Warmer weather means it’s time to replace the snow boots and shovel with shorts and sunglasses. It’s time to get back outside and enjoy the fresh air and natural Vitamin D! Central Virginia offers a wide array of fun activities to get everyone off the couch and moving! Here we have compiled a list of the top 10 outdoor activities to get everyone active and keep them entertained. Half of them are even FREE!

Top 10 Outdoor Activities for Families in Central Virginia

The BEST BANG for Your Buck

Metro Richmond Zoo – Chesterfield

Metro Richmond Zoo – Chesterfield

Metro Richmond Zoo is central Virginia’s only zoo which encompasses about 70 acres and is home to over 2,000 exotic animals, rides, and a unique zip-line course. The zoo is also home to one of the largest primate collections in the United States, with more than 200 individuals representing 30 species.

Visitors can experience up-close and personal interactions with tigers, cheetahs, giraffes, birds, penguins, farm animals, various species of monkeys, reptiles, and many other animals. Families who have visited especially enjoy the animal feeding opportunities. Treat cups can be purchased for $2.00 each or budgie sticks for $1.00 each. With the treat cups, you can hand feed the giraffes or farm animals. The budgie sticks allow you to feed the budgies (species of bird) in the Budgie Aviary. You will become immersed into a world where the birds fly all around and even land on you, excited to receive a treat!

This is a great place for some fun, family adventure! Plan to spend a full day here as there is so much to see and do. Admission to the zoo is $11.75 per child (2-11) and $17.75 per adult (12-59). If you live close, a yearly membership may benefit your family. Membership packages and more information about the zoo can be found on their website

Sandy River Outdoor Adventures – Rice

Sandy River Outdoor Adventures – Rice

Sandy River Outdoor Adventures offers a unique 3-hour treetop adventure! The experience features six courses of high-ropes and zip lines that increase in difficulty. Visitors will start their way on the beginner course and move along until reaching heights of over 50 feet and zip lines of over 500 feet in length. Visitors will traverse obstacles, such as swinging bridges and logs, tight ropes, tunnels, and zip lines. This is a great activity for thrill seekers, adventure lovers, and those looking to overcome fears and build self-confidence. Adult (15+) tickets are $50 and youth (7-14) tickets are $40.

The adventure park also offers bicycle rentals and boat rentals. Visitors can rent bikes and explore the nearby High Bridge Trail or enjoy a relaxing 2-hour float from the Farmville Blueway to the Appomattox River.

If you are looking for an extended adventure, then you can rent a log cabin or even a “glamping tipi”!! What makes this even better is that guests staying at the retreat will receive a 20% discount off Adventure Park tickets, as well as boat and bike rentals! Make sure you add Sandy River Outdoor Adventures to your spring and summer bucket list! Stay, play, and become one with nature! For more information and to make reservations, visit them on the internet

Pocahontas State Park – Chesterfield

Pocahontas State Park – Chesterfield

Pocahontas State Park is one of Virginia’s more popular state parks and its largest with 7,950 acres. The park offers a variety of outdoor activities, including camping, biking, hiking, horseback riding, fishing, picnicking, swimming, and family-friendly nature programs.

From Memorial Day to Labor Day, visitors can enjoy the Pool and Aquatic Recreation Center; open 10am-7pm. Activities at the center include: toddler pool, fountain wet deck, three-foot deep leisure pool, five-foot pool, an activity pool featuring many hands-on water activities, and two enclosed-tube water slides. Weekday swimming fees run $5 for ages 3-12 and  $6 for ages 13 and up. On the weekend, prices go up by $2 per person. The park offers group swimming discounts, as well as seasonal passes and coupon books.

Pocahontas State Park offers campsites and cabins from the first Friday in March through the first Sunday in December. All campsites have electric and water hookups (no sewer), a grill, picnic table, and lantern holder. There are centrally located restrooms with hot showers. Check-in is 4pm and checkout is 1pm. An added perk of camping is that swimming is free for overnight guests! Whether you are looking for a weekend getaway or just a day of fun, make Pocahontas State Park your next destination.

Puzzling Adventures – Richmond

Puzzling Adventures is a cross between a scavenger hunt, an informative self-guided tour, and The Amazing Race. This family-friendly activity is a fun and interactive way to explore the city of Richmond. Each adventure sends its seekers to a series of locations where questions have to be answered or puzzles have to be solved in order to receive the next instruction. The goal is to have fun outdoors and learn some interesting things along the way. The price of $49.99 is per team of up to 6 people. Make sure you check out Groupon – Groupon, Inc. as there are often discounts of up to 50% off!

