Richmond, VA is about 3 hours from our home, so we decided to make an adventure out of it and explore what we could over the weekend. Even with limited time to explore around, we had a great time, found some great restaurants, unique museums, neat parks and overcame our fear of animals.
I recently volunteered for the amazing organization Wings for Autism at the Richmond International Airport. This is a program that allows children with special needs to have a first-hand experience at getting to an airport, going through security, and boarding an airplane.
Richmond International Airport was so supportive of children with special needs, the facility was clean and efficient, and the staff was loving and caring.
All in all, we had a fun and very adventurous weekend in Richmond and only wish we could have done more. Here are some of the highlights of our trip, including my recommendations and even some things were wanted to do but couldn’t jam into our weekend.
Places to Eat in Richmond Virginia
1. Boulevard Burger & Brew
If the sign alone can’t draw you in perhaps they can lure you with a boozy shake. Boulevard Burger & Brew is delicious burger joint with a retro diner feel serving amazing burgers, craft beers, and boozy shakes.
With all the American History in Richmond Virginia, it is only right to add in the American classic meal of a burger with fries and a shake. It’s a great excuse in my book. We always aim to go to restaurants that are kid friendly with good food.
This doesn’t happen often, but Boulevard Burger & Brew did not disappoint. This place had a great mix of people and families. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.
The kids chicken tenders, mini corn dogs, and fries were served up in a kid-size fryer basket, plus the meal included ice cream. You can switch out the fires for apple slices too if you’d like. Even our exhausted and cranky kids enjoy their meals.
I got the sliders served with cheese and onion plus a special sauce all on Hawaiian rolls and they were delish. My husband got the Diablo burger served with the perfect amount of heat and an egg on top.
You also have the option of switching out classic fries for sweet potato, onion rings or fried green beans. Boulevard Burger & Brew also has vegan and gluten-free bread options, as well as vegetarian options.
There is large viewing windows, plenty of seating options, including outside sitting. I have to also mention they have a superb selection of beers on tap.
There is definitely something here for everyone, so it’s a must-go during a weekend trip!
2. Lunch and Supper
Lunch and Supper, a modern eatery utilizing and featuring local farms and produce. When we arrived the was a 45-minute wait. Normally this can be an issue because wait times are hard for kids, but a little harder with autism on board. However, the outdoor beer garden saved the day. Private bar, corn hole, Jenga table, and bathtub gardens of fresh herbs easily allowed us to pass time quickly.
Mimosa in hand I challenged both kids to a game of corn hole. Corn hole is a great game to promote gross motor skills, turn taking, frustration tolerance, and promoting encouraging phrases to each other in the use of play.
Both of kids also enjoyed making Jenga castles and knocking them down. Good old fashion entertainment sometimes is the best.
Inside the restaurant was quirky and fun. The front featured a chalkboard listing all the local farm food and produce used in the menu. Including beer available from local breweries. Above our table hung and antler chandelier with different ornaments adoring it.
The brunch menu featured build your own sandwiches, southern chicken and waffles, and breakfast bowls. The portions are huge and the food was fresh and filling.
While waiting for our food Olivia was starting to fuss and cry, being 3 is hard sometimes. The bartender walked over and handed her a pen and set of order slips and asked her to take everyone’s order at the table, she was loving life then.
Little gestures like this mean the most to families when traveling with small kids. It is always amazing to me what a little compassion and understanding can do in situations. It also stands out to us when you go to a restaurant that understands kids and helps create an enjoyable and judgment-free experience.
3. Sugar Shack Donuts
We stopped Sugar Shack Donuts to pick up donuts to eat for a late night snack. Hey, it’s an adventure right and Liv’s s always asking for donuts. You will notice most of our trips include a unique donut place because that’s Liv’s thing. Pretty sure if we allowed her she would live off donuts.
Sugar Shack sells gourmet donuts. Hand rolled and freshly pressed each day with a small coffee bar. The staff were attentive to our children being in the shop and quickly adjusted the music to family-friendly music without us asking.
It took our kids several minutes to choose which donuts they wanted as their hands immediately went up on the glass bakery case. Not the best place if you are indecisive, but after several minutes of going through every donut in the case, everyone finally made a decision.
They had several options available from the classics to gourmet inspired and created. Liv’s favorite is always an iced sprinkle donut, I got the Samosa, and bacon maple and they were fluffy and delicious. My husband didn’t eat his donut till the next morning and it was still delicious.
