Maymont's new Nature and Visitors Center opens this weekend 

Otterly Fabulous

Anyone who has ever visited Maymont Park knows it's something pretty special. The Japanese gardens, the huge trees, that pretty stone house and those bison — Richmond sure is lucky to have such a park. But all those visitors who have passed right by that pretty stone house and strolled through the Japanese gardens on their way to the sno-cone stand are about to really discover what a treasure Maymont is.

Maymont's new $15 million Nature and Visitors Center not only provides a long-needed gateway to the former estate of railroad tycoon Major Dooley but it houses a state-of-the-art exhibition on the James River, complete with a 20-foot waterfall, 13 tanks of fish and an outdoor otter pool with one extremely cute and playful river otter.

The Nature and Visitor Center officially throws its doors open to the public this weekend, Nov. 26-28 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. During the grand opening, guests will have the opportunity to tour the new center and take tram and carriage rides to other areas of the estate.

The new center will serve as a gateway to the many attractions at Maymont. But plan on spending most of your time marveling at the wonders housed inside this new building — the nature center is full of hands-on activities that are just as fun for adults as the children they are most intended for. You'll learn everything you always wanted to know about the James River and never thought to ask — from why the river looks muddy to what happens when the river floods. The center also houses Maymont's new gift shop and cafe.

The Nature and Visitor's Center is located at 2201 Shields Lake Dr. in Byrd Park — follow the signs south from the Boulevard.

For details on Maymont's Nature and Visitor Center's grand opening celebration, call

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