As the home of the world’s largest Naval Station and a huge military presence, Hampton Roads is obviously packed with families looking for things to do this summer. Although some have their qualms about the area, many military families who PCS to the area there count themselves lucky to reside in a tourist destination and beach town. Hampton Roads has a lot of things to offer if you’re “staycationing” this summer, yet still looking to get off base.
Hampton Roads expands across and includes a sizable area and is actually a continuum of seven cities: Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, and Virginia Beach. If you venture a little further north, you can also count Williamsburg and the other areas of the historic triangle. Needless to say, it can take a long time to take in all the area’s sights. This list should get you started. It’s a mix of things for families kids and adults and several price points.
Beaches: Let’s start with one of the best attractions – the many beaches in the area. Whether the Boardwalk¬† or other areas of Virginia Beach‘s 28 miles of shoreline are more your style, or you’d prefer Norfolk’s quieter community beaches, there is something for everyone. Locals and renters also love venturing to Sandbridge.
First Landing State Park was the former home to colonists before establishing themselves at Jamestown. In addition to some historic displays, the park now has areas for camping, fishing, and swimming, hiking and biking.
The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Museum is a great way to escape the sometimes oppressive summer heat. They offer something for every age group in their two pavilions. There are also boat trips available at an additional cost where you can see marine life in nature.
Although Fort Story is an operational military base, it’s also home to the First Landing Cross and Cape Henry Lighthouses You won’t feel like you’re on base while you’re visiting this beautiful, quiet area’s beaches and historic sights.
Virginia Beach Ocean Breeze Waterpark is a guaranteed fun day for kids and adults.
Little Island Park and Fishing Pier is a 144-acre beach on the Atlantic. It has a beach as well as a 400 foot fishing pier.
The Virginia Beach Rock Gym is a fun place to blow off some steam and energy when it’s just too hot to stay outside. It’s open to all levels of climbers.
The Children’s Theatre of Hampton Roads performs at several locations. Check their schedule and book in advance.
Doumar’s Drive-In has changed little in the last century. Stop by for hand-rolled cones and barbeque.
Downtown Norfolk is not to be forgotten. It has a great collection of restaurants, bars, nightlife, and lots of local events.
The Hermitage Museum and Gardens has a stunning view as well as events and historic displays.
Nauticus is a maritime science located on the downtown waterfront. It has great interactive exhibits and is home to the USS Wisconsin¬†The Hampton Roads Naval Museum, next door to Nauticus, organizes tours of the battleship.
The Virginia Zoological Park, home to about 300 species, is worth a visit. There’s a zoo train and a petting zoo for the little ones as well as a recently-renovated Tiger exhibit.
The Norfolk¬†Botanical Garden is a botanical garden with arboretum and is home to a number of themed displays including a famous collection of azaleas and a fantastic children’s garden.¬†
The Hoffler Creek Wildlife Preserve, is a non-profit organization that aims to protect the last remaining area of wilderness in the Hoffler Creek watershed and is a habitat for many species.
Virginia Sports Hall of Fame and Museum honors Virginians who have made a major impact in sports. There is a hall of fame as well as interactive exhibits, hands-on baseball, basketball, football, soccer and auto racing activities.
There’s a lot going on in Olde Towne Portsmouth, including shops, restaurants and museums, large and small.
The Children’s Museum of Portsmouth is a large, hands-on children’s museum with many interactive exhibits. Check their schedule for events and changing exhibits.
The Lightship Portsmouth Museum, a National Historic Landmark and museum displays artifacts, uniforms, photographs, models, and more. Also in Portsmouth, the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Museum has displays featuring the oldest shipyard in the nation.
The Virginia Living Museum has a little bit of everything and something for everyone. It’s part science museum, part nature park and has both indoor and outdoor displays.
Peninsula SPCA Exotic Sanctuary & Petting Zoo It’s free and it’s home to goats, sheep, chickens, ducks, geese, and other animals that are wonderful with children as well as other exotic animals that are not for touching.
The Mariners’ Museum is the largest maritime library in the Western Hemisphere that houses a huge collection of books, picture, films and archives.
Bluebird Gap Farm is public city park and petting zoo on a 60-acre farm. It’s home to about 150 domestic and wild animals.
The Virginia Air & Space Center has exhibits for mulptiple age groups, including hands-on activities and an IMAX.
More Great Ideas:
Enjoy your time in Hampton Roads!
Check our SargesList Local Hampton Roads events.