From parks and museums, to water fun and activities, there are a lot of amazing and free toddler-friendly activities in Richmond.
Richmond, VA is a charming little city. There is a plethora of museums, parks, and activities to enjoy in any season. But the city really thrives in the warmer months. As a mom of young children, I’m very familiar with a lot of free toddler-friendly activities in Richmond. From petting zoos to splash pads, Richmond has a lot of fun activities for your little one to enjoy in Spring and Summer.
15 FREE Toddler-Friendly Activities in Richmond
1. The Splash Pad at Stony Point Fashion Park
I take my kids to the splash pad at Stony Point on a weekly basis in the summer. We get there early (before most of the older kids) and play for an hour or two. The mall opens at 10 am Monday – Friday. My kids love running in the fountains. This spot does get crowded, so the earlier the better for little ones!
There’s also a little “grassy” knoll for the kids to run around on if they get tired of being in the fountains. There are a lot of tables and places to sit around the mall, so I usually pack a small lunch for us. This mall is also very empty, so it’s a good spot to let little ones walk and explore.
Park365 is a free park in Richmond city for all ages and abilities. They have 3 playgrounds, including one for toddlers. There is also wheelchair-accessible equipment. The park has a large number of swings too. There are a ton of activities for tots, like a multi-sensory wall and outside musical instruments.
As you can imagine, this park can get pretty busy when school is not in session. It’s another place where I’d suggest going early! Park365 is open from dawn to dusk. If you have an early riser, you could beat the heat and the crowds and have them exhausted before the morning is even over!
3. Maymont Children’s Farm
Another spot we frequent during the warm months is the Maymont Children’s Farm. The farm has chickens, rabbits, goats, and cows. For a few quarters you can buy food to feed the goats. The farm has a great system of outside sinks for hand washing after feeding the animals. The Maymont Children’s Farm is one of the best free activities in Richmond for toddlers.
Maymont is a very large park with a variety of gardens too. My kids love the Japanese Gardens. It features a waterfall and a large coy pond full of fish. This is a little bit of a hike, down some pretty big hills, so just keep in mind that you have to go back up! This is another great spot to pack a picnic and enjoy a morning out.
There are also festivals and events that happen at Maymont all the time, so be on the lookout for those! We went to a few in the past and enjoyed food trucks and ice cream before going to see the animals.
Another note about Maymont, there is a Nature Center as well. Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for children. Kids under 2 are free. The Nature Center has several educational displays and giant fish tanks with a waterfall. There are also otters in the very back! We did this several times when it was raining, just to get out of the house.
4. Perk! Coffee and Lunchbox (Indoor Free Toddler Activity in Richmond)
Perk! is a cute little coffee shop in Bon Air, just outside the city. They have a great selection of coffee and caffeinated beverages, plus yummy food! In the back is a gated-off area for tots to play while parents enjoy a cup of coffee. This is a great place to catch up with a friend! The children are contained and able to play while you sit, watch, and enjoy your coffee!
While there is no “admission” to the children’s area in the back, it’s not completely free because you would be buying a coffee. However, a coffee and play area with no extra charge is still a great deal!
5. Westover Hills Toddler Playground
I feel like this gem is such a secret that I debated sharing it here, but it’s too good not to. The official name for this toddler spot is the Westover Hills United Methodist Church “Tot Lot.” It is a fenced-in playground full of fun little toys for toddlers to climb, ride and slide. It’s like PlaySkool heaven. There is also a small playground, some swings, and a sandbox.
I love this spot because it’s for toddlers and preschoolers only, so everything is geared toward them. It’s definitely a hidden gem when it comes to free activities for toddlers in Richmond.
The “Tot Lot” is open to the public after 1 PM on weekdays. Since it is owned by the Westover Hills United Methodist Church Preschool, they use it during school hours.
6. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) (Indoor Free Toddler Activity in Richmond)
The VMFA may not be a place that people necessarily think of as being “toddler-friendly,” but it has been a lifesaver on rainy, gross days! Children enjoy looking at the exhibits and taking in the shapes and colors. My children seem to like Modern Art and sculptures of animals best, so we stick close to those. They also love the glass elevator, so we make sure to travel between floors frequently.
Sometimes I go to the museum just for myself. If the children get restless, I let them play on their tablets in the stroller. My husband and I treat it as a little date. It is free admission to walk around the museum and look at the exhibits. It’s definitely budget-friendly option and worth a try.
