16 Free Things to Do in Chesapeake, VA

16 Free Things to Do in Chesapeake, VA

Welcome to Chesapeake, Virginia - a city that beautifully marries history, nature, and culture together to create endless opportunities for exploration and discovery.

Today, I'll let you know some of the free things to do in Chesapeake, Virginia.

Trust me, you won't want to miss out on these.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the following individuals for their invaluable contributions to this article: Hadassah Wiley, Brenda Pilcher, Tom Taylor, Brenda Hollis, Rhea Dunlap, Silvia Libby and Sara Porter.

Explore Northwest River Park

The waters of Northwest River Park
J Paulson / Shutterstock.com

Since moving to Chesapeake, I've been a regular at Northwest River Park.

It's our urban oasis, offering many outdoor activities - from fishing and boating to camping and horse riding.

And the best part? It's open year-round.

For those who love camping like myself, the park is heaven on earth.

I usually choose a spot away from the playground to enjoy a serene and peaceful atmosphere.

But for families with kids, I reckon the area near the playground would be perfect.

The bathrooms and shower facilities are well-maintained and clean. And the electric hookups are a plus.

Water is a shared resource here, so always carry long water hoses. There's no black-tank hookup, but they have a Dump Station on the way out.

View of the sunset from Northwest River Park
J Paulson / Shutterstock.com

The camping rates are relatively reasonable. Just be sure to come fully equipped, as the Camp Store doesn't stock a lot of camping essentials.

My highlights are the paddle boat rental and the beautiful little lake.

I thoroughly enjoy my time on the lake, paddling in the quiet, surrounded by nature.

The little river that flows by is equally stunning, perfect for a relaxed canoeing session.

Moreover, the park offers mini golf, which is always fun. And for the adventurous souls, the hiking trails are excellent.

As for me, I love the tranquility, the sounds of nature, and the joy of being outdoors.

Every visit feels like a mini-vacation, and I'm always looking forward to my next one.

Spend a Relaxing Afternoon at Elizabeth River Park

There's something genuinely unique about spending a day at Elizabeth River Park.

Tucked neatly beneath a bridge, it's far from your typical park-in-the-woods setting.

Instead, this place offers a refreshing change of scenery, with the Elizabeth River gently lapping at its edges.

One of my favorite things to do here is to take my dog for a stroll.

The park boasts a spacious dog park where my furry friend can run around to her heart's content while I sit back and enjoy the view.

Seeing the sun setting over the river, casting an orange glow on the water's surface, is breathtaking.

Now, you'll appreciate the Snack Shack in the park if you're anything like me.

It's the perfect spot to grab a slushie or a fountain drink on a hot summer day.

And the best part? You get to keep the souvenir cup!

Though I'd advise skipping the mini burgers, they're not the best, in my opinion.

For families, the park is a treasure trove of fun activities.

With a well-equipped playground and plenty of open grassy areas, children can run around and play freely.

There's also a variety of workout equipment for those looking to stay active.

And let's not forget about the Jordon Bridge - a beautiful walk that shouldn't be missed.

One other feature that caught my attention was the free fishing opportunity.

You can fish without a license if you follow local fishing laws.

This and the park's ample benches make it a relaxing haven.

So, if you're ever in Chesapeake, Virginia, visit Elizabeth River Park.

It's a hidden gem in the city that will offer the perfect day out.

Enjoy a Night Under The Stars At The Chesapeake Planetarium

I still remember my first trip to the Chesapeake Planetarium on a field trip when I was a wide-eyed school kid.

It was a magical experience then, and the charm hasn't faded.

Now, it has become a cherished tradition of mine to attend the free shows on Thursday nights.

These are not just shows; they're a journey through the stars, filled with fascinating stories and astronomical wonders of our universe.

The planetarium's monthly features are a treasure trove of knowledge.

My favorites are the December shows about the 'Christmas Star' and the April constellation tours.

On clear nights, the experience gets even more thrilling when they set up high-quality telescopes for a live look at the celestial bodies.

