Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center – Numerous aquariums and over 60 hands-on exhibits detailing Virginia’s marine environment. (757) 425-3474. 717 General Booth Boulevard. Virginia Beach.
Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge – This natural preserve began in 1973 when Union Camp Corporation donated 49,100 acres of land to The Nature Conservancy. About half of this 107,000 acre park is in Chesapeake with the remainder in neighboring Suffolk. These forested wetlands are home to many species of plants and animals. The 31,000 acre Lake Drummond is in the heart of the refuge. Canoe rentals are available on Route 17 at Chesapeake Campground at (757)485-0149. Call (757)986-3705 for more information. 3100 Dessert Road, Suffolk.
Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway – Thousands of boats ply the Intracoastal Waterway passing through the Dismal Swamp Canal and the Albemarle Chesapeake Canal annually. The waterway links the Chesapeake Bay to North Carolina’s sounds providing a vital East Coast connection between Boston and Key West, Florida. Whether you are sailing or watching from the shore, you’ll enjoy the sights along this historic waterway. Parks at Deep Creek and Great Bridge provide excellent observation points.
Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge -contains over 9,250 acres, situated on and around a thin strip of coastline typical of barrier islands found along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Habitats include beach, dunes, woodland, farm fields, and marsh. The refuge also provides habitat for a wide assortment of other wildlife, including threatened and endangered species such as loggerhead sea turtles, piping plovers, peregrine falcons, and bald eagles as well as migratory snow geese. Back Bay provides scenic trails, a visitor contact station, and, with advance scheduling, group educational opportunities. 1324 Sandpiper Road – south of Sandbridge. Virginia Beach.
First Landing State Park – First Landing State Park is located by the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia Beach. The park, which is Virginia’s most visited state park. First Landing offers boating, swimming, nature and history programs, hiking, biking, picnicking, a boat launch, cabins and 20 miles of trails on 2,888 acres. It also has campsites with water and electric hook-ups and nearby access to restrooms and showers.The park’s name was changed in 1997 from Seashore State Park to First Landing State Park to reflect its heritage as the first place where members of the Virginia Company landed. They went on to settle Jamestown. For more info, call (800) 933-7275. 2500 Shore Drive. Virginia Beach.
Deep Creek Lock Park – The park is named for the Corps of Engineers’ lock that separates the salt water of Deep Creek from the fresh water of the historic Dismal Swamp Canal. Deep Creek Lock Park is heavily wooded with a pedestrian bridge and elevated walkway system to traverse a tidal inlet and marsh area. Other features include foot trails that wind through the woods. (757) 6411, 300 Luray Street. Chesapeake.
Great Bridge Locks Park – Located along the Intracoastal Waterway just off Battlefield Blvd. this park has bleachers to permit spectators to view the many yachts that transit the lock. There is also a playground and a boat ramp. (757) 382-6411, S. Battlefield Blvd. Chesapeake.
Northwest River Park – Developed as a natural recreation area incorporating camping, an extensive trail system, picnic shelters, play areas and an equestrian area for horse owners. There is fishing, miniature golf, the Marjorie Rein Memorial Walkway, and plenty of open areas. Rental boats, canoes, and fishing poles are available. A camp store, fragrance garden for the visually impaired and a classroom building are located at the north end. The lake stretches almost to the southern activity area on the banks of the Northwest River. ( Camping, boating, horseback riding, fishing and a ropes initiative course are among the many activities available subject to seasonal availability. (757) 382-6411. 1733 Indian Creek Road. Chesapeake.
Chesapeake Arboretum – Return to nature at this 48-acre “natural classroom” dedicated to promoting horticulture and environmental awareness. One of Virginia’s finest trail systems meanders through a mature hardwood forest with many varieties of native plants and trees. The Arboretum headquarters is an eighteenth century farmhouse with theme gardens that include a fragrance and antique rose garden. The farmhouse was built in 1730 with an addition built in 1822. (757) 382-7060. 624 Oak Grove Road. Chesapeake.
Fun Forest – Spread over three acres of Chesapeake City Park, Fun Forest is the ultimate children’s playground, imagination center and family adventure area. It was built by over 1,800 volunteers from the community. Fun Forest was the winner of the Virginia Recreation and Parks Society “Best New Facility in Virginia” award in 1996. The playground has an area for older children that features a dragon, three-way underground telephone, shaky bridge, dolphin tunnel slide, and many more challenges. The science and learning area teaches mathematics and science while children have fun playing with mirrors, whisper dishes, and a planet walk. The toddler playground invites little ones to steer a plane or truck, swing, slide and more. Fun Forest is truly a place for the entire family. (757) 382-6411. 500 Greenbrier Road. Chesapeake.
