Blake Walsh

15 Free Things to Do in Newport News, VA

  • Published 2022/12/30

Newport News, Virginia, is renowned for being a top-notch shipbuilding city where many of the Navy’s warships were built.

This city meandering the mouth of the James River was established in 1621 by several colonists from Ireland.

Meanwhile, the city’s name came from the commander of five expeditions, Christopher Newport.

Newport News started as a coal-shipping port for the Ohio and Chesapeake Railways in the mid-1800s.

It continued to prosper until it became a dry dock and shipbuilding hub in the years to come.

Fascinatingly, Newport News is one of the very few cities in the U.S. that is considered independent; this city was once part of Warwick County.

Fast forward to the present day, Newport News is an excellent destination for those looking for a quick weekend getaway.

It’s home to dozens of parks, historical landmarks, architectural charms, a vibrant arts community, and natural areas for everyone to enjoy.

Amazingly, most of these attractions you’ll be visiting in Newport News are free to enjoy.

Here are the free things to do in Newport News, Virginia.

Strike a Pose at the Newport News Victory Arch

Aerial view of the Newport News Victory Arch

Kyle J Little /

The Newport News Victory Arch is a famous historical landmark.

You can visit this impressive historical architecture along West Avenue.

This victory arch is one of the gorgeous sights that greets you upon arriving in the city.

Daytime view of the Newport News Victory Arch

Smash the Iron Cage, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Historically, this victory arch is a tribute to the men and women who served in different wars through the years.

Posing at this victory arch is one of the activities you shouldn’t miss when visiting Newport News.

Stop by the Newport News Victory Arch to take gorgeous photos as souvenirs of your visit to this city.

History marker of the Newport News Victory Arch

Smash the Iron Cage, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Drop by the Newport News Visitor Center

Start your Newport News travel adventure by visiting the Newport News Visitor Center along Jefferson Avenue.

Traveling to Virginia’s coastal region can be overwhelming, especially for newbie travelers.

Head to this visitor center for essential information on how to get to the best attractions in Newport News and the entire region, such as Norfolk, Portsmouth, Jamestown, and more.

This visitor center also offers coupons for discounts for shopping and driving tours.

The Newport News Visitor Center on Town Center Drive also holds regular entertaining activities for visitors.

Browse through Artworks at the Mary M. Torggler Fine Arts Center

The Mary M. Torggler Fine Arts Center along the Avenue of Arts showcases the city’s local arts scene.

If you’re an avid art fan or a casual tourist, you can enjoy plenty of art-related activities when visiting this arts center.

It regularly hosts rotating exhibits, art classes, gallery talks, and lectures featuring local and well-known artists, which you can join for free.

Its 83,000-square-foot facility is a work of art by itself—it has an impressive atrium with three cascading domes, symbolizing the three ships under Christopher Newport’s command.

You can pose wherever you want at this arts center for some lovely photos as your souvenir.

At the same time, you can also explore the Department of Fine Arts and Art History at the Mary M. Torggler Fine Arts Center for more remarkable artworks.

Enjoy Outdoor Activities at Newport News Park

Boardwalk at Newport News Park

Sherry V Smith /

Newport News Park is one of the most extensive municipal parks along the Mississippi River.

You and your loved ones can check out this park along Jefferson Avenue.

The park spans over 7,500 acres and is a famous Newport News outdoor attraction.

A flower at Newport News Park

Bella Alcorn /

Many visitors love to spend their time at this park picnicking and doing other outdoor activities such as archery, canoeing, paddle boating, and fishing.

At the same time, it has campsites equipped with the essential amenities if you’re planning to spend the night.

If you’re looking for more outdoor activities, check out Newport News Park’s 18-hole disc golf course and 30-acre aero-model flying field.

Let Kids Have Fun at the Riverview Farm Park

The Riverview Farm Park is one of Newport News’ community parks.

It is located along Riverview Parkway.

This park boasts a fantasy farm playground that spans over 30,000 square feet that is open for all kids.

Like most playgrounds, it offers slides, ladders, obstacles, towers, and more.

The park also has a lovely picnic area near the playground.

The Riverview Farm Park is also home to a visitor center, a hiking trail, and sports facilities for more outdoor recreational activities.

Stroll along the City Center at Oyster Point Fountains

View of the Oyster Point Fountains at night

Aaron F. Stone, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The City Center at Oyster Point Fountains is a mixed-use upscale business district along Town Center Drive.

Although this place is famous for its upscale open-air shopping, leisure, and dining experience, many locals love to spend their time here strolling and relaxing.

Locals enjoy its scenic views, especially of the breathtaking and massive fountains.

It’s a five-acre fountain with spectacular lights and sounds, made more special during the holiday season.

The City Center at Oyster Point is your go-to destination for a relaxing and scenic break in the city.

Connect with Nature at the Mariners’ Lake Natural Area

The Mariners’ Lake Natural Area has been considered a local gem for decades.

This natural attraction boasts a scenic lake, lush wooded trails, huge boulders, and skipping rocks along its shores.

Many locals love to hike or enjoy its scenic and peaceful views every morning.

Meanwhile, local anglers frequent the lake for a catch.

