All children fall in love with animals! So if you are looking to find them in the Richmond area – here are the best places to take your little one where they can see (and in some cases touch) a variety of creatures. Don’t forget to bring your hand sanitizer for clean up afterwards.
1700 Hampton Street, Richmond, VA 23220 Phone: 804.358.7166
Maymont is a 100 acre park located in the heart of the city and includes a Nature Center, Japanese and Italian Gardens, a Victorian-age house, and a Children’s Farm. Check Maymont’s website or call for details on hours and fees.
The Children’s Farm and Barn are located at the Spottswood Road Entrance. This is where youngsters can visit all kinds of animals; pot-bellied pigs, rabbits, peacocks, chickens, cows, horses, foxes, and a bear, just to name a few. The best part is that you can feed the goats and sheep. Bring your quarters. A handful of food cost just a few quarters and the dispensers are located by the goat pens. The penned animals are available to be seen and fed anytime Maymont is open, but the Children’s Farm Barn is only open during more limited hours. If you are feeling adventurous, walk down the hill behind the barn to see native Virginia wildlife in natural settings like fox, deer, back bears, and hawks. Beware; this is a steep walk that usually requires a stroller for little ones on the way back up!
The Nature Center is located is located at 2201 Shields Lake Drive in Byrd Park. It interprets the natural environment of the James River. A 20-foot waterfall cascades into the first of 13 giant, linked aquariums that are home to playful river otters, turtles and fish of all shapes and sizes.
Directions and Entrances: There are 3 entrances so be sure to get directions.
Parking: Free Parking is located at each entrance.
Restrooms are located in the Nature & Visitor Center, Maymont House, near the Bear Exhibit, at the Children’s Farm, and at the Maymont House.
Metro Richmond Zoo
8300 Beaver Bridge Rd, Moseley, VA 23120 Phone: 804.739.5666
The Richmond Metro Zoo is located in Chesterfield County. Opened in 1995, it is a 14 acre site that is home to approximately 700 animals that are exhibited in natural settings. The zoo has all kinds of animals including lions, tigers, zebras, kangaroos, camels, farm animals, and a huge collection of primates. The only thing missing is an elephant.
The main attraction at the zoo is the giraffes. You can touch and feed them by hand from a platform – just be ready for their big long tongues and long eyelashes. The littlest kids often enjoy holding the food in a cup, allowing the the giraffes to scoop the food out with their tongues.
Visitors can also feed food pellets to some of the farm animals. And if you are especially lucky you might get to see one of the animals being fed by the zoo staff. It is a great thrill to see them feed the crocodiles!
A couple of things to know before you go:
- Restrooms: Are located at the main gate and near the penguin exhibit and safari ride entrance.
- Buy your giraffe/animal feed when you purchase your tickets.
- Make note of the penguin feeding times (they are posted on the website under “Animal Encounters”)
- An annual pass or membership is a great investment if you plan to visit more than twice a year.
- There are also several rides on the property. A Safari Sky Ride, Jungle Carousel and some smaller kiddie rides. Make sure you check out the new Train ride that takes you on a 15 trip through the African Savannah.
- And a new picnic area has been added near the entrance to give visitors a place to rest and have a snack.
- Click here for additional information on admission fees, hours and directions.
Broken Road Farm
1571 Richmond Road, Amelia Courthouse, VA 23002 Phone: 804.306.8650
A hands-on miniature livestock breeding farm that invites parents and their children experience farm life and see the unique animals, including a rare and beautiful Zdonk, Miniature Horses, Miniature Donkeys, African Pygmy Goats, Fainting Goats, Miniature Pot Belly Pigs, KuneKune Pigs, Alpacas, Miniature Hereford Cattle, Jersey Wooly and Holland Lop Rabbits and several breeds of chickens. They offer bottle feeding babies, collecting eggs, and pony rides. There are tents and picnic tables. They also do traveling petting zoos and pony rides for any fair, festival, birthday party, or church event. Visit the website or call for details on hours and fees.
Meadow Farm/Crump Park
3400 Mountain Road, Glen Allen, VA 23060
Meadow Farm/Crump Park is located in northern Henrico County. This park includes both a playground/picnic area and 19th Century farm/museum. The farm is home to sheep, pigs, cows, and a few other farm animals. Free.
Parking: If you enter the park from Mountain Road, the first two parking lots you come upon will give you the best access to the playground. If you continue along the driveway, you will reach the parking lot for the museum and farm. Although you can walk between the two, it is a good idea to move the car with little ones.
Restrooms: Restrooms are located at both the playground and museum.
Three Lakes Nature Center
400 Sausiluta Drive, Richmond, VA 23227 Phone: 804.261.8230
The Three Lakes Nature Center has just reopened after renovation and repair. It is home to a 50,000 gallon fresh water aquarium where kids can see the view from under the water. There are also small habitats for all kinds of turtles, snakes, and salamanders. Other exhibits include information on the woodland forest and wetlands.
There are gravel trails that circle the three man-made lakes; each is approximately a quarter to half mile in length. Fishing is permitted on two of the lakes. Don’t forget to bring bread to feed the ducks and turtles that inhabit the other.
Three Lakes Park also has an extensive playground with all sorts of equipment for kids of all ages, including a pirate ship for little tots, and an intricate spider web and rock wall for older ones. Free. Closed on Mondays.
Parking: Parking is conveniently located between the playground and nature center.
Restrooms: Restrooms are located in the nature center when open and by the playground.