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June 5-6 

James River

With the region banking on the $21.5 million canal project to restore Richmond as a destination city, there's no better time to get to know the recreational treasure that Richmond holds in the James River. Take one weekend this summer to explore the river's resources and you'll come away a believer.

Start the weekend early Friday evening and go for a twilight paddle on the James, starting at 6 p.m. Participants on the Chesterfield Parks and Recreation guided trip will search for beavers and great blue heron, among other wildlife. The cost is $12 per person. Canoes, accessory gear and transportation are included in the cost. Minimum age is 10. Call 748-1623 by May 28 to register. Directions will be provided when you register.

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Get an early start Saturday and take the Chappel Island Tour at Great Ship Lock Park. This outing begins at 10 a.m. and lasts a little more than two hours. To get to the area from Shockoe Bottom, take Dock Street to the parking area near Pear Street next to Lone Star Gravel. The tour is an organized event sponsored by the James River Association and will cover aspects of Richmond's development from the first English visits in the early 1600s to the current riverfront development. The trip guide will share knowledge about the Great Ship Lock, the Shockoe Bottom Flood Wall and the Church Hill railroad depots. Wear walking shoes and bring bug spray. Call 888-727-8850 for more information.

After the tour is over, enjoy part of the opening of the Canal Walk celebration with the Ukrop's/Target Family Jubilee at Tredegar Iron Works Park. The free event is from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and will span the space from Brown's Island to the turning basin of the Canal Walk. Merchant vendors, food vendors and four stages of local entertainment will be part of the excitement.

If you're looking for a wild ride, try a whitewater rafting trip with Richmond Raft Company. Several trips are offered, including a scenic trip on the upper James. To experience the rapids of the James, try a Falls of the James trip, which begins with the Class I and II rapids on the upper section of the river. After lunch, the trip continues through downtown, offering a unique view of the city's skyline. On the second part of the trip, rafters will experience Class III and IV rapids. On Saturdays, trips begin at 9 and 11 a.m. and cost $50 per person, or $46 per person for a group of 18 or more. Price includes lunch, transportation and gear. Allow five to six hours for the trip. Trips begin at Richmond Raft Company, 4400 E. Main St. For reservations call 222-7238 or visit their Web site at www.richmondraft.com.

Make Sunday a day of exploration with a tour of Belle Isle. Pack a picnic lunch and head downtown for a day of fun. Parking is available on Tredegar Street under the Lee Bridge. The island offers green pastures and large river rocks perfect for sunbathing and picnicking. Bring bicycles along and ride on the mile-long, tree-shaded loop that circles the island. At 2 p.m. the James River Association is sponsoring a walking tour, beginning at the north end of the island foot bridge on Tredegar Street. The walk will focus on the remnants of the Virginia Power plant and the island's use as a prisoner-of-war site during the Civil War. Wear walking shoes and bring bug repellent. The cost of the 2 p.m. tour is $3 per person. Call 888-727-8550.

If it's raining, you can still see the sites of the river at the Kid's Photography Show at the Children's Museum of Richmond. Spend the morning looking at an exhibit of photographs of the James River taken by participants in the Richmond Police Athletic League Program. The exhibit runs through June 30. Museum admission $4 adults/$3 children. Call 788-4949 for more
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