|Family Travel Files Ezine Family Vacations Resource
|Virginia: Richmond, Family Vacations - Living History, Waterplay, and Children's Theater.
The menu of family activities in and around Richmond is extensive. From time travel at Henricus and living history at Museum of the Confederacy to carriage rides, butterflies and baby lambs at Maymont and live theater with Carpenter Science Theatre Company, and Theatre IV. Enjoy "green hours" and awesome music in the gardens at Lewis Ginter; connect with giraffes and penguins at the zoo. It's family travel for the fun of it.
We have assembled an action list of the best spots to have fun sharing time with your children no matter your age or set of interests. Our list includes enjoying nature, reliving history, practicing hands–on science, stargazing, Segway scootin’, waterplay in a garden. - just the fun stuff without long lines or timed tickets.
Feed a giraffe, pet a goat. What kid doesn’t like going to the zoo - better yet a zoo where touching, talking and feeding the animals is part of the experience? The Metro Richmond Zoo offers families many ways to share the fun and make memories. The zoological park has naturalistic habitats for more than 600 animals - including giraffes, kangaroos and chimpanzees. Jump on the Safari Sky Ride for a 15-minute aerial tour over the zoo. Learn about our African penguins at the daily feedings. Feed and pet many barnyard animals Take a break at the Jungle Carousel or help your tykes on Kiddie Car. Bonus points: One of the coolest activities at the zoo is the chance to hand-feed a giraffe. Visit the herd of giraffe up close, and make eye contact – the rest is easy. Few zoos in the USA offer this unique experience.
Take time to play together.
At the Children's Museum of Richmond located next to the Science Museum of Virginia, it is all about learning while playing. The comfortable space houses plenty of hands-on activities for ages one to 10. Climb up to the top of the tree get a bird’s eye view; get a bottom up view of an aquarium; play in a big sandbox; pick apples; cook and serve food in the café. Meet Seymour the museum’s very own dinosaur and work like a paleontologist in two large dig pits. Slide down a Stegosaurus and ride on replicas of a baby Triceratops and Apatosaurus. The Art Studio encourages use of many types of media including painting, sculpture, drawing, printmaking, and crafts. The CMoR Playhouse invites youngsters to explore movement, costumes, and puppets for dramatic play. Bonus points:
Daily programs include storytelling and a tour of a Virginia limestone cave. The facility is open every day of the week.
Visit Maymont for a day. High bluffs, massive rock outcroppings, streams and ravines surround expansive lawns various gardens making any visit to Maymont, the 100-acre Victorian country estate of James Henry and Sallie May Dooley, an easy connection to nature and elegance. To navigate visitors may ride a 40-passenger open-air tram, engage a horse-drawn wagonette, try a horse-drawn surrey or jump aboard a hay wagon. For history buffs, the mansion is an unusually complete example of an America’s Gilded Age. For active families, the Children's Farm is the spot to feed piglets, goats, chicks, and small barnyard animals. Within the grounds discover native Virginia wildlife including bison, elk, deer, foxes, bears, bobcats and many types of birds. Bonus points: The Nature Center interprets the natural environment of the James River and includes interactive galleries to engage young visitors. A 20-foot waterfall cascades into a series of giant, linked aquariums that are home to playful river otters, turtles and fish of all shapes and sizes. Admission is free. Wait for it! Interesting family activities are offered throughout the year including Gyotaku, the Japanese art of fish printing, reptile encounters, owl talk.
Go face to face with history. The Museum and White House of the Confederacy has the world's largest Confederate Civil War artifact collection. The museum the daily life of the Confederate soldier when not in battle. Once the home of Jefferson Davis, his wife and children, the elegant antebellum house has been carefully restored to its wartime appearance. Bonus points: During the summer months living history programs presented making the life of a Confederate soldier come to life with "hands-on" access to the Civil War moments in history.
Water play and jammin’ in the garden.
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden includes 40 acres of spectacular gardens, a classical domed conservatory and an awesome Children's Garden that features a tree house, international village, and sand and water play areas – just for kids. This is the spot to share time outside and learn together. Try a “Kid Quest” created just for families. Using clever clues and mapping skills find a hidden treasure in the Garden and receive a collectible button. Join the “Green Hour” reading, listening to story books and making connections with the natural world every second Saturday of the month, April through November. On weekends enjoy “Jammin' in the Garden” listening, dancing, clapping and stomping feet to music. Bonus points:
Every summer Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden hosts Green Adventures, week-long day camp programs for children. Campers explore the garden, learn more about the plant kingdom and how they are connected to it. Also, throughout the year the Garden hosts a series of seven Nature Works! workshops which are designed to for families with children ages 4-10.
