Exploring the wonders of flight. Getting immersed in colonial life. Spotting wild creatures in their natural habitat. If you’re looking for kid-friendly things to do in Chester, Va. and the surrounding area, just take your pick of activities — there’s plenty to choose from. Some will teach your child something new, others will allow him or her to get some exercise, but they all have one thing in common: Fun. Here’s a guide to some of the best things to do with kids in the region:
Chester has several parks that combine outdoor adventures with history. At Henricus Historical Park, kids can pretend it’s 1611, when about 300 settlers took up residence in an area they named Henricus for King James I’s eldest son, Henry. Walk among costumed staff as they tend to the daily duties of colonial life, like blacksmithing, painting, and gardening.
Explore 810 acres of woods and wetlands at the Dutch Conservation Area, where you might even spot a bald eagle. Paddle down the park’s Lagoon Water Trail in a canoe or kayak — it’s ideal for kids or beginners. R. Garland Dodd Park at Point of Rocks is a historic park that has a little bit of everything, including walking trails, athletic fields and courts, picnic areas, and a playground. One of the most significant features is a floating boardwalk that allows visitors to explore a freshwater tidal marsh.
In nearby Chesterfield, Pocahontas State Park is situated on nearly 8,000 acres and offers boat rentals, swimming, hiking, and picnicking. Kids especially enjoy the Beaver Lake Trail, a 2.5-mile path lined with signs describing the geology and ecosystem of the park as well as the types of wildlife they might see.
The Children’s Museum of Richmond is designed to teach kids about the world around them through play. (There are four locations, including one in nearby Midlothian as well as the main branch in Richmond.) Kids can learn about how cars work at the garage exhibit, try simulated grocery shopping and food prep at the market and diner exhibits, and pick apples from a realistic-looking apple tree.
The Science Museum of Richmond has a variety of exhibits that kids would probably find fascinating, like Wicked Plants, where children can try to solve a crime where the only suspects are plants. In the technologically-advanced Boost! exhibit, visitors are encouraged to boost their physical and mental health by completing a series of about 25 interactive activities. Everyone is given an encoded ID card that allows them to track performance data each time they visit and compare their stats to others.
Kids can explore the principles of force, lift, and drag at the Virginia Aviation Museum through a variety of hands-on exhibits. They can also learn about wind tunnels and climb aboard several airplanes on display at the museum, which is located at Richmond International Airport. Families can do self-guided tours, or sign up for one of the 30-minute kid’s tours focused on African-Americans and women in aviation, and the Wright Brothers’ contribution to flight. The museum even offers a workshop on how to create a paper airplane.