I remember the first time I saw Jupiter and Saturn through the telescope.

It felt like I was touching the stars.

But the real star of the Chesapeake Planetarium is Dr. Hitt.

They fire up one's imagination and invite you to ponder the mysteries of the universe.

So, if you ever find yourself longing for a cosmic adventure, head over to the Chesapeake Planetarium.

It's a journey through the stars. Trust me, it's one journey you wouldn't want to miss.

Spend the Day at Oak Grove Lake Park

There's no place like Oak Grove Lake Park to spend time outdoors.

Over the years, I've considered this park my little slice of paradise in Chesapeake.

As soon as you set foot in the park, the captivating beauty of the lake greets you.

Imagine how the tranquil waters shimmer under the sun, mirroring the lush greenery surrounding it.

The sight inspires me and starts my day with a fresh dose of positivity.

Taking a stroll around the 1.5-mile path that encircles this dreamy lake is something I look forward to every day.

The trail is well-maintained, making it a delight for beginners and seasoned walkers alike.

You're likely to encounter fellow nature enthusiasts on the path.

But it's not just humans you'll be sharing the trail with – keep an eye out for the fluffy and not-so-fluffy animals that call the park home!

When I want to take a breather, the strategically placed benches offer the perfect respite.

Sitting there, soaking in the stunning scenery, I feel a deep sense of peace and connection with nature.

These benches are my go-to spots for quiet reading or reflective moments.

As a bonus, the park also features outdoor exercise equipment dispersed along the trail.

This equipment often adds a fun twist to my daily workouts.

Remember to bring along water, sunscreen, and mosquito repellent.

Don't forget the dog leash and cleanup bags if you plan to bring your furry friend.

There's even a playground for the little ones to enjoy, making it a hit with families.

So, come over to Oak Grove Lake Park and experience the magic for yourself!

Enjoy the Great Outdoors at Chesapeake City Park

Just imagine a Sunday afternoon spent relaxing in the lush pine forest of Chesapeake City Park.

It's such a serene place where nature truly comes alive!

There are ample open spaces for various activities perfect for kids and adults.

You can watch the kids having a blast at the expansive playground or see the local teens polishing their skills at the skate park.

For those who prefer more laid-back entertainment, horseshoe courts are available to try your luck.

The park is incredibly fantastic for hosting large events.

I remember fondly the Symphony under the Stars event that I attended there.

The vast green spaces provided the perfect backdrop for an evening of orchestral music under the night sky.

I've also attended a church picnic at Chesapeake City Park.

The park's spaciousness ensured that different groups could gather without disturbing each other.

The numbered shed areas are a perfect spot for a cozy community.

Bring some cleanup equipment like a leaf blower, a grill, and perhaps some music to set the ambiance.

Thankfully, the park has no shortage of mobile toilets and water stations, making it super convenient for everyone.

Basketball enthusiasts won't be disappointed, as the park boasts a basketball court.

Meanwhile, kids can enjoy their time at the playground, but be sure to have an adult supervising them.

No matter your preference, Chesapeake City Park has something for everyone.

Whether you're into sports, picnics, or simply enjoying the tranquility of nature, this park is a must-visit place in the heart of Greenbrier.

Discover Treasures at Chesapeake Central Library

When I push open those doors to the Chesapeake Central Library, tranquillity washes over me.

The library is spacious airy, and maintains an atmosphere that speaks volumes of quietude.

My favorite part is the children’s section.

It’s a treasure trove for young minds brimming with curiosity, stocked with everything to cater to their ever-hungry imaginations.

They have even established programs to keep things interesting for the kids.

The children's section has an interactive puppet show area, a Magna tile table, and an expansion of toys in the kitchen area.

Plus, they've smartly displayed the books higher, making it easier for the kids to pick their favorite reads.

Discover Nature at the Chesapeake Arboretum

One of the pleasures of living here is having the chance to explore the Chesapeake Arboretum frequently.