Go for the fun stay for the science. It is difficult to explain how really cool the Science Museum of Virginia really is. Go prepared to be entertained and inspired by the dozens of hand-on exhibits. Create giant bubbles or build a bridge; tour of the Science Museum’s Virginia Tech Solar House; explore the inner workings of the heart; identify things attracted to magnets. This is the place to have fun sharing cool science stuff with your kids. The museum is home to the Carpenter Science Theatre Company known for its high quality theater productions and storytelling. Bonus points: Onsite is a large-screen wide-angle, IMAX®DOME theater with an ever-changing mix of amazing films including an awesome computerized DigistarTM planetarium.
Checkout Broadway for families. Theatre IV is the second largest children's theatre in the nation is based out of the historic Empire Theatre. Naturally each season (October to May) is unique but always family-friendly. The company stays true to its slogan “Broadway for Families” creating staged professional plays geared to ages four and older. Past productions include Stuart Little, A Christmas Story, Rumpelstiltskin's Daughter, Peter Pan, The True Story of Pocahontas, Lyle, Lyle Crocodile, The Wizard of Oz, The Magic Flute, and Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Need to know: There is sometimes a learning curve for young audience members and for those times when a little one is too rambunctious there is a lounge, located just outside the theatre doors, where you and your child can take a breather but still be in on the onstage action via a closed-circuit monitor.
Check out the Valentine-Wickham House. Costumes, textiles, decorative and fine arts, and photography recreate Richmond's past. Exhibitions on changing topics and the Wickham-Valentine House, a National Historic Landmark with formal gardens, reveal the growth of Richmond from a Colonial port of the James River to the capital of Virginia and the Confederacy, and into the 20th century. The unique children's gallery includes a one-room schoolhouse.
Meet the colonists of 1619.
Stepping back in time with your kids can be very rewarding – let’s pretend always works but it is often easier for children. So a trip to Henricus Historical Park provides the perfect excuse to disconnect from the present if only for a few hours. Henricus is on the site of the second successful English colony in America and from the point of entry living history interpreters at the open-air museum engage visitors in time travel just for the fun of it. Meet with the soldiers in the Citie of Henricus; learn about life of the commoners; visit the first English hospital; see the home of Pocahontas; participate in a drill; watch hearth cooking demonstrations; listen to the outcome of the Great Charter of 1619. It doesn’t take long before the citie of Henricus with its residents - tobacco planters, tradesmen and soldiers – comes alive. See demonstrations of tactics, armor and weaponry and ask questions about life in 17th America. Bonus points:
Each September they hold a "Publik Days" event and every December they have a "Parade of Lights". During the summer months they offer weeklong history day camps for children ages 6 to 13 years of age.
Make it happen.
Richmond Family Vacation Fun - more than 400 years of history and Colonial spirit plus all of the fun stuff for a perfect family getaway. Checkout family vacation packages, special events, and deals. Richmond Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau 401 North 3rd Street Richmond, VA 23219 or www.visitrichmondva.com Family Vacation Planning Details
Children's Museum of Richmond. 2626 W Broad St. Richmond, VA 23220. (804) 649-0711 or www.c-mor.org
Maymont Visitor Center. 2201 Shields Lake Drive Richmond, Virginia 23220. (804) 358-7166 or www.maymont.org
The Museum and White House of the Confederacy. 1201 East Clay Street, Richmond, VA 23219. (804) 649-1861 or www.moc.org
Science Museum of Virginia. 2500 West Broad Street, Richmond, VA 23220-2057. Toll-free 1-800-659-1727, (804) 864-1400 or www.smv.org
Theatre IV at The Empire Theatre. 7 1/2 W Marshall St. Richmond, VA 23220. (804) 783-1688 or www.theatreivrichmond.org
Henricus Historical Park. 251 Henricus Park Road Chester, VA 23836 804) 748-1613 or www.henricus.org
Metro Richmond Zoo. 8300 Beaver Bridge Rd Moseley, Va 23120. (804) 739-5666 or www.metrorichmondzoo.com
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. 1800 Lakeside Avenue in Richmond, Va. (804) 262-9887 or www.lewisginter.org
Wickham-Valentine House 1015 East Clay Street. (804) 649-0711 or www.richmondhistorycenter.com
Content researched and created by FTF. Comments by Nancy Nelson-Duac; images provided by Richmond CVB and individual museums. Copyright 2012.