Blake Walsh

17 Best Things to Do in Chesapeake Bay

  • Published 2023/10/29

Chesapeake Bay, a sanctuary, a paradise, captivates with its enduring beauty.

Life in this stunning region mirrors a perpetual vacation, marked by the sun’s golden rays illuminating the tranquil waters.

When moonlight dances on the waves, Chesapeake Bay transforms into a mesmerizing spectacle.

Beyond its evident charm, the bay harbors a plethora of hidden gems and adventures often overlooked.

Embark on a journey, an exploration of the magic and wonders that Chesapeake Bay has to offer.

Uncover the heart and soul of this remarkable region, peeling back the layers to reveal its true essence.

Spend a Leisurely Afternoon at Concord Point Lighthouse

Exterior of Concord Point Lighthouse

Derek Jeffries /

The day started like any other, with coffee and the local news.

Outside, the skies were blue, and the sun was calling me.

So, I decided to spend my afternoon at a place close to my heart, Concord Point Lighthouse.

Even though I’ve been here countless times, the restored 1827 lighthouse never fails to inspire awe.

The historical exhibits and educational tours are always a delight, providing glimpses into the past.

Moreover, the vast ocean views captivate me every time, and they are particularly mesmerizing during sunset.

I often bring my dog along, who eagerly explores the area, always on the lookout for an adventurous squirrel or a fascinating smell.

Likewise, I am particularly fond of the wildlife promenade right beside the water.

The medley of bird songs and the rush of the waves always manage to soothe my mind.

My dog isn’t technically allowed on the promenade, but the guards make an exception since he’s a service animal.

Top part of Concord Point Lighthouse

Walter Payne /

After my stroll, I usually head to the marine museum to soak in some history.

With exhibits covering everything from local maritime history to the area’s marine life, it never gets boring.

I also enjoy visiting the park and watching the boats docked on the pier.

There’s even a casual, open-air restaurant where you can grab a bite while enjoying the view.

Considering the beauty and tranquility of this place, it’s no surprise that it’s becoming a popular spot for weddings and photoshoots.

I’ve seen many a young couple walk down the pier, hand in hand, creating memories of a lifetime.

If you’re ever in town, visit Concord Point Lighthouse.

Whether you’re a history buff, a nature enthusiast, or just someone looking for a peaceful retreat, this place has something for everyone.

The park, the museum, the restaurant, and the lighthouse add to a charming small-town family atmosphere that can’t be missed.

Experience History at Yorktown Battlefield

Second siege line marker at Yorktown Battlefield

Ken Lund from Reno, Nevada, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Every time I stroll in the Yorktown Battlefield, it’s like stepping back to 1781, to the days of George Washington’s triumph over British forces.

Its fortifications, exhibits, and vast landscapes tell tales that took place centuries ago.

The Battlefield is massive, and the whole tour can be pretty long, but it’s worth it.

It’s not something you rush through but rather take your time to observe.

There are no bathrooms in the Battlefield itself, so be prepared before you embark on this journey into the past.

Meanwhile, the Yorktown app is a godsend for navigating and understanding the significance of each site in the Battlefield.

It’s like having a personal tour guide right in your pocket.

While the Battlefield might not be as kid-friendly, the solution is simple – let their imagination run wild.

First allied siege line marker at Yorktown Battlefield

Ken Lund from Reno, Nevada, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

My kids often sport their colonial hats and pretend they’re in battle, enacting scenes at different stop areas.

The museum is a treasure trove of well-preserved artifacts and information, so much so that you can almost hear the echoes of history.

It’s fantastic for kids, with interactive exhibits that reveal stories of men of all races and creeds who fought for independence and nation-building.

The interactive driving tour is a personal favorite of mine.

It lets you visit the significant points of interest throughout the park at your own pace, and the views along the drive are breathtaking.

There are a few spots where it’s worth descending and taking a walk to truly appreciate the history sure to enjoy the history surrounding you, with lovely walking trails amidst the woods, and scenic locations perfect for picnics or quiet contemplation.

