Blake Walsh

15 Free Things to Do in Chesapeake, VA

  • Published 2022/12/02

Chesapeake is a beautiful coastal and independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

This vibrant city is rich in culture, history, and outdoor activities, making it the perfect destination for family fun.

With an abundance of parks, trails, and waterways, Chesapeake is an outdoor enthusiast’s idea of paradise.

You can spend time at one of the many city parks, get lost in nature on many trails, or explore this city’s many historical museums and attractions.

The best part about Chesapeake is that it has tons of attractions that are completely free.

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly getaway, you can’t go wrong with Chesapeake.

Here are some free things to do in Chesapeake, Virginia, to get you started.

Catch Trout at the Northwest River Park

The waters of Northwest River Park

J Paulson /

Northwest River Park is a beautiful park in Chesapeake, Virginia.

This park is home to various activities, including fishing, hiking, and biking.

Since it’s along the banks of the Northwest River, fishing is the highlight of the Northwest River Park.

The nearby river is filled with different varieties of trout and bass, so that you can have a great time fishing here.

View of the sunset from Northwest River Park

J Paulson /

The park also has several hiking and biking trails that wind through the forest and past the river.

This is an excellent place for nature lovers to explore and enjoy the beauty of Virginia’s nature scene.

If you’re looking for a place to get active and have some fun while under the covers of nature, then Northwest River Park is the perfect place to visit.

Enjoy a Scenic Lake View at the Oak Grove Lake Park

Oak Grove Lake Park is a beautiful park in the heart of Chesapeake.

This park is 65 acres of hardwood forests, scenic open spaces, and wetlands.

Tables, benches, and free picnic areas are scattered everywhere, so you can relax and enjoy the view of the lake.

This park offers a peaceful and scenic lake view, perfect for a relaxing day out with family or friends.

Oak Grove Lake Park also has fishing platforms, a play area, a rentable picnic area with a barbecue grill, a walking trail, and six outdoor fitness stations.

This is the place to visit if you want the full-on experience of Chesapeake’s outdoor beauty.

Explore the Chesapeake Arboretum

The Chesapeake Arboretum is a botanical garden and arboretum run by a non-profit organization along Oak Grove Road.

Spanning 48 acres, the Chesapeake Arboretum has gardens and three miles of walking trails, offering a tranquil environment for relaxation and exploration.

You can take a peaceful stroll along the walking trails or explore one of the gardens, including the vegetable and herb garden.

The staff aims to promote environmental awareness and horticulture through outdoor displays, educational programs, and research.

The Chesapeake Arboretum offers a variety of programs for people of all ages, as well as special events throughout the year.

Some notable attractions inside the Chesapeake Arboretum include the Calem Williamson Fam House, Camellia Cove, a propagation nursery, and a Master Gardener area with a Greenhouse.

There are also dedicated picnic areas, a large gazebo with tables, and a large parking area.

The Chesapeake Arboretum is free to explore.

Enjoy a Family Day at Chesapeake City Park

Chesapeake City Park is a beautiful park in the city’s heart.

As the city’s official park, this place offers something for everyone: playgrounds, picnic areas, and outdoor fitness areas.

If you want to break a sweat and play some sports, there are several volleyball and basketball courts and a horseshoe pit in designated park areas.

You can bring your pet and let them play at the dog park.

And if you love skating, there’s also a skate park with different obstacles and ramps.

A large open area is also perfect for flying kites or just playing with family and friends.

The Chesapeake City Park is perfect for a family day out, with plenty of things to do and places to relax.

Check Out the Art in Portlock Galleries at Sono

The Portlock Galleries at Sono is a unique art gallery showcasing different kinds of art.

The gallery has various artwork on display, including paintings and sculptures.

You can also find glasswork and pottery made by locals and visitors of Chesapeake.

They also offer art classes for all skill levels and workshops for those who want to learn more about a specific type of art.

The best part of this gallery is it’s free to visit for children and adults.

Likewise, you will only spend money here when you register for their workshops and programs.

Check out the Portlock Galleries at Sono if you want a unique art experience.

Go Fishing and Crabbing at the Great Bridge Lock Park

As a city that promotes the great outdoors, Chesapeake has no shortage of parks and outdoor recreation centers.

What’s interesting about these parks is that each has its unique attractions.

Take the Great Bridge Lock Park, for example, which is a great place to go fishing, crabbing, and watching the scenic waterways that go by it.

Located along the Intracoastal Waterway, this park offers fishing access to the Chesapeake and Albemarle Canals.

You can also stroll the boardwalk and enjoy the park’s stunning views.

Other amenities in this park include an ADA-accessible canoe launch and kayak, several finish areas, a boat ramp, picnic areas with grills, a playground for the kids, well-maintained public restrooms, and a walking trail.

If you’re a nature lover, stop by Great Bridge Lock Park and experience the beauty of Chesapeake for yourself.

Explore Chesapeake City Hall

The Chesapeake City Hall is not only a beautiful building, but it’s also a great place to get a glimpse of the Chesapeake community.

The surrounding area of the Chesapeake City Hall bustles with people and is a perfect place for a stroll.

You can explore the various shops and restaurants lining the streets or enjoy the city’s scenic views.

The front of the Chesapeake City Hall is a great place to take pictures, and there are also benches where you can sit and relax.

It also hosts some of the city’s local events, festivals, and concerts.

It has plenty of open spaces and trails for biking, walking, and running, which makes it perfect for active individuals.

