Whether you already live in Hampton Roads or it's your next duty station, the area has a lot to offer. There is a lot to love about Hampton Roads. First of all, there is a large military presence in the area where each branch of the armed forces is represented which really gives the area a sense of being a military community. Secondly, the area is surrounded by water which is perfect for the beach, fishing, and boating lovers. The climate is mild and there are four seasons which is wonderful.
One of the greatest benefits to the Hampton Roads area is there is a ton to do here. Remember, every duty station has its pluses and minuses. It's important to remember every duty station is what you make it! I am here to share with you my favorite list of things to do while living in the Hampton Roads area in hopes that this will help give you some ideas of things to do and see while stationed or living in the area. **Remember many of the opportunities below offer a fantastic Military Discount and Military Appreciation opportunities! Check MB to keep up to date!
(1) Coastal Virginia-Hampton Roads Beaches
If you're a beach lover than you will love Hampton Roads. Almost every city here has some type of beach area. The most notable beaches of the area are Virginia Beach Oceanfront. Virginia Beach's Oceanfront offers visitors 12 miles of public white sand beach stretching from Fort Story south to Sandbridge. Visitors can surf, swim, bask in the sun and stroll the three-mile Boardwalk. There is also great entertainment at the boardwalk. There is music, festivals, and fireworks throughout the summer months.
Recommended Beaches in Hampton Roads:
- Croatan Beach
- Sandbridge Public Beach
- Little Island Park
- Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge
- First Landing State Park
(2) History Galore and The Historic Triangle
As many of you know, Hampton Roads is the history mecca of our country. This is where it all started. I must admit before pcsing to Hampton Roads, I remembered very little about American history from my highschool days. However, I have learned so much about our country and how it was founded while living here. It is truly facsinating. It has also been a great experience for our children as they learn the history of our countries beginnings they can also visit the sites first hand. Below are some of the must visit historical sites in the "historical traingle of Hampton Roads". Keep in mind not only is there tons of history to check out here in Hampton Roads there are also many close driving day trip opportunities, some listed below.
The Historical Triangle: Includes three historic colonial communities located on the Virginia Peninsula of the United States and is bounded by the York River on the north and the James River on the south. The points that form the triangle are Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg, and Yorktown. They feature many restored attractions and are linked by the Colonial Parkway in James City and York counties, and the City of Williamsburg. (via wikipedia) Many of the below historical sites offer fantastic Military Discounts or Free Admission.
Other Historic Sites to Visit in Hampton Roads & Nearby Day Trips:
- James River Plantations
- Endview Plantation
- Lee Hall Mansion
- Michie Tavern-Charlottesville
- Thomas Jefferson Monticello
- James Madison Montpelier
- George Washington's Mount Vernon
- Civil War Battle Sites
- Virginia War Museum
- Cape Henry Lighthouse-Fort Story
- Casemate Museum Fort Monroe-Museum chronicling Fort Monroe's colonial roots & its military role from the 19th century onward.
- Patriot Tours & Provisions (Historic Yorktown Segway Tours)
- Segway of Richmond- offers several historic Richmond Tours
(3) The Mountains
One of my favorite things about Virginia is the fact that you are a short drive to the ocean, moutains, and historical sites. The Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia are also a must when stationed in the Hampton Roads area. Below are my favorite places to experience the natural beauty of Virginia.
- Shenandoah National Park-Skyline Drive
- Wintergreen Resort- offers skiing, golfing, hiking, wineries, breweries and great military discounts.
- Natural Bridge-The Bridge has been included in several “Seven Natural Wonders of the World” lists.
- Massanutten-offers skiing, golfing, waterpark, and military discounts
- SnowShoe Mountain-Skiing, hiking, golfing, military discounts and more
- Crabtree Falls Trail-one of the most beautiful hikes in Virginia
(4) Busch Gardens and Water Country
Busch Gardens is a must visit while you are stationed in Hampton Roads. Busch Gardens Williamsburg is not only voted year after year as the most beautiful theme park, it also offers a very kid-friendly environment, loads of thrilling rides and roller coasters, animal shows, music shows, fireworks in the summer, dining, and Military Discounts! Water Country USA is another must visit offering thrilling water slides and rides, kid-friendly pools and plenty of places to work on your tan.
Seaworld Parks and Entertainment has always supported the military community by offering great military discounts and the Waves of Honor opportunity (available at Busch Gardens Williamsburg). Learn more about Waves of Honor and Military Discounts below.
(5) Aquariums, Zoos, and Family Entertainment
There are a ton of Great Family Entertainment opportunities available in Hampton Roads. Below is only a handful of FUN things to do in the area to include some of favorites and MB follower's favorites.