Visiting the Yorktown Battlefield isn’t just a day out; it’s an immersive experience that brings the past to life.

It’s a living testament to the foundation of our nation, and there’s always something new to discover and learn with each visit.

The hornwork marker at Yorktown Battlefield

Ken Lund from Reno, Nevada, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Enter a Backyard Paradise at Janes Island State Park

Trees at Janes Island State Park

Linda Harms /

All my life, I’ve lived just a stone’s throw away from a slice of heaven on earth; a place where tranquility and beauty harmoniously blend together to create the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

I’m talking about Janes Island State Park, a scenic oasis near my home.

The first time I laid my eyes on the park’s sweeping salt marshes, I knew I’d found a place I’d return to time and time again.

For instance, the winding water trails are a paddler’s dream, and the park’s boat rentals have allowed me to discover the many hidden charms of these trails.

Last week, I rented a kayak and had an absolute blast navigating the calm, winding waterways.

But it’s not just about the water.

Janes Island State Park is also a bird watcher’s paradise.

Climbing up to the park’s observation tower, I’ve spent countless hours simply watching and marveling at the variety of birds that call these marshes home.

A trail in Janes Island State Park

Linda Harms /

As a lover of the great outdoors, I’ve also taken advantage of the park’s camping facilities.

I’ve spent many a weekend camping under the stars, with nothing but the rustling of the pine trees and the distant hoots of an owl as my soundtrack.

The campgrounds are spacious, giving you a sense of privacy and isolation that’s hard to come by these days.

And when I want a change, the nearby town of Crisfield is just a quick bike ride away.

I’ve often ended a long day of adventuring in the park with a delicious ice cream treat from the Waters Edge Cafe.

Janes Island State Park is truly a hidden gem.

It’s a place where every sunset is a masterpiece painted across the sky, and every moment spent is one for the books.

Try Stargazing at the Chesapeake Planetarium

Once you step into the Chesapeake Planetarium, you’ll feel like you’ve been handed keys to the universe.

From my first encounter as a school kid, I’ve been enamored with this celestial treasure in our community.

The fascination hasn’t dulled a bit over the years.

Every Thursday night, I still find myself nestled amongst fellow star fanatics, absorbing the educational shows.

The planetarium offers a different topic each month, while December and April remain my personal favorites. December reveals the Christmas Star and April takes you on a constellation tour that leaves you starry-eyed.

But the best part? If the night sky is clear, you can gaze through the high-quality telescopes set up post-show.

Looking at Jupiter and the moon up close is an experience quite unparalleled!

The Thursday shows are free but make sure to call ahead.

So, if you find yourself in Chesapeake with a thirst for knowledge and a love for the night sky, a visit to the Planetarium is a must.

Just remember to bring your sense of wonder and some binoculars.

Explore the Rich History at the Casemate Museum of Fort Monroe

Exterior of Casemate Museum of Fort Monroe

Sherry V Smith /

One of the most delightful ways to spend an afternoon is visiting the Casemate Museum of Fort Monroe.

This gem is a treasure trove of history that chronicles the fort’s colonial roots and military role from the 19th century onward.

As a passionate history buff, I find myself drawn to the charm of this old military base, which now serves as a museum.

The museum boasts a rich tapestry of historical artifacts and information that provides a fascinating past insight.

Likewise, the beautiful old houses and churches on the grounds charm the history-soaked ambiance.

One of the things that I love about the museum is that you can walk around the grounds freely, soaking up the history and architecture.

What’s unique about Fort Monroe is that a moat surrounds it, and the ma moat covers it built into the ground.

Side exterior of Casemate Museum of Fort Monroe

Sherry V Smith /

You can walk up the steps outside the museum to an actual pet cemetery, offering a unique historical perspective and spectacular views that are worth every effort.

The museum has a lovely gift shop where you can pick up a souvenir or two from your visit.

Visiting the Casemate Museum of Fort Monroe doesn’t cost a penny.

