Have you ever felt stuck in a rut and tired of doing the same old summer activities? I know we feel that way sometimes. Each summer, my kids choose a few camps they really want to do, but the rest of the summer is for family and friends and vacationing and plain old fun. This year, we are exploring everything our gorgeous state has to offer, from the beach to the mountains and so much more.
Born and raised in Richmond, I am happy to say that my husband and I are raising our family here. As a busy mom with three active kids and a husband who can work some crazy hours in the emergency room, I need to be creative in summer planning to keep the whole gang happy. I like to think of activities my whole family can do together, day trips that I can manage on my own with the kids, and things to do when I may have just one of the kiddos if the other two are at a camp or hanging with friends.
To keep everyone entertained and engaged, I came up with an idea – a fishbowl of fun for the summer. In the fishbowl, there are sticks with ideas for fun activities. It’s even colored-coded: green sticks are home-related things to do; blue sticks are labeled with RVA-based activities; and red sticks have day-trip ideas written on them. Depending on our schedule, I’ll ask one of the kids to pull out a certain color stick, and off we go.
Fun at Home
• Plant your own flowerbed, start some seeds for a garden, or pull some weeds.
• Make your own play dough.
• Go on a family bike ride in the neighborhood or on a trail.
• Have a picnic lunch in the yard.
• Camp out in a tent in the backyard, roast marshmallows, and make s’mores.
• Have a family movie night.
• Cook dinner together.
• Have a dance party.
• Play a family board game.
• Have a puzzle day.
• Try a food taste-test challenge.
• Play an outdoor game that doesn’t require equipment, like four square or red light/green light.
• Paint rocks, sidewalks, or canvases.
• Make homemade jam from fruit you picked yourselves.
• Play with water balloons, sprinklers, or the slip-and-slide.
• Have a lemonade stand.
• Go on a nature walk or scavenger hunt.
• Start a neighborhood baseball or soccer game.
• Use sidewalk chalk to play hopscotch, create bike paths, and more.
Fun in RVA
• Attend an outdoor concert. Many area malls and parks, such as Pocahontas State Park, hold concert series during the summer.
• See a movie at The Dome in the Science Museum of Virginia.
• Tool around in paddle boats at Byrd Park around Fountain Lake, feed the ducks, play some tennis, run the fields, or hop on over to nearby Maymont for a picnic.
• Sign up the kids for a Richmond Road Runners race. Kids are free when an adult signs up.
• See a movie at the Byrd Theatre for a $1.99, and follow up that movie with a sweet treat from Bev’s Ice Cream or Sugar + Twine Bakery in Carytown.
• Cheer on the Richmond Flying Squirrels. Every Sunday is Kids Club day. Check out their new brunch, and run the bases after the game.
• Visit Belle Island for biking, hiking, sunbathing, and splashing in the river.
• See a movie at the Goochland Drive-In.
Fun Day Trips
• Visit Yorktown Beach. About twenty minutes away from Williamsburg, this beach is an easy alternative to busy Virginia Beach if you just want to soak in the sun and splash in the water for the day. It’s a quiet beach that offers ten acres of recreational space and three acres of beachfront. It has a fishing pier that does not require a fishing license or an entry fee. In the mood to hear some tunes? There are free concerts each Thursday during the summer at Riverwalk Landing right next door. You can even hear the music from the beach.
• Try Go Ape in Williamsburg. There are courses for adults and kids. Treetop Junior includes twenty obstacles and two zip lines. The adult course has clearly marked skill levels so you can decide how much of a challenge you want. No experience is necessary, and the safety training puts your mind at ease.
• Check out Kings Dominion. Whether you spend your time in Planet Snoopy, riding roller coasters, or splashing your way through Soak City, a day at this theme park will be a memorable day of fun for everyone.
• Visit the Petting Farm at Hunt Club Farm in Virginia Beach.
• Experience starry nights at Veritas Winery in Afton. On the second Saturday of the month during the summer, this beautiful winery offers a concert on the lawn. Bring your own picnic or enjoy their buffet. Don’t forget a blanket or lawn chairs.
• Go to Chiles Peach Orchard in Crozet for the best peach picking around in the summer.
• Pick your own garden at Ticonderoga Farms in Chantilly for a fabulous summer vegetable harvest.
• Tour Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in Charlottesville. Spend time learning inside one of the most innovative homes of all times, and enjoy the grounds where you can walk through history.
• Visit the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Museum in Virginia Beach. This museum is known for being one of the best aquariums and live animal habitats in the United States. It’s open daily, and you have the option of adding on additional programs and activities such as the 3D National Geographic Theatre, Adventure Park, Dolphin Discoveries, and Sea Adventure boat trip.
• Hit Jamestown Beach. It offers plenty of shade, and the water is shallow and quiet. Pack the blanket, towels, chairs, and a picnic, and enjoy an easy day near the water. What’s even more fun is that the Jamestown Ferry is close by. It’s a 15-minute free ride over to Surry County. If your kids haven’t been on a ferry ride before, you must take them on this fun little adventure. When in Jamestown, you can also visit the Jamestown Settlement for a great history lesson. By the way, Jamestown Beach is known for its beautiful sunsets.
• Check out King Family Vineyards in Crozet. They hold free polo matches every Sunday at one o’clock through mid-October. Bring lawn chairs and a blanket, and let the kids run, play, and stomp on the field at the break time. Enjoy the stunning setting at this vineyard.
When you’ve traveled around a bit this summer, if you’re like my family, you’ll realize how much you love being at home. My kids all enjoy spending time in the kitchen, cooking and baking. When it’s too hot to play outside, what do we do at home? Bake something yummy and beautiful to behold – like a cake in the shape of our fabulous state, Virginia. From my family to yours, enjoy your summer in Richmond and beyond!