Hampton Roads, Virginia is the perfect place to go for summer vacation. Within just a few miles, you can catch some rays on Virginia Beach, visit historic Williamsburg, Jamestown, or Yorktown, or spend some time at one of many area museums and sites. Then there are the places to go to have some fun. Spend a day at Busch Gardens or take a dip at Water Country USA or the Ocean Breeze Waterpark. If you are willing to go a little bit further (about 90 miles) to the Richmond area, you can visit Kings Dominion Theme Park as well.
In short, Hampton Roads is an area packed with all kinds of entertainment possibilities like:
The Virginia Air & Space Museum is located in downtown Hampton, Virginia. Open May 24th through September 3rd for its summer season, the museum is open Monday through Wednesday from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. and Thursday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. Admission prices are as follows:
Regular Exhibits: Children under 3, free; children aged 3 through 9, $7; adults, $9; and senior citizens, $8.
IMAX Feature: Children under 3, free; children aged 3 through 9, $6.75; adults, $8; and senior citizens, $7.
Exhibits Plus IMAX Feature: Children under 3, free; children age 3 through 9, $11; adults, $14; and senior citizens, $13.
With space capsules as well as parts and equipment from airplanes and space shuttles, flight simulators and more, the Air & Space Museum offers an insight into the history of flight. Explore the multistory museum and learn everything you ever wanted to know about flying and outer space, walk through a partial airplane, or try your hand at flying a shuttle.
The museum’s IMAX theater shows features and movies in 2D and 3D. IMAX – – the world’s largest motion picture format – – offers an unparalleled sense of realism and motion. The unique, technologically advanced system projects onto a five-story screen which is enhanced by 16,000 watts of digital sound.
The theater is currently showing features on the:
- Alaska; and
- Everest as well as the children’s favorite
- Happy Feet.
Broaden your education and have some fun playing their miniature golf course, which lets you explore a tropical rainforest, navigate a polluted waterway, and discover the challenges that migrating birds face. For a touch of history, ride one of only 70 working wooden carousels left in the U.S., located in the beautiful museum courtyard.
The Casemate Museum is located on the historic army base of Fort Monroe. With its history rich in American culture, the Casemate Museum offers a glimpse into both the state of Virginia’s and America’s past. The museum has a myriad of war exhibits and takes you into the bunkers were ammunition and soldiers holed up during the Civil War.
Plans are currently in effect to allow visitation where Edgar Allan Poe lived on Fort Monroe from December 15, 1828 until April 15, 1829.
The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and from noon until 5:00 p.m. on Sundays. It closed for New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. Admission is free.
The Jamestown Settlement. Explore the first permanent English settlement in North America. Take a tour of the original 17th century church tower as well as the reconstructed Jamestown Memorial Church. Take a walking tour through the original settlement along the James River. Watch glassblowing being done the same way it originated in colonial times at the Glasshouse. Drive through the natural setting where you can see bald eagles, heron, deer, and other wildlife.
The settlement is open every day from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Admission for children under age 6 is free; from age 6 to 12 is $6.25; and for adults is $13.50. A separate admission ticket will be required for America’s Anniversary Weekend, May 11-13, 2007.
NEWPORT NEWS, VIRGINIA
Mariner’s Museum. Open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. It is closed for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Admission for children under the age of 6 is free; for children age 6 to 18, is $6; and for adults is $8.
With over 60,000 square feet of exhibition space, escape to the era of early ship exploration. Visitors can explore the displays of intricate miniature ship models and fascinating figureheads. Experience the artifacts from the famous Civil War ironclad USS Monitor and more than 75 small craft from 36 countries. Spend the day enjoying the beautiful 550-acre park with a five-mile walking trail, the Museum Shop, and the Museum Café.
The Victory Arch, located at 25th and West Avenue, was originally built in 1919 when returning WWI troops disembarked from ships and marched through the arch in victory parades. Today the arch serves as a memorial with an eternal flame for all the men and women of the armed forces. The site is always open and there is no admission fee.
Virginia Living Museum. Explore nature from Virginia’s mountains to her seas with live exhibits. Transport to the steamy world of a cypress swamp, complete with alligators and snapping turtles or see songbirds nestled in trees near a cascading waterfall. View trout in a cool mountain stream. Explore the underwater world of the Chesapeake Bay and the underground realm of a limestone cave. See spectacular views of the sun from the observatory.
Outdoors, stroll the 3/4- mile elevated boardwalk to view coastal birds, red wolves, otters and other native animals in naturalized habitats and explore native plant gardens.
Located in Newport News, Virginia, about half-way between Williamsburg and Norfolk, the museum is open daily except for Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and the month of January. The hours of operation are 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.
