Raising Richmond: Keep cool, kids

We don’t need to tell you it’s hot. You know it’s hot. Your kids know it’s hot. The only time any of you want to spend outside is the walk from one air conditioned space to another. So allow us to offer up a healthy handful of fun AND kid-friendly activities (both around town and at home) that are sure to keep your whole brood amused on those days that a walk around the block sounds about as appealing as a punch in the face.

We don’t need to tell you it’s hot. You know it’s hot. Your kids know it’s hot. The only time any of you want to spend outside is the walk from one air conditioned space to another.

Sure, it’s tempting spend summer with your kids holed up in the basement watching Cars for the 14,000th time in a row, but we must prevail! We must stimulate our children’s young minds! We must not let the soul-sucking humidity win!

So allow us to offer up a healthy handful of fun AND kid-friendly activities (both around town and at home) that are sure to keep your whole brood amused on those days that a walk around the block sounds about as appealing as a punch in the face. Best of all? They’re either free or so cheap they might as well be.

Out and About

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

We know what you’re thinking: Priceless pieces of art! So many things not to touch! You are a couple of insane ladies! But remember, it’s always good to give your kids experience with the whole “look don’t touch” concept that they’ll encounter every now and then. Added bonus: that place is air conditioned like nobody’s business. Younger kids will love the British sporting exhibit (it’s all dogs, pigs, and horses) and Mocha Dick by Tristin Lowe. Yes, it’s a giant white whale just hanging out in the museum. Little minds will be BLOWN by that one. (200 N. Boulevard; opens at 10am on weekdays; free)

Stories with Ms. Tori

One of us (Valerie) didn’t want to share this with you because, well, she is selfish and doesn’t want this Ginter Park edition of Richmond Public Libraries’ storytimes to get too crowded. Every Tuesday morning you and your babies and/or toddlers can take part in about 30 minutes of songs, books, and playtime (bubbles! balls!) under the guidance of Ms. Tori who is just about the most adorable person alive. She’s not afraid to be completely silly with the kids, and every single book she picks is a hit with the infamously discerning and distracted toddler set. (1200 Westbrook Avenue; 10:30am on Tuesdays; free)

Kid’s Club Film Series

Taking even one kid to the movies can cost upwards of $30, so a family trip to The Cinema is out of the questions for most of us these days. Luckily Movieland offers free kids movies every Tuesday morning — perfect for those days when the thermometer is creeping towards 100 even before lunch. Upcoming features are The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Gulliver’s Travels, and Shrek Forever After. (1301 N. Boulevard; Tuesdays at 10am, doors open at 9am; tickets are free but issued on a first come-first served basis)

Home Depot Kids Workshops

If your kids are particularly handy (or you’d like them to be) Home Depot locations offer free workshops the first Saturday of each month for kids ages 5 to 12 where they get to complete a project and get introduced to do-it-yourself skills and tool safety. Each child gets a project kit, a kid-sized Home Depot apron, and an achievement pin. The next workshop is August 6, and the wee ones will be making a pencil box — just in time for back-to-school. Awwwww! (Your local Home Depot location; 9am to 12pm; free)

Cartwheels & Coffee

Ok, it’s not free, but it’s so fantastic that leaving it out would be a disservice to you, our dear (and perhaps desperate?) readers. Plus, a few bucks per kid for unlimited playtime in a comfortable and cozy indoor play area where you can get a cup of coffee? Totally worth it. When you’re not partaking in the playground, play kitchen, dress up area, train table, and miniature stage, be sure to check out their free group music class on Mondays at 10am and their free storytime on Fridays, also at 10am. (2820 W. Cary Street; open Monday through Thursday from 9:30am to 5pm, Friday and Saturday 9am to 6pm; $4 per child, kids under 1 are free)

Stony Point Pop Jet Fountain

If you *must* go outside (and we all know that Vitamin D is kind of essential for proper development) this is a great option. And let’s be honest, there is nothing better than water that shoots out of the ground at unexpected moments if you are three…or 30, actually. This fantastic (and FREE!) pop jet fountain sits right next to Chipotle and an ice cream shop, and you can even catch some live music on the weekends from now until September 5th. Water, dogs, music, ice cream — your children will think it might indeed be summer nirvana! (9200 Stony Point Parkway; fountains are turned on at 10am; free)

At Home

Rainbow Bath

Are we the only losers in RVA that did NOT get a pool membership? Where do people get all that money for the first year?! Anyway, if you’re in the same boat, head straight to the poor man’s pool for kids: the bath tub. If you are even luckier to live in an old, extremely charming Richmond home, your bath probably is the size of a small pool. Simply add some food coloring to about five different trays of ice, pop those bad boys out, and let the kids have a “Rainbow Bath.” Colorful and fun and just enough out-of-the-ordinary that the kids will love it. A word of warning: when all the ice melts, it becomes a brown bath. Just drain it and go for another round.

Weekly Popsicle Extravaganza

Why not invite some ice pop joy into your life? Pick a special treat to make each week for the rest of the summer (or through mid-October — this is Richmond, after all). Head to your local library — yet another cool place with free stuff — and check out this book to get you started. Bump up your Good Parent Points with all the fresh fruits you will get at the various Farmers’ Markets around town to make these organic treats. Super Parent? Why yes, yes you are.

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Patience Salgado

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

  1. You mean that playing outside is out of the question? Am I getting old (yes), but what ever happened to riding bikes, running, climbing trees, and skateboarding and getting sweaty?

  2. Playing outside is definitely not out of the question — these are just suggestions for those days when the heat index gets a little scary.

  3. Miss Tori on said:

    Thanks guys! Storytimes are always more fun with a crowd! Cooling off with books, friends, and bubble time–what could be better? I am excited to return to Ginter Park Library on August 15th for storytimes again (I have been on maternity leave). Don’t worry, I have been picking out some great books for my return to share! ;)

  4. Sometimes its just hot and your willing to do anything!!!
    Get that free 1 week membership to American Family (mini water park – Short Pump).

  5. charbatkin on said:

    Don’t forget, right next to VMFA (and with free parking) is the Virginia Historical Society. Free, cold, with a relatively immersive “Story of Virginia” exhibit, where kids can even try on some colonial clothes. And during ‘August Afternoons’ they have hands on activities for families from 2:30-4:30.

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