25 Best Things to Do in Hampton Roads, VA

Virginia Beach, Hampton Roads, VA
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What better place to vacation than somewhere filled with water bodies and landmasses flowing around?

Welcome to Hampton Roads, which is one of the world's largest natural harbors.

Incorporating the waters of three rivers, including the Elizabeth, the Nansemond, and the James, alongside several smaller rivers, it is one of the best harbors in all of the USA.

The landmass consists of cities, counties, and towns located and distributed among the various water bodies.

Moreover, it is very well-developed, and the metropolitan cities are all great places to visit.

Here are the best things to do in Hampton Roads, Virginia:

Take a Cab Ride across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge–Tunnel

Far view of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge tunnel
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Imagine a scene wherein you're in a cab, zooming across a 28-kilometer-long bridge-tunnel surrounded by water on both sides.

This is precisely what you will experience once you take a ride down this bridge with vast blue waters spread all around, no matter where you lay your eyes.

Toll entrance of Chesapeake Bay Bridge–Tunnel
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It's definitely a breathtaking view.

There's also a huge crowd and rush of vehicles most times, but you will still enjoy the ride.

There are also walkways and piers constructed on sides, where pedestrians can stand, click photos, and just revel in the beautiful view.

Scenic sunset from Chesapeake Bay Bridge–Tunnel
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Learn about Aircraft at the Virginia Air and Space Center

Aircrafts in Virginia Air and Space Center
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The Virginia Air and Space Center, which focuses on aircraft and aeronautics, is an excellent museum to visit with your kids.

It is an educational facility that provides great information about various aircraft and spaceships.

There is also an IMAX digital theater where you can enjoy a show.

One of the main exhibits that are displayed here is the Apollo 12 command module, the Yankee clipper.

Other than this, many famous aircraft are also found here, including the Wright Flyer replica, Grumman A-6 intruder nose section, a Pitts Special, Piper J-3 club aircraft, and many more.

Apollo 12 spacecraft in Virginia Air and Space Center
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There is also a separate exhibition area for space and spacecraft called the Space Gallery.

You can look at different replicas and space crafts here.

The gallery showcases rocks from Mars and the moon as well.

There is also a very fine and informational exhibit related to the solar system that showcases all the models of the planets in different sizes.

Educational summer camps for children are also hosted here.

An aircraft displayed in Virginia Air and Space Center
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Pet Animals at Bluebird Gap Farm

A horse at Bluebird Gap farm
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Bluebird Gap Farm is an interesting petting zoo and public city park located on the Pine Chapel road.

It is designed like a farm and features all kinds of farm animals and fowl, alongside some wild animals, which are commonly found in Virginia.

You are allowed to pet the animals, and you can also buy food for them.

Bluebird Gap farm animals
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It is spread over 60 acres and has other recreation areas, like a picnic area and a playground, along with a small and beautiful lake.

While you're visiting, do not forget to take a walk on the Azalea Trail, where you can find many beautiful azaleas growing.

These are pretty pink flowers that bloom during the spring and weave their way through the walking trail in the most fascinating manner.

Bluebird Gap farm play area
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There is also an old family cemetery located here.

Bluebird Gap Farm is important historically because it is one of the city's oldest parks.

The animals that you can find here include domesticated rabbits, deer, cattle, goats, sheep, and some poultry birds, including Indian peafowl, white peacocks, and turkeys.

If you're visiting during late June, July, or early August, make sure that you visit on Fridays in the morning at 11, when an event called Storytelling in the Park takes place.

It's a fun and charming performance that is staged on a handheld theatrical stage.

Favorite bedtime stories are acted out, and sometimes, puppets are also used to enhance the performances.

View Some War Exhibits at the Virginia War Museum

Located in the Huntington Park area, the Virginia War Museum honors American military history from as far back as 1775 to the present day.

The primary collection here focuses on artifacts and exhibits from the First and Second World Wars.

The museum is also well-organized in a chronological manner, starting from the American Revolutionary War, which then follows up with the American Civil War, followed by the Philippine-American War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the war in Afghanistan.

If you are a history buff, you will definitely find this museum fascinating.

