12 budget-friendly ways to enjoy your summer in central Va.

Here’s NBC12′s list of 12 budget-friendly ways to spend your summer this year, all almost under $30
Richmond summer activities
Here's NBC12's 12 list of budget-friendly ways to enjoy the rest of summer.(Pixabay)
Published: Jul. 12, 2022 at 8:30 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - For most, summer never stays long enough, and it can often feel like anything fun near you can cost a pretty penny. But that isn’t the case here in central Va. Here’s NBC12′s list of 12 budget-friendly ways to spend your summer this year, all almost under $30.

Visit museums

Central Virginia has dozens of museums dedicated to history or the fine arts. One of Virginia’s most famous museums in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA), open 24/7, 365. The VMFA has an eclectic and rotating collection of exhibitions from all over the world. They also have a sculpture garden where guests can lay out on the lawn and be one with the art. General admission is free.

If the finer arts aren’t your cup of tea, then right on West Broad Street, there’s the Institute of Contemporary Art, free of charge, with constantly rotating exhibitions.

For a complete list of museums in central Virginia, click/tap here.

Visit historic sites

In the state of Virginia, there are currently 123 national historic landmarks, according to the National Register of Historic Places. Virginia has a rich and deep history as one of the original 13 states in the colonies and a vital part of the Civil War.

Some notable historical sites in central Virginia include the Main Street station, Cold Harbor Battlefield Visitor Center, Richmond National Battlefield Park and Hollywood Cemetary.

Go to Carytown’s Watermelon Festival

Carytown’s Watermelon Festival is celebrating its 40th year this August, featuring food from local vendors, live music, local crafts and watermelon for only a dollar. Celebrate one of the summer’s most popular fruits on Aug. 14 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., starting on South Colonial Avenue.

Catch a movie at the Byrd Theatre

The Byrd Theatre, located in Carytown, is known for its cheap ticket prices and French Empire architecture. Built in 1928, the Byrd Theatre has hardly changed its appearance or function for over 90 years. This State and National Historic Landmark shows movies from the past and today. Most Saturdays, house organist Bob Gulledge plays the organ before each film showing. Tickets range from $5-$15, depending on the film.

See an outdoor movie under the stars

If an ornate, old-fashioned theater isn’t your style, there are also plenty of outdoor movie events to enjoy your favorite films under the summer night sky. Some places showing films include West Broad Village or the Goochland Drive-In Theatre.

The West Broad Village’s ‘Movies Under the Stars’ are free and only doing showings every Friday in July, so catch the last two movies while you can. Click/tap here for more details.

The Goochland Drive-In Theatre shows different movies every weekend in the summer, with tickets starting at $22 per carload (seven people limit). They also have full concessions with gluten-free and vegetarian options. Movies are typically announced 4-7 days in advance, so keep an eye on their website here if you want to catch their latest showing.

Explore the Canal Walk in Downtown Richmond

The Canal Walk is a 1.25-mile stretch along the James River and Kanawha and Haxall Canals, with access points almost every block between 5th and 17th streets. Along the walk, there are public art installations, statues and exhibits.

Getting peckish? There are plenty of restaurants along the promenade with reasonable pricing as well.

Enjoy the James River with a Riverfront Canal Cruise

Book a Riverfront Canal Cruise at $12 for a 40-minute narrated tour through James River and Kanawha Canal along the Canal Walk and learn about centuries of Richmond history, from Powhatan’s Chiefdom to the first electric street car in the world.

Tickets are available on a first-come-first-serve basis in person or 24 hours in advance online.

Tours are hourly from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Have a picnic along the James River

The James River, referred to by the Friends of the James River Park as “Richmond’s natural playground,” is a great cost-efficient way to spend a day on the water as the months only get hotter. Spend a day floating, kayaking on the water, or finding remarkable rocks to skip. Pack a cooler or basket and make a day of it.

The river system has over 600 acres and over 40 different trails to explore.

Sign up for Lowe’s DIY workshops

Lowe’s Home Improvement offers free “DIY-U” workshops where attendees can learn the basics of home improvement or learn a fun craft, whether building a treasure chest or building a farmhouse table. Lowe’s offers free workshops for all ages and skill levels.

Visit nature centers and parks

Maymont’s grounds and gardens are open daily from 10 a.m. through 7 p.m. during the summer with free admission. The grounds feature an Italian garden, a Japanese garden, an animal farm and wildlife habitats. The Robins Nature Center in Maymont highlights the ecology of the James River along Maymont’s southern border with reptiles, fish and frogs native to Virginia.

The Rockwood Nature Center is a sub-facility of Rockwood Park. The park is open from dawn to dusk. The log cabin-style building hosts an array of native reptiles, amphibians, and a honeybee hive. The nature center and park are free to visit at 3401 Courthouse Rd.

Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens has 50 acres of gardens, dining and shopping. There are more than a dozen themed gardens for attendees to explore and learn about their plant collections and botanical displays. The gardens are open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission for adults is $17 but free for members.

Go to a farmer’s market

There are many different farmer’s markets almost every day of the week during the summer in central Virginia. Each market offers a variety of locally grown produce, freshly made food and work by local artists and businesses. Shop local at reasonable prices by making a day of it!

Click/tap here for our complete list of farmer’s markets.

Catch a free concert at Westchester Commons

Westchester Commons is hosting a free summer concert series every Thursday until the end of September. There is food and drinks for sale from Sedona Taphouse, but guests can bring food in from any Westchester Commons businesses and a sealed, clear water bottle.

Some performers include The Steve Bassett Band, The Voltage Brothers and Ron Moody & the Centaurs.

Each concert event is from 5:30 p.m. through 8:30 p.m. at 15825 WC Main Street in Midlothian.

Looking for even more things to do this summer? Check out last week’s RVA Parenting segment!

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