Hampton Roads, Virginia, is comprised of seven cities: Portsmouth, Newport News, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Hampton, Virginia Beach and Suffolk. Named after the old shipping lanes that ran through the area, it’s replete with historic stops, museums and other attractions worthy of exploration.
1 – Museums
The Virginia War Museum in Newport News showcases an impressive collection of uniforms, posters, personal artifacts and other items that trace the evolution of the U.S. military from 1775 through the present. Virginia Beach’s Military Aviation Museum boasts the world’s largest private collections of WWI and WWII era military aircraft. Check out the Apollo 12 Command Module that went to the moon, pilot a space shuttle and climb aboard a WWII bomber at the Virginia Air and Space Center. It’s located in Hampton, Virginia, the birthplace of America’s space program. You’ll find more than 250 living species native to Virginia as you explore Virginia Living Museum’s exhibits, interactive hands-on exhibits and discovery centers.
2 – History
There are numerous opportunities to explore history in the Hampton Roads area. In Virginia Beach, don’t miss Cape Henry Lighthouse, the 4th oldest lighthouse in the country. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2002. The Hampton History Museum tells the story of America’s oldest continuous English-speaking settlement. A visit to the Virginia Beach Surf & Rescue Museum reveals artifacts and exhibits honoring Virginia’s maritime heritage. Learn about the Virginia Indians and the individuals who founded Jamestown at Jamestown Settlement. Engaging exhibits that include a re-creation of a Powhatan village and replicas of the three ships that sailed from England to Virginia in 1607 help bring history to life.
3 – Nature
Outdoor diversions are easy to find. Head to 2,888-acre First Landing State Park for more than 19 miles of hiking trails through protected salt marsh habitat, dunes, forest, beach and other natural areas. This registered Natural Landmark is the most visited state park in Virginia. Spanning from southeastern Virginia to northeastern North Carolina, the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge is home to over 220 species of birds and at least 65 species of butterflies. Visitors might also spy black bear, bobcat, river otter and other wildlife. Hit the waves at Virginia Beach, Chesapeake Bay Beach or Sandbridge Beach. Enjoy waterfront views of Norfolk with a dinner river cruise (pictured above).
4 – Stay
Consider a stay at The Cavalier, an Autograph Collection Hotel. This AAA Four Diamond-rated property is located in Virginia Beach and is a member of Historic Hotels of America. AAA Members enjoy a discount on their stay (provide membership number when booking and upon check in). The Cavalier also boasts the nation’s first and only onsite distillery located inside a hotel. Tarnished Truth Distilling Company is deeply rooted in Virginia’s history as the birthplace of the American made spirit. It’s situated adjacent to the hotel’s historic prohibition-era speakeasy, the Hunt Room. You can sample bourbons and Ava Vodka, as well as other bottled craft spirits. You can enjoy a private distillery tour, offered select times Thursday-Sunday.
MEMBERS SAVE! At least $50 in area discounts! Visit AAA.com/GoExplore for details (and bonus content).
(Go Magazine March/April 2020)