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Archive for the ‘Chesterfield’ Category

This weekend is a busy weekend for holiday activities in the Richmond area.  You are probably best off doing the scheduled activities this weekend and saving the other ongoing favorites for during the week.  Just my humble opinion!  One of my family’s favorite activities, the James River Parade of Lights, will be held Saturday night, December 11, at 6pm.  The 18th annual parade begins in Richmond up by Libby Park and travels along the James River through Henrico and Chesterfield, ending at Henricus Historical Park.  There are several viewing sites along the route where you can find various fun activities to pass the time.  There are 5 main viewing sites:

Richmond: 

Libby Hill Park (Corner of 28th and Franklin St)- 
Entertainment begins at 4:30 p.m.  There will be holiday music, hot cider and cocoa, hot dogs, roasting marshmallows, bonfire and a big count down to the lighting of the boats.  The actual parade doesn’t start until 6pm.

Intermediate Terminal Dock/Rockett’s Landing (Dock & Water St.)- You can also view the parade here at 6pm.

Henrico:

Osborne Park and Boat Landing – Entertainment begins at 5:30 and will include a bonfire, fire dancers (I have no idea what this is, but it sounds awesome), Jonathan Austin Juggling and Magic (if you have kids, you know him, he’s great and the kids love him), holiday music, and concessions.  Santa will also be there giving glow bracelets to the kids.  The parade is expected to arrive here between 7pm and 7:30pm. 

Chesterfield:

Dutch Gap Boat Landing – (441 Coxendale Rd) There are no planned activities at this location that I could find so if you are looking for a quick view this might be the place to go.  The parade is expected here between 7:30 and 7:45pm.  

Henricus Historical Park (251 Henricus Park Rd) – Entertainment here begins at 5:30pm with Zebo the Clown, face painting, arts & crafts for the kids, music and concessions.  There will also be complimentary cider and cookies. You can tour the 1611 Citie of Henricus and talk with the settlers about their lives and holidays in the 17th century.   The parade is expected here between 7:45 – 8:00 p.m.

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It looks like the weather is finally starting to turn to what it should have been in June.  This will be the perfect opportunity to get out and enjoy some of Richmond’s outdoor activities.  Pocahontas State Park is a great place to do a host of outdoor activities.  Located in Chesterfield, its Virginia’s largest state park and includes parts of Swift Creek Reservoir and Beaver Lake.  Available activities at Pocahontas include camping, swimming, hiking, biking, picnicking, boating and fishing.  This is also the site of the Muddy Buddy and Run Like A Girl races.

The park was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and was the first recreational park in the Richmond-Petersburg-Hopewell area.  The National Park Service then donated the park to Virginia State Parks in 1946.  The park is obviously named after Pocahontas, the daughter of Chief Powhatan.

Swimming – Merely calling it a pool, doesn’t really do it justice.  The aquatic center, as it is called, is open from 10am -7pm Memorial Day through Labor Day.  There are several pools with different depths, all with lifeguards.  There is also a sprinkler area and two 15-ft high water slides.  But best of all, there is a water-park like area that will keep the kids occupied for hours.  The pools are located in the northern area of the park with a large picnic area right next to it.  There are also locker rooms and a snack bar.  The fees to swim are: Weekdays ages 3-12 $5 and ages 12+ $6;  Weekends ages 3-12 $7 and ages 12+ $8.

Camping – It was a surprise to me (and I’ve even been to the park) that there are overnight camping facilities.  There are facilities for RV, pop-ups, and tent camping.  Each campsite has a fire ring for campfires. Campers have access to bath houses for showers.  Overnight campers also get access to swimming and the boat launch for free.  There are larger “camps” and dining houses for large groups (think your office retreat).  You do need to reserve a campsite in advance by calling 1-800-933-PARK (7275).  Same day reservations are usually not accepted.  There is also a “reserve now” button on the top right hand side of the website (its small, keep looking).  Camping fees run from $25-$78 which is a lot less than a decent hotel, and provide much more atmosphere.

