Posts Tagged ‘Sports’

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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I know.  I know.  I can’t believe it took me this long to write about our awesome new Minor League Baseball team, the Flying Squirrels.  That’s right.  I’m not talking about the crazy squirrels around the Capitol (I swear one jumped up on a bench next to me one day and tried to steal my lunch, or shake my hand, its debatable, but I digress), I’m talking about the Diamond.  Now there are only a few home games left but there is still time to get tickets and enjoy Richmond’s greatest surprise this summer.

I still remember the whole Richmond Braves crisis and the cries of lonely baseball fans everywhere that we would never have baseball in Richmond again.  I hated seeing the Diamond sit empty in 2009.  Then the Flying Squirrels showed up.  Admit it.  We all thought the name was a little crazy.  And when Nutzy came into the picture, well, we all did a double take.  But this team and its management have won over the hearts of Richmond baseball fans and residents alike.

Flying Squirrel games are affordable (even I did a double take at the $6-$10 price tag), convenient, and tons of fun for everyone in the family.  My kids don’t even understand baseball, but they love going to these games.  The low ticket prices are in no way reflected in the experience you get when you go to a game.  Almost every series has a fun promotional giveaway like pillow cases, lunch boxes, umbrellas, baseball bats and more.  There are also theme nights including Fireworks Nights and “Bark in the Park” where you can actually bring dogs to the game (it obviously didn’t take them long to figure out where Richmonder’s hearts are).  And of course there are the nights the kids get to run the bases.  Don’t deny it, you wish you could run too.  Many parents “pretend” they need to run with their kid (tip:  don’t leave your kid in the dust, it’s an instant giveaway).

In line with their “family atmosphere” theme, the team included a Kids Zone (1st base side), Picnic area (third base side), and Ultimate Family Entertainment area (main plaza) in the stadium renovations.

The Flying Squirrels have also jumped into the Richmond community with both feet.  First and foremost, Nutzy is everywhere.  I see him at the kids’ school, street festivals, the games, when I go to dinner at CiCi’s, Nutzy is always there (and no, I’m not crazy, he’s really there).  The marketing for this team is fantastic and kids love it.  In addition to fundraising for local and national organizations, they also participated in Toys for Tots, Coats for Kids, and the recent Stuff the Bus program.  During the school year kids have the opportunity to receive free game tickets for reading books and for every A they receive on their report card (K-12 only, sorry guys).  Finally, I can’t even begin to list the community sponsorships that the Squirrels have participated in.  They stepped up just at the right time to fill in for Ukrops’ absence.

If you haven’t made it to a game yet, do your best to get tickets to one of the few home games left on the schedule.  You won’t regret it.  I think we need to give as much support to the Flying Squirrels as they have given to us.

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Memorial Day is traditionally the weekend for the pools to open, unless you are in Richmond it seems.  If you aren’t lucky enough to have a neighborhood pool or be a member at a private pool (after 10 years on the wait list) that leaves the Richmond public pools, which, unfortunately, don’t open until mid-June.  So are there any other options?  A few.  But here is one I found recently that looks very intriguing.  I found this a few weeks ago and hesitated to post since I hadn’t been there myself.  But everything I have found seems to be positive and I just come back to the idea because it simply reminds me of the places we used go when I was young. 

Hadad’s Lake is located on 40 acres in Henrico, East of 95, so why haven’t I ever heard of it?  For all of you 30 and 40 somethings, this is definitely going to remind you of your childhood.  It’s like a piece of summer camp right in our backyard!  There are 3 pools, a large lake, gazebos & pavilions, miniature golf, clubhouse, inside game room, concession stand, beach area, roaming clowns, crazy inflatables and yes, even more.  They seem to have thought of everything and everyone in the family.


First, the swimming.  There are 3 sand-bottom pool areas.  Two are shallow (up to 4 feet deep) and are open to everyone.  One of these sections has water volleyball and basketball while the other has giant inflatables in the water.  The largest pool section has a deep end and goes up to 16 ft deep.  This area has a water trampoline/bridge, rope swing, and inflatable water tower.  To swim in the deep end or play on the inflatables, you need to pass a swim test (just like camp!) or wear a life preserver.  They have some there, but definitely not enough so if you have one, bring it.  There is even a walk in beach area and smaller slide for the little kids. 