The Chesapeake City Hall is a popular destination for tourists and locals; check it out if you’re in town!

Play Ball at Deep Creek Park

If you want to get active on your Chesapeake vacation, head to Deep Creek Park for some baseball action.

Deep Creek Park is a great place to play baseball with friends.

This park features four baseball fields and four multipurpose fields.

You can either play baseball or football, depending on what you prefer.

This park is perfect for those who love the outdoors.

Enjoy plenty of fresh air and nature while you’re there.

The park also features a dog park where you can take your dog for a walk or have them run around and play with other dogs.

There’s also a playground for the kids and several dedicated picnic areas.

If you want to take a walk or jog, there’s also a mile-long trail that connects to the Dismal Swamp Canal Trail.

Deep Creek Park is a great place to visit if you want to get active and enjoy the great outdoors.

Join Free Programs at the Chesapeake Planetarium

The Chesapeake Planetarium is a great place to join a free educational program.

This planetarium offers several programs that are both entertaining and educational for kids and adults alike.

These programs are geared towards educating people about the vastness of space, the Earth’s environment, and astronomy in general.

The planetarium also offers a variety of programs showcasing the stars and their constellations.

You can also participate in telescope observations and stargazing activities, a great way to observe the night sky.

The Chesapeake Planetarium is the perfect place to go for a fun and educational learning experience.

If you’re into free things that offer a unique experience, visit the Chesapeake Planetarium for one of its free programs.

Experience Nature at Indian River Park North Side & Rokeby Center

Indian River Park North Side & Rokeby Center is a beautiful 91-acre forested park and playground perfect for experiencing nature in its most pristine form.

This park consists of a wide variety of pines, other hardwood, and a small creek that goes through the entire property.

This park is a perfect spot to escape the hustle and bustle of the urban area and experience nature’s beauty.

The Rokeby Senior Center is also located in Indian River Park North Side.

This center is dedicated to providing recreational and educational activities for seniors in the Chesapeake area.

The amenities within the Initial River Park include basketball courts, a kids’ playground, picnic areas with grilling stations, and several walking, hiking, and biking trails.

If you want to experience the beauty of nature on your Chesapeake vacation, visit the Indian River Park North Side & Rokeby Center.

Visit the Chesapeake Central Library

The Chesapeake Central Library is a beautiful building home to many great resources.

Located in downtown Chesapeake, this library offers something for everyone, with materials and services for all ages.

Some of the services and amenities offered at the library include free WiFi, public computers, study rooms, a children’s room, and a genealogy room.

If you want a quiet place to study, work, or know more about Chesapeake and its surrounding areas, check out the resources at Chesapeake Central Library.

Get Sporty at Western Branch Park and Sports Park

Western Branch Park and Sports Park should be perfect if you want to get active and have fun.

This park offers a variety of sports fields and courts, as well as playgrounds and picnic areas, so there’s something for everyone.

The sports fields and courts include baseball diamonds, football fields, soccer fields, tennis courts, and basketball courts.

The park also has pickleball courts, a natural two-mile walking trail, a playground area that features a max net climber, and a dog park for your furry friend.

If you want to relax after playing outdoor sports, you can relax at the several picnic areas within the park.

Western Branch Park and Sports Park is the best place to get active while also taking in the breathtaking views of Chesapeake, Virginia.

Check it out while you’re in town!

Other Things to Do Nearby

Chesapeake’s surrounding areas also have several free activities and attractions to discover.

With that said, here are some notable attractions near Chesapeake that you should check out.

Check Out the Railroad Museum of Virginia

Steam locomotive at the Railroad Museum of Virginia

Wangkun Jia /

The Railroad Museum of Virginia is in Portsmouth, Virginia, 11 minutes from Chesapeake.

This museum is dedicated to the history of railroads and train travel in Virginia and the entire United States.

The museum has various exhibits, including locomotives, passenger cars, cabooses, and other railroad artifacts.

A train at the Railroad Museum of Virginia

Wangkun Jia /

They also have an extensive collection of model trains on display where visitors can ride one of the model trains.

The Railroad Museum of Virginia is free to enter and is an excellent place to learn about the history of trains and railroads.

Railcar at the Railroad Museum of Virginia

Wangkun Jia /

Explore Paradise Creek Nature Park

Paradise Creek Nature Park is a beautiful nature park in Portsmouth, Virginia, nine minutes from Chesapeake.

This 40-acre park is a natural oasis in an urban setting, home to various activities like fishing, hiking, and biking.

Moreover, the park’s centerpiece is the nature trail that winds through the forest and along the banks of Paradise Creek.

This is an excellent place for nature lovers to explore and enjoy the beauty of Virginia’s nature scene.

If you want a place to get active and have some fun in the company of nature, then visit Paradise Creek Nature Park.

Go through the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel

The Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel is a four-lane bridge tunnel that connects Suffolk in South Hampton Roads and Newport News on the Virginia Peninsula.

This tunnel is among the longest bridge tunnels in the United States.

It was also built to commemorate the Battle of Hampton Roads, fought between the USS Monitor and CSS Virginia.

The tunnel is free to drive through and offers beautiful views of both cities.

It’s great to pass by while taking pictures of the area.

Cross the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel if you’re in Portsmouth or Suffolk, Virginia, 30 minutes from Chesapeake.

Final Thoughts

Virginia has a ton of hidden gems that are waiting to be discovered.

Chesapeake is no exception and has plenty of free things to do that are worth checking out.

Check out this list of the best free things to do in Chesapeake, Virginia, and discover your new favorite!

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