Even long before bridges made them easy to reach, Virginia beaches were attracting tourists from Washington D.C. and other communities on the eastern coast. Virginia offers something for everyone – the lively attractions of Virginia Beach, the quiet and protected sands of Assateague Island with its wild horses, the constantly changing sandy spit of the Bethel Beach Natural Area Preserve, the playgrounds and live music on Buckroe Beach, or the warm and quiet waters off Cape Charles Beach. There are beaches on the Potomac River, such as Colonial Beach, while others are in Chesapeake Bay, where the warm, protected waters are perfect for family outings. Certain attractions may be temporarily closed or require advance reservations. Some restaurants are currently offering pickup only. Hours/availability may have changed.
2.Bethel Beach Natural Area Preserve
4.Cape Charles Beach
7.First Landing State Park
8.Virginia Coast: Colonial Beach
9.Kiptopeke State Park
10.Ocean View Beach
11.Virginia Beach beaches: Resort Area Beach
12.Virginia Coast: Sandbridge Beach
13.Westmoreland State Park
12 Best Virginia Beaches
- Assateague Island, Photo: Courtesy of walt1957 - Fotolia.com
- Bethel Beach Natural Area Preserve, Photo: Courtesy of sherryvsmith - Fotolia.com
- Buckroe Beach, Photo: Courtesy of Ritu Jethani - Fotolia.com
- Cape Charles Beach, Photo: Courtesy of bonniemarie - Fotolia.com
- Chesapeake Beach, Photo: Courtesy of alwayspp - Fotolia.com
- Chincoteague, Photo: Courtesy of Matthew Carroll - Fotolia.com
- First Landing State Park, Photo: Courtesy of sherryvsmith - Fotolia.com
- Virginia Coast: Colonial Beach, Photo: Courtesy of Nikonite - Fotolia.com
- Kiptopeke State Park, Photo: Courtesy of jayyuan - Fotolia.com
- Ocean View Beach, Photo: Courtesy of Nikonite - Fotolia.com
- Virginia Beach beaches: Resort Area Beach, Photo: Courtesy of ScottymanPhoto - Fotolia.com
- Virginia Coast: Sandbridge Beach, Photo: Courtesy of sherryvsmith - Fotolia.com
- Westmoreland State Park, Photo: Courtesy of Zack Frank - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of jayyuan - Fotolia.com
More Ideas: Fort Monroe National Monument
Fort Monroe, also know as the “Freedom Fortress”, located in Hampton, VA has been part of American history from the Native American presence to the civil war as a safe place for escaped slaves seeking freedom, to the twenty-first century as the base for the US Army Artillery School. Visitors to this park get to experience its rich history as well as see the historic preservation that is on-going.
Several presidents have visited Fort Monroe throughout it’s history beginning with it’s construction in 1819. Andrew Jackson was the first to visit in the summers of 1829, 1831, 1833, and 1834 during his presidency. Abraham Lincoln visited in 1862 where he helped plan the attack on Norfolk, VA. He later visited a second time in 1865 for a peace conference. Harry S Truman was the last to visit. He visited several times from 1960 to 1962 to see his nephew General Louis W. Truman.
Women have always been part of Fort Monroe beginning even before its construction, beginning in 1749. Many of the women who lived here were officer’s wives and daughters but there were also several servants who lived with strict rules about their comings and goings. By the time that World War II came about, women were serving in the Army as nurses, truck drivers and draftsman at Fort Monroe.
The Old Point Comfort Lighthouse was built and in operation by 1775. The lighthouse was captured by the British briefly during the War of 1812 and was used as an observation tower. Over the years at Fort Monroe the lighthouse has gone through several renovations and is now used as beacon for boats in the Chesapeake Bay.
Fort Monroe often was a sought-after haven for escaped slaves.
Things to Do
Fort Monroe Casemate Museum- The museum is located within the stone fort itself. It recounts the Fort Monroe military history, beginning with Fort Algernourne, which was the first fortification built before Fort Monroe in 1609 and chronicling all the way up to the most recent command at Fort Monroe. An interesting exhibit in the museum displays where then prisoner of war Jefferson Davis was held for a short period of time after the Civil War. A decision was made in 1861 to allow those seeking freedom sanctuary which gave Fort Monroe the nickname of “Freedom Fortress." Even those who were enslaved were given refuge during the war, in one instance, a general gave three enslaved men care and shelter, and they called it "Contraband of War."
Chesapeake Bay- The Fort Monroe NM Athletics group offers many opportunities for visitors and staff alike to walk, jog, or ride bikes along the 4 miles of the Chesapeake Bay seawall. The Peninsula YMCA Summer Camp gives lessons in kayaking on the bay. Beaches on the bay offer clean, litter-free places for visitors to swim and sun bathe. Various hiking places are available for hikers in the area.
Fort Wool in Hampton Virginia- This is another historic fort built in 1819, located in Hampton, VA. It fulfilled key roles in the Civil War and both World Wars, seeing the battle of the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia. While not accessible by car, it is a stop on the Miss Hampton II Harbor Tour and private boats can dock seasonally at the fort.
