Maymont Park. Being a Virginia native and having lots of family in the Richmond area, I was floored when I heard Richmond has wild animals…in the city! There is so much to do here, but we focused on feeding the animals at the petting zoo and visiting the Virginia wildlife in the animal exhibits.
Maymont is 100 acres of rolling hills, gardens, animals, and historical buildings to explore. According to their website, a wealthy Richmond couple, James and Sallie Dooley, left their gorgeous estate to the City of Richmond as a special place for people to enjoy. The park officially opened to the public in March 1926. As I mentioned, we only had time to experience the animals at the park, but there is the mansion, carriage house, numerous gardens, and even a mausoleum to explore.
We entered at the Spottswood Entrance, which is at the corner of Spottswood Rd and Shirley Ln. This is the entrance closest to the Children’s Farm with paved trails to the wildlife exhibits. Here is a map of Maymont, which is helpful in deciding where to park based on which exhibits you want to experience.
After parking the car, we immediately headed for the Children’s Farm. It’s a self-guided exhibit and they suggest a $2 per person donation. We saw peacocks walking around, lots of sheep, wild looking bird-like animals in the barn, bunnies, goats, donkeys, pigs, etc. All of the animals were extremely friendly and welcomed our yummy treats!
Once we finished with the petting zoo, we continued down the paved trail to the wildlife exhibits. Here we saw a hawk, white-tailed deer, a gray fox (sadly circling the perimeter of his habitat), vultures, owls, a bald eagle, a black bear, and buffalo. The poor bald eagle had an injured wing and the black bear enjoyed his high-security home (in response to the 2006 incident where two black bears bit a small child). Even though this isn’t the same eagle as is in Maymont, here is a cool live eagle-cam on two eagles and their newly hatched chicks along the James River.
Meandering through the trail, you’ll cross a small stream several times and see signs for the butterfly trail. This was the beginning of March, so several of the daffodils were in bloom. The trails through the park are also great for running on, as we saw lots of people jogging that day. In the far distance you can see the mansion and other buildings. Several of these can be rented for events, whether for a wedding, corporate event, or birthday party.
So, next time we’re in town we’ll totally check out the other features of the park and maybe even do a guided tour of a mansion. If you have kids and are looking for something fun and cheap to do, definitely check out Maymont and all it has to offer.
Thumbs up: proximity of wildlife in city, petting zoo, rolling hills landscape, buffalo exhibit,
Thumbs down: gray fox exhibit, black bear exhibit