While this write-up focuses on central Virginia, Puzzling Adventures is offered throughout many cities around the world. All you need is a mobile device with internet access and you can be on your way to moving, exploring, and solving clues to hidden gems near home and afar. Check out Puzzling Adventures to learn more and to sign-up to begin your adventure today!

Goochland Drive-In Theater – Goochland

Are you ready to experience the nostalgia of movies from the “old days”? What about seeing the best motion-pictures for a fraction of the cost of a modern day movie theater? Goochland Drive-In Theater is a family-oriented establishment that offers the finest new and current-release movies…ALL outdoors! At just $8.50 per adult (12+) and $4.00 per kid (4-11), your family can enjoy a night out together,  without breaking the bank. What’s even better is that the theater typically offers

Double-Features! So for less than the price of one movie at your local box office, your family will enjoy TWO movies! Talk about a bang for your buck!

While you will be able to enjoy some of the newest box office hits straight from the comfort of your own vehicle, you will need to make sure you bring extra money for food. Goochland Drive-In relies on concession sales to remain in business, so outside food and drink are not permitted. Although that is the case, the theater believes in fair and affordable prices so nothing in their snack bar is priced higher than $4. So, make sure you come well rested and hungry and get ready to enjoy a highly-affordable night out with your family! For more information and current showings, check out Goochland Drive

The FREE BANG for NO Bucks

High Bridge Trail State Park – Prince Edward, Nottoway, & Cumberland

High Bridge Trail State park is a 31 mile-long, multi-use trail that traverses Prince Edward, Nottoway, and Cumberland counties in Virginia. The trail is ideal for hikers, bikers, and equestrians of all ages. The centerpiece of the trail is beautiful High Bridge, a 2400 foot long bridge nestled 125 feet above the Appomattox River. The majestic bridge was built in 1853 as part of the South Side Railroad. It is the longest recreational bridge in Virginia and among the longest in the United States.

Visitors can choose to hike, bike, or horseback ride on the trail…all FREE of charge. Its finely crushed limestone surface and dimensions make it easy to enjoy. While the trail is free to users, you may have to pay to park, depending on which lot you choose. There are three free lots, but some lots do not allow horse trailers. For more information on the trail, parking lots, and distances from the High Bridge, visit High Bridge Trail State Park.

James River Tubing – Richmond

The James River is beautiful and the scenery is great! Choosing to tube down the James River allows for a relaxing and refreshing family adventure. The best part is that it’s free!

There are many areas that you can choose to start, but many people choose Pony Pasture Rapids Park as their beginning destination with plans to get out of the river in downtown Richmond at Belle Isle or Brown’s Island. You will need to access public transportation to get back to your vehicle or to get to your starting point; costing a small amount.To make the most of your trip, make sure you are prepared with tubes, sunscreen, water, snacks, a drybag for phones and keys, proper footwear, and life vests (depending on the ages of those tubing and the water level).

Virginia Civil War Trails – Central Virginia

There are five regional programs that fill the gaps between the National Parks. These programs highlight some of the less-known stories Virginia has to offer. The Trails flow throughout the state, including right here in central Virginia; considered the bloodiest ground in the country. The Trails’ interpretive signs allow visitors the chance to explore the back roads, learning some history while driving and walking through some of the most beautiful landscapes anywhere.Two of the five regional programs are located throughout central Virginia. Visitors can choose to explore Lee vs Grant, The 1864 Campaign that begins west of Fredericksburg and ends in Petersburg. Or you may choose Lee’s Retreat, The Final Campaigns that covers the route of Robert E. Lee’s final march from Petersburg to Appomattox.

Maymont Park – Richmond

Maymont Park offers visitors many activities over its 100 acres. You can stroll through the gardens, tour the mansion, interact with animals, and picnic on the lawn, to name a few. Visitors can explore the grounds and gardens at Maymont completely free! The exhibits and mansion are charged either a flat, minimal fee or you are asked for a small suggested donation. All totally worth the small expense!

In addition to the farm animals that it keeps in the Children’s Farm, Maymont is the home of several animals that are native to the Commonwealth. Many of these animals have been injured and are otherwise unable to live in the wild. These animals include bald eagles, a bobcat, black bears and foxes. Visitors are also able to see white-tailed deer, elk, and American Bison.

In addition to self-guided tours, Maymont offers various tour packages as well as carriage rides. For more information on all that is offered, prices, and hours, visit

Mid-Lothian Mines Park – Chesterfield

Visit Mid-Lothian Mines Park and discover the history of America’s first coal miners. Visitors will take a free walking tour of many exhibits and ruins from the mining days of the Midlothian Coal Mining Company in the 1800’s.

The park offers breathtaking views along well-maintained paths and trails. It’s a great way to learn history of the area and the miners, as well as to get out moving and enjoy nature. We stumbled across this place by accident and was truly amazed by this hidden gem!

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