Still, you’ll need to pick up tickets from the information center, conveniently located just a few steps away from the museum.

Trust me, the history and experience are worth far more than the effort of fetching those tickets.

Every visit feels like stepping back in time, taking in the stories and experiences that have shaped our world.

Visit Buckroe Beach and Park

Rocks along the shore of Buckroe Beach & Park

Sherry V Smith /

You don’t know serenity until you’ve visited Buckroe Beach and Park, my go-to spot for tranquility.

There’s something for everyone – a recreational beach park with kayak and paddleboat rentals, a playground for the little ones, a stage pavilion for events, and plenty of picnic sites for family gatherings.

One thing you’ll notice about the beach is how clean it is and how safe you feel.

Lifeguards are always on duty, and the police presence keeps everyone in check.

And let’s not forget about the local food trucks that drive past – a treat for all foodies out there.

Parking can be tricky during peak times, but it’s a small price for a fantastic beach experience.

Do you have little ones who enjoy sand and water? Or perhaps you’re a beach lover yourself?

Porch swing at Buckroe Beach & Park

Sherry V Smith /

Either way, you’re in for a treat.

The beach is usually not too crowded, and there’s enough space for everyone to enjoy.

My kids love building sandcastles and splashing around in the water.

If you haven’t visited Buckroe Beach in a while, I highly recommend you do.

This place is one of the best places to relax and enjoy nature’s beauty.

Whether you’re planning a day trip or a more extended stay, Buckroe Beach and Park will not disappoint.

People swimming at Buckroe Beach & Park

Khairil Azhar Junos /

Climb Aboard the Pirate Adventure on the Chesapeake

Ahoy, mateys!

If you’re yearning for an unforgettable adventure, the Pirate Adventure on the Chesapeake is the perfect place.

I remember the first time I was aboard this spectacular pirate ship cruise in Annapolis.

It was a bright, sunny day, perfect for sailing.

They were well organized and thoughtfully planned.

My little nephews were thrilled when they found themselves in the middle of a thrilling pirate called a face-off with Pete, the Pirate!

Can you imagine the excitement in their little eyes?

What’s more, the trip provides a fantastic opportunity to enjoy the scenic beauty of the Chesapeake.

While the children are busy with their parents, they can sit back and enjoy the view of the sea and the picturesque landscapes.

And for those who enjoy a little shopping, there’s a gift shop on the boat too.

But remember, don’t spend all your doubloons there because the real treasure is the memorable experience you’ll have on the Pirate Adventure on the Chesapeake.

Check Out the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel

Scenic view of Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel

Main Focus Media /

My mornings aren’t complete without the sight of the sun rising over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel.

This impressive 17.6-mile bridge-tunnel is an every bridge tunnel to behold, an engineering wonder I admire at the start and end of my day.

Every day, I find myself crossing at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, and each time, I witness a different spectacle of nature.

Some days, the morning fog rolls over the water, creating an ethereal scene.

On other days, the fiery sunset lights up the sky, reflecting its beauty on the water below.

You must be thinking, how could a commute be this fascinating?

I’ve found myself asking the same question, too.

Waves below the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel

Jay Yuan /

But that’s the magic of living here.

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel isn’t just Bridge Tunnel, an experience that always uplifts my spirit.

Visitors often marvel at its size and structure, and I can’t help but beam with pride.

After all, I get to be a part of this marvel daily.

And I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.

If you ever find yourself in Virginia, drive across this masterpiece.

It’s an experience that words cannot do justice.

Cars going in and out of Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel

Khairil Azhar Junos /

Visit the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum

Hornet aircraft in Patuxent River Naval Air Museum

Balon Greyjoy, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Every town has hidden gems; in my home town, the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum is one such place.

You wouldn’t believe the amount of history packed into this compact yet vibrant museum.

I’ve been living here for over 20 years.

The museum never gets old.

No matter how often I visit, I always soften new to marvel at.

The museum houses an impressive collection of artifacts and aircraft related to the U.S. Navy’s aviation research, development, and testing.