Admission for children under 3 is free; children age 3 through 12 is $10; and for adults, $13.
Nauticus, located at One Waterside Drive in Norfolk, is 20 minutes west of Virginia Beach and 40 minutes east of historic Williamsburg. The National Maritime Center is an exciting interactive science center with a maritime theme. It features over 150 exhibits including interactive computers and videos, films, and exotic aquatic wildlife.
The center opens for its spring/summer rotation on Memorial Day and remains open through Labor Day. Hours of operation are 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. daily. The remainder of the year, it is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. and on Sunday from noon until 5:00 p.m. It is closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Admission for children under 3 is free; for children between the ages of 4 and 12 is $8.95; and for adults, is $9.95. Admission for senior citizens, AAA members, and military personnel is also free.
The Naval Museum is located in downtown Norfolk on Waterside Drive. The museum, operated by the United States Navy, is celebrating more than 220 years of naval history. It oversees the day-to-day operations and interpretation of the Iowa-class battleship USS Wisconsin (BB-64).
The museum’s gallery is typically open Tuesday through Saturday 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. and on Sundays from Noon until 5:00 p.m. It is closed on Mondays. Extended hours are possible during the summer months. Admission is free.
During the tour, you can access:
- The Daybook, which is the museum’s journal of local Naval history and museum events. The topics covered within include operations of the USS Cumberland, the Navy’s arsenal at St. Juliens Creek, a slave ship’s prosecution in Norfolk, and several articles on the 1907 Jamestown Exposition.
- The 1907 Jamestown Exposition. Online you will a find an interpretive map of the fair, postcards, and original motion picture footage.
Norfolk Zoological Park, located at 3500 Granby Street in Norfolk, the zoo is nestled on 53 acres along the Lafayette River. Home to some 300 animals from elephants, Siberian tigers and monkeys, to reptiles and birds, the Virginia Zoo is accredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA). It is open extended hours during the spring and summer and admission is free.
Townpoint Park. Located on the downtown waterfront, adjacent to Nauticus and The Waterside, Town Point Park is host to more than 100 free special events each year. The lineup includes:
- A regular Friday-after-work concert series;
- Norfolk’s annual Harborfest celebration;
- The Bayou Boogaloo & Cajun Food Festival;
- The Town Point Jazz and Blues Festival;
- The Virginia Children’s Festival;
- The Town Point Virginia Wine Festival; and
- Many other fun family events.
The Tugboat Museum located at one Waterside Drive in downtown Norfolk. Step aboard a living piece of history. The 1933 Tug Huntington has been restored as a dockside museum and is listed on the National Register of Historic Sites.
Waterside Festival Market, located at 333 Waterside Drive in Norfolk. Waterside is a marketplace overlooking the Elizabeth River. It has more than 120 shops and restaurants, including:
- Six full-service restaurants specializing in seafood, American and international cuisine;
- Dozens of specialty food shops;
- The Virginia. Shop;
- Unique clothing stores; a music store; a book store; and
- Pushcarts, where independent merchants vend jewelry, handcrafts and specialty items.
Live entertainment is featured on the center stage throughout the week and an outdoor amphitheater and brick promenade provide the staging area for spring and summer concerts.
The Children’s Museum is open from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and from 1:001 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. on Sundays. It is closed on Mondays, except on holidays that fall on a Monday and during the summer months, from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
Children under the age of 1 are free, other children and adults are $6.00 and senior citizens are $5.00.
The museum is located at 221 High Street and featues over 64,000 square feet of space, making it the largest children’s museum in the state of Virginia. It is full of exhibit space, dozens of interactive exhibits, and a planetarium.
Young and old will be fascinated by the antique toy and model train collection, one of the largest on the East Coast. The train collection includes examples from the early 1900s through the present day.
Hoffler Creek Wildlife Preserve, located at 4510 Twin Pines Road in Portsmouth, is a 142-acre site of vast wetlands, a heavily wooded forest and a unique saltwater lake. Located on the shores of Hoffler Creek, the preserve is the last viable wilderness area in Portsmouth and is a thriving habitat for countless species of plants and animals native to Southeastern Virginia. Plans are being made to build a 3,200 square foot nature center, along with an outdoor classroom, a habitat display, a butterfly garden and pond, a wildlife meadow, an oyster garden, walking trails and a wildlife observation tower.
The preserve’s days and hours of operation are sporadic, however, it is typically opened from 10:00 a.m. until 40:00 p.m. Admission is by contribution.
The Lightship Portsmouth Museum is located at the end of London Blvd. on Water Street. This National Historic Landmark is a floating lightship that was put into service in 1915 and operated until 1961.The museum allows visitors to see how the men of the Lightship Service actually lived.
The museum is open daily from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. and is only closed for certain holidays. Admission is free.
