Hampton, Virginia

Hampton, Virginia sits on the southeastern end of the Virginia Peninsula on the Atlantic coast at Chesapeake Bay. Hampton is the oldest community in North America - it was settled in 1607 by a party led by Captain Christopher Newport and became a town in 1705. Top attractions in Hampton include Buckroe Beach and Park, Fort Monroe National Monument, the Virginia Air and Space Center, and the Casemate Museum of Fort Monroe.

»Buckroe Beach and Park

Buckroe Beach and Park

Buckroe Beach and Park offers eight acres of family-friendly land and a lovely nearly mile long stretch of sandy beach on Chesapeake Bay. During the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day, there are certified lifeguards on the shore, Saturday night concerts for Groovin' By The Bay, and Tuesday night outdoor movies.

The park has ample parking, a playground, a nice path for walking or cycling, restrooms, and rental of kayaks and paddleboats. Restrooms are available. Two picnic pavilions with tables and grills can be reserved for a small fee, and there is a stage for community events. From Memorial Day until Labor Day no dogs are permitted in the park.

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»Fort Monroe National Monument

Fort Monroe National Monument

Fort Monroe has guarded the waters between Hampton Roads and Chesapeake Bay since the earliest fortifications were built in 1609 in the Colony of Virginia. It is the largest stone fort in the United States and a site brimming with history. It served as a Union fort in Confederate Virginia during the American Civil War, and as a safe haven for slaves under the Contraband Act.

Today, Fort Monroe is a popular tourist attraction and offers a historical museum, miles of nature trails, excellent fishing off Engineer Wharf, picnic areas, a marina, and miles of beaches, one of which, Outlook Beach, has a lifeguard during the summer months.

41 Bernard Road, Fort Monroe, VA 23651, Phone: 757-722-3678

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»Virginia Air and Space Center

Virginia Air and Space Center

The Virginia Air and Space Center has partnered with NASA to house an exciting hands-on science center. Visitors young and old can land on the moon in a lunar simulator, check out the Apollo 12 command module, experience the wonder of the five-story high IMAX theater, and get an up-close look at the sun and its waves in the solarium, which is full of radiant images taken by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory.

Little ones can put their minds and hands to work at Engineer-It, a playground in which building larger than life buildings is the game of the day. The museum has day camps that teach core sciences, facilities for completing scouting badges, curriculum materials for teachers and homeschooling parents, a café, and a gift shop. Guided tours for school children and community groups are available.

600 Settlers Landing Road, Hampton, VA 23669, website, Phone: 757-727-0900

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»Casemate Museum of Fort Monroe

Casemate Museum of Fort Monroe

The Casemate Museum of Fort Monroe tells the history of this significant fortress built to withstand attacks from the sea. Once the prison that briefly held Confederate President Jefferson Davis after the American Civil War, the museum is a real treasure for those who love military history or old buildings.

The museum has excellent artifacts and educational displays, a replica of an officer's two-room family quarters, and a self-guided tour that takes visitors through the museum, out to the moat, and along the defensive walls, which are six to eight feet thick and built to withstand cannon fire. Groups of ten or more people can make reservations for a guided tour of the museum and grounds.

41 Bernard Road, Fort Monroe, VA 23651, Phone: 757-788-3391

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»Bluebird Gap Farm

Bluebird Gap Farm

Bluebird Gap Farm was first used as farmland by an English sea captain in 1622. Now it is a rural educational, family-oriented site with approximately 150 farm animals such as chickens, horses, pigs, cows, and goats. The farm also has more uncommon animals, including peacocks, tortoises, llamas, alpacas, rabbits, and deer.

Birds of prey are regular visitors to the park, as are water birds and shore birds. The farm has a picnic pavilion available for full or half-day rental and more picnic tables scattered throughout the property for family use. There are animal feed vending machines and vending machines with snacks and drinks for people. The display barn is filled with farm and home antiques from the past two decades.

