Vacation Series: Richmond, VA with Young Kids Part 3: The Zoo and Botanical Gardens

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Feeding the giraffes, a new experience.

Day 3 in Richmond…. what to do?  Time for the Richmond Metro Zoo!

Let me clear, I am not a zoo person.  I find them to be a completely depressing experience and before I ever had kids I wondered if I’d be able to one day bring myself to take them to a zoo.  That day is here.  I now have kids.  I have kids who do not get the opportunity to see many animals in a world where animals are quickly disappearing.  I am a parent and I am also a realist who wonders how much time is left to see these animals before they’re gone.  And so we found ourselves armed with a cup full of giraffe snacks at 9:15 this morning while waiting in the long line of children doing the pee dance until the zoo opened at 9:30.Summer 2014 504As far as zoos go the Richmond Metro zoo is small and manageable.  There is a playground, a jungle carousel, a ski lift (didn’t see it running though) and a zipline for the adventurous.

On Thursday we made it over to the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens and wow, wow, wow!  We chose a very hot day for this event and could only stay a couple of hours but it was wonderful.  We spent most of our time in the Children’s Garden which has an incredible treehouse, a water play area, a big sandpit in the shade, and a number of small houses the kids can go inside.

Most of the property is quite sunny but there are a few pockets where you can hide in the shade.  The Children’s Garden was one but there were also a couple shady ponds.  If you’ve got young kids though, the earlier you plan to arrive the better. It’s a busy place for playdates and school trips. The Conservatory was gorgeous and filled with small waterfalls and orchids.  There is a butterfly pavillion but as it does not allow strollers (for good reason of course) we weren’t able to visit it this time.

This was a place that felt a little bit like a magical happy land.  Everyone walking around had a smile on their face.  Of course most of them were elderly and likely retired so what’s not to love?  They’re probably that happy wherever they go.  We would go back to this place in a second- I had to drag my daughter out of the mini house exhibit.

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