- Busch Gardens Williamsburg
- Water Country USA
- Kings Dominion
- Virginia Zoo
- Virginia Air & Space Center
- Virginia Living Museum
- Virginia Children's Museum
- Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center
- Mariners' Museum and Park
- Norfolk Botanical Gardens
- Nauticus-USS Wisconsin
- Norfolk Admirals Hockey
- Norfolk Tides Baseball-Minor League
- Climb the Cape Henry Lighthouse
- Bounce House Williamsburg
- Go Ape Rope Course
- Rebounderz Indoor Trampoline
- Peninsula Family Skating Center
- Indoor Skydiving Virginia Beach
- Chysler Museum
- Ocean Breeze Waterpark
- Great Wolf Lodge
- Jungle Golf
- Military Aviation Museum
- Fort Monroe Casemate Museum
- Top Golf
(6) Boating Excursions/fishing/dolphin & Whale Watching
If you love to fish, Hampton Roads is the place to be. For all seafood fans, you will love the fresh seafood we enjoy here in Coastal Virginia. You can enjoy right off our waters, fresh rock fish, tuna, mahi mahi, flounder, scallops, oysters, of course blue crab, and more! And, you can also enjoy great daytrip fishing excursions to get out there on the waters and catch fresh fish yourself. There are several local charter companies that will take groups out fishing for the day. There are also many public fishing piers. Below you'll find a link to all of these. If you are interested in getting out on the water for other adventures here are some other favorites: December through March is the ideal months to see the enormous and beautiful beasts known as humpbacks. Bottle nose dolphins can be seen in the Chesapeake Bay area, as well as other places in the Atlantic Ocean. The best months to spot dolphins are normally from June to early September.
- Fishing charters, public fishing piers, local fish species
- Spirit of Norfolk- Waterside in Downtown Norfolk, Spirit offers lunch, dinner, moonlight and holiday cruises.
- Rudee Tours- Dolphin tours, Whale tours, and Sunset trips in Virginia Beach
- Yorktown Schooners Alliance and Serenity-Setting sail on the historic waters of Yorktown on the York River.
- Carnival Cruise Lines: Carnival has announced they will begin service out of Norfolk for 2015
- Miss Hampton II- offering the only tour of the famous Hampton Roads Harbor, site of the Battle of the Monitor and Merrimac.
- Kayaking & Paddle boarding have also become very popular in Hampton Roads and there are many locations in the area offering excursions to include nearly all the beaches in the area. Also, be sure to check with you local MWR as many of the Hampton Roads military bases offer kayak, paddle boarding, and boat rentals.
Hampton Roads has tons of fantastic festivals and events throughout the year. Below are some of my favorite annual festivals that you don't want to miss including great links to local festival/event websites in the area to keep you on top of all the upcoming events. MB also shares these festivals so you can also be sure to follow us on social media listed below. UPDATES FOR 2019 COMING SOON!
- 12th Annual Wine Festival- Downtown Norfolk MAY 5-6, 2018
- 17th Annual Beer Festival-Saturday, May 19, 2018
- 42nd Annual Norfolk Harbourfest-June 8-10, 2018
- The Neptune Festival of Virginia Beach-44th Annual: Attracts 400,000+ and voted one of the top 100 festivals in North America by American Bus Association. The festival begins end of September, check the website to see all the events held. The festival offers many events throughout the weekend to include the famous sand sculptures.
- 38th Annual Seafood Festival in Poquoson is a must! October 19-21, 2018. Hampton Roads is know for great, fresh seafood, this is a great opportunity to try lot's of great local seafood.
- 35th Annual Pungo Strawberry Festival is a local favorite May 26-27, 2018.
- Blackbeard Pirate Festival downtown Hampton. The Pirates will take over Downtown Hampton for their annual Blackbeard celebration! On Saturday, June 2, 2018 from 10:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m. and Sunday, June 3, 2018 from noon - 6:00 p.m., once again we shall have grand sea battles & skirmishes, much cannon fire from both ships and along the shoreline and the finest fireworks anywhere!
- Blue Angels are scheduled for the NAS Oceana Air Show September 22-23, 2018. You don't want to miss this!
- Find more Festivals/Events in Hampton Roads at Virginia.org
- Tons of Festivals Worth Attending Can Be Found At Festevents
- Beach Street USA- Beachevents is the events program presented by the City of Virginia Beach, with concerts, festivals, and activities primarily held at the oceanfront resort area.Offers tons of fantastic events in the Virginia Beach area throughout the summer! You don't want to miss these events.
- 44th Newport News Fall Festival of Folklife- Newport News Park: Southeast Virginia's biggest traditional craft show features over 150 vendors, traditional crafts and trades, folk entertainment, food vendors ($), and children's activities. $5.00 per car parking fee. See below for 2018 Applications (when available) for the Juried & Marketplace Area (handmade crafts), Heritage Area (traditional craft & trade displays and demonstrations), and Country Store Area ("farmers market" items including canned goods and fresh produce). Applications are due March 26, 2018.
(8) Get Outdoors and enjoy tons of great Activities year round!