60 Pine Chapel Road, Hampton, VA 23666, Phone: 757-825-4750

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»Hampton History Museum

Hampton History Museum

The Hampton History Museum chronicles the story of Hampton, the oldest continuously English speaking city in the United States. In chronological fashion, the museum takes visitors through the city's four hundred year history, delving into its African American history, its Native American history, the War of 1812, the American Civil War, and into Hampton's current rebirth as a military and aerospace technology center.

The museum has particularly fine collections of old maps and photographs, and there are a great many interesting artifacts from early times, including a nine thousand year old arrowhead. Snacks and drinks are available in the gift shop.

120 Old Hampton Lane, Hampton, VA 23669, Phone: 757-727-1610

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»Sandy Bottom Nature Park

Sandy Bottom Nature Park

Sandy Bottom Nature Park is a 456-acre property containing a pond, twelve miles of nature trails, and a huge nature interpretative center. The reclaimed land now has wetlands, woodlands, and wildlife such as white-tailed deer, frogs, turtles, Mabee's Salamander, and the endangered canebrake rattlesnake. The trails are well maintained and suitable for both hikers and cyclists.

The park has a children's playground, two sets of restrooms, five picnic shelters available for rental, and other picnic tables set in shaded areas around the park. Fishermen can fish off the pier or rent a boat to go after largemouth bass, crappie, catfish, and bluegill. The water is so clear that you can see the fish and the bottom of the lake. It's a great place for family outings, and it has an educational aspect to it that kids and parents can both appreciate.

1255 Big Bethel Road, Hampton, VA 23666, Phone: 757-825-4657

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»Hampton Coliseum

Hampton Coliseum

The Hampton Coliseum is a 9,777-seat multi-use entertainment venue, and fan-favorite music performers, comedians, and Cirque de Soleil have all graced its stages. Conventions and trade shows find Hampton Coliseum suits all their needs, and the coliseum hosts three annual festivals: the Hampton Jazz Festival, the Hampton Funk Festival, and the Hampton Roads Soul Music Festival.

Throughout the year there are varied performances for the entire family to enjoy: the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circuses, Disney on Ice, monster truck rallies, WWE events, and professional bull riding. The coliseum has a multitude of food and beverage concessions and free parking.

1000 Coliseum Drive, Hampton, VA 23666, website, Phone: 757-838-4203

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»Miss Hampton II Cruises

Miss Hampton II Cruises


Aboard the Miss Hampton II, visitors can take the only professionally guided tour of the Hampton Roads Harbor. The three hour cruise tours Chesapeake Bay, takes in the sites where two Civil War battles were fought, includes a 30-minute guided tour of the Civil War island, Fort Wool, and as an additional highlight, gives an in-depth view of the ships at Norfolk Naval Base, which include aircraft carriers, nuclear-powered submarines, and missile cruisers.

Groups of 25-117 passengers can enjoy this tour or an all-day river cruise that rides the intracoastal waterways and that includes continental breakfast, a buffet lunch, and bingo. The Miss Hampton II is available for teen parties and school field trips, and it has a full-service snack bar on board.

710 Settlers Landing Road, Hampton, VA 23669, website, Phone: 757-722-9102

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»Hampton University Museum

Hampton University Museum

Hampton University Museum was established in 1868, the same year the university itself was established. The museum has always strived to provide knowledge and understanding of diverse cultures and traditions. To foster that, they emphasize studies in geography, culture, and history. It is the only museum in the U.S. to have a permanent collection of African American fine art.

Its African art collection is widely esteemed and includes several hundred pieces from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They have a variety of other pieces from across the continent. The first collection in the museum was of South Pacific art, and it has been augmented in recent years by pieces from Japan and the Philippines. The most recent collection of the museum is of the history of the university.

