Outdoor fun on the B-side

Spring has sprung! Find out where to take your kids for fresh air and excellent energy burning opportunities with this homage to Richmond’s less traveled (but completely wonderful) parks.

Editor’s note: Today’s feature is the next installment in our new parenting column written by two sets of Richmonders: Jorge and Patience Salgado (veteran parents of four gorgeous children), and Ross and Valerie Catrow (parenting rookies who have only been doing this “raising a child thing” for a few months). Check back fortnightly to watch them discuss/agree/disagree/throw down over all kinds of parenting issues, Richmond-related and beyond. This week Patience goes solo to fill us in on where she takes her kids when spring hits Richmond.

When we first moved to Richmond with our eight week old son, we were Ramen noodle poor. We shared one car and every weekend found ourselves exploring a different park in a 20 mile radius. Jorge came home one day and said he heard there were buffalo at some park in the city.

“Do you mean a zoo?” I replied.

“No, a park.” he insisted.

Maymont became one our all time favorites in our park circuit. So now the economy is in the crapper and here we are. It’s time to fall in love with our parks all over again because they are free and fun. Really, who needs a reason anyway?

We all know the big ones: Maymont, Dorey, Deep Run, and Meadow Farm. How about the little neighborhood playgrounds, the hidden gems stashed away? Here are a few we’d like to bring to your attention and a couple spins on the old tried and trues

Letterboxing Love

Letterboxing is treasure hunting for the everyday man. People hide small boxes in public places like parks with a log book and stamp inside. Clues are listed on the Internet and when you find the box, you stamp your log book and the one inside. It’s super fun and can introduce a new element of interest to the old favorite parks your kids have been to 1,000 times. Check out www.letterboxing.org to get started.

Triangles for Toddlers

My kids call the park at the corner of Lombary and Park (in the Fan) the triangle park. It’s shaped like a triangle, totally fenced in and has every Little Tykes riding car ever made inside. Throw in a limeade and Cuban sandwich from Kuba Kuba across the street and you have reached mother nirvana. The Westover Hills United Methodist Church playground at the corner of Westover Hills Boulevard and New Kent is the same brand of goodness. All the equipment at both parks is made for younger kids and always has a tired looking parent chasing a toddler who looks willing to chat. I have spent full days, working hours 9 to 5, at these parks. Kid and mother approved.

Quiet and Reflective

Echo Lake in Henrico is a hidden gem on Springfield road. It is the perfect place to walk a trail, feed the geese or play on the very cool playground. The playground is perfect for families with mixed and wide age ranges as there seems to something to climb for everyone. There is even fishing for those trying to create some future dreamy memory with their kids. My favorite part is wandering the trail thinking about the history of the land.

Nature Center Galore

Maymont isn’t the only place sporting a nature center around town. My oldest son, Josiah, insisted Three Lakes Park be added to the list. You can also check out Rockwood Park in Chesterfield and the awesome Nature Pavilion and Recreation Center at Deep Run. It’s spring people, and that means when it starts raining like cats and dogs, we all run inside to learn about what we hope to see come May.

Honorable Mentions

(Everyday parks that keep us sane and happy…)

Mary Munford Elementary School Playground: The old school wood structure rocks our socks.
Humphrey Calder: It has the ginormous slide that makes every mother nervous and kids thrilled.
Carillon Tot Lot: The equipment is respectable according to the kids and the sand meets the requirement for children who love go barefoot.
Meadow Farm: The big time for all involved and nice shade to boot.
Huguenot Park: Handicap accessibility makes this place fun for everybody.

What did we miss? Which parks make the cut for you?

  • error

    Report an error

Patience Salgado

There are 13 reader comments. Read them.