The Naval Shipyard Museum is open daily from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., closing only for special holidays. Admission is free.
Located at 2 High Street, the museum contains artifacts of naval history, primarily from the Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, the oldest shipyard in America. See ship models, artillery, uniforms, and much more.
Pokey Smokey, located in Portsmouth City Park at 140 City Park Avenue, in Portsmouth. Pokey Smokey is an authentic scale model of a steam locomotive. Conductors shovel coal and blow a steam whistle while taking passengers on a five-minute ride around Portsmouth City Park.
Pokey Smokey runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Admissions is free.
Virginia Sports Hall of Fame & Museum, located at 206 High Street in Portsmouth, includes college and Olympic sport, media, golf and Redskins exhibits. It also provides hands-on baseball, basketball, football and soccer activities and interactive games and additional activities including auto racing computer simulators.
The Hall’s Digital Theater features a 16-foot HD projector screen and will be a great place to learn about Virginia’s sports traditions and to watch the game.
It is open weekdays from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Friday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m., and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Admission is $6.
VIRGINIA BEACH, VIRGINIA
Cape Henry Lighthouses are located at Fort Story. The Old Cape Henry Lighthouse was built in 1792. It started to crack in 1870 and was replaced with the new Cape Henry Lighthouse only 357 feet away. The replacement lighthouse is an active aid to navigation and operated by the U.S. Coast Guard.
The Old Cape Henry Lighthouse is maintained by the APVA and is a National Historic Landmark, serving as the official symbol for the City of Virginia Beach.
The Edgar Cayce Visitor’s Center, is open year-round, Monday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, from noon until 8:00 p.m. It is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Admission is free.
Located at 6700 Atlantic Avenue, is open seven days a week, the center offers free activities such as ESP demonstrations, daily guided tours, a movie on Edgar Cayce’s life and work, and daily lectures on topics from the readings such as health, ESP, dreams, astrology and meditation.
First Landing State Park, located at 2500 Shore Drive, commemorates the April 26, 1607, landing of 100 English settlers to the new world. It is here that the first elective government in America was established before the settlers pushed up the James River to establish Jamestown.
The park allows the exploration of lagoons, large cypress trees and rare plants with more than 19 miles of hiking trails wind that wind through the natural area. Take a guided kayak ecological tour and explore the natural marshes and bays. Climate-controlled cabins, campsites, picnic areas, boat ramps, kayak rentals, and a bicycle trail are also available.
The Norwegian Lady Statue. After the fatal wreck of the Norwegian bark “Dictator” on March 28, 1891, its wooden figurehead, which washed ashore in the ship’s wreckage, stood at the oceanfront as a memorial for sixty years. The city of Moss, Norway commissioned a nine-foot bronze replica of the original figurehead and presented the gift to Virginia Beach in 1962 to commemorate the tragic loss. An exact duplicate was erected in Moss to unite the two sister cities.
Old Coast Guard Station, located at 24th street and Atlantic Avenue, the station was decommissioned in 1969. Two galleries depict the history of the life-saving service, shipwrecks off the Virginia coast and other exhibits.
The Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center, located at 717 General Booth Blvd., lets visitors take a watery journey through a marine environment. This is the state’s largest aquarium, hosting 700,000 gallons of aquariums and live animal habitats. It has more than 300 hands-on exhibits, an outdoor aviary, and 10 acres of marsh habitat. It also boasts a three-mile nature trail.
Highlights include sharks, sea turtles, harbor seals, river otters, stingrays, and much more! See “larger-than-life” movies on a screen six stories high in the Virginia Aquarium 3D IMAX Theater. Take a dolphin watching cruise or a creek boat trip in the late spring, summer, or early fall and go whale watching in the winter.
The Aquarium is open year ’round from 9:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. It is closed for certain holidays. Admission is always free.
Virginia Beach Ocean Breeze Waterpark is lopen daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day each summer. Admission fees vary.
Located at 824 General Booth Blvd., this is Virginia Beach’s only water park and offers 16 waterslides, the one million-gallon Runaway Bay wave pool, the Buccaneer Bay children’s area and other fantastic attractions. While visiting Ocean Breeze Waterpark, check out the West Indies BBQ, Island Trader Gift Shop, or Shipwreck Island Arcade.
Busch Gardens Williamsburg. For an unexpected treat, go where 17th-century charm combines with 21st-century technology. Busch Gardens has more than 50 thrilling rides and attractions, ten main stage shows, a wide variety of award-winning cuisine and lots of wonderful shopping options. Debuting in late spring 2007, Busch Gardens newest roller coaster “Griffon” will send riders through an extraordinary journey 205 feet up and 90 degrees straight down.