There are also various galleries, including a weapons gallery, poster gallery, and more.

They also have an extensive collection of propellers, as well as many pieces of artillery.

A research library is also available on-site.

Join a Walking Tour of the J. Thomas Newsome House Museum and Cultural Center

Exterior of J. Thomas Newsome House Museum and Cultural Center
Joseph Sullivan, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A famous historical home in Newport News, this two-and-a-half-story house is a very famous and important museum and cultural center.

Its architecture is asymmetric, and it has a Queen Anne-style dwelling to it.

With an irregularly composed roof, a Palladian front window, and a corner tower as some of its main features, it is sure to enthrall you with its beautiful architecture.

It was the residence of J. Thomas Newsome, who was a famous African American attorney and journalist from 1906 to 1942.

The house has been a proud member of the National Register of Historic Places since 1990.

It is a big part of the history and culture of Virginia.

The museum features many different art pieces related to the African American theme, alongside some exhibits exploring the history and culture of Virginia.

Go Cycling at Buckroe Beach and Park

The pier of Buckroe Beach and Park
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A lovely family-friendly park, Buckroe Park is a beautiful place to visit in the Chesapeake Bay area.

With many acres of sandy lands and grasses, it is definitely worth a visit.

They host outdoor movies on Tuesday nights that you can join.

There’s also a playground, cycling paths, and walking trails for some much-needed outdoor action.

A wooden bench at Buckroe Beach and Park
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If you are looking for more excitement, then try the water sports like kayaking and paddle boating, which can also be carried out here.

The picnic pavilions are very well-kept.

For a small fee, you can also have a great grill and barbecue session.

Buckroe Beach and Park is the perfect place to spend the day with family and friends.

A playground at Buckroe Beach and Park
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Head to the Magnificent Casemate Museum of Fort Monroe

The waters of Casemate Museum of Fort Monroe
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Focusing on the history of the magnificent fortress, it's one of the most informational museums in this area.

If you are a lover of history, the military, and exploring old buildings in general, then this place is a definite must-visit and recommendation for you.

Casemate Museum of Fort Monroe Exterior
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The artifacts and displays here are very well-kept from ancient times.

It is essentially a self-guided tour that trails through the museum, then out to the moat, followed by a visit to the defensive walls and more.

If you're going in as a huge group of 10 people or more, you can also opt for the guided tours.

Red brick exterior of Casemate Museum of Fort Monroe
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Hike the Trails at Sandy Bottom Nature Park

Calm waters of Sandy bottom Nature Park
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Spread over a vast area of 456 acres, this nature park comprises many different geological features, including wetlands, woodlands, and more, which makes it the perfect spot for hiking.

The trails are muddy, have beautiful views, and are great for hiking and cycling.

You can spot many animals like the white-tailed deer, frogs, turtles, salamander, and even one of the rare and endangered canebrake rattlesnakes.

Fishing is also allowed, and you can rent a boat to go fishing for many local species like the crappie, the catfish, the bass, and the bluegill.

The water is crystal clear, and you can even view the bottom part of the lake through it.

The horses of the Hampton Carousel
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Built in 1920, this beautiful hand-painted carousel was imported from Germany.

All 48 horses are made from hardwood and painted in beautiful and vibrant colors.

The Hampton Carousel is open to both adults and children, and this is one ride that you will definitely want to enjoy.

The oil paintings and the mirrors that were originally used for decorating the carousel are still intact.

While the rest has been renovated beautifully, it still has that old-school aesthetic appeal to it.

Go Beer Tasting at the St. George Brewing Company

Just like St. George, who was a famous third-century Roman soldier and a famous mythological character who slayed dragons, this beer is similarly sure to slay your taste buds.

With as many as 22 different varieties of ale and stout, the beer at St. George Brewing Company is definitely worth a try.

Tasting tours are also available of the company, which are followed by a visit to the wonderful tasting room.

These tours are either led by the owner himself or by his son.

Moreover, if you are lucky enough to visit on a Tuesday or Friday night, they also arrange for a food truck so that you can pair your beers with some hot burritos or tacos.