Virginia Birding & Wildlife Trail – The sites in the South Chesapeake Loop offer a sample of habitats at the interface of pinewoods and the swampy bottom lands lining several rivers that drain the southeastern corner of the state. Visitors may encounter birds ranging from nuthatches flitting through the pines, to prothonotary warblers nesting in hollow swamp trees, to stealthy great blue herons hunting in the shallows. The City of Chesapeake is a starting point for this loop, which circles southward toward the North Carolina border and returns just south of the city. Chesapeake.
Norfolk Botanical Gardens – 155 beautiful acres intertwined by bridges, coastal waterways, and 12 miles of pedestrian trails. With one of the largest collections of roses, azaleas, camellias and hollies on the East Coast, Garden guests are surrounded with year-round beauty. (757) 441-5830. Azalea Garden Road between Norview Avenue and Little Creek Road. Norfolk.
Virginia Living Museum – Beautiful nature museum. Live native animals in natural settings, gardens, aquariums, planetarium, observatory, and nature classes. (757) 595-1900. 524 J. Clyde Morris Boulevard, Newport News.
Public Boat Launches
Deep Creek Lock Park – 300 Luray Street, Chesapeake, VA 23323-3028 (757) 382-6411
Great Bridge Locks Park – S.Battlefield Blvd., Chesapeake, VA 23322 (757) 382-6411
Elizabeth River Boat Landing – 1ž4 Mile West of the Poindexter Street Exit #4 off I-464
Route 17 Boat Ramp – US 17 just north of Ballahack Road. Boat access to Dismal Swamp Canal.
If golf is your game, then you’ve come to the right place. Chesapeake features two daily fee golf courses that challenge golfers of all levels. There are also other great courses throughout the Tidewater area, so just ask.
Chesapeake Golf Club – The Chesapeake Golf Club is in a beautiful woodland setting. This 6,278-yard premium public golf course features rolling fairways, challenging doglegs, and some of the best greens in the Tidewater area. (757) 547-1122. 1201 Club House Drive. Chesapeake.
“The Isles Golf Links”
at Cahoon Plantation – Inspired by the great links style courses of the British Isles. Enjoy the smoothest, greenest playing surface available on the only bent grass golf course from tee to fairway to green in the Williamsburg, Virginia Beach and Outer Banks of North Carolina corridor. (757) 436-2775. 1501 Cedar Road.
Professional Sports Teams
Love to watch the pros? There are plenty of teams to follow and enjoy live right here in the Hampton Roads Region.
Norfolk Admirals – American Hockey League team Chicago Blackhawks farm team play at Norfolk Scope. 757-363-1900. Norfolk.
Norfolk Tides – New York Mets AAA Baseball Team play at Norfolk’s Harbor Park. 757-622-2222. Norfolk.
Norfolk Nighthawks – Arena League Football play at Norfolk Scope. 757-626-0500. Norfolk.
Hampton Roads Mariners – A-League Soccer play at Virginia Beach Sportsplex. 800-955-5566. Virginia Beach.
Nautical Interest & History
Mariner’s Museum – World-renowned marine museum with 15 galleries featuring figureheads, ship models, small crafts, paintings, scrimshaw, decorative arts, and more. (757) 596-2222. 100 Museum Drive, Newport News.
Douglas MacArthur Memorial – The MacArthur Memorial’s extensive collection of military and personal artifacts allows visitors to discover the compelling story of General of the Army Douglas Macarthur and the millions of American men and women who served our nation through five wars. (757) 441-2965. Bank Street and City Hall Avenue. Norfolk.
Nauticus – The National Maritime Center A fun and exciting interactive science and technology center exploring the power of the sea. It features more than 150 exhibits including computer and video interactives, films on a giant screen, exotic aquarium, touch pools, shark petting, national-caliber traveling exhibits, and the Hampton Roads Naval Museum. Battleship USS Wisconsin is berthed next door. (757) 664-1001. 1 Waterside Drive. Norfolk.
Battleship Wisconsin – Located next to Nauticus, The National Maritime Center, the USS Wisconsin is the largest and last battleship ever built by the U.S. Navy. Explore this majestic ship through a self-guided or audiotape tour. (757) 664-1001. 1 Waterside Drive. Norfolk.
Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Museum – Pays tribute to the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. Memorabilia includes uniforms, cannon balls, models of ships and a piece of the CSS Virginia (the Merrimac). (757) 393-8591. 2 High Street. Portsmouth
AYB is minutes away from outstanding professional theater, opera, dance troupes, symphony and museums.
Virginia Symphony – Serves the community of Hampton Roads and is one of the nation’s leading regional symphony orchestras. (757) 892-6366. www.virginiasymphony.com. Norfolk.
