow our family on @thewestendmom on Instagram!


Tags: Things to do with kids in RVA, free things to do in Richmond, family friendly activities in central Virginia, free activities for children in Virginia, parks with shade, the best playgrounds in Richmond

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