The Mariner’s Lake Natural Area is on Gatewood Road.

Wait for your Catch at the Leeward Municipal Marina

The Leeward Municipal Marina is a popular Newport News fishing spot along River Road.

Since this marina meanders through the historic James River, many anglers love to cast their line along its shores.

This marina has floating docks and a full-length finger pier for boats to dock conveniently.

It also has concrete seawalls and offers a gorgeous view of the James River and the horizon.

The Leeward Municipal Marina is abundant with largemouth bass, catfish, and perch.

Recount the Events at the Lee’s Mill Battlefield

History board at Lee's Mill Battlefield

Petra Holden, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Lee’s Mill Battlefield is one of the numerous historical landmarks you can visit in the city.

This place recounts the events that happened on April 5, 1862, during the American Civil War between the Union and Confederate forces.

Visiting this place allows you to step back in time and learn about the events in Lee’s Mill during the battle between the two forces.

The area, which once served as a tide mill, became a confederate fortress during the Civil War, besieged by Union forces during its peninsula campaign.

Head to this historical attraction, traverse a half-kilometer trail, and check out the signs to learn more about the momentous events at Lee’s Mill Battlefield on Jefferson Avenue.

Join the Summer Concert Series at Port Warwick

The Summer Concert Series at Port Warwick is a local musical tradition that has been running for almost two decades.

You can catch this local concert the entire summer at Port Warwick.

This summer concert series regularly draws hundreds of music lovers who wish to see local and well-known musicians from around Virginia.

The Summer Concert Series at Port Warwick happens weekly and runs for the entire summer months.

The musicians are from various genres, such as jazz, blues, folk, rock and roll, and samba.

Hike through Noland Trail

River along Noland Trail

Anne Katherine Jones /

Noland Trail allows you to explore Newport News’ and Warwick County’s outdoor and natural areas.

This trail runs through a forest that circumnavigates various natural areas such as lakes, overlooks, and numerous infrastructures like bridges and parks.

The trail stretches 7.7 kilometers, making it one of the best outdoor attractions in Newport News.

A deer at Noland Trail

Trevor Howard Jones /

Noland Trail is accessible via Lakeside Drive.

Catch Dramatic Sunset Views at the Hilton Fishing Pier

Hilton Fishing Pier is one of Newport News’ popular fishing spots along River Road.

Local anglers love to spend their morning or afternoons at this fishing pier for some of the best catches.

It’s also a popular site to watch the sunset.

The fishing pier, technically situated on a ravine, also has a park.

It’s where you can catch the orange, red, and pink hues illuminating the afternoon sky during sunset.

At the same time, you can lay your picnic blanket and bring your picnic basket while appreciating the gorgeous sunset view.

Visit Hilton Fishing Pier to relax and enjoy a scenic view.

Travel Back in Time to the Skiffes Creek Redoubt

Nature trail at Skiffes Creek Redoubt

JERRYE & ROY KLOTZ. M.D., CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Skiffes Creek Redoubt is another historical attraction that details the American Civil War.

You can visit it along Warwick Boulevard.

This place, constructed in 1862, served as a fortification of the Confederate Forces’ defensive line.

Today, you can still see many of the old fortifications’ remnants.

Many historical enthusiasts visit this attraction to learn more about the American Civil War.

When visiting the Skiffes Creek Redoubt, remember to drop by the remnants of a small, enclosed defensive fort made from timber, sod, and earth.

At the same time, read interpretive signs while enjoying the hike through this historical attraction.

Appreciate the Gorgeous Rose Garden at Huntington Park

Huntington Park is mainly famous for its peaceful ambiance.

You can visit this park along Hornet Circle.

Like most charming parts of Newport News, this park has a gorgeous picnic area, tennis courts, fishing piers, and museums.

However, most parkgoers love to spend their time at this park for its beautiful and well-maintained rose garden.

The park was named after Henry E. Huntington, who donated the land in 1924.

The rose garden is the highlight of the 60-acre park.

It’s home to over 45 rose varieties, well-maintained by Newport News’ parks and recreations.

Huntington Park’s rose garden is one of Newport News’s best-kept secrets that you should check out.

See Aircraft Carriers and Warships at the Victory Landing Park

Aerial view of Victory Landing Park

Kyle J Little /

Victory Landing Park gives you a perfect view of the Navy’s shipbuilding yard and dry dock.

You can visit it along 26th Street.

Most tourists drop by this park to see the Navy’s massive aircraft carriers and warships.

Aircraft carriers docked at Victory Landing Park

Smash the Iron Cage, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The park is near the Navy’s shipbuilding yard and dry dock of the Virginia Advanced Shipbuilding and Carrier Integration Center, where most of the nation’s navy ships are constructed.

You can see this impressive military machinery by strolling through its hiking and biking trails.

Victory Landing Park has so much to offer parkgoers, especially military enthusiasts who want to see the massive ships up close.

Final Thoughts

Newport News is one of Virginia’s must-visit places because of its wide array of activities and attractions.

It’s home to parks, historical attractions, and natural areas.

Start planning your vacation in this charming city by referring to this list of free things to do in Newport News, Virginia.

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