Virginia Opera – “One of the nation’s very best regional companies” according to NBC Nightly News. Five productions are staged annually during the opera season. Harrison Opera House in Norfolk. (757) 627-9545. www.vaopera.com. Norfolk.
Virginia Stage Company – Southeastern Virginia’s premier professional theater company. Performances are presented May through September. Well’s Theatre in Norfolk. (757) 627-1234. www.vastage.com.Chrysler Museum – Visitors can enjoy the museum’s world-renowned Tiffany-glass collection, Art Nouveau furniture, works of art from African, Egyptian, Pre-Columbian, Islamic and Asian cultures, and an extensive European and American collection of paintings, sculpture and decorative arts. (757) 664-6200. 245 West Olney Road. Norfolk.
D’Art Center – A working art studio where artists create, display, and sell their work. (757) 625-4211. 125 College Place. Norfolk.
Contemporary Arts Center of Virginia – Changing exhibits feature 20th century American art. Theatre, dance, and musical concerts are also offered. (757) 425-0000. 2200 Parks Avenue. Virginia Beach.
Virginia Zoological Park – With over 350 animals including the 10-acre Okavango African habitat, as well as Asian Trail of the Tiger, Reptile and Nocturnal Gallery, Barnyard and Botanical Gardens. Kids of all ages will enjoy the train that runs around the park and a day of discovery awaits guests when they come to the Virginia Zoo. (757) 441-2706. 3500 Granby Street. Norfolk.
Children’s Museum of Virginia – The state’s largest children’s museum, offering more than 80 hands-on exhibits, temporary rotating exhibits, a 64-seat planetarium and an antique toy and model train collection. (757) 393-8393. 221 High Street. Portsmouth.
Ocean Breeze Festival Park – Family fun and adventure; wildwater and speed slides, autorides, and miniature golf. (757) 422-4444. 849 General Booth Boulevard. Virginia Beach.
Busch Gardens – 360-acre family fun park featuring nine different authentically detailed 17th century European hamlets. Over 40 rides, live shows, European shops with demonstrations. (800) 343-7946. Williamsburg.
Water Country USA – 40-acre family water park with rides, slides, pools, and shows. (800) 343-7946. Williamsburg.
The Hampton Carousel – One of only 170 antique carousels in existence in the U.S., this waterfront merry-go-round beckons families to take a whirl. (757) 727-0900. 602 Settlers Landing Road, Hampton.
Farm Bureau Virginia Beach Amphitheater – State-of-the-art outdoor concert facility hosts more than 35 events April through October. (757) 368-3000. 3550 Cellar Door Way.
Ntelos Pavillion at Harbor Center – This pavilion-style performance venue accommodates 6,500. Comparable in size and quality to Wolf Trap in Northern Virginia and Chastain Park in Atlanta. 901 Crawford St. (on the waterfront, south of City Hall). For ticket information: (757) 391-3260. Portsmouth.
Historical Museums & Sites
Colonial Williamsburg – Historic Area Over 500 buildings, house museums, restored homes, exhibits, and shops populated by artisans using tools and techniques from colonial times recreate life in the 18th century. Located off I-64 midway between Norfolk and Richmond. 800-HISTORY.
Yorktown Battlefield/Colonial National Historical Park – American independence was won here in 1781. Visitor center, museum, battlefield, auto tour. (757) 898-3400. Old Route 238 and Colonial Parkway.
Jamestown – Site of America’s first permanent English settlement. (757) 229-1733.
Olde Towne Historic District – Showcases the largest concentration of antique houses between Alexandria, VA and Charleston, SC. (757) 393-5111. Portsmouth.
Virginia Sports Hall of Fame – The Hall of Fame honors Virginia sports heroes from golfer Sam Snead to tennis star Arthur Ashe. (757) 393-8031. 420 High Street. Portsmouth.
Riddick’s Folly – This twenty-room Greek Revival house briefly served as Union Headquarters during the Civil War and is now a museum and cultural center. (757) 934-1390. 510 North Main Street.
Suffolk Museum – An educational facility that provides workshops, classes, cultural events and volunteer opportunities. (757) 925-0448. 118 Bosley Avenue. Suffolk.
Virginia Air & Space Center – Features more than 100 hands-on exhibits that tell the story of air and space exploration plus a five-story high IMAX? Theater. Call for hours of operation. Open daily except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. (757) 727-0900. 600 Settler Landing Road, Hampton.
Casemate Museum/Fort Monroe – Exhibits chronicle the history of Fort Monroe and the U.S. Army’s presence in Hampton Roads. (757) 788-3391. Casemate 20, Bernard Road, Hampton.
Air Power Park – Learn about Hampton’s space and aviation history at this outdoor display of aircraft. (757) 727-1163. 413 W. Mercury Blvd., Hampton.