Be sure to check out their facebook for their daily discounts and specials. Sugar Shack is a neat little shop yummy treats, decent coffee, and a cool chalk art wall in the bathroom we couldn’t resist scribbling our names on. Limited seating but that didn’t bother us.
4. Proper Pie Co.
A small shop with pies that pack a punch and are amazing. You do not want to miss this place.
They are kid and family friendly. The shop is smaller with a few seats, but don’t let that fool you. They are a hit and usually have a line but so worth the wait.
The staff are friendly, patient, and explain everything to you with ease. Daily specials are available and you can choose from pie slices or whole pies. I got a savory pie the crust was flaky, buttery, and so yummy. Filled with chicken and leeks, the ratio was perfect and I even went back for another.
Hands down the best meat pie around. They also have vegan options, coffee, and cappuccino.
Parks in Richmond, Virginia
5. The ARC Park
This is the best playground I have yet to see since my husband took the kids while I was at Wings for Autism. I have only been spending my days at the playground for the past three years but I would come to Richmond, solely for this park.
The ARC Park is made for kids of all ages and all abilities, keeping special needs kids in mind. While the park has three playgrounds altogether a toddler area, school-aged area, and all age area. My son especially loved the treehouse that is also handicap accessible.
This playground included a sensory wall, multitude of swings, tunnels, musical areas, tire swing, areas to engage the senses, long ramps, water station, and walking areas. The park also has bathrooms with adult size changing stations, wheelchair charging area, and even a misting station for hot days.
This playground makes the simple act of playing a possibility for all. I love that. Every child deserves the opportunity to simply play, feel included, and be part of the community.
I think too often children with special needs are not thought about enough in the design of playgrounds.
Play is the earliest form of interaction and communication with peers, special needs children need this interaction to practice their social skills, work on their interactions, and to just have fun like any other child.
The whole family loved this park.
6. Maymont Farm Park
They Maymont Farm operates off donations, with a recommendation of $5 per person. There are large areas to wash your hands, a small coin-operated machine that provides animal feed and a large barn. Bring your quarters!
We wandered around at first until the first goat poked his little head out between the fences. I was concerned at first because Logan isn’t an animal fan, he prefers to look at them from a distance.
I did not expect Logan to be impressed, but Liv is an animal lover so I try to include things in our trips that both kids like. I was able to find a small climbing playground area for Logan to play in. Hopping from station to station.
Once he was finished we walked over a got some animal feed for Liv and Logan asked for some too. I just went with it. Immediately, he walked over to a goat and began feeding and petting it. I couldn’t believe it. I was hitting my husband in disbelief saying can you believe this.
Inside the barn were rabbits, donkeys, pigs, and chickens. There is a long paved path that winds down the road connecting the farm to the Maymont exhibits as well as the Maymont gardens and mansion.
Some of the things the kids were able to do along the path were watch horses gallop, pet a cow, roll down a huge hill, climb on top of several large rocks, see an eagle up close and check out a couple of owls.
Many families were packing picnics and making a day out of the farm. Maymount is beautifully well kept and I was quite impressed with the farm and exhibits. I would love for something like that to be in my local hometown, plus I was able to watch my son overcome a fear of animals and jump right in and explore was pretty special.
Museums in Richmond, Virginia
Located conveniently in the Museum District Richmond, Va has three well-known museums The Virginian Museum of Fine Arts, Virginia Science Center, and Richmond Children Museum.
7. Museum of Fine Arts
Free admission, open 365 days and $5 parking garage nearby it is hard to make an excuse not to stop in and check it out. This museum has something for everyone they have permanent exhibits and bring in temporary exhibits which are interesting.
Art is well displayed with plenty of room to enjoy it. Artwork covers anything from Native American to European Modernism. There is a cafe onsite and outside there is a garden with garden sculptures and a large modern artwork sculpture to view. There are featured and paid exhibits as well, the museum offers these free to military families.
If you’re traveling with kids, pick up a gallery hunt at the visitors center to keep the kid engaged in the museum and sites as well as a list of daily activities.
8. Science Museum of Virginia
An old train station turned into a Science Museum. Lots of interactive and hands-on exhibits for children. IMAX Films and interesting labs and demos can keep your attention for hours. It’s nice to watch the kids learn and interact with the hands-on exhibits. There is an animal room, science lab, human body experience, and art lab, and sports science related items.
Be sure the ask the front desk about times of events and interactions available for the day. Plus who doesn’t want to see a rat play basketball? Active duty and retired military, and veterans get free admission into the museum an all exhibits.
