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