Richmond, VA (804) 358-7166

When is the last time you visited Maymont Park? My family decided it would be fun to visit at Christmas and went over the recent holidays. The mansion was decorated beautifully and is worth seeing. However, we had a surprise. We weren't expecting the new and improved nature center to be open (its doors opened over Thanksgiving of 1999) and it is terrific! The main attraction is the acquarium. Although not as big as the Baltimore Aquarium or Marine Science Museum in Norfolk, it was friendly and fun with lots of hands on activities...and free. The otters were active and our favorite.

Describing the many attractions of Richmond's Maymont Park is difficult because there is so much to see and do. Normally, I recommend going sometime between May and October because that's when the fountains and waterfalls are the most likely to be running. Spring is our favorite time to go because the flowers are incredible. Pack a picnic, carry in your own drinking water and wear your most comfortable walking shoes. Plan to spend the day exploring and relaxing in this truly incredible 100 acre park and don't forget that camera.

Finding your way around is not difficult. Go to the nature center for information on how to get around the park. Free maps are available. The staff is friendly and always lets us store our picnic in a back room so that our arms are free.

When you figure out where you want to go, you may want to walk, or take the tram. The tram (usually our only cost in a visit to the park) charges $3.00 for adults and $2.00 for children. It helps us to enjoy the park, as we can hop on and off as often as we want. The tram driver has also let us leave our stroller, picnic, etc. on the tram on not-so-busy days.

We always head straight for the Italian and Japanese gardens. Just find one of many paths behind the herb gardens or carriage house and wander down...big as it is, you won't get lost! We love playing in the bamboo, exploring the ponds with HUGE colorful koi, jumping over the stepping stones, counting the sunning turtles, analyzing the design of the many bridges, marveling at the cascading waterfall, and climbing the curving steps to the fountain where water runs from the lion's mouth. We also like just basking in the beauty of this place.

After we leave the gardens, we usually get on the tram - because we are already worn out and there is still so much more to see and do. Next stop will be the black bears. The zoo is not just a lot of concrete, making you feel sorry for the animals; you feel good about their living quarters. It is also set up well for young kids to view. Next is a "birds of prey" exhibit, and then you continue winding around, up, and down through this beautifully landscaped park seeing foxes, bobcat, elk, deer and bison. Then it's up to the barn where you can see domesticated animals. Put a quarter in a machine and you can feed them (although you can often find dropped food on the ground).

The Dooley's, a prominent couple, left this late nineteenth century estate to the City of Richmond to be used as a park and museum. Touring the mansion is fun, but it's a guided tour, so young kids with a short attention span might not handle it well. But if you like stained glass, fine woodwork, amazing antiques and objets d'art, do it! Upstairs there is a magnificent swan-shaped bed. The times of the tours are listed in the front of the mansion On busy days they have you register, but weekdays aren't usually busy. Avoid going on Mondays because all attractions are not open. Donations are accepted at both the mansion and nature center.

DIRECTIONS: Interstate 64 E to Richmond. Take Boulevard exit (#78). Go south one and a half miles to Cary Street and take a left. Go one-half mile to Meadow Street and take a right. Go one mile to Pennsylvania Street and take a right. Then go one block to park free in Maymont's Hampton Street lot. There is also free parking at the nature center and at the barn. Signs guide you in all the way from Boulevard.

Maymont's Hours of Operation:

Daily: Grounds, Gardens, & Visitor Center - Every day, 10 am - 5 pm Tuesday - Sunday:
Maymont House: 12 - 5 - Tours offered every half-hour; sign up on the front porch of the mansion.
Nature Center, Children's Farm Barn, Tram (weather permitting): 12 - 5

Mary Wilson...

Click here for Maymont Web Page
Maintained by American Studies @ the University of Virginia

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