11 Frissell Avenue, Hampton, VA 23669, website, Phone: 757-727-5025

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»Air Power Park

Air Power Park

Air Power Park is dedicated to the vital role of aircraft and rockets in early American space exploration. There are indoor and outdoor exhibits of missiles, rockets, and fighter aircraft, including a Hawker Kestrel, a Phantom, a Voodoo, and a Mercury Capsule.

Other exhibits in the museum focus on the different military branches of service, and there is a large collection of Balsa wood aircraft models. Many of the exhibits are linked to the nearby Langley Air Force Base and the NASA Langley Research Center. Children are sure to enjoy the outdoor playground as well as the new Children's Room in the museum.

413 W. Mercury Blvd., Hampton, VA 23669, Phone: 757-726-0650

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»Hampton Carousel

Hampton Carousel

The Hampton Carousel was built in 1920, and it originally sat in the now-defunct Buckroe Beach Amusement Park. Immigrant artisans from Russia, Italy, and Germany hand carved the forty-eight horses from hardwood and lovingly painted them.

The original mirrors and oil paintings that adorned the carousel at its beginning are still extant, and the whole carousel has been carefully renovated and touched up. It now sits in its own air-conditioned weather-resistant pavilion in Carousel Park, which is on Hampton's downtown waterfront within walking distance of many fine restaurants and shops. The carousel is open year round, and both adults and children may ride.

602 Settlers Landing Road, Hampton, VA 23669, Phone: 757-727-1610

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»St. George Brewing Company

St. George Brewing Company

The St. George Brewing Company is named for the third century Roman soldier who, in popular mythology, slew a fire-breathing dragon. For that act, he has become the patron saint of England and of chivalry. The beer brewed here proudly uses the Cross of St. George to adorn their labels. The brewery makes twenty-two varieties of ale, bock, and stout, and tours are available.

The owner or his son lead the tours, taking visitors through the whole brewing process. Afterwards, visitors can enjoy trying different beers in the tasting room, often in the company of the brew master. On Tuesday and Friday night, the brewery arranges for a food truck to pull up and serve brewery guests tacos and burritos.

204 Challenger Way, Hampton, VA 23666, website, Phone: 757-865-1226

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»The Woodlands Golf Course

The Woodlands Golf Course

Built in 1916, the Woodlands Golf Course is one of the oldest in the United States. A local favorite, The Woodlands is a challenging course with water on eleven of its holes and fifty-two sand bunkers. The greens are bentgrass, while the fairways and rough are Bermuda grass. The Woodlands is an 18-hole, par 69, 5,900-yard course.

The clubhouse has an excellent restaurant, The Grille at The Woodlands, which serves breakfast and lunch daily. There is also a pro shop that sells men's and ladies' golf apparel and accessories. Golf clubs and carts are available for rent. The clubhouse also has an 18-seat conference room that it lends out to community groups.

9 Woodland Road, Hampton, VA 23663, website, Phone: 757-727-1195

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»Captain Hogg's Charter Fishing

Captain Hogg's Charter Fishing

Visitors who would like to try their hand at Atlantic fishing need look no further than Captain Chandler Hogg, his professional and helpful crew, and his forty-foot custom fishing boat the Smoking Gun. The boat, which carries up to 32 passengers, cruises lower Chesapeake Bay to find the fish; Captain Hogg always knows where to look.

Potential catches include cobia, grey trout, striped bass, black drum, red drum, flounder, bluefish, sheepshead, tautog, Spanish mackerel, and spadefish. In order for visitors to spend less time traveling and more time fishing, the Smoking Gun cruises at a speedy 26 knots. Back at the shore, the crew will clean and filet your fish so that all you need to do at home is put it on the grill.

101 S. King Street, Hampton, VA 23669, website, Phone: 757-876-1590

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»Fort Wool

Fort Wool

Fort Wool is a manmade island fortress in the Hampton harbor named for Major General John Wool, a war hero and commander of Fort Monroe. Fort Monroe is directly across the bay from Fort Wool. Originally, it was meant to serve as another line of defense against enemy attacks on the harbor. It saw action in the American Civil War and was armed in both World Wars. Built in 1826, it was used by President Andrew Jackson as his White House.

