Richmond, VA with Kids: 50 Fun Things to Do in Richmond
Richmond’s place in U.S. history is distinct, and many of the best things to do in Richmond, VA, include a stroll past monuments or an icon central to America's origins. One of the oldest cities in the nation, Richmond was the capital city of the Colony of Virginia. It was the site of Patrick Henry’s “Give me liberty, or give me death” speech in 1775, and during the American Civil War, Richmond was the capital of the Confederacy.
Today, Richmond is known as the River City, and more colloquially as RVA, and there are plenty of modern attractions and things to do for kids and families. While the deep history is evident in monuments, battlefield sites, and the architecture, Richmond is also home to an expansive parks system, 550 aces of river shoreline, and a growing small business economy, including delicious Richmond restaurants, breweries, fun festivals, children's museums and science centers, as well as a nearby theme park, Kings Dominion.
Best Things to Do in Richmond, VA
1. Inquisitive kids can satiate their curiosity at the Science Museum of Virginia.
2. Cruise Fountain Lake in Byrd Park in pedal boats, a popular summertime activity.
3. Explore the Black History Museum and Cultural Center for both famous and forgotten stories of African-Americans' lives in Virginia.
4. Visit Richmond's landmarks while taking a ride on a historical Richmond trolley.
5. Meet the lions, tigers, and bears at the Metro Richmond Zoo.
The George Washington Equestrian Monument is just one monument in Richmond's Capitol Square. Photo by author
6. Stroll through Richmond's Capitol Square, a 12-acre park designed by Thomas Jefferson, and home to the oldest purpose-built U.S. executive mansion still serving as a governor's residence. One of the many monuments and memorials is the George Washington Monument.
7. Catch a flick at the IMAX Dome in the Science Museum of Virginia, the largest film screen in Virginia.
8. Or see a great children’s production by The Children’s Theatre of Virginia.
9. Spot Bald Eagles in their natural habitat with a tour along the James River.
10. Discover what it was like in colonial times by visiting Colonial Williamsburg, just an hour’s drive from Richmond.
Learn from the blacksmith at Henricus Historical Park.
11. Or learn about the area's early settlers at Henricus Historical Park.
12. See what history the archeologists are digging up in Jamestown.
13. Visit the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts for one of its family programs (or any time; general admission is always FREE).
14. Study the man who inspired many horror films, love poems and murder mysteries at the Edgar Allan Poe Museum.
15. Watch cars burn around the track at furious speeds at the Richmond Raceway.
16. See a movie for under $5 and nosh on the best popcorn in town at the Byrd Theatre. Go on a weekend night to see the Mighty Wurlitzer organ rise up from the pit when it plays at the start of the show.
17. Learn about the war from the Union, Confederate, and African-American perspective at the Tredegar Civil War Center.
18. The Virginia Historical Society (free admission!) offers interactive displays and activities that teach kids about the history of the state.
19. Consider a visit to the Virginia Holocaust Museum with older children.
20. Watch history unfold with a reenactment of the 2nd VA Convention at St John's Church.
Fun Kids' Activities and Play Spaces Around Richmond
Enjoying a game of shuffleboard at Tang and Biscuit. Photo by author
21. Enjoy a game of shuffleboard, a round of giant UNO, ping pong, and more at Tang and Biscuit.
22. Join the locals to cheer on the Flying Squirrels baseball team.
23. Kids can explore an enchanted forest, play in the water, participate in an inventors lab, and more at one of the four locations of the Children’s Museum of Richmond.
24. Have a wild adventure at Kings Dominion, a popular Virginia theme park only 25 minutes outside the city.
25. Kids can hit the arcade games while adults sip craft beers at the Circuit during family-friendly bar hours.
26. Enjoy a fun family bowling match at Rivercity Roll.
27. Get thrills on the tracks at G-Force Karts (if your kids are at least 10 years old).
We never miss the pastries at Sub Rosa's! Photo by author
28. Don’t miss the amazing chocolate and candy store, For the Love of Chocolate.
29. Enjoy big plates of pasta at Joe’s Inn, a family neighborhood place in the Fan.
30. Dig into the BBQ at Buz and Ned's. Eat indoors or on the outdoor covered patio.
31. Lick an ice cream cone from Bev’s as you stroll around the lively Carytown District.
32. Head to the Dairy Bar for grilled cheese, fries, and a shake.
33. Indulge in pastries from Sub Rosa bakery.
34. Breweries in Richmond continue to multiply. One of our favorite family-friendly Richmond breweries is Triple-Crossing where the whole family can enjoy artisanal pizzas.
See butterflies and more nature at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden,
36. Look for the heron nests downtown at the Pipeline and Trestle Trail.
37. Hike along one of the many trails that follow the James River.
38. Cross the pedestrian footbridge to explore Belle Isle, hanging on the rocks overlooking the water.
39. Spend Saturday morning at the South of James Farmers’ Market, with its locally grown products and handmade items.
40. Hop aboard a Richmond Canal Cruise for a 40-minute narrated tour along the historic Canal Walk.
41. Get mesmerized by the sea otters and other aquarium inhabitants at the Maymont Nature and Visitor Center.
42. The adventurous might enjoy a rafting Trip on the James River.
43. Check out the Three Lakes Park & Nature Center for an underwater view of bass, sunfish and other creatures.
Family Festivals and Richmond Events
The daring Slackline competition is part of the Dominion Riverrock festival. photo courtesy of the official Dominion Riverrock
44. The Monument Avenue Easter Parade in Richmond is a rite of spring in this southern city. (March/April).
45. Guided tours of historic Richmond sites, cannon firings, children's games, song and dance performances, and canal boat rides are part of the Civil War & Emancipation Day (April)
46. For adventure seekers and spectators, check out Dominion Riverrock. It's part outdoor music festival, part sport, with slackline competitions, rock climbing, flying dogs, and more. (May)
47. Find over 3,000 watermelons at the Carytown Watermelon Festival (August).
48. Enjoy the music along the river at the Richmond Folk Festival (October).
49. More than a half-million holiday lights are the cornerstone of the annual Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s Dominion GardenFest of Lights (November/December).
An earlier version of this article first ran in 2012 by Audrey Trieschman. It was updated and revised in 2019 by Lindsay Li.
Photos courtesy of Richmond Region Tourism, unless otherwise noted