9. Children’s Museum
Located next door to the Science Center, You can’t miss the large red puzzle piece. The Richmond Children’s Museum offers a nice place for younger kids.
They can pretend to be a waitress at the local diner, a news anchor at the news station, shop for their own groceries at the grocery store, be a farmer while checking out the farming life. Kids can play in a bank, the library, treeline and water play area.
There are plenty of hands-on exhibits such as pipes with suction, and water areas. Outdoor areas include a splash pad, playground, and interactive musical area. A great place to pretend, interact, make friends, all while having fun, just don’t forget your hand sanitizer.
Richmond Historical Sites
There is a great deal of history throughout Richmond so if parks and museums aren’t your things there is still plenty to see. Richmond is home to many historical sites but here are a few to check out.
10. Virginia State Capitol
The building, designed by Thomas Jefferson, is open free to visitors Monday – Saturday.
11. The Capital Square Grounds
The grounds are open daily for all to visit. This building was the site where John Marshall, Chief Justice of The Supreme Court presided over Burr’s trial for treason. Where Robert E. Lee accepted commands of the forces during the secession convention. The State Capitol served as the Capital of the Confederate States during the war.
12. Richmond Battlefield Park
Free entrance and free parking. Explore the Tredegar Iron Work and walk the trails. The area is preserved to look as if it did during the Civil War, wildlife, meadows, and forest.
13. St. John’s Episcopal Church
This is where John Patrick Henry gave his famous speech “Give me Liberty or Give me Death” the church has free guided tours for all to enjoy.
14. Monument Ave
This street is lined with large historical monuments of Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee sitting up high on their horses. There are lots of early twentieth-century homes along the way that are well preserved and gorgeous to look at with all the southern charm.
Carytown is a bright and unique neighborhood in the heart of downtown Richmond. There are plenty of shops and boutiques to check out. Boutiques and shops include chocolatier, bike shop, butter, craft shop, antiques and fine arts, make your own pottery and a place to grab some ice cream after strolling through all the shops.
There is also plenty of restaurants and cafe serving up vegan and gluten-free options definitely worth a stroll around.
Festivals in Richmond
16. Church Hill Irish Festival
We ventured out to downtown Richmond to check out a local Irish Festival. I am a sucker for a good festival and if it includes donations to a great charity you can count me in.
Though we hadn’t done much research regarding the festival we just took our chances and went and boy, was I impressed. It was a decent sized festival with proceeds going to St. Baldrick’s Charity. Everyone was dressed up in the St. Patrick’s Day best.
Plenty of good food, plenty of vendors, and plenty of good beer. Irish foods such as scotch eggs, stews, corned beef, fish and chips. Irish drinks like Guinness and Irish Coffee were all available without any waiting. While the supply of beer seemed limitless, the crowd was respectful, and surprisingly family oriented.
There were 3 stages with Irish music and Irish dancers. The kids were mesmerized by the bagpipes and dancing Irish girls and watched in awe for several minutes.
The festival had a large kid section with moon bounces, kid games, face painting, and Irish crafts. Lots of activities that promoted parallel play which is easier for Logan at this point than one on one play. It was a great festival.
The moon bounces provided the perfect opportunity to burn energy for our road trip back. Richmond has tons of festivals so be sure to check out what is going on when you visit.
Pork, Peanut and Pine Festival is in the late summer. This festival includes a ferry ride to Chippokes Plantation State Park, the oldest farmed plantation. This festival celebrates Virginia’s snacks and foods including ham, bacon, and barbecue. This festival has tons of craft vendors. Southern fun like tractor pulls, live music, and cook-offs. This is one festival I would love to check out.
While our time in Richmond was limited it was fulfilling. Everyone was able to partake in something that brought them joy and warm smiles. I would like to come back and check out the local breweries. They have a beer trail that has about 20 different breweries and was voted the fastest growing beer scenes, we just didn’t have enough time to check it out, but I think we will definitely be back to Richmond it will be on our list to see.
Richmond has tons of history, great restaurants, great cafes artsy boutiques, and a hip and growing breweries, tons to see. There is plenty of areas to run fee, decompress, have breaks and downtown. I have included lost of free things to do as well as some low-cost things to do as well. Indoor activities as well as outdoor festivities. Richmond is worth the visit to explore and check out the things that work for your family. If the weather is great, add on a couple extra days and check out James River, Goochland Drive-In Theater, plus plenty of family oriented and hip festivals. Richmond has something for everyone.