Trails for Hiking and Biking – There are approximately 5 miles of hiking trails just around Beaver Lake.  There is also a 5 mile biking trail (it wouldn’t be Richmond if there weren’t biking trails as well) and scattered mountain-biking trails ranging from easy to difficult You can find more information on the biking trails here. There is even a  trail that is accessible for people with disabilities.  You can also find scattered winding trails throughout the park and horseback riding trails (sorry you have to bring your own horse).  Some of these hiking trails can be steep and rocky, so where good shoes.  There is more information on the different trails and maps/videos available here.

Boating/Fishing – Boating is allowed during daylight hours at the park.  Private boats are allowed on Swift Creek (no gas motors).  You can also rent rowboats, canoes, and kayaks from Memorial Day to Labor Day.  You do need a fishing license to fish at the park, and if the office is open you can purchase one there.

Pocahontas State Park is a great place to explore the outdoors right in our back yard.  Even though Summer is about to end, there is still plenty of time to explore this local gem.  At last check, there was a $4 parking fee on top of any other fees for activities in the park, definitely doable no matter what your budget is these days.

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Today I went to the grocery store and they had pumpkins out all ready!  I think it’s just wrong to be selling pumpkins when  it’s still 80 degrees but Fall is coming and we can’t stop it.  What that really means is that I’m running out of time to write about all the awesome summer activities there are in Richmond.  This past weekend,  one of those traditional activities began, the Chesterfield County Fair.

The first Chesterfield County fair was held in 1911 and it has been held every year since, except for 2 years during WWII.  It came about because local farmers wanted a place to get together, see each other, and display what they had raised that year.  The fair was held at the Chesterfield County courthouse until 1987.  It moved to the airport in 1988 before it landed at what is now the Chesterfield County fairgrounds in 1989.  The fair began as a 2-day event and slowly grew to its 9-day length today.

Some of the more nostalgic activities scheduled include several seed-spitting contests, a hot dog eating contest, a sack race, and horseshoe tournaments.  There are also daily activities including barrel trains rides, a chain saw artist, antique tractor display, balloon sculptures, clowns, model train displays, pony rides, and more.  You can always expect to see animals at the fair.  This year there will be a petting farm, chickens, pigeons, ponies, camel rides and more.  One new show for this year is the Star Family Circus.  Circus performances will include acrobats, performing dogs, jugglers, and crazy motorcycle riders in a metal cage (think Barnum & Bailey). There will also be live music performances at the grandstand every day.

Finally don’t forget to stop by the Farm Crop exhibit to see the largest pumpkin, watermelon, and sunflower among other things.  If you have more of a sweet tooth (like me) then stop by the food exhibits to see the cakes, cookies, and pies.  There are also exhibits for arts & crafts, photography, flowers, and quilts.

Then there are the rides.  All those carnival rides you hate to love, the games, and plenty of vendors selling cotton candy and funnel cakes.  The rides are an extra cost at around $3-$5.  This can get pricey so look into the $20 for unlimited rides option.  That might be more cost effective depending on how many rides are there this year and how much you want to ride them.

This year the Fair runs from August 27 to September 4.  The hours are Monday-Friday 4-11pm, Saturday 11am-11pm, and Sunday 1-11pm.  Admission is reasonably priced at $7 for Adults, $3 for kids ages 6-12 are $3, and free admission for kids 5 and under. Go out and enjoy some home grown fun!

(Thanks to Richmond.com for the great pics!)

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In case you haven’t seen this week’s weather, the 100 degree days are back.  Air conditioners are collapsing under the stress everywhere and forget the lawn and flowers you worked so hard on in the Spring.  While a trip to Alaska might not be in your budget, indoor ice skating surely is.  There are 2 indoor ice skating rinks in the Richmond area, Skatenation Plus in the Short Pump area and Richmond Ice Zone in Midlothian. 

Both ice rinks have public skate times, usually every day.  There is usually a public skate around lunch time and another in the evening after work.  You can get the schedule for both rinks here.  You are looking at about $10/person for admission and skate rentals.  However, Skatenation has been doing a lot of public free skates lately with the hot weather (usually when its 100 degrees or hotter).  You can find out about these deals and more on their Facebook page.  If you do decide to attend a free skate (and lets face it in this economy you may have no other choice) just remember to get there early.  Hundreds of people show up to these and rentals go fast.  Skatenation also has $10 all you can play and skate on Friday and Saturday nights throughout the summer.  Your $10 includes skate admission, rentals, and laser tag.   