The site is a haven for nature lovers and makes a fantastic refuge for those looking to take a break from the bustling city life.

You might be slightly disappointed if you're expecting gardens bursting with flowers.

However, the beauty of this place lies in its tranquility and natural landscape.

Spanning 45 acres, the forest trails are charming, with little bridges, canopies, and mushrooms sprouting on the ground.

It's like stepping into a storybook!

For a newbie, the trails may seem confusing and repetitive, but luckily, there are maps at the various bridges to help you navigate.

The gazebo near the parking lot is worth a visit, too.

It's a perfect spot to relax and soak in the peaceful surroundings.

Speaking of surprises, here's a fun fact: if you exit Entrance 3, you'll find yourself in Oak Brooke Park, another beautiful spot more like your typical recreational park. Talk about a two-for-one deal!

Wildlife is another joy of visiting the Arboretum.

I've seen raccoons and even water moccasins on more than one occasion.

It's a reminder to keep a respectful distance from these creatures in their natural habitat.

The Arboretum is a place of education, too.

As you wander, you'll notice the names of plants and trees mentioned, making it a fantastic opportunity to learn about the local flora.

This place is nothing short of a paradise for someone who enjoys the outdoors.

I've explored it many times, and each visit leaves me with a renewed appreciation for nature.

Visit the Great Bridge Lock Park

Now and then, I take a break from my usual routine and head out to the Great Bridge Lock Park.

It's a charming little island park that has quickly become one of my favorite spots for a bit of relaxation and an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

I usually start my visit with a stroll along the park's trails.

They are quiet, clean, and surrounded by nature, providing a calm and serene atmosphere for a walk.

As I wander along, I often see families taking full advantage of the park's amenities, children playing on the playground, and people fishing by the river.

It always brings a sense of community and warmth to the park.

One of the things I love doing is watching the boats lined up at the park's boat ramp.

There's something remarkable about seeing the boats, some quite pretty, waiting in line.

It never gets old. And for the more adventurous, the park even has a boat launch.

There's also an informative and interesting museum on the other side of the park, perfect for history buffs.

It's always nice to learn something new every time I visit.

And then there are the park's picnic shelters, an ideal spot for a family picnic.

I've had quite a few picnics here, enjoying the park's beautiful views and the company of my family.

If you're ever in the area and looking for a great day trip destination, the Great Bridge Lock Park is worth a visit.

It's a friendly, clean place and a real gem for locals and visitors alike.

And for pet owners, the park is pet-friendly too.

Check it out next time you're in the area.

Experience Chesapeake City Hall Services

If there's one thing to appreciate about living in Chesapeake, it's the efficiency and courtesy of the services at our City Hall.

I've had the chance to participate in several events and transactions here, each leaving a lasting impression.

One such event that still lingers in my memory was the Memorial Day service.

The deep respect and honor shown to all service members, past and present, was incredibly moving.

Moreover, the atmosphere was filled with profound gratitude, and the service was executed flawlessly, making the experience unforgettable.

In addition to these community gatherings, the practical services at Chesapeake City Hall are equally commendable.

The Chesapeake City Hall, in my experience, has always been a place of dedication, commitment to service, and community spirit.

Whether attending a memorial service or visiting the DMV, you can expect professionalism and heartfelt service.

Enjoy Family Gatherings at Western Branch Park and Sports Park

Let me tell you about my favorite weekend spot - The Western Branch Park and Sports Park in Chesapeake.

It's one of those places where you can relax and enjoy quality family time.

I've had many memorable experiences here, and it has become a tradition to come here for family gatherings.

Recently, we rented one of the park's small pavilions for a family reunion.

Nestled under the park's tree-shaded areas, it was the perfect refuge from the scorching sun.

The kids in our family had a blast at the playground and swings.

There was ample room for everyone to spread out and enjoy the day.

Remember to bring some extra lawn chairs if you plan to have a large group.