Broken-hearted and in ill health after the his wife's death, he built himself a hut there, met with advisers, made key policy decisions, and watched the ships in the bay. Later, President John Tyler used Fort Wool for the same reason. The fort is accessible only by boat; it can be visited as part of the Miss Hampton II's harbor cruise or by private vessel.

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»CineBistro

CineBistro

CineBistro is a luxury dine-in movie theater with chains all over the United States. The theaters have reserved seating, fine wines and cocktails, and delicious meals prepared by chefs. The menus include regional specialties as well as steak, seafood, ribs, pasta, and delicious appetizers and desserts. Full service is available right in the movie theater.

Children are not permitted in the theaters after 8:00 p.m., and at that time, only adults 21 years or older may enter the theater. Above Hampton's CineBistro is a full-service bar and grill that serves guests as they bowl or play billiards or shuffleboard. The same age limits apply after 8:00 p.m. CineBistro hosts birthday parties and Tuesday night trivia.

4401 W. Clairborne Square, Hampton, VA 23666, website, Phone: 757-325-8896

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»Gosnold's Hope Park

Gosnold's Hope Park

Gosnold's Hope Park is a 105-acre development in Hampton with a multitude of facilities. There are eight picnic shelters with tables and grills; campsites with electricity, water, a picnic table, charcoal grill, and shower access; and a public boat ramp, restrooms, athletic fields, a fitness trail, and a children's playground.

It also has a BMX SuperTrack open for annual membership and licensed by USABMX. It supplies bikes and gear to its members and arranges tournaments on its banked and winding course.

901 E. Little Back River Road, Hampton, VA 23669, Phone: 757-850-5116

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»Grandview Nature Preserve

Grandview Nature Preserve

Grandview Nature Preserve is a quiet, practically unknown spot with 475 acres of salt marsh and tidal creeks and two and a half miles of unspoiled beach on Chesapeake Bay. The sandy shores are great for beachcombers who love shells and sea glass, which it has in plenty.

Hikers like the half-mile trail across the tidal marshlands to the pile of rubble that was once a lighthouse before it fell victim to a hurricane in 1956. There is great fishing from the shores of the park; a valid saltwater fishing license is required. Canoeing and hiking programs are offered for those who would like to know more about the woodland birds and other creatures that inhabit the wetlands here.

State Park Drive, Hampton, VA 23664, Phone: 757-850-5134

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»Little England Chapel

Little England Chapel

The Little England Chapel, built in 1879, is Virginia's only African-American Missionary chapel. Started as a Sunday school, the establishment witnessed an increase in church attendance. Services were first held in an outside arbor, and the growth led to the building of a church to accommodate its more than 500 members.

The church had a thriving Sunday school whose children were becoming missionaries, and it was also a community center for social activities. The Little England Chapel was in use until 1989. Now a museum, the building has an exhibit about black settlements in Virginia after the Civil War, handwritten Sunday School lessons, 19th century religious books, and an informative 12-minute video.

4100 Kecoughtan Road, Hampton, VA 23669, Phone: 757-722-4949

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»Bethel Paintball

Bethel Paintball

Bethel Paintball aims to give its guests the most exciting, safest, and most age-appropriate paintball experience. Several different of play are offered: PeeWee Paintball doesn't hurt at all, Low Impact Paintball is only mildly painful, while Traditional Paintball results in a sting for a minute or two after impact.

The company offers a diverse menu of paintball games: the most commonly known Capture the Flag, as well as Domination, Freeze Tag, Protect the President, and Terrorist on the Bus. Bethel Paintball specializes in birthday parties for all ages, and for every party a referee is present so that each group remains together and does not get fired on by different parties.

123 Saunders Road, Hampton, VA 23666, website, Phone: 757-488-2501

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25 Best Things to Do in Hampton, Virginia