Don’t worry if you have little ones that haven’t skated before.  They have big  buckets that the kids (ok, and you) can lean on as they skate around the rink.  My kids love this because they can let go of the wall and really get out there. 

 You can get food and drinks at both rinks for additional cost.  Skatenation Plus has a bunch of other activities available if ice skating isn’t your thing including an arcade, indoor laser tag, and a climbing wall.  Those have extra costs as well. 

It is actually pretty cold inside the rinks, so pull those jeans out of storage and enjoy the cool air, at least for a couple of hours!  Try to stay cool!

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Today is a perfect day to visit Chesterfield Berry Farm.  The Farm, which opened in 1983, is a “pick your own” farm with different harvests throughout the year.  It is family owned and operated by the Goode family.  They now grow over 50 varieties of fruits and vegetables. The farm is open from Mid-March through December 24th and holds fun season-specific festivals throughout the year.  Of course, there is also a Farmer’s Market where you can buy fresh produce grown on the farm and picked daily.  Throughout the year you can buy strawberries, blackberries (usually), tomatoes, sweet corn, peppers, onions, squash, green beans, watermelons, and more.  For all the blackberry fans out there, this year’s crop was damaged in the snow so no blackberries this year.  The Farmer’s Market also carries preserves, salad dressings, bedding plants,  Peaks of Otter Wine (20 varieties),  and other novelty items.  Tip:  The Farmer’s Market and Pick Your Own Farm (where the festivals are held) are NOT in the same place!  Plan on hitting the Farmer’s Market before or after your trip. 

The festivals have a lot of activities, in addition to “pick your own” to keep the family busy.  One of my favorite festivals is the Pumpkin Festival with haunted houses, corn mazes, and hayrides to the pumpkin patch.  Another good one is going on right now–the Spring Strawberry Festival.  The Strawberry festival runs this weekend and next weekend from 9:30-5pm (no guarantees there will be any good strawberries left next weekend!)  Tickets are $5 (2 and under are free) and includes hayrides to and from the strawberry fields, pig races, playgrounds, corn play area, farm animals, strawberry picking containers, and entertainment.  For $10 you can purchase a Super Pass which also includes wagon train rides, strawberry cannons (they do pumpkin cannons in October), duck races, paintball target shooting, and moon bounce.  There are also pony rides, wine tasting, and gem panning for an additional cost. Once you get there they always have other activities too like games, face painting, a riding toy area (for the very little ones) and more.  Really, the $5 pass will keep everyone busy with young kids, but the teens may need the $10 superpass.  There is also a concession stand where you can buy homemade barbecue, coleslaw, & beans. You can also purchase hotdogs, nachos, chicken nuggets, french fries, and ice Cream (which I can personally attest is delicious!).  In honor of the Strawberry festival you can find delicious strawberry slushies and strawberry milkshakes. 

There are picnic areas with tables in a shaded area on the other side of the parking lot.  You can definitely bring your own food and drinks and enjoy a lazy picnic while you are there.  Although you can bring your own people food, you can’t bring outside animal food so leave your stale bread at home.  You have to purchase animal food there.  Tip:  Bring the hand sanitizer, a lot of it. 

If you can tear yourself away from all the activities (and ok, delicious food), hop on a hayride and head to the strawberry fields. Tip:  The hay ride is actually a very large trailer pulled by a tractor that has hay bales instead of seats.  The kids love it, but just know your seat will be somewhat uncomfortable.  Also, they will pack you in like sardines if they have to.  Just grin and bear it, its worth it.  Once you get to the strawberry fields you can pick strawberries for $1.99/pound.  If you don’t feel like doing the labor yourself, you can buy pre-picked strawberries over at the Farmer’s Market. 

Today if you bring your military or public servant I.D. you will get a free super pass.  Next weekend all Fathers get a free super pass as an early Father’s Day present.  Now, the details.  Credit cards are accepted everywhere which is really nice.  No pets or alcoholic beverages (no matter how much you feel you might need them after this long weekend!) 