Try Your Luck Gaming at Rosie’s Gaming Emporium

With video slot machines and horse race betting available alongside the casino tables, Rosie's Gaming Emporium offers a gaming night that you won't forget.

The craft beer is also great at this place, in case you want to enjoy some ice-cold beer while you go gambling.

Don't forget to try your luck out at one of the many arcade games, too.

Attend a Concert at Mill Point Park

Mill Point Park is a small park, and what makes it special is that it is located right next to the waterside and gives a great view.

It is also one of the many hotspots of the area, and many local concerts and performances are hosted here, including festivals and other events from time to time.

The playgrounds and lush green lawns are great for your kids to enjoy a game of catch as you relax and look on.

Most of the festivals focus on various themes, like the Jamaican festival or the Reggae Festival.

During these events, amazing live music performances usually take place, which converts the atmosphere into a melodious confluence.

Go Golfing on The Woodlands Golf Course

You will surely enjoy The Woodlands Golf Course regardless of your level of expertise.

This golf course is open to all, whether you are an amateur or a pro at playing golf.

One of the oldest courses in the USA and loved by locals and visitors alike, it is spread over various types of landforms, including water on 11 of the total holes.

The grass grown on various patches is also different, including some batches with bentgrass and some with rough Bermuda grass.

The clubhouse on site has a great grill restaurant that serves breakfast and lunch both.

A quaint pro shop selling golf accessories and gear is also present.

Relax on the Beach at Grandview Nature Preserve

Daytime at Grandview Nature Preserve
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The beach here at Grandview Nature Preserve is immaculate and pristine, and it is one of the hidden gems of Hampton Roads.

You can find lovely seashells in plenty and go shell hunting with your children.

The beach of Grandview Nature Preserve
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There is also a hiking trail across the marshlands where you can also find the ruins of the lighthouse.

Fishing is also allowed from the shores, provided you have a license.

Canoeing and hiking are other outdoor activities that you can enjoy in the wetlands.

A pretty seashell at Grandview Nature Preserve
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Play an Exciting Game of Paintball at Bethel Battlefield Paintball Park

Paintballing is one of the most fun sports out there, and you should definitely experience it at least once in a lifetime.

Bethel Battlefield Paintball Park makes sure that you enjoy the thrill without any compromise on safety and standards.

Depending on how much pain you can endure, they offer various options, including the PeeWee paintball that doesn't hurt, a low-impact one, or the traditional ones so that you can choose accordingly.

Explore the Area's Past at the Hampton History Museum

The Hampton History Museum is sure to satisfy your inner history buff.

Here, you may learn about the city's long history as an English-speaking community in the country.

Hampton's 400-year history is chronicled in chronological order in the museum's galleries, including sections on the city's African American history, its Native American history, and the American Civil War.

Among the many fascinating treasures at the museum are a 9,000-year-old arrowhead and extensive collections of historical maps and pictures.

The gift store also sells food and drinks.

Immerse Yourself in World History at the Hampton University Museum

Exterior of a museum at Hampton University Museum
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Almost exactly 100 years before the founding of Hampton University itself, in 1868, the Hampton University Museum had opened its doors for business.

The museum's mission has always been to educate visitors about other cultures and customs.

Studies in culture, history, and geography are encouraged as a result.

With an African American fine art permanent collection, it's the only museum to hold such a collection.

The museum's collection of African art, which includes several hundred items from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is highly regarded worldwide.

Other articles from throughout the continent are also available.

Initially, the museum's collection consisted of art from the South Pacific, but it has since been supplemented by works from Japan and the Philippines.

On display are archival materials related to university life.

Catch a Show at Hampton Coliseum

Exterior of Hampton Coliseum
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Fans of music, comedy, and Cirque du Soleil can enjoy various performances at Hampton Coliseum.

The multi-purpose entertainment arena can seat as many as 9,777 guests.

Hampton Coliseum holds three yearly festivals, so there's always something to look forward to at various times.

Jazz festival in Hampton Coliseum
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Conventions and trade exhibitions find the coliseum to be ideal for their purposes.

The Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus, Disney on Ice, WWE events, professional bull riding, and monster truck exhibitions are just a few of the many family-friendly activities that take place all year round.

