Raising Richmond: RVA faves

Last week we talked about favorite things about our kids, so why not do the same thing for our beloved city? Here we share our Richmond faves from pediatricians to hangouts to where we go to get away from the wee ones.

Editor’s note: Today’s feature is the newest installment of our 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 little while). Check back fortnightly to watch them discuss/agree/disagree/throw down over all kinds of parenting issues, Richmond-related and beyond.

Last week we talked about favorite things about our kids, so why not do the same thing for our beloved city? So…

Today’s question: What are some of your favorite things in Richmond?

We’ve broken it down into specific categories, but feel free to share your faves (whatever they may be) in the comments.

The Salgados


Monument Avenue Pediatrics – Dr. Wayne Thorpe: So after four kids and visiting half the pediatricians in RVA, I can tell you I finally found our place. It’s a total zoo in there, but I’d do pretty much anything for a good pediatrician. I appreciate Dr. Thorpe’s style and kindness towards my kids. I often feel like we are working together as he is a great listener, which is amazing considering all who roll through his door.

Partners in Pediatrics – Dr. Gayle Smith: If you are willing to pay just a bit more, Gayle is your gal. She gives incredible and very personalized care and service. No wait and lots of love. My boys loved her.


Perly’s: Every family needs a good breakfast joint, and Perly’s is our family favorite. You might have to wait a few minutes on a Saturday morning, but it’s worth it. The wait staff is quick and kind to children, and more importantly, the biscuits will make you swoon.

Bottom’s Up: I totally shouldn’t confess this, but pizza is practically a staple at our house. Bottom’s Up is the yummiest deep dish you’ll find in town. They usually seat families in a section with big tables outside which is perfect for us. The crayons and paper provided make life easier too. My kids will tell you to order the root beer – it makes the experience complete.


The Carillon Tot Lot: The small playground nestled behind the Carillon is our usual stomping ground. It has just a little bit of everything to keep all ages and stages happy. Being surrounded by the trees keeps things cool and shaded. When we get bored we wander the rest of Dogwood Dell and Byrd Park.


The River: Pony Pasture and Texas Beach are where the lazy days are spent. Kids make rock sculptures and tiny dams in the flowing water. They rock hop and look for tiny minnows for hours on end. We don’t even mind sharing the nature with the hipsters at Texas Beach.

Free kids’ activity

Dogwood Dell Festival of Arts: We are still a good way off, but a girl can dream of green grass and a warm breeze right? The Festival of Arts series always has a great variety of shows and exhibits for children through the summer, not to mention the fireworks on the Fourth. I always look forward to seeing what will be on the schedule for the Ha’ Penny stage.

Kids’ store

World of Mirth: Duh, of course! They have the best quality and most quirky toys in town. The staff treats kids like people, and who doesn’t like the crazy carnival mirror out front? You can also pat yourself on the back for keeping’ it local folks!

Hidden treasure

Narnia Books: The loveliest little children’s book store tucked away off Belmont Avenue. I’ve always dreamed of living over my very own bookstore or ice cream shop, but that’s my inner Meg Ryan dying to get out I’m sure. They have a wonderful collection and very helpful service. Put this one on your list, people.

Kid-free hiding spot

The Buttermilk Trail: We hike it, most bike it. The nature is why we live in Richmond, and don’t forget Virginia is For Lovers! No seriously, it’s dreamy in spring and a great way to start a morning together followed by some Millie’s brunch.

The Catrows


West End Pediatrics – Dr. Scott Iwashyna: I can’t say enough good things about this guy and the rest of the staff at West End Pediatrics. Dr. Iwashyna (that’s ee-vuh-shin-uh… oh just call him Dr. Scott) is exactly what we were looking for in a pediatrician: knowledgeable, thorough, and so, so kind. I mean, he calls our kid “doodle,” how cute is that? They’ve also got a Facebook page, send out email newsletters, and let you schedule appointments online. What can I say? We love technology over here. And on top of everything else, it’s a relatively small practice, so we’ve never had a problem scheduling an appointment… even for those last minute, sick visits.


