Maymont, Visitors Center entrance, 2201 Shields Lake Drive. The carefully preserved Dooley Mansion from Richmond’s Gilded Age includes an upstairs/downstairs tour. The 33-room Victorian home overlooks a 100-acre estate with Japanese and formal Italian gardens, Children’s Farm, Robins Nature Center and wildlife habitats. The park is located next to Richmond’s Byrd Park.
The Italian Garden incorporates a number of features characteristic of the Italian style: fountains, geometrically-shaped beds, sculpture, the contrast of sun and shade within the long pergola that stretches along the northern edge of the garden.
The Japanese Garden is blend of several different styles of Japanese gardens and two distinct periods of design. In 1911, the Dooleys purchased a wedge-shaped section of the Kanawha Canal that bordered Maymont. The space is cool, shaded and intimate.
Completed in 1999, the Robins Nature & Visitor Center at Maymont is dedicated to native Virginia wildlife. Rather than displaying a host of exotic creatures from distant seas, the Nature Center interprets the natural environment of the James River.
The Children’s Farm features domestic animals raised on Virginia farms. The Farm is open year-round and is home to a variety of goats, sheep, pigs, chickens, donkeys, rabbits, peafowl (peacocks and peahens), turkeys, cattle, horses, geese and ducks.
Maymont’s Wildlife Exhibits are scattered throughout the 40-acre valley between the historical estate, Children’s Farm and Nature Center. All exhibits feature native Virginia wildlife in their natural habitats, including black bears, bison, white-tailed and sika deer, elk, gray and red fox, bobcats, birds of prey and an aviary displaying an impressive array of birds, many representing Virginia’s wetlands.
Hours: Grounds and visitor center open daily, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Exhibits, including the Nature Center and Maymont House, TuSu, noon-5 p.m.
Costs: free; donations suggested. Tram rides and carriage rides (weather permitting) are $3 for adults; $2 for children.