A wide variety of food vendors and free parking are available at the coliseum.

Experience Charter Fishing with Captain Hogg's Charter Service

To experience the thrill of Atlantic fishing firsthand, tourists should contact Captain Chandler Hogg and his friendly crew onboard the Smoking Gun, a 40-foot bespoke fishing boat.

With a capacity of 32 people, Captain Hogg knows just where to catch the fish in the lower Chesapeake Bay.

You may capture cobia and grey trout, striped bass, black drum, and red drum.

Other species that may be caught include sheepshead tautog and spadefish.

The Smoking Gun travels at a top speed of 26 knots to let anglers make the most of their time onboard.

The staff will clean and filet your fish at the shore, so all you have to do is place it on the grill.

Get Up Close to Wildlife at the Virginia Living Museum

Birds at Virginia Living Museum
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Over 250 species of animals that are found in the state are housed at the Virginia Living Museum in Newport News.

Get up close to the spider crabs, red wolves, loggerhead turtles, egrets, eastern cottonmouths, flying squirrels, coyotes, red & gray foxes, and many more.

You'll also get to see the fossilized dinosaur tracks, experience the undergrounds of a limestone cave, and do lots of hands-on activities for all ages.

The Virginia Living Museum also features living exhibits, gardens, and a boardwalk trail, among others.

It was established in 1966 to care for rescued, injured, and orphaned animals in Virginia.

A boardwalk at Virginia Living Museum
Ryan Somma from Occoquan, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Play in the Water at Virginia Beach Watersports

Your visit to Hampton Roads may not be complete if you don't play watersports at one of the U.S.' gorgeous natural harbors.

At Virginia Beach Watersports, you get to enjoy wakeboarding, waterskiing, tubing, kayaking, boating, and more.

Your friends and loved ones will also enjoy a sunset boat cruise with you, which gets you around the harbor with a spectacular sunset.

Look out for dolphins!

Jonathan, the boat captain will make sure you have the time of your life and will also ensure your safety.

Virginia Beach Watersports was established in 2019.

Get Your Coffee Fix at Coaster Coffee

In Norfolk, a local coffeehouse called Coaster Coffee serves delicious coffee, a table to connect with people, and warm smiles.

Locals and tourists go here to get their fresh caramel macchiato, espresso, Americano, vanilla latte, mocha, macaroons, croissants, smoothies, and more.

But what makes it stand out from the others is its non-profit undertakings that benefit the community in Norfolk.

You get your delicious coffee; you help people in need.

What's not great about that?

The award-winning Coaster Coffee is nestled in a small, charming, and homey shop on Tidewater Drive.

Ride a Pedicab at Seven Cities Rickshaws

And since you love getting around Hampton Roads, why not ride a pedicab at Seven Cities Rickshaws in Virginia Beach?

Founded in 2006, the pedicab company offers rides for special events and occasions like weddings, local tours, and private parties.

The company is recognized as a Virginia Green and Eco-friendly transportation with licensed and experienced cyclists.

Seven Cities Rickshaws promotes a healthy lifestyle and environment-friendly transportation, which is both a fun and exciting thing to do in the region.

If you see the permanent recycling bins in the streets of the Town Center, Seven Cities Rickshaws did that!

Get Thrilled with Escape2Win Escape Rooms

Can you escape a room filled with thrilling puzzles, secret doors, and clues?

You only have an hour to do so at Escape2Win Escape Rooms, which features themed rooms using elements to confuse you—or to get your adrenaline pumping.

Solve the mysteries and unsolved murders here and gather your family and friends for an unforgettable adventure!

Its Ghostly Encounter, The Attic, and Scene of the Crime escape rooms are not to be missed!

Escape2Win Escape Rooms is located off Cleveland Street in Virginia Beach.

Final Thoughts

Virginia's Hampton Roads is slightly off the beaten path, so it is less crowded than other southern and western destinations.

However, its various cities and towns boast a fascinating blend of history and culture.

Hampton Roads' incredible beaches, rich heritage, and unique style make it a popular destination for visitors and locals alike.

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