Downtown Hampton- During the 17th and 18th centuries Hampton was a stop for cargo ships on the journey from Virginia to England where goods such as teas, spices, tools, and dressmaking materials were unloaded. Three hundred years later, the renovated beachfront district which includes the original 17th century harbor, is home to several shops, pubs, restaurants, art galleries, marinas, and a beachfront park for visitors to enjoy.
Junior Ranger Program- Children who wish to participate in the Junior Ranger program will participate in activities involving the historic features of Fort Monroe which will allow them to earn badges, a certificate and the Junior Ranger rank.
NPS Centennial- The NPS celebrated 100 years in August of 2016. As part of the celebration a Find Your Park campaign was started where millions of visitors came out to explore and discover their favorite national parks. The campaign continues through 2017.
Healthy eating is important to the staff at Fort Monroe. There are four main places that offer healthy options: Chamberlin Bistro, Colonies RV and Travel Park, the Marina Café, and the Paradise Ocean Club and Bay Breeze Conference Center. All are located around the Chesapeake Bay area.
There are many antique shops and art galleries for visitors wishing to delve into history and cultural affairs at Fort Monroe. For those who wish to indulge in regular shopping there are several department store chains available for shopping.
41 Bernard Road, Fort Monroe, Virginia
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More Ideas: Virginia Air and Space Center
The Virginia Air and Space center resides in Hampton, VA. Visitors to the center get the opportunity to check out current research, which concentrates on world-wide climate change, gaining access and then expanding into deep Space, and the air transportation system as well as learn the history of Hampton’s maritime beginnings and its revolutionary role in Space travel.
The Hampton City Council decided in 1985 to build a new cultural and educational resource center, wanting to increase traffic to their Hampton Roads location. Following this decision in 1986, City of Hampton and the NASA Langley Research Center agreed to move their visitors center to Hampton, VA and incorporate it with the Hampton Roads Visitor’s Center to create the Virginia Air and Space Center. The incorporation was completed in December of 1987. It is construction cost thirty million dollars and was funded by a mixture of funds paid out by the city, grants from the state, and private donors.
The Center adopted the theme “Sea to the Stars” to chronicle Hampton’s maritime beginnings to the influential role it played in exploring Space. The nine-story center, located in Downtown Hampton, was finally opened to public in April of 1992 featuring 110,000 square feet of exhibit space. More than 12,000 new patrons joined the opening events, in which then Governor L. Douglas Wilder and Pete Conrad (a famous astronaut) had spoken about the future success of the Center. The first year, the Center was open, and was a huge success with more than 250,000 visitors.
Adventures in Flight - This exhibit chronicles over 100 years of history in aviation from its origins to its future. It displays the Hampton’s role in commercial, military, and public flight. There are many interactive displays within this exhibit for visitors to take a hands-on approach to learning.
Aircraft - This exhibit features over 100 years of aircraft evolution from a duplicate of the 1903 Wright Flyer to a full-size DC- passenger plane of today.
Be the Astronaut - This exhibit allows patrons to learn what it is like to be an astronaut through a combination of physical displays and video gaming technology.
Engineer It! - This exhibit is geared towards families that visit the center together, and allows them to create and explore STEM (science, technology, engineering, math). The playground features huge blocks for giant scale constructions as well as smaller table top blocks made to fit smaller hands.
HAM Radio - This exhibit is home to a digital completely automatic, Amateur Radio satellite station.
Spacecraft - Visitors to this exhibit can follow the evolution of spaceships beginning in the earliest years with spaceship artifacts, and replicas of the different models throughout history.
Space Quest - Visitors to this exhibit get to learn through interactive simulations of a futuristic spacecraft headed to Mars, a landing on the moon, and train to for a lunar mission. The Magic Planet Global Projector allows visitors to interact with the Earth, sun, moon, and Mars. Visitors can also learn about the various Space stations.
Space Racers - This interactive exhibit is geared towards children three to six and is based on the Space Racers tv program.
Solarium - Visitors to this exhibit will be educated in the Sun’s atmosphere, the way the sun interacts with the Earth, and the spreading of wave fluctuations from the sun. The sounds heard in this exhibit come directly from real sun data obtained by NASA.
Imax - The Imax theater plays a variety of shows at the center throughout the year.
Several programs are available through the Virginia Air and Space center for grades K through 12 that encourage the development of investigation skills to identify, explore, experiment, and solve scientific problems all while learning the basics of this technology.
Stem Saturdays- Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math are explored through a variety of activities for all ages. Chemistry, robotics, physics, and more are all investigated depending on the theme of the that particular Saturday.
The Virginia Air and Space center offers two different dining choices on the premises.
Cosmic Café- Serves quick options such as sandwiches, fries, soups, salads, and Mexican themed meals and snacks.
IMAX Concessions- Visitors can get regular cinema type concessions here such as popcorn, nachos, hot dogs, ice cream, chips, candy, and fountain drinks.
The Virginia Air and Space center offers a giftshop with NASA based merchandise including t-shirts, coffee cups, models, and mission patches. They also offer a selection of educational toys, books, and science kits.
600 Settlers Landing Rd, Hampton VA 23669, Phone: 757-727-0900
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