Raising Richmond: Rainy days in RVA

Six indoor (and super fun) activities to keep the whole family busy, happy, and dry the next time rain clouds camp out over Richmond.

Well, that was a soggy weekend.

As I write this, it’s 10:30 PM on Sunday night. Our little boy, JR, is finally (FINALLY1) falling asleep, the involuntary twitch in my right eye is slowly fading, and I’ve never been more excited for Monday morning to arrive.

Yeah, it’s been a rough couple of days in the Catrow house.

There once was a time when a rain-soaked weekend spent with my son wouldn’t faze me; I’d schlep him over to Cartwheels & Coffee or the Children’s Museum, and that’d be the end of it. However, it turns out (as I discovered this weekend) this is no longer the case. While I would prefer us to leave the house, use our brains, and participate in society for a couple of hours, JR would rather spend the day watching every single episode of Peep and the Big Wide World in his underwear. And at almost five, he’s very capable of A) making his desires known and B) communicating his displeasure if they aren’t met. Usually by melting my brain with the power and pitch of his whining.

While the forecast predicts somewhat of a reprieve from all that ark-worthy weather, I’m not wasting any time basking in the promised sunshine. In an effort to ready myself–and, of course, all of you–for our next stint of weather-induced confinement, I’ve pulled together a list of some kid-friendly indoor activity options in and around Richmond. These are a bit of a departure from our family’s old standbys, so maybe they’ll inspire you to branch out a bit as well. If you’ve got any ideas to add, feel free to do so in the comments. Because after all, even if Richmond stays relatively dry for the next couple months, we all know one thing for sure: Winter is coming. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to spend it with a pantsless pre-kindergartener all strung out on Netflix.2

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Virginia Historical Society

We go to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts pretty regularly (for a family with a preschooler, at least), but for some reason we rarely make it across the parking lot over to the Virginia Historical Society. No more, my friends! The museum’s extensive Story of Virginia exhibit, collection of arms,3 and fancy-schmancy silver are enough to keep visitors of all ages entertained. They also offer a themed story and craft time for the wee ones from 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM on the first and third Saturday of the month.

  • 428 N. Boulevard
  • Free admission, but donations are greatly appreciated!

Can Can

Most people probably equate Can Can with a leisurely brunch or a nice dinner out, but it’s also a great spot to grab a snack with kids.4 The high ceilings tend to suck up any extra noise your young brood might bring along; the dining room is spacious enough so you don’t feel like The Jerk With the High Chair;5 and they let you color on the paper table cloths! So grab a table in the back and indulge a little with hot chocolates and fancy croissants all around–because anything that helps you push through those mid-morning or post-nap doldrums is worth it.

  • 3120 W. Cary Street
  • Hot chocolate costs around $4; croissants are in the $2-$3 range

Uptown Alley

JR had his first bowling experience about a month ago, and he still won’t stop talking about it. Meanwhile, my husband and I are in complete support of any activity that also involves arcade games and bar food as far as the eye can see. There’s really no way we (or anyone, really) can lose here.

  • 6101 Brad McNeer Parkway
  • See website or call 804-744-1077 for pricing

Regency Square Mall

No offense to The Good Ol’ Rege,6 but it’s not exactly the teen Mecca it once was–thus its appeal, parents! The large children’s area features soft play pieces (read: minimal chance for injury) and is enclosed by comfortable benches where caregivers can take a load off while the kids go nuts. It’s also just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the mall’s food court. Whether you see that as a pro or a con will probably depend on how shrieky your children get at the sight of a Chick-Fil-A.

  • 1420 N. Parham Road
  • Free!

Keystone Tractor Works Museum

I’m not sure how I just heard of this place, but it looks so awesome that I want to kick myself for not knowing about it until now. Like most kids his age, JR is obsessed with all things that “go,” so I look forward to spending many an afternoon in the future (rainy or not) wandering around the 65,000 square-foot space, gawking at the antique trucks, classic cars, and hundreds7 of restored tractors they’ve got on display.

  • 880 W. Roslyn Road (in Colonial Heights)
  • $8 for adults and $5 for kids ages six and older; kids five and under are free with paid adult admission

Virginia Aviation Museum

If cars and tractors aren’t enough to satisfy your child’s love for heavy machinery, head out towards the airport and stop by the Virginia Aviation Museum, home to 38 vintage aircraft; reproductions of the Wright Brothers’ kite, glider, and 1903 Flyer; and (the pièce de résistance) a SR-71 Blackbird. And once the kids are finished flipping out over the planes, pop over to Country Style Donuts (4300 Williamsburg Road) so they’ll really lose their damn minds.

  • 5701 Huntsman Road (out by Richmond International Airport)
  • $6.50 for adults, $5.50 for kids and seniors; active military get in free

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Got anything you’d like to add to the RVA Rainy Day Ideas Arsenal? Have at it in the comments.

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  2. We all know that such behavior is only appropriate for adults. 
  3. Guns and swords, not arms arms. Although that would be interesting. 
  4. Can Can is actually labeled as a “brasserie” which, the Internet tells me, is a French restaurant with a relaxed setting. So there you go. Bring the kids, it’s fine. 
  5. They will also check your stroller for you. It’s magical. 
  6. As we locals call it. 
  7. Yes, with an “s”. 

Photo by: CIA DE FOTO

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Valerie Catrow

Valerie Catrow is editor of RVAFamily, mother to a mop-topped first grader, and always really excited to go to bed.

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