One of my favorite things about Hampton Roads is the weather. It is great for the outdoor enthusiasts. I have heard many complaints about the humidity and wet cold but I would take our average lows and highs any day! I've lived in both extremes from the cold midwest where negative temperatures are normal to the hot desert where you feel the dryness and heat of the summer which can be unbearible with over 100 degree temps. Everyone has their own preference but the weather in Hampton Roads is one of my favorite things about this duty station. The average temperature in the winter is 48 degrees and the average high in 88 degrees. What's even better is there are some winters where we see highs in the 70s yet we can also still get a foot of snow. Or, if we don't get snow better yet, we can drive to it. I call that "snow on demand". With the fantastic weather in Hampton Roads comes great opportunity for year round outdoor activities. There are great golf courses (yes you can golf in the winter), great hiking, biking, and national parks to explore. Here's some great spots to check out while your here!
- Golf Courses (Check out Military Tee Times offering Nationwide Military Discounts Off Tee Times)
- Virginia State Parks
- Virginia National Parks - Free For Military
- Water activities listed above in the beaches and water excursion sections
- KOA Campgrounds/Camping Virginia
(9)Weekend Getaways and Day Trips
The Hampton Roads area is close to many Day Trips and weekend getaways. Keep in mind many of the day trips can be found above in the History section. Many of these opportunities make a great day trip. Below are a couple more potential day trips or weekend getaways. One of the most popular weekend getaways is the Outer Banks in North Carolina. This area is home to beautiful beaches, quaint shops, and multiple restaurants. It is great for big groups as there are many large 8-10 bedroom homes but it is also good for just one family. There are many options for either renting a home or hotel accomodations. Two recommendations are Elan Vacations and Southern Shores Realty, both offer military discounted vacation home rentals and great service to make sure your vacation is a success. There are also a couple hotels in the area that offer military discount accomodations.
- Outer Banks Also nearby is Kitty Hawk and Nags Head (Check out Elan Vacations & Southern Shores Realty for Military Discounted Vacation Properties)
- Eastern Shore
- Chincoteague- see the wild horses of Chincoteague
- Wintergreen Resort/Natural Bridge (listed above)
- Virginia Safari Park
- Luray Caverns
- Massanutten Resort (listed above)
- Snowshoe Mountain (listed above)
- The Homestead
- Washington D.C.
- Carter Mountain Orchard-located in Charlottesville and worth the day trip! One of the best orchards in Virginia. They also have several events throughout the year.
- Northern Neck
- Williamsburg Premium Outlets (worthy of a day trip, we have a fantastic outlet mall in Hampton Roads)
- Virginia Wine Trail - may want to make this a weekend getaway, the wine is good in Virginia!
- Navy Getaways has some amazing lodging accomodations in Hampton Roads to include oceanfront cottages! This is available for Active duty, retirees, and DOD civilians. Navy Getaways offer affordable and relaxing accomodations including RV sites, tent sites, cabins, cottages, townhomes, and resort-style vacation rentals.
- Armed Forces Vacation Club: Armed Forces Vacation Club is a FREE membership club open to active duty, guard, reserve and retired members of the Armed Forces as well as civilian employees of the DoD. AFVC provides access to Space-A resort rentals worldwide for just $349* per week – that’s per unit, which sleeps 2-8!
(10) Great websites to follow for even more things to do in Hampton Roads
- VirginiaBeach.com-an awesome resource providing a complete list of events, festivals, hotels and all things Virginia Beach. Check out their section on over 100 things to do in Virginia Beach on their website for more great ideas for fun in Hampton Roads. Stay connected to their social media--Facebook Twitter Website
- MyActiveChild.com-for local family friendly activities, resources and information in Hampton Roads, VA! My Go-to site for kids activities and family-friendly events in the area. If you have children, you'll want to follow MyActiveChild on their social media-- Facebook Twitter Pinterest FB Group Website
- Virginia is for Lovers-great online resource for all things Virgnia. They offer several great blog posts on top things to do in and around Virginia such as events.things to do, festivals, etc. A great resource! Stay connected on their website or social media--Facebook Twitter Instagram
- Local festival websites-Beachstreet USA and Festevents to keep up to date with all that is happening in Hampton Roads. As you can see from some of the events listed above, Hampton Roads has a lot of fantastic festivals and we only listed a handful of favorites.
Hampton Roads has tons to offer from amazing history, beaches, mountains, to a strong military community and presence. Explore new things and live each day to the fullest. I hope this list is helpful to you whether you currently live in Hampton Roads or are moving here in the near future. Please feel free to share this list with anyone else you may know who will be moving to this area.
Also, feel free to add to the list by leaving your comments below. I also share many fun local events, military discounts, military-friendly businesses/services, and tips for a successful PCS to Hampton Roads on our social media sites. Please Join Us on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, PINTEREST, and our website www.militarybridge.com, or our EMAIL OR BLOG SIGN UP to keep up to date with all things Hampton Roads. We also welcome any Reviews/Recommendations of the Above Businesses. To leave a review or recommend a business click here!