The park opens on March 24, 2007, from 10:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. Beginning in April, the park is open daily from 10:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m., through the 15th. Starting the 20th of April, the park is open for weekend entertainment and begins its spring/summer daily rotation on May 18th when it will open at 10:00 a.m. and close anywhere from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. The park remains open daily through September. In October it goes back to weekend fun and closes for November through the first part of March. Admission for children under 3 is free; children age 3 to 12, $47.95; adults, $54.95.
Colonial Williamsburg represents 301 acres of land encompassing 88 original buildings and hundreds of homes, shops and public buildings. Colonial Williamsburg operates the:
- Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum;
- DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum; and
- Bassett Hall.
Visitors can enjoy 18th-century style dining in any of Colonial Williamsburg’s four dining taverns:
- Christiana Campbell’s,
- Shields, and
- King’s Arms Tavern.
Guest accommodations are available in Colonial Williamsburg’s Hotels, including:
- Williamsburg Inn,
- The Colonial Houses,
- Williamsburg Lodge,
- Woodlands Hotel and Suites, and
- Governor’s Inn.
President’s Park is open April through August from 9:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. and from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., September through March. It is closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. Extended hours are available for groups with advance reservations.
Day passes are available at a cost of $13 per adult and $12 per senior or child over 6. Children under the age of five get in free.located across from Water Country USA in Williamsburg. Presidents Park is the creation of artist David Adickes, an internationally renowned sculptor and painter. The Park features 16-18 foot busts of all 43 presidents placed in a garden setting.
In additional to the presidential busts, the park also boasts a replica of a Boeing 707 used in the 70’s for Air Force One and an exact replica of the White House oval office. The first floor museum also contains:
- Replicas of First Lady Gowns;
- A Palm Beach County, Florida 2000 Voting Machine;
- Samples of White House China Patterns;
- Cufflinks, Watches, and Other Presidential Personal Memorabilia; and
- A Virginia Presidents Photo Display.
The park is located across from Water Country USA.
Water Country USA. Experience the latest in high tech thrills with the mid-Atlantic’s largest water play park, featuring water rides, slides and entertainment — all set to a 1950s and ’60s surf theme. The park’s newest attraction – – Hubba Hubba Highway – – offers an interactive river adventure. Guests cruise down a free-floating river ride through drenching coconuts and cool geysers or gear up for a high-speed toboggan race aboard Meltdown.
The park offers a surf shop and gift shop, five food service areas, locker rental, bathhouse facilities and free use of life vests and inner tubes.
Water Country USA opens for the 2007 season on May 12th and remains open through Labor Day. Admissions for children under age 3 is free; children age 3 through 12 is $31.95; and adults is $38.95.
The Williamsburg Pottery is one of Virginia’s top tourist attractions. With over 60 years of retail experience, the Pottery strives to offer customers the highest quality goods at terrific Pottery prices. A wonderful and vast selection of items from over 20 countries can be found at the Pottery.
The Yorktown Victory Center is a state-operated museum. It chronicles America’s struggle for independence from the beginning of colonial unrest through the formation of the new nation. Gallery exhibits highlight the experiences of ordinary men and women who lived during the Revolutionary Era.
Outdoors, muster with troops in a re-created Continental Army encampment to experience a soldier’s life and, on a re-created 1780s farm, help with chores such as weeding the garden and processing flax.
The museum opens at 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. daily. Admissions for children under age 6 is free; from age 6 to 12 is $4.50; and for adults is $8.75.
The city of Williamsburg offers tons of shopping outlet strips in addition to its world renowned Williamsburg Pottery. In Newport News you have Patrick Henry Mall, it’s new town center, the upscale Port Warwick, and several shopping centers packed with wonderful department stores as well as boutiques. Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Virginia Beach all have malls and a myriad of shopping centers that will suit just about any need.
Harbor Link Passenger Ferry located at one Waterside Drive in Norfolk provides convenient relaxing transportation to downtown Hampton from Norfolk and back again. It is ideal for commuters as well as tourists and day-trippers. The 45 minute trip takes the rider across the waters of Hampton Roads, with excellent views of the Norfolk Naval Station, Hampton University, historic Fort Norfolk, the commercial ports of Norfolk and Portsmouth, Portsmouth Naval Hospital, the Battleship Wisconsin, and VASC.
Group and commuter discounts and other value added packages are available. The unique “Three’s A Charm” package includes admission to Nauticus and the Virginia Air and Space Center (VASC) – including IMAX theater – in Hampton and round trip ferry passage. The boat is also available for private charter for parties/sightseeing. It runs from 7:30 a.m. until 11:30 p.m. daily.
Hampton Roads has a great deal to offer just about anyone, from the history buff to the die-hard shopaholic. This might just be the place to go for your next vacation.