Most cities have historic homes that are available to visit, and these historical sites usually do a good job at scheduling fun family-friendly events to draw in visitors. In Richmond, we have many of these homes, including the 18th century Wilton House along the James River.
Wilton House was built by the illustrious Randolph family in 1753. It was the main house of a large tobacco plantation along the James River in eastern Henrico County that had a large enslaved population. The Randolph family hosted many prominent figures, including George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette, who made the home his headquarters in 1781.
The Randolph family sold the home in 1859 to pay off debts, and the house survived the Civil War with many battles taking place nearby. The house went into foreclosure during the Great Depression when The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in the Commonwealth of Virginia bought it for refurbishment. Since the land surrounding the house was now zoned for business, the society disassembled the home and rebuilt it on land just west of Richmond along the James River.
The home is now a museum with many family-friendly events and tours throughout the year. The Virginia History of Museum and Culture also displays a large dollhouse made from Wilton’s history which is fun to see.
Wilton is an easy place to visit on any trip to Richmond. It’s close to the University of Richmond and to the popular Carytown. There are hourly guided tours from Wednesday – Sunday and be on the lookout for special events, especially in the summer.
We toured the house during the Christmas candlelight tour, which highlighted Christmas in Virginia during different times. It was so interesting learning about the holidays from colonial times through the 1940s.
We started the tour in the parlor where we learned a traditional dance that would have been part of the weeks-long colonial holiday celebrations.
Then we moved on to my favorite room in the house, the dining room. At Christmas, it was set up with traditional colonial food (and we even got to taste two colonial cookie recipes after the tour!).
The upstairs has several rooms to tour as well. The home is a well-preserved time capsule of 18th century Virginia manor homes.
I love the events that Wilton hosts, especially in the summer. We’ve attended the summer Jammin’ on the James concerts before and loved them! It’s very family-friendly with a concert on the back lawn with kids’ games and face painting. It’s one of my favorite memories with our kids! The next concert is on Saturday, July 8th so get your tickets for it! We hope to be there!
If you have a historic home in your area, be sure to check out its summer events that are geared to families. It’s a great way to make history fun!
- Cost: Tour is $10/adults; $8/students; events like Jammin’ on the James are $5-10
- Recommended: 10 and up for tour; all ages for events
- Tour time: 1 hour
- Transportation: Accessible only by car, there is plenty of parking at the house
- Dining options: The shopping and dining area of Libbie and Grove Avenues is a short drive away. There are several great restaurants here that my family loves: Jack Brown’s Beer and Burger Joint, Taste, and The Continental. And don’t miss dessert at Cameo Cakery! We also love the nearby Mosaic Restaurant.
- Nearby hotels: See my Richmond guide for recommendations.
- Nearby attractions include: Agecroft Hall and Gardens, Virginia House, and Virginia Museum of History and Culture
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