Many people (like us) are deciding to forgo the expense of the traditional summer vacation for staycations close to home.
The best thing about staycationing is the experience of exploring sites and activities that are close to home.
Our favorite way to enjoy whatever location we are in is to do day trips that the whole family can enjoy.
Here is a list of ten activities you can enjoy on your staycation in or near Richmond, VA.
1. Metro Richmond Zoo
This is at the top of my list because this is one place that we have not visited yet and I know my children will love it! The Metro Richmond Zoo features more than 1,500 animals such as monkeys, lions, tigers, zebras, giraffes, and camels living in spacious, naturalistic environments. You can feed and pet many of the animals here…just imagine letting a giraffe eat right out of your hand!
Adults (12-60) – $11.75;Senior (60+) – $10.75;Children (2-11) – $9.75;Under 2 – Free
The zoo is open year round Monday through Saturday from 9:30 am – 5:00 pm.
2. Pocahontas State Park
Named after Pocahontas, the famed daughter of Chief Powhatan, Pocahontas State Park is one of the most popular parks in the Virginia State Parks system. The activities here include hiking, biking, picnicking, swimming, camping and family friendly nature programs.
You can take a look at their trail guides and facilities guides on pdf to scope out exactly how you want to spend your time there before you visit. You can also visit the Explore Virginia Outdoors website for enhanced maps and video tours of the trails at Pocahontas State Park.
Fees for admission, parking, overnight camping, picnic shelter, and swimming can be found and downloaded in PDF format here.
3. Canal Walk
The Canal Walk is a walking trail along the James River in downtown Richmond. This walk features four centuries of Richmond’s history through various monuments and exhibits along the Canal Walk and Brown’s Island.
4. Maymont Park
Maymont is a huge estate in Richmond with historical homes, farm and wildlife exhibits, and beautiful gardens. There is much to see and do at Maymont. On your visit you can explore the grounds, wildlife exhibits, and gardens. You can also go on a guided tour through the Maymont Mansion. Children would love to visit the Children’s Farm Barn and during the summer months they can take a ride on the hay wagons.
Cost: Parking, walking around and exploring are free! There are fees and suggested donations for the exhibits and tours. Visit the Maymont Foundation for more information on hours and pricing.
5. Hollywood Cemetery
We visited Hollywood Cemetery in the fall and had a great time walking around and enjoying conversations with our three “big” kids. It is located on the James River and serves as the final resting place of two American presidents, six Virginia governors, two Supreme Court justices, and many confederate soldiers. The walking paths in this famous cemetery go through 135 acres of valleys, over hills, and beneath trees.Hollywood Cemetery offers beautiful walking tours that focus on the history of the cemetery and the famous people that are buried there.
6. Children’s Museum of Richmond
My children absolutely love visiting the Children’s Museum of Richmond! The mission of the children’s museum is to, “inspire the potential in every child”! The Children’s Museum of Richmond has two amazing locations, so there’s something for everyone! The central location is located in downtown Richmond and the museum’s second location at Short Pump.
The exhibits at CMOR Central include an art studio, blocks, cave, dairy barn, dino zone, little farm (great for toddlers), living tree house, playhouse, sun tubes, a town square, and water play.
The exhibits at CMOR Short Pump include an art studio, enchanted castle, Mother Goose corner, magic beanstalk climber, merry berry bush, wild safari train, pirates cove, water play, and a star stage.
Both museum locations offer children an opportunity to learn through interactive play.
Cost: Children and adults – $8; Children under 1 – free; Visit the Children’s Museum of Richmond’s site to get more information on hours and special pricing offers at both locations.
One of my favorite things to do on vacation is to enjoy some relaxed shopping. Richmond offers two great shopping malls that will allow you to mix shopping with fun for the whole family.
7. Short Pump Town Center
Short Pump is an open air mall located off I-64 in the fashionable West end of Richmond. Children will enjoy a visit to the Train Depot/Outdoor Children’s Play Area. These train tracks are surrounded by small playhouses that children can explore. Also during the summer months (June through August) Short Pump offers a free concert series every Thursday evening (weather permitting). Families can enjoy live music performed by local bands, food and prizes along with Short Pump’s usual great shopping. Concerts begin at 6 pm and run until 8 pm. The 2011 concert schedule can be printed here.
Cost: Free concerts; Train Depot rides – $2; Shopping is up to you!
8. Stoney Point Fashion Park
Stoney Point is another open-area mall with excellent shopping. It features a water fountain area that children are welcome to play in!
For just a short drive from the Richmond area…
9. Colonial Williamsburg
Colonial Williamsburg is the restored 18th Century capital of Britain’s largest, wealthiest, and most popular outpost in the New World. In Colonial Williamsburg you can visit hundreds of restored, reconstructed, and historically furnished buildings. Costumed interpreters in this city tell the story of men and women during this historical time. During your visit you can take a tour of the historic area, visit museums, shop, eat and experience life in the 18th century. Your admission pass gives you access to historic homes, buildings, exhibition sites, and the revolutionary city.
You could not possibly cover all of Colonial Williamsburg in just one day…there is just too much there! But it would be a wonderful place to visit for a day trip and plan to come again.
Cost: View all ticket options here
10. Bush Gardens
Bush Gardens is a theme park located in Williamsburg, VA, just a short drive from Richmond. This would be so much fun for a thrilling day of adventure and excitement! Bush Gardens offers dozens of rides and attractions, entertaining shows, and a wide variety of foods and shops. We’re especially looking forward to taking our children to visit the Sesame Street Forest of Fun.
Cost: Regular Admission rates – $63.99; Children ages 3-9 – $53.99; Children under 2 – free;
Special for military members: through 2011 military members and as many as three family members may enjoy a single day complimentary ticket click here to register.
This is just a tiny look at all the wonderful activities that are available in the Richmond area. Make the most of your staycation this year and explore the fun opportunities that are available close to home!