Vacation Series: Richmond with Young Kids Part 4: James River Park and Deep Run Park

The fun in Richmond seemed never-ending until it ended.  After our morning at the Botanical Gardens we headed for the James River.  The temperature was 90 and muggy and we needed to get wet.  We found ourselves at a section of the James River Park called Pony Pasture which was advertised as being kid-friendly.

Well, the river must have flooded because those kid-friendly play areas could not be found.  We managed to find a shallow creek but the volume of poison ivy was causing such high anxiety I felt an eye twitch coming on. We got back in the car and headed for a flatwater area downriver called The Wetlands which was rumored to have a shallow sandy beach.  There was no beach.  Only mud.  And roots.  And a long walk from the car.  I wore the baby in the Ergo and pulled my daughter along by the hand.  It was the kind of thing that should have been fun but nobody seemed to have received the memo.

Still, we changed our focus from swimming to hiking and with the added intrigue of the floating cottonwood puffballs my daughter became rather enchanted.  I was not but tried to keep my sneezing to myself for the sake of the group.  One day we shall visit these spots again but hopefully during a non-flood period.

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The thing about wearing a baby is that they get to smear you with whatever happens to be on their hands and there is nothing you can do. And they know this.

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The smell of the honeysuckle in the humidity was delicious.

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Wait a minute. Escaping baby!

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Intro to trudging.

Summer 2014 047 The next morning was our last in Richmond.  I took the kids to Deep Run Park in the nearby town of Short Pump and I was so glad we had saved it for our last day.  What a wonderful place.  In Southern Maryland where we live there are many nice playgrounds but few of them have any sense of imagination and they are all in full sun.  Deep Run Park is apparently where that imagination ended up.  There is a CASTLE.  A great one.  In the shady woods.  Behind it there is a smaller play area that features a stagecoach with separate rocking horses.  The bathroom is close by and there were no crowds the morning we were there.

 

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Deep Run Park, Short Pump, VA

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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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Vacation Series: Richmond/Charlottesville, VA with Young Kids Part 2

On Tuesday the kids and I drove west one hour to the fantastic town of Charlottesville, VA.  Fortunately I lived there when I was younger and was able to turn off the GPS and just enjoy myself.  There is an incredible amount to do there with young kids so I had to pick and choose.  Knowing that we’d need to be heading back to Richmond by 1PM (sacred naptime) we only had time for a few activities.  The first stop was to pick up bagels from Bodo’s- a necessity anytime we are in town.

The 2nd stop was the VA Discovery Museum and it was well worth the drive. Summer 2014 496 Summer 2014 490 Summer 2014 471 Summer 2014 487 Summer 2014 482 Summer 2014 475 Summer 2014 480Everything is relative of course and if you are coming from a big city or if your kids are older than 6 this may not be worth your time.  For us, coming from rural Southern Maryland where there are almost no opportunities for young kids, this was a goldmine.  My almost 3 year old loved everything about this place.  She ran from the art room to the historic cabin replica, to the giant doll house, to the pirate ship.  My 13 month old loved the giant donkey/stable display, the garden (in which you can plant plastic carrots, etc.), and watching all the other children.  Right outside on the downtown mall there is a small merry-g0-round in which every seat is actually a small horse.  It’s free and my daughter was pretty sure she had never found anything better.

It was lovely to reunite with an old friend and take on Christian’s Pizza before our time in C’ville was over.    Here we are strolling along the downtown mall with our potty seat at the ready.

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