Don’t you just love watching your kids’ faces light up when they discover something new or make a connection to something they’re observing? That look of delight, as a smile breaks out, and you can almost see the “lightbulb” flash above their little heads. It’s one of my favorite things as a parent!
There’s something about learning out in the world that can’t be replicated in a classroom, and I love that travel is a natural way to offer that to my kids.
We recently took a weekend trip to Richmond, Indiana on the eastern side of the state and over and over I watched my kids have those lightbulb moments in completely natural ways as we explored all of the learning opportunities this amazing Indiana town has to offer.
Whether you’re a home-school family looking to expand your curriculum or just a curious family who wants to get away for the weekend, you’ll find endless opportunities to learn right alongside your kids in Richmond.
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What to Do in Richmond Indiana with Kids
Once the Hayes’ family estate, Hayes Arboretum is now open to the public with hiking trails, a nature center, museum, and driving tour. All trails leave from the nature center which is also where you can purchase your token ($5 fee) for the driving tour, the best way to see the whole estate, including the original grand house.
It’s a rough gravel road about 3 miles long but it was a lot of fun things to see and you can stop anywhere along the way to explore. I also highly recommend the outdoor playscape area near the Nature Center. It’s one of the best outdoor, nature-based playgrounds I’ve seen and my kids would have happily spent all morning there.
Wayne County Historical Museum
What do you get when a wealthy benefactor spends her life collecting treasures from around the world? The Wayne County Historical Museum! For a small town in Indiana, I was blown away by the eclectic collection at this museum. From medieval armor to a giant dollhouse, and turn-of-the-century car collection, you could wander for a long time to visit all of the treasures. My kids love the outside recreation of some historical buildings like a one-room schoolhouse and the chance to see one of the only two mummies in Indiana.
Joseph Moore Museum
Located on the campus of Earlham College, the Joseph Moore Museum is truly a hidden gem. It’s one of the best hands-on nature and science museums we’ve been to with each display offering tons of interaction and tactile ways to experience nature. From a dinosaur skeleton to the lifestyle of bees, there’s something for every kid to explore.
There are lots of critters to pet and explore downstairs and you’ll find the second of Indiana’s two mummies here. There’s even a cute little planetarium and the employees were happy to offer a short show for us. The museum does have fairly limited hours, but I’d say it’s a must visit for kids ages 4-12.
Play at Jack Elstro Plaza
Jack Elstro Plaza is a new green space downtown offers a color changing fountain for kids to splash in, concert space, and lots of grass to run in. It’s also home to the Richmond Farmers Market. Let your kids run around a bit and cool off in the water. It’s also across the street from the Morrison-Reeves Library, with a great children’s section, perfect for curling up and reading a book while everyone rests a bit.
Fountain Acres Foods
(Fountain City, IN) Fountain Acres Foods is a huge Amish store full of great deals on things like candy, baked goods, and tons of unique grocery items. They also have a large display area of swing sets and gazebos that kids are welcome to play on outside. Since it is an Amish-run business, they only take cash and they are closed on Sundays. Two thumbs up for their homemade ice cream too!
Levi and Catherine Coffin House & Interpretive Center
(Fountain City, IN) Let your kids experience history in an up-close and personal way at the Levi and Catherine Coffin House & Interpretive Center, which served as an historic stop on the Underground Railroad. Devote Quakers, the Coffins helped over 1,000 freedom seekers on their journey north to Canada during the early 1800s. This is a moving tour that takes you through the house and the new interpretive center next door. I’d recommend it for kids ages 7+ who are already familiar with the idea of slavery and its role in our country’s history.
Cope Environmental Center
(Centerville, IN) Hiking trails, a nature center, and interactive programing are all offered at Cope Environmental Center. Check their calendar for more info about family events. My kids loved checking out the ponds for critters and exploring the nature playground. They also have lots of critters to touch inside the building too.
Trails to Explore
No, these aren’t the kind that wander through the woods. Richmond is home to several different “trails” and hunts to help you explore the city. There’s a chocolate trail for your sweet tooth, a fossil hunt for nature explorers, and even a fairy house trail for some magical fun. You can pick up info about each of them online or at the National Road Welcome Center. My boys loved looking for many of these things as we traveled around town and were fascinated with the fairy doors hidden in many local businesses.
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Where to Stay in Richmond Indiana with Kids
Holiday Inn Richmond
Located near the Visit Richmond Welcome Center, the Holiday Inn Richmond is great for families with an indoor pool, easy access to restaurants, and affordable rates. They even offer a few kid suites rooms for families. The front desk staff was helpful (despite a huge wedding party that was checking in at the same time) and our room was very quiet.
Where to Eat in Richmond Indiana with Kids
Joy Ann’s Cake Shop
Prepare for your kids’ eyes to fall out of their heads when they see the cases and cases of sugary treats. Joy Ann’s Cake Shop is famous for their huge selection of iced sugar cookies and my boys both had a hard time choosing just one. My husband and I split a cannoli and it was delicious. A perfect afternoon stop for a quick treat. Grab it to go and then head up the block to the Jack Elstro Plaza to eat.
A huge menu of family-friendly options with over two pages just devoted to sandwiches. Little Sheba’s is located in the historic Depot District of Richmond, a revitalized area of restored buildings and warehouses. Spend a few minutes exploring shops along this block including a cute used book store, Two Sisters Books and More, with a Harry Potter room tucked under the staircase in the back.
Firehouse BBQ & Blues
Delicious! It’s the only way to describe Firehouse BBQ and Blues. Housed in a restored historic firehouse, you’ll want to make sure you get here early because the place fills up fast in the evenings. The BBQ is amazing and they have great kid-friendly options. Don’t skip the BBQ nachos and stick around to enjoy live music on the weekends.
Ullery’s Ice Cream
Just across the street from Firehouse BBQ you’ll find Ullery’s Ice Cream. Homemade ice cream that is still churned by the motor of an old tractor, this family business is serious about their ice cream. You’ll find interesting flavors and a slightly more icy texture that make this ice cream very unique.
(Hagerstown, IN) You’ll smell Abbott’s Candy before you even open the front door. From delicate chocolates to the softest caramels, your kids will love sampling the treats and watching the candy makers at work. It’s an easy stop just off of I-70 east of Richmond.
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Want more ideas for exploring Richmond Indiana with kids?
If you’re thinking about a trip to Richmond, I can’t recommend the wonderfully helpful staff of Wayne County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Of all the many Midwest towns we’ve visited, Richmond was certainly one of the friendliest and each shopkeeper or wait staff member went out of their way to welcome us and ask if we needed anything.
Don’t miss the chance to see your kids discover new things! Make learning an easy part of your travels as you offer fun and educational experiences to your whole family in Richmond, Indiana.
Where do you love to take your kids to help them discover new things? Got another getaway idea for curious families that you’d love to see us cover? Leave your ideas in the comments!