We picked the most perfect day to go exploring! The sun was playing hide and seek with the clouds. The wind was blowing gently. It was hot, but not too hot. We used this beautiful day to check out Maymont. Even though we’ve been several times before, there always seems to be more to find. You can get lost wandering the winding trails through the gardens. There are animals to see, both wild and on the farm. There’s a playground that was just built, but also natural playground of rocks to climb on and rivers to play in. There are giant trees that turn into houses with a bit of imagination. And according to my friend there is a hidden fairy garden somewhere. A little door in a tree leading your imagination to a magical place. We have yet to find it yet. Maybe next time! There are mansions to admire, and fields to frolic in; there are trees to climb and bridges to traipse across.
Maymont, sitting at the #2 thing to do on Trip Advisor, is a so much more than a park. It is an event space as well, has a museum like mansion giving you a peek into the past, and a petting farm. There are three entrances. The main entrance (1700 Hampton Street), the entrance to the Children’s Farm (1000 Spottswood Rd), and the entrance to the Nature Center (2201 Shields Lake Dr). All areas of the park have free admission except for the Nature Center. The admission is $4 per adult and $3 for children. We didn’t make it to the Nature Center on our trip but when we go I will be sure to update the post.
Our adventure started at the Children’s Farm. They just recently made renovations. A butterfly garden is in the works. There are vegetable and herb gardens; the swiss chard was beautiful at the time we were walking through. A play area was added with “logs” and “rocks” to climb on, balance on and crawl through. There are restrooms and water fountains at the entrance of the Children’s Farm and even a dispenser to buy food to feed the animals. Once in the farm, there are goats, pigs, chickens and bunnies. The goats are the most interactive. They love to stick their heads out of the fence and lick up the food right out of the kids hands. Little Big Guy thought it tickled but didn’t want to feed the ones with the beards. Little lady got a kick out of all of the animals and even fed some goats herself.
After feeding the animals, we continued down the path passing deer, bobcat, fox, bear, eagle, hawk, cow, and bison enclosures. The bobcat wasn’t out and the bear was tucked away in a far back corner but the rest of the animals were visible. The big birds of prey are so cool to see up close. There is a telescope that shows you how sharp eagles eyesight is and the wingspans are displayed so you can understand how big these birds really are! Little Big Guy stretched out his arms as far as he could and he was barely the length of the hawk’s wingspan. The eagle was much bigger! There were also owls and a few other birds. It is amazing how beautiful these birds are up close.
After we saw all of the animal exhibits, we started our trek through the gardens. Our favorite was the Japanese garden. There are beautiful sculptures, fun rocks to climb, a waterfall, koi fish and these cool stone steps that lead you across the pond. Over an abstract wooden bridge there were beautiful Cyprus trees and frogs. We also got to see a snake hanging on the rocks above a cave. Though we passed many people, the park is so large that it never feels crowded when we are there. It is the perfect place for parents to relax while children explore the wonder and beauty of nature.
After the Japanese garden, we took quite the hike up to the main entrance. The path we chose was not stroller friendly, but if you were to walk back around the long way you would be able to see the whole park while easily pushing a stroller. At the main entrance are these towering trees that are big enough to have a picnic inside if you’d like. Little Big Guy LOVES these trees. He pretends it’s his house. He has different rooms. He climbs the branches to go upstairs. When we come in the main entrance, we seldom make it past these trees. The kids can just get lost in them for hours. There are also bathrooms at the main entrance. The park keeper’s house, the stone barn (where they hold events) and an old carriage house are just short walk from the trees. Oh, and a beautiful fountain too! If you veer to the left you can explore the mansion. The grounds are beautiful and I’ve heard the inside is amazing. We haven’t been for a tour but we will have to go one of these days. I’ll update this post when we make it!
If you go to the right at the fork and head down the big hill you’ll eventually find yourself next to the nature center and then if you continue you loop right back around to the Children’s Farm parking lot. Between the nature center and the parking lot are so many beautiful places to lay down a blanket and have a picnic. Plus there is a little spot in the river that runs right through the roots of a tree that the kids LOVED playing in. Me and a friend chatted while we watched our boys play with rocks and Little Lady napped in her stroller (she had had enough for one day). The boys actually found an RVA rock! Check out the Facebook page for more information. Not in RVA? Why don’t you start a chapter in your city? People decorate and hide rocks around the city and then anyone can find them. Then you keep the rock or you re-hide it for someone else to find. We’re excited to paint and hide some rocks this summer.
We were at Maymont for FIVE hours. Long enough for me to get a wicked sunburn but not long enough for us to fully explore everything. While you can probably speed through in a few hours, Maymont is definitely the kind of place that will make you want to linger. There are so many cool nooks and crannies. Places to sit and chat. Spots to observe wildlife. Hidden corners to make rock sculptures. Open fields to chase butterflies through. There are just so many wonderful things to discover here! We will definitely be going back again and again.
Have you ever visited Maymont? I’d love to hear about the inside of the mansion and the nature center! What is your favorite part of the park? Think it deserves that number 2 spot on Trip Advisor’s Things to do in Richmond? Tell me all about it then get out there on another everyday adventure!
Did you miss the #1 Thing to Do in Richmond. Hop on over and check out what we did at the VMFA.