Garnett’s Cafe: While Joe’s Inn is typically our go-to place when we’ve got our kid in tow, I have to say that Garnett’s is our new favorite spot to grab lunch as a family. Sure, it’s small (as most restaurants in the city are) but the atmosphere is so bright and friendly – and they’ve got a nice selection of tot-friendly snacks that are a welcome departure from your standard kids menu (Peanut butter sandwich with apple butter? Yum.)


Bryan Park: Sure, it might not have loads of communal toys scattered around like Lombardy Park, but Bryan Park playground’s is the winner in our minds because of two things: LOTS of swings and LOTS of room to run. Plus, parking is a breeze.


Maymont: Expected, I know, but I fear I would lose my RVA card if I didn’t go with this one. But seriously, my kid is obsessed with farm animals. And the teacher in me is equally obsessed with finding real life experiences to match what he sees in those books we read over and over (and over and over and over) again. Plus, all those trails mean good exercise for everyone.

Free kids’ activity

Westhampton Lake at the University of Richmond: Ever since our son started walking, I’ve been on the lookout for places where he can toddle himself silly. Westhampton Lake at the University of Richmond is perfect for this: paved path, relatively quiet, and a flock of geese at the ready to blow your kid’s mind with all the squawking, waddling, and wing flapping he could ever want to see.

Kids’ store

Once Upon a Child: Look, we’re broke like everyone else. I can’t afford to pay full price for anything, and why would I when our son is growing out of everything? So, 9 times out of 10, when it comes time to stock up on clothes and toys, we head over to Once Upon a Child. They have a great selection with many of the items available at a fraction of the regular price. One tip: if you’re looking for something in particular (especially items like baby gates or high chairs), call ahead. Since it’s a resale shop, the inventory is a bit less predictable.

Hidden treasure

Grove Avenue Baptist Church Music & Movement Class: Part of me doesn’t even want to mention this, but in the spirit of parental solidarity, I will. For $5 per kid per class (or $25 for a six-week session), you and your kid get 45 minutes of brain-meltingly cute music with Ms. Nancy, who just might be The Nicest Person on The Planet.

Kid-free hiding spot

Movieland & Ipanema: For us it doesn’t get much better than catching a movie and then heading out for a drink and some snacks at Ipanema where the food is always good, friends are always around (or on their way), and the lighting is such that everyone looks dreamy.

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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. Melanie on said:

    Great topic! There are so many fun things around our city I often forget about since I’m in the county. I’m taking notes!

    I started to fill out some recommendations, but they are so lame because we live in Chesterfield. Seriously, who would want to come here?

  2. Kathy on said:

    Melanie, my son enjoys the Metro Richmond Zoo in Chesterfield. The Chesterfield Berry Farm is also fun; but I’ve only been for pumpkin picking, and Pocahontas State Park has a lot of great things to do. We had my son’s b-day party at Pocahontas state park with the ranger showing the kids all sort of icky snakes, turtles, and lizards and then leading them on a nature hike. They all loved it.

  3. I agree with Patience’s choices, though the Buttermilk might be dicey for the littlest of kids that can’t dodge bikers. I’ve biked the trail enough to know kids don’t belong on the trails, at least when the leaves are blocking the view in summer.

    The Carillon tot lot is great, and wandering away to all the green space at Byrd Park is fun.

    Hangout: Kayaking & rock hopping at William’s Island.

    Free kids’ activity: I make my kids go on adventures to see many of Richmond’s scenic places, and their uncle has gotten us into Geo-caching around the city. Fun times.

  4. Ooops, sorry. Missed that Buttermilk trips were kid-free…Party on.

  5. For more about geocaching around RVA, check out the Central VA Geocaching Association:


    Always looking for new members and it’s extremely family friendly.

  6. Melanie on said:

    Phil…what is geo-caching?

  7. Melanie on said:

    Oops…never mind! Just saw Kory’s post!

  8. No question about it…it takes a village to raise a child! And oh how the connections are changing! Kudos to RVANews for being on the cutting edge of online communites and willing to share with the village what works for your individual parenting styles!

    Nothing better than the varsity players wisdom and the newbie fresh perspective to bring new ideas to your readers.

    AWESOME suggestions, one and all.

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