Just a heads up, prepare to embrace the wild side, as the park has a very "woodsy" feel. Good tennis shoes are an absolute must.

Also, remember that the restroom facilities are limited to a porta-potty, but it's a small price to pay for the park's natural beauty.

Adding to the park's charm are the friendly workers who go out of their way to ensure you have a great time.

The park has enough seats for adults to relax while the kids play.

And if you have a pet, you're in for a treat!

The park houses a little dog park that my dog loves.

It is decently sized with two different enclosures and is littered with toys and balls that keep my pup occupied for hours.

Plus, it offers plenty of shade for those hot summer months.

Western Branch Park has something for everyone; every time I visit, it feels like a mini vacation.

Make a Getaway to Deep Creek Lock Park

I've had this special place in my heart for Deep Creek Lock Park.

Tucked amidst the bustle of Chesapeake, it's my go-to for a peaceful getaway.

Stretching across 25 acres of waterfront woods, it boasts a canoe launch, volleyball courts, picnic shelters, and a charming little playground.

I'm often drawn to the park's mid-size, which never gets too crowded.

There's always a convenient parking space waiting for me.

The children’s playground, viewing towers, benches, shelters, and the wee little cemetery all add to its charm.

I can't forget about the dock! I often find folks here, lost in the joy of kayaking or canoeing, their laughter echoing across the waters.

The trail, however, is a different story.

It's less of a path and more of a random line that doesn't lead anywhere.

The thrill of exploration is what keeps bringing me back.

One thing that stood out in my recent visits was how much work the city has put into sprucing up the park.

It was very well maintained, and the absence of mosquitoes was a pleasant surprise.

The old graves are fascinating, although I have always wondered why they are fenced off.

Moreover, the nature trail is a refreshing break from the sun with its beautiful views, though a bit overgrown in places.

Ultimately, Deep Creek Lock Park offers tranquility amidst a bustling city, where I can unwind and feel connected with nature.

Discover Art at Portlock Galleries At Sono

Art has always been a passion of mine, and I was thrilled when I discovered the Portlock Galleries At Sono.

Tucked away in an old 1908 schoolhouse, this art gallery is a haven for art enthusiasts and beginners alike.

The place itself is spacious, and there's a unique charm to the old, creaky wooden floors.

Some might find the creaking loud, but I think it adds character to the building.

The exhibitions have always been a visual delight, from contemporary art to classic masterpieces.

It's fantastic to see local talent being showcased alongside established artists.

Portlock Galleries also offers art classes, and I've enjoyed attending a few.

Likewise, the therapy sessions are an excellent addition as well.

I've even booked the gallery for a few gatherings.

It's become such a lovely, intimate place for me and my friends to enjoy art while spending quality time together.

In the heart of our local community, the Portlock Galleries At Sono is more than just a gallery – it’s a sanctuary for art and human connection.

Explore the Natural Beauty of Indian River Park South Side

Now and then, I yearn for a break from the city's hustle and bustle.

A place where I can unwind and lose myself amidst nature's embrace.

And that's precisely what I found in the 91-acre forested Indian River Park South Side in Chesapeake.

The park's main draw for me is the miles of mountain biking and hiking trails.

Though it's a multi-use trail, it's not overly crowded, making it perfect for a leisurely bike ride or a peaceful walk.

I got lost the first time I ventured there, but that's all part of the adventure.

The trails wind through stunning natural canopies, providing much-needed relief from the sun on hot days.

What surprised me was the well-maintained playground and sports field.

I stumbled upon them on the other side of the highway and was astounded by the various facilities.

From a delightful "Mommy & Me" swing to a fun, carnival-like merry-go-round, the playground is a hit among kids and adults alike.

The sports field is an excellent addition for those who prefer more structured activities.

Moreover, the Indian River Park South Side is a sanctuary where I can unwind, recharge, and reconnect with nature.

It offers a beautiful blend of recreational facilities in a serene, natural setting.

Even after countless visits, I'm still discovering new things.