Because it is a large working farm, it is of course located in what feels like the middle of no where, but it is actually in Chesterfield down by the zoo.  You can get directions here.  Just remember, once you feel like you’ve gone too far and you better turn around, you are almost there.   This place is a favorite of my family (we go every year several times).  We are especially excited to go and see some of the wonderful updates it looks like they have made.  Happy Memorial Day!

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Today is the Muddy Buddy race at Pocahontas State Park in Chesterfield.  I had never heard about this race and was tipped off by a good friend.  Aside from watching the Monument Ave 10K, watching people race is kind of like watching paint dry.  This race, however, is completely different.

Teams of two complete a 6-7 mile off road course with 5 obstacles.  At the start of the race, one team member will run and the other will ride a bike. At the 1st obstacle, the rider will drop the bike, complete the obstacle, and begin running. The runner will arrive, complete the obstacle, find their bike and begin riding. Teams will continue leapfrogging each other through the entire course.  The obstacles vary according to the landscape of each venue, but past obstacles have been a cargo net crawl, a low wall, monkey bars, cargo net climb, or a hay bale obstacle. And at every race teams will have to conquer the famous Mud Pit before crossing the finish line together.  Although there are plenty of competitive teams out there, there are also plenty of first-timers at the race who are just there to have fun. 

Similar to the 10K, there is a costume contest so be prepared to see people racing in some wacky outfits.  There is also a mini muddy buddy race for kids.  Kids ages 4-13 can race through a short obstacle course and then head right for the mud pit. 

The race is held in 18 different cities and teams often travel to compete in different races.  You can see the 2010 schedule here.  Proceeds from the races go to help the Challenged Athletes Foundation, which provides grants to help people with physical disabilities pursue an active lifestyle.

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What would Spring and Summer in Richmond be like without drinks on the patio at the Boathouse after work.  I hope I never find out.  Tonight was my first trip of the season and how I missed it over the Winter!  For those of you that think it is a different country South of the River, and rarely make the trip, the Boathouse is a restaurant that is largely outdoors in the middle of Sunday Park on the Swift Creek Reservoir in Chesterfield County.  It is an awesome place to stop by after work for drinks, or have a family dinner, or do Sunday brunch.  The atmosphere is casual, laid back, and mostly family friendly.  There are 2 bars, inside and outside, and a gigantic patio for dining.  Don’t worry if you end up sitting inside, the doors open up so you can have the feel of dining out.   The view over the water is spectacular, especially at sunset.  Swift Creek Reservoir only allows electric boats so there is no noise or fumes to worry about. 

The dinner menu is mostly seafood and pizza, with steak and chicken offered as well.  Starting March 1st the crabmeat is brought in fresh all summer long.  All pizzas are cooked on the open fire wood stove.  There is also a fantastic wine list.  The novelty of being outside will usually tame the children, and if it doesn’t, just walk them over to feed the ducks by the water.

So if this hasn’t enticed all you die-hards out there to come South of the river, I’ve got great news.  The Boathouse has opened another location at Rocketts Landing on the top floor of the recently restored power plant building.  This building once supplied power for Richmond’s trolley cars.  The restoration won the golden hammer award from A.C.O.R.N. for best commercial renovation. The power plant’s industrial facade and smokestack were preserved. It’s collapsed top-floor roof and crumbling brick walls were replaced with tall windows and a butterfly roof and wrap-around staircase were constructed on the exterior.

 This location also has inside and outside dining.  I haven’t been there myself (yet) but have heard the views over the James and of the city skyline is fantastic.  This location has a reputation so far of being a little more upscale with a mostly professional crowd.    The atmosphere is definitely more upscale and the decor is more contemporary.  The menu is the same as at Sunday Park.   

Both locations also have a fantastic Sunday brunch, especially on Easter and Mother’s Day, but be sure to make reservations!  They both also have spaces for large meetings and special events.  The Boathouse in Sunday Park is a favorite for Richmond brides.  I would definitely recommend checking out both locations since they seem to be so different.  I know I can’t wait to try out the new location downtown.  If you have been there!  Leave a comment about your experience!

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