If you’re a fan of aviation or history, you’re in for a treat.

An aircraft in Patuxent River Naval Air Museum

Balon Greyjoy, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

I remember the first time I saw the X35 aircraft and the Boeing X-32; it was a sight to behold.

I’d only seen these aircraft in books and on the internet before, so seeing them up close was an awe-inspiring experience.

The museum isn’t just about indoor exhibits.

It also boasts an outdoor park with over a dozen planes, which adds to the charm of the place.

Whether I take a charming stroll or want to immerse myself in the history of naval aviation, the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum never disappoints.

Next time you’re in town, don’t forget to check out the museum. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

Hawkeye aircraft in Patuxent River Naval Air Museum

Balon Greyjoy, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Uncover History at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum

Entrance of Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum

George Sheldon /

If you ever find yourself longing for a day filled with water views, history, and good ol’ maritime charm, a trip to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum is necessary.

Tucked away in a picturesque 18-acre waterfront venue, it’s a treasure trove of stories about the bay and its people.

I’ve spent countless weekends exploring the exhibit’s activities and even taking the occasional boat ride.

The vast boats and displays are scattered, providing a fascinating look into the past.

I’m particularly fond of the boat-building house, where you can see passionate artisans restore and build boats.

And those curious about the local marine life would love the educational day they host for homeschooling kids, where they learn about the role of oysters in the bay.

Spring day at Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum

Yvonne Navalaney /

And after all the learning and exploring, there’s no better way to unwind than by sitting back and admiring the view of the bay.

The lighthouse and boat workshops add to the captivating scenery.

And I can’t recommend enough taking the Patriotic Cruise to round off your visit.

Do yourself a favor and plan a day at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum.

Whether you’re a history buff, a maritime enthusiast, or just someone who appreciates a beautiful view, this gem of the bay has something for everyone.

Lighthouse in Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum

CMS Photography /

Discover Nature’s Wonders at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge

Just off the beaten path, nestled amidst the expansive Chesapeake Bay, you’ll find my little slice of heaven – the Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge.

Boasting over 2,285 acres of wildlife and nature, it’s the perfect haven away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Starting my typical day at the Refuge with a scenic bike ride along the winding trails, I immerse myself in the serene landscapes that stretch as far as the eyes can see.

The gentle chirping of the birds, the rustling of leaves, and the far-off call of a loon provide a beautiful symphony that genuinely captures the essence of nature.

Next, I usually find myself captivated by the fluttering beauty in the butterfly trail.

There’s something truly magical about being surrounded by a flurry of colorful butterflies and skippers.

A feast for the eyes, indeed!

Bird-watching here is a delight.

From bird-watching blackbirds to majestic bald eagles, the variety of bird species never ceases to amaze me.

And let’s not forget the deer.

They’re aplenty, gracefully prancing around in their natural habitat.

One of my favorite spots in the Refuge is the gift shop and information center.

It’s a treasure trove of knowledge about the area’s rich history and diverse wildlife.

And if you need a little break, there’s nothing quite like enjoying a peaceful picnic near the tranquil Chesapeake waters.

If you’re ever in the area and looking for a unique experience that brings you close to nature, visit the Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge.

Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

Experience Island Life on Tangier Island

House on Tangier Island marshes

Linda Harms /

On any given day, you’ll find me strolling along the narrow streets of Tangier Island, taking in the serene charm of this remote gem.

Lying just off the coast of Virginia, Tangier Island is an idyllic destination where time seems to stand still.

If you’re tired of city life and looking for a peaceful retreat, I highly recommend catching a boat or plane and visiting Tangier Island, which has become my sanctuary.

Life here is slow-paced, allowing you to relax and unwind truly.

The island is small, and with a tight-knit community, you can expect to be greeted by friendly locals everywhere you go.

One of the things that make this island special is its fresh seafood.

Our seafood restaurants serve nothing but the freshest catch of the day, a must-try for food lovers.