And I can't wait to see what else this local gem has in store.

Take a Stroll Through Lakeside Park

Lakeside Park is my favorite place in Chesapeake, Virginia.

It's the epitome of tranquility and beauty, a stone's throw away from my home, making it an easy escape whenever I need fresh air or a moment of solace.

The park stretches over 11 acres, graced by an enchanting arched bridge that stands majestically over the lake.

I love sitting by the pond, often bringing along my picnic basket.

Laying out my blanket under the boughs of the gigantic trees, I enjoy the perfect shade they provide while I feed the eager ducks waddling around.

Fishing is one of my favorite pastimes.

There's something uniquely rewarding about patiently waiting for a catch, surrounded by the park's serenity.

The park also serves as the perfect venue for small gatherings.

It's not uncommon to see families and friends huddled together, savoring the joy of outdoor activities.

The charm of Lakeside Park extends beyond its boundaries.

With their stunning landscapes, the houses lining the park are a visual feast.

It's a treat to the eyes to witness such vibrant splashes of nature against the clear blue sky, especially after a heavy downpour.

Perhaps it's the absolute beauty, the fresh air, the opportunity for adventure, or the chance to unwind.

Lakeside Park is undeniably a treasure I am proud to have in my city.

Visit Bell's Mill Park

I often find myself drawn to the serenity of Bells Mill Park, located in our lovely city.

It is a serene haven that was once a landfill but has now beautifully transformed into a park.

I am always amazed to see the meadows and wetlands it offers, reminding me of the power of nature to reclaim and rejuvenate.

The park opens its gate to the public from sunrise to sunset, making it perfect for my morning and evening walks.

There's a certain charm in walking along the 2.5-mile trail, which is nothing more than mowed-down grass trails through heavily grassy open fields.

I often spot various birds, squirrels, and even baby rabbits on my walks, cohabiting harmoniously in this artificial wilderness.

My family and I often pack a picnic in the park's designated areas.

We've even celebrated a few memorable birthdays in the open, under the sky.

Near the parking lot, there's a neat little fitness workout area, perfect for a dose of exercise before or after your picnic.

It's also where you'll find the only port-a-potty in the park.

I can't help but appreciate Bells Mill Park's effortless charm and simplicity.

It's a gem where you can connect with nature without leaving the city.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Make a Weekend Getaway to Paradise Creek Nature Park

Every weekend, I am drawn to the serene beauty of Paradise Creek Nature Park, a charming little gem nestled along the Elizabeth River.

The park is glorious, with restored wetlands teeming with diverse flora and fauna.

It's a peaceful retreat from the city’s hustle and bustle - where nature and tranquility meet.

My morning routine starts with a brisk walk along the well-maintained nature trails.

This is not just a simple walk in the park, mind you.

The path is dotted with interactive signs and QR codes, making learning about the local ecosystem an engaging experience.

Once, I stumbled upon a 120-year-old Elm tree, standing tall and magnificent in the park - a sight to behold!

The park also boasts a fantastic kayak launch.

I consider myself an avid kayaker, and maneuvering through the gentle course of Elizabeth River is always an exhilarating experience.

And when I'm not kayaking or exploring the trails, I love to unwind at the picnic area, surrounded by the soothing sounds of nature.

The park is also a wonderland for kids; the playground is always buzzing with activity.

What's genuinely unique is the wooden structure/hut - an active art installation that both kids and adults can interact with, contributing their touch by adding or removing twigs and sticks.

The park also hosts a variety of butterflies, bats, and birds, and their calls add a captivating soundtrack to my strolls.

It's not just the beauty of Paradise Creek Nature Park that keeps me coming back.

This park has become my weekend sanctuary, and I always look forward to what new experiences it holds for me.

Final Thoughts

Living in Chesapeake, Virginia, is never a dull moment.

Libraries, galleries, and even the City Hall offer their unique charm and provide an enriching experience.

This city is a treasure trove of experiences that don't cost a dime!

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