If you aren’t going to brave the water, there are plenty of other things to do.  There is an outdoor basketball court, horseshoes, volleyball court, paddleboats, miniature golf (not too fancy, but it’ll keep the kids busy), children’s playground (with a big pirate ship!), inflatables on land, and fishing (bring your own bait & tackle).  On weekends Bubbles the clown roams around and does face painting and balloons.  There is even a little train to ride.  If the heat gets to you there are places to cool off inside and a game room with pool and video games.  Are you tired yet?

Of course, this place would not make sense without a picnic.  Although there is a concession stand, picnicking is allowed here, just do not bring any glass.  Feel free to bring chairs, towels, blankets, coolers, and baskets.  Some people even bring grills I believe.  There are shuttles available in the parking area to help you lug all that stuff up to the picnic area. If you are going with a large group (we’re talking 35 or more) they have pavilions to rent at a reasonable price (esp. if everyone pitches in).  The pavilions have grills, electricity, and refrigeration which is really nice.  There are also several gazebos you can reserve.  There is no minimum number of people for these and they run $40.  Probably a good investment if you are planning on spending the entire day. 

Ok, so if you are anything like me, you’re asking “How much is all this throw back summer camp goodness going to cost me?”  Admission is $12/person (only ages 1 and under are free).  That price includes everything it seems, except for video games and the concession stand.  I think that is a good deal for a day trip.  If you are taking the kids to the museums in town, you are going to pay this much anyway.  Heck, even a meal for 4 these days runs about $40, unless you are eating at Cicis.  But I digress.  If you have larger groups the price per person goes down, and season passes are available. 

Starting this weekend the pools are open 7 days a week.  Sunday-Friday they are open  10am-8pm, Saturdays they are open 10-10.  So if you can’t get away to the beach, and you have no pools at your disposable, heck, even if you do, head out and enjoy a day here.  I am definitely going to try it out and I would love to hear from anyone that has already been there!

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The second annual Dominion Riverrock festival takes place this weekend on Brown’s Island and celebrates everything River!  There will be the requisite music, food, and exhibits, but this festival has some very unique sports features.  The festival is two days and will take the place of Friday Cheers tonight.  Trust me when I tell you, this festival is not for the faint-hearted! 

Riverrock kicks off on Friday with the 5k Filthy Mud Run at Brown’s Island which will continue over the Lee bridge and onto Belle Isle.  This race is similar to the Muddy Buddy race at Pocahontas Park in that there are plenty of obstacles, mud pits, and at one point even a run across the James River.  The race ends in another mud pit back at Browns Island where the festival has already begun!  There will also be live music from Grace Potter & the Nocturnals (after some local opening acts) and a freestyle bike competition.  These bikers will be doing all kinds of crazy tricks and flips on their bikes.  I’m sure there will even be a few wipeouts for all you hard-core fans.  And if watching humans do crazy things isn’t enough, from 6-8pm you can catch the Ultimate Air Dogs jumping, catching, and performing other tricks.   

There is another race on Saturday, the James River 10k Scramble which begins on Brown’s Island at 5pm.  This race takes runners across some of the most scenic river routes including Canal Walk, Manchester bridge, James River Park, Belle Island, and more.  It is definitely not a race for walkers!  The race will finish up back on Brown’s Island, hopefully with enough time left to enjoy some of the festivities.   For all you mountain bikers (and there are plenty here in Richmond) there will also be two Urban Assault mountain bike races (8 mile or 15 mile) starting at 4pm.  And, while we’re covering some favorite Richmond sports, we cannot leave out kayaking.  On Saturday at 4pm there will be a kayaking boatercross race on the James River.  If that wasn’t crazy enough, at 6pm there will be some kayakers doing tricks and flips (yes, in their kayaks) off a ramp.  The ramp will be over by the pedestrian bridge next to Tredegar Iron Works.  The Ultimate Air Dogs are back again on Saturday as well from 3-8pm.  There will also be live music from 4-9pm at which time Saturday’s headliner, Robert Randolph and the Family Band will take the stage.  You can get the full music lineup for both days here.  All live music concerts are free!