Shacks crab traps on Tangier Island

Linda Harms /

Visitors often take day trips to the island, but I suggest staying longer if you can.

The island truly feels when you spend more time exploring its hidden corners.

We have lovely Airbnb options for a comfortable stay, allowing you to experience island life to its fullest.

While you’re here, don’t miss out on our local tour.

For just $5 per person, you can hop on a golf cart and tour the island – a unique experience you won’t forget.

I assure you that the tranquility, natural beauty, and friendly community of Tangier Island will make your visit worthwhile.

Shacks along Tangier Island

Linda Harms /

Spend the Day at Yorktown Beach

Waters of Yorktown Beach

Lekali Studio /

There’s something unique about the warm sun kissing your skin, the cool water lapping at your ankles, and the comforting crunch of sand beneath your feet.

That’s what a day at Yorktown Beach feels like. It’s a quaint corner of tranquility tucked away in York County.

My family and I have been coming to Yorktown Beach for years now.

I love the gentle waves, perfect for a quick dip, and the sand is a delight to dig your toes into.

The beach is relatively small but never feels too crowded.

You have enough space to stretch out your beach towel, set up your umbrella, and let the world drift away.

It’s not just the beach that draws us in, the surrounding town is a tr too.

A brief walk from the beach, you’ll find charming shops perfect for picking up souvenirs and a few restaurants serving delicious food.

It’s become our tradition to end our traditional meal at one of these local eateries.

River bridge near Yorktown Beach

Barry Blackburn /

Another thing I appreciate about Yorktown Beach is its attention to detail.

They have a self-service bike repair station, which is handy for those who want to cycle here.

There’s even a water fountain with bowls for your furry friends, which is a thoughtful addition.

But the beach isn’t just for lounging and swimming.

They host outdoor concerts on Thursdays that add a dash of excitement to the se atmosphere.

On Saturday mornings, a local market springs up where you can browse and buy anything from fresh produce to handmade trinkets.

Yorktown Beach is truly a local treasure.

Whether you want to soak up some sun, picnic with family, or simply enjoy the sights, this beach has something for everyone.

Discover the Hidden Gems of Terrapin Nature Park

Almost every morning, I grab my leash, call my dog, and prepare for a rejuvenating adventure at Terrapin Nature Park.

I can’t help but feel invigorated as I take that short yet picturesque stroll down to the beach area.

Each journey is unique, as I get to choose from a variety of paths that lead to various environments.

As someone who values solitude and tranquility, I appreciate the ample space that our park provides.

Unlike many other places, it never feels overcrowded here, not even on a holiday weekend!

That’s probably because the park is a local secret, a hidden gem tucked away from the usual hustle and bustle.

What complements the peaceful ambiance is the breathtaking views of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

No matter how many times I see it, the sight is old.

And when you think you’ve seen it all, a small, almost secretive beach area overlooking the bridge reveals itself, adding another layer to the park’s charm.

Of course, it’s not just me who enjoys our daily visits.

My dog loves his time at the beach.

The park even provides a partitioned area for our furry friends to play freely.

If you’re planning a visit, I’d recommend coming early—the parking lot, though well-maintained and clean, has limited spots and tends to fill up quickly.

But trust me, the early rise is worth it.

As you watch the sunrise, with the Bay Bridge in the backdrop, you begin to appreciate the beauty and serenity of the Terrapin Nature Park.

Feel the Charm of Point Lookout State Park

Aerial view of Point Lookout State Park

Rhys Felsher /

My backyard, literally, is a gem that I have taken for granted for too long. It is the Point Lookout State Park, a tranquil oasis of beauty and serenity on the site of a former Confederate soldier prison.

It’s a mere $5 entry fee for us locals, and dogs are more than welcome.

No visit to the park is complete without soaking up some rays on the main beach, so that was our next stop.

I must tell you, the view from the beach is something that takes my breath away every single time.

It’s like Nature put on her best show, and you have a front-row ticket.

The lighthouse is a sight to behold, a sentinel standing guard over the park.