The VMFA also has art exhibits outside, along with plenty of grassy spots for a picnic. Make a day of a trip to the museum.
7. Mid-Lothian Mines Park
Chesterfield County is just outside of the city and home to many amazing parks. Each park has something different to offer, so it’s easy to decide based on your kid. Mid-Lothian Mines is a perfect spot for walking. The park has almost 2 miles of trails. The trails wrap around a large pond and go through a tunnel. The pond is a great spot for looking at turtles, fish and frogs. My kids love the tunnel too!
8. Rockwood Park and Nature Center
Another fantastic park in Chesterfield County is Rockwood Park. Rockwood has a large playground and 5.5 miles of trails. The trails are a combination of hard and soft surface. The hard surface trails are paved, so they are great for strollers!
Rockwood’s Nature Center is home to several reptile and amphibian displays. They also offers classes and workshops at various price points for all ages throughout the year.
9. Public Library Storytimes (Indoor Free Toddler Activity in Richmond)
The local library is also a LIFESAVER during rainy days, or days when it’s just too hot to be outside! Check the library schedules and add activities to the calendar in advance. It gives me something to look forward to and helps me plan out our weeks. You can check out happenings at your closest library on their websites, Chesterfield or Richmond.
Keep in mind that you may need to register in advance for some activities, so be sure to keep track of dates and when registrations open. I like to check out almost all of the library’s happenings and pick the activities that sound the most fun. It’s usually worth a longer drive to check out a new library!
10. Lewis Ginter Free Days
Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens is a beautiful spot for walking around and looking at various plants and exhibits, but it’s not usually free. Check their calendar and make notes of any “Free Days” they may be offering. Then put them on the calendar!
In the Summer, they have Water Play (a splash pad area) open for kids which is included with admission. I’ve definitely paid the $13 admission (children under 3 are free) before. Just for something different to do.
This is another spot I recommend getting there early, especially on free admission days or if you want to experience Water Play. It definitely can get crowded later in the day!
11. Twin Hickory Splash Pad
Twin Hickory Park and Recreation center is one of Henrico County’s many amazing parks. Henrico County is just outside of the city of Richmond. Twin Hickory has walking trails and two age-appropriate playgrounds. But the biggest feature is their “spray park.”
The spray park is fenced in and surrounded by a ledge for parents to sit. The area has several fountains that spray water, with a slight woodland theme.
12. Deep Run Park
Deep Run Park is another Henrico County Park. The park has over 3 miles of trails. The trails are a mixture of hard and soft surface. Some of the trails also wrap around a large pond with a fountain. It’s a great spot for feeding ducks.
Another fun feature at Deep Run Park is the playgrounds. There are two, with smaller play areas scattered throughout. The larger of the parks has a fairytale theme. It has a large castle like playground with a dragon.
13. Short Pump Towne Center
Short Pump Towne Center is in Henrico County and a quick drive from the city. It is the areas largest outdoor mall. It is an excellent spot to bring children in the mornings to walk around before the crowds come. They have a small play area right outside the Starbucks. It’s a fun spot for the kids to run around.
Short Pump Mall also operates a train for kids to ride around the mall called The Short Pump Express. Train tickets are $3 per person. They also offer punch cards for 10 rides at a discounted price. Aside from the train, Short Pump Towne Center is a great example of free toddler-friendly activities in Richmond.
14. Short Pump Park
Just a short drive from Short Pump Towne Center is Short Pump Park. It is another Henrico County park. The park has a .25 mile trail and two playgrounds. There is also a set of spray fountains for children.
My favorite thing about Short Pump Park is the large covered picnic shelter next to the larger playground. It’s nice to have a shaded spot for parents. Or for little ones to get out of the sun for a snack.
15. Goldfish Swim School Free Family Swims (Indoor Free Toddler Activity in Richmond)
It’s no secret that I LOVE Goldfish Swim School and another thing I love about them is that they offer several Free Family Swims throughout the year. This is a great way to not only try out their facilities but spend some time in the water as a family.
Since the pool has limited space, many of these Free Family Swims require a reservation in advance. Be sure to visit their website and make a note of any dates you’d like to attend and when you need to make a reservation. There are also several opportunities for regular Family Swims. These require a reservation and payment. (These events may be affected by Covid regulations.)
Whether you live in Richmond, or are visiting this summer, these free toddler-friendly activities in Richmond are a great way to get out and enjoy different parts of the city and keep your little one entertained. Richmond has so much to offer, you just have to know where to look!