Richmonders are fortunate to have so many local attractions; but, occasionally, it can be nice to take a day trip and explore a new town. From Richmond, there are an abundance of family-friendly choices for day trips. Here, RVA on the Cheap breaks down day trips that maximize fun without breaking the bank. And even while it’s winter, it’s a great time to visit because many of these destinations are having special Restaurant Weeks.
Charlottesville: is packed with attractions for families. History buffs will not want to miss Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and James Monroe’s Highland. Additionally, Charlottesville offers several farms including Carter’s Mountain Orchard, for apple and peach picking, Chiles Peach Orchard and Spring Valley Orchard for cherry picking. Need an indoor activity? The Virginia Discovery Museum is an educational, engaging hands-on children’s museum for kids ages 1-8. Of course, Charlottesville provides a variety of trails and parks for hiking and nature enthusiasts. Ivy Creek Park, The Saunders-Monticello Trail and Pen Park along the Rivanna River are only three of the popular, scenic outdoor spaces for families. Window shop or enjoy a meal or just coffee at one of the many shops along the pedestrian mall.
Fredericksburg: is only an hour from Richmond by car, but trainiacs can make the voyage to Fredericksburg even more exciting by traveling via Amtrak! Once in Fredericksburg, the options are endless. The Washington Heritage Museums, which consists of four historical museums, is in the downtown area of Fredericksburg. While in downtown Fredericksburg, don’t miss the eclectic shopping. A favorite for the little ones is the popular Jabberwocky Childrens’ Books & Toys. For recreation, Alum Spring Park and Old Mill Park are two spacious parks with water views. Braehead Farm offers seasonal vegetable and fruit picking as well as a play and picnic area. Carriage rides around Fredericksburg with Olde Towne Carriage Tours are a memorable way to conclude the day trip.
Hampton: has a range of exciting attractions for families. If you’re looking for sand and sun, Hampton offers Buckroe and Outlook Beach. During your beach excursion, make a point to see Old Point Comfort Lighthouse, the second oldest light in the bay. When you’re done soaking in the sun, enjoy indoor attractions, including: The Virginia Air and Space Science Center and Hampton History Museum. Children are sure to enjoy Blue Bird Gap Farm, a 60 acre farm with over 150 animals. With free admission to the Blue Bird Gap Farm and no parking fees at the beaches listed above, a day trip to Hampton is quite affordable.
Lynchburg: offers a variety of family friendly attractions. The wildly popular children’s museum, Amazement Square has several engaging exhibits to keep children having fun and learning. After playing at Amazement Square, enjoy lunch next door at the Depot Grille, formerly Lynchburg’s freight train station. Outdoor activities abound in Lynchburg, including: Percival’s Island Natural Area, and Riverside Park, where children will love the transportation themed playground and sprayground (seasonally). Finally, SeaQuest, a hands-on zoo aquarium allows patrons to feed and interact with animals from five continents.
Smithfield:has unique options that make family fun easy. As Smithfield is home to the world famous, Smithfield ham, the town celebrates its culture and history with the Porcine Parade, eight life size statues of market hogs, painted by local artists. For beauty and exercise, be sure to visit Windsor Castle Park, where you can fish, hike the trails and children can enjoy the nature playscape. Central Hill Farm Alpacas Plus offers alpaca visits; advance appointment required. Finish your day with learning at the Isle of Wight County Museum and The Schoolhouse Museum.
Here in Richmond, locals can benefit from the many attractions just a short drive away to make a full day of affordable fun.
— By Lindsay Garrison
Richmond on the Cheap contributor Lindsay Garrison is a Richmond, Virginia based mom to two young children. A graduate from Chesterfield Schools and Randolph-Macon College, Lindsay is proud to call Richmond home. In the years prior to planning activities and outings with her own children, she was a French teacher. During her tenure she earned accolades for her creative teaching style and ability to connect with her students. Lindsay now applies the skills she learned when she was planning student trips to France, to her own family adventures. She can’t wait to take her own children to France one day! Follow the Garrison’s family adventures on Instagram: @thegarrisonsrva
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