If all this extreme sport activity is not for you, there is also a more civil photography contest sponsored by the Richmond Times Dispatch.  All levels, beginner to pro, can enter.  Just take pictures of something or everything during the 2-day festival, turn it in, and see if you win one of the cash prizes!  Details of the contest are available here.

If you do like sports and want to get in on the adventure but not risk your life, than perhaps the Interactive Village is for you.  In this area, you can participate in plenty of activities including raft rides on the James River, kayaking in the canal, and more.  There are supposed to be activities for all ages here. 

The festival runs from 4-7:40 (when the main concert starts) on Friday and from 1-9pm (when the main concert starts) on Saturday.  All events and concerts are free to onlookers, put there are fees for participants.  In addition to all the fun, there is a purpose behind the festival as well.  All proceeds from Dominion Riverrock go to support the James River Fund, which provides grants to organizations working to enhance recreational use of the public parks along the James River by improving river access, cleaning up, constructing and maintaining trails.  This looks to be a family friendly activity, and all for a good cause!

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Bryan Park Hole 9

Nothing says Summer in Richmond like a game of frisbee golf.  There are several courses throughout metro Richmond (Duncroft – Castle Point Park, Gillies Creek Park, Dorey Park, and Goyne Park), but the most popular is probably at Bryan park.  

Disc Golf Basket

For those of you that don’t know, Disc golf (also called frisbee golf) is golf played with a Frisbee type disc which is thrown through the air into a chain linked basket to score points. The least amount of putts (throws) it takes a golfer to land the disc into the basket, the faster they can proceed to the next hole (basket location). The game has 18 “holes”, takes about an hour to play, and covers a distance of about a mile.  The course was set up at Bryan Park in 2007.  It is used by everyone from families with kids up to expert-level players.  Because the course is in a public park, it can get kind of crowded, especially when the weather is nice.  The course can get hilly at times and somewhat muddy so be prepared.  I think they are still doing some construction around the pond so the 18th hole was temporarily relocated.  I’m not sure its been put back yet.  Also, the bathrooms are only at the first tee, you’re on the own for the next 17.  You can get information on the course and pictures of every hole here.  

If you aren’t up to 18 holes of frisbee golf, Bryan park is still a beautiful place to spend the day. The park is 260 acres of forests, gardens, open spaces, and wetlands.  Especially scenic right now is the Azalea Garden. The garden was started in 1952 by Mr. Robert E. Harvey, a former Richmond Recreation and Parks Superintendent.  Over an almost fifteen-year span, Mr. Harvey and others planted 450,000 azaleas (50 different varieties) in approximately 76 separate beds, across 17 acres.  In the 1960’s and 1970’s this garden was a major tourist attraction bringing in over 450,000 visitors a year.  Unfortunately, over the years the garden was not kept up and fell into disrepair.  In the late 1990’s the Friends of Bryan Park took over the restoration of the garden.  Today you can adopt a “bed” to help keep up the garden.  The garden is open to driving visitors from April 1st to May 15th every year. 


Other attractions at the park include soccer fields, lakes, bird watching, cycling (road and mountain biking), and of course picnicking.  And, of course, because the park is in Richmond, there is some significant history behind it.  Before becoming a park, this property in the late 1700s was part of the Young Family’s 600 acre Westbrook Estate. After William Young’s death in 1832, the property was divided between his son and daughter.  During the Civil War, Bryan Park was Richmond’s outer defense line.  Young’s daughter lived on the property until her death in 1906.  In 1908, Joseph Bryan’s widow bought the land at a public auction and donated it to the city as a memorial to Joseph Bryan.  The park was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.  There is a self-guided walking tour that takes you to the various historic spots throughout the park.  You can get all the information on the tour and a map here

If you are interested in the other Frisbee golf courses around metro Richmond, you can search details on the various courses here

Bryan Park Hole 15

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