End-of-summer bucket list

Your family has a lot of fun to cram into that last gasp of summer break before the days get darker, and the cold, sick breath of winter is upon us. Make these last moments count, and if you don’t remember all the things you said you’d like to do this summer, I’ve got you covered.

Carter Mountain Orchard

Carter Mountain Orchard is a must-go destination for beautiful views and good ol’ apple picking. The peach harvest is coming to an end, but apple time is just getting started (including Gala, which is the best apple). Carter Mountain Orchard is about an hour away from Richmond in Charlottesville, and in addition to pick-your-own fruit options, the orchard sells other produce and goods, apple cider donuts, cider slushies, and a pretty good barbecue sandwich.

Plant for the fall

While this isn’t on top of everyone’s summer bucket list, now is a great time to plant vegetables for a fall harvest. If you’re starting from scratch, items likes the planters, seeds, and soil are often marked down in stores that had to make space for back-to-school inventory. Things to plant now or soon in our zone (Richmond is zone 7a): cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, Swiss chard, broccoli, carrots, turnips, and lettuce greens. Tending to a garden is a great way to unwind after school or work, and most of the vegetables can easily be grown in planters if you can’t sow directly in the ground.

James River

Show of hands: who actually hung out at the James River this summer? I can’t see your hands, but if yours wasn’t raised and your reason for not going to the river isn’t related to dangerous water levels, that excuse isn’t good enough. When the river is at a good level there are many quiet, calm areas on the Southbank and the Pony Pasture for swimming and wading with little ones if the more adventurous and rocky areas (like around Belle Isle) are too rough.


If you have been using my 5 Things for Families as a guide for your week–and I assume that everyone has–you’ve been to all the museums and a dozen library events this summer. The hands-on museums are great for kids of all ages, but the VMFA can be, too. A quiet and cool afternoon there can put a child back into a learning mode without her realizing it. And, even though it’s just a fancy snack bar, the BEST Café is always a treat after a good museum walk-through.

Go Camping

If you don’t already have a favorite place to get away to enjoy the outdoors overnight, check out this list of regional parks with camping access. Don’t have a tent and sleeping bags? Rent camping gear at REI.

Declutter in Carytown

If new clothes, books, bags, shoes, and supplies are spilling over on every surface of your home, go through older, unneeded items and try selling them for cash or store credit in Carytown stores. Make appointments to consign with Clover (for kid’s clothes up to size 12) and Ashby (casual clothes for young women–though clothes are bought for cash at a lesser fee). Sell books at Chop Suey Books (which accepts walk-ins but not guaranteed to have same-day service) and music and movies at Plan 9 Music. Play N Trade buys back games, consoles, iPads, iPhones, and iPods. The Hall Tree has a longer list of rules to consign, but does accept men’s, infant’s, children’s, as well as women’s clothing. And if you’re successful at getting rid of some of your things, I’m sure there’s a store or two where you can spend that money.

Take a day trip to Richmond

To paraphrase Matt Perry in Outdoor magazine’s article that named Richmond the Best River Town in America, Richmond is two hours from everywhere, but only one minute from itself. Sure, there are many places to go around Richmond for a good day trip or weekend getaway, but imagine you were visiting Richmond for the first time. What would you do, where would you eat or visit? Make a weekend of old favorites, or pick new-to-you things to try instead of spending hours in 95-traffic (unless that is one of the things you’ve been meaning to try).

Do nothing

If your time is usually scheduled up to when you brush your teeth at night, be sure to take an afternoon/day/weekend off to schedule nothing. I’ll even come up with an event name for you: it’s a Restival!

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If you need some additional ideas, here is a great post from Apartment Therapy of summer activities, like scavenger hunts and backyard camping.

Photo by: cryptic_star

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Kelly Gerow

Kelly Gerow lives and writes in Richmond. She probably does other stuff in Richmond, too.

Notice: Comments that are not conducive to an interesting and thoughtful conversation may be removed at the editor’s discretion.

  1. Mary Stallard on said:

    Great ideas, Kelly! I may head to Carter Mt before UVA football season begins. Galas are good apples, but have you tried Honey Crisp? They’ve become my favorite.

  2. Kelly on said:

    I can get behind any apple but red delicious.

    Also, Carter Orchard is a good drizzly day activity, too. When it’s crowded it’s not that much fun, so the rain helps with that.

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