Speaking of pictures, you’ll find plenty of picturesque spots around the park to click away to your heart’s content.

Of course, my fishing gear wasn’t there just for show.

The pier is the perfect spot for some quiet fishing time.

Exterior of Point Lookout State Park lighthouse

Chris Baltazar /

And if you’re into outdoor activities, this place is a treasure trove.

They’ve got campgrounds and trails galore.

I’ve spent many a summer night under the star-studded sky, the sounds of the park my lullaby.

Park’s Sound has this perfect event spot, but it’s unavailable.

I can’t help how beautiful it would have been for my niece’s wedding.

Well, if more of us request for it, they might consider it before you plan your visit; check their website to know the timings of the various attractions.

The last thing you want is to find the museum or the lighthouse closed.

Nevertheless, every visit to Point Lookout State Park is a day well spent, and I guarantee you’ll leave with a piece of the park’s magic in your heart.

A family fishing at Point Lookout State Park

Malachi Jacobs /

Go on an Adventure at the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

Solitary trees on lake Great Dismal Swamp

Steve Heap /

I can’t help but be in awe of my backyard’s vast expanse of lush greenery and wildlife.

The Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge is my sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Every time I visit, it’s a different experience.

Sometimes, it’s the sightings of turtles lazily sunning themselves on logs or the stealthy deer that stop to look back at you with comprehensive, innocent eyes.

And if you’re lucky, you might catch the sudden flight of an owl, an owl’s sudden getaway, or a cottonmouth’s slithering retreat.

Remember the thrill when I first laid my eyes on the 4000-year-saw?

It’s a sight that never fails to leave me breathless.

The reflections on the calm, undisturbed water surface, it’s like looking at a mirror of the past.

Being in the Great Dismal Swamp is also an excellent place for outdoor activities.

Hunting, fishing, or simply exploring its numerous trails, there’s just so much to do.

Trees on the Great Dismal Swamp

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Jericho Ditch Trail is my favorite, with its favorites to navigate.

It’s an excellent place for a peaceful hike, even if you have a baby stroller.

And it’s not just humans who revel in the beauty of the swamp, our furry friends love it, too.

Our dogs, for instance, can’t get enough of the open space and often end up happily exhausted after our visits.

Remember, the swamp is an ecosystem that needs our protection and care.

During the warmer months, ensure you bring insect repellant to keep the bugs at bay without harming them.

The Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge is a treasure that I hope remains as big and untouched for future generations to enjoy as much as I do.

Solitary trees on lake Great Dismal Swamp

Nature’s Charm /

Spend the Day at the Cape Henry Lighthouse

The old and new Cape Henry Lighthouse

Sherry V Smith /

Nothing quite like the panoramic views from the top of the historic Cape Henry Lighthouse.

I’ve visited this beautiful 18th-century lighthouse more times than I can count, and each visit brings a new sense of awe and wonder.

Climbing the tower gives you a breathtaking ocean view and is worth every penny.

I remember feeling a sense of pride when I learned that active duty members could climb the lighthouse for free, a tribute to their service.

Although the climb might be challenging for some, take it from me: the vista at the top is second to none!

So, don’t forget your camera.

And yes, there is an age restriction for the climb, ensuring the safety of all visitors.

The old Cape Henry Lighthouse

Sherry V Smith /

The lighthouse sits on an active Army Base, so be prepared to show your ID.

Are you worried about reaching the base?

Don’t be. They have shuttles that transport visitors to and from the screening area, which is very convenient.

If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend visiting the Cape Henry Lighthouse.

Not only will you get to witness a part of history, but you’ll also get to enjoy one of the most spectacular views you’ve ever seen.

Trust me, it’s an experience you won’t want to miss.

The new Cape Henry Lighthouse

melissamn /

Final Thoughts

Living around the Chesapeake Bay area offers an exciting array of experiences, from history and wildlife to adventures at sea and on and on.

Indeed, the Chesapeake Bay area is a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be unearthed.

Visit us today!

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