Recently named one of the 50 Best Places to Travel in 2017 by Travel + Leisure, Norfolk has an incredible art scene, vibrant entertainment and culture, delicious cuisine and 144 miles of shoreline waiting to be explored!
With the Chesapeake Bay, Atlantic Ocean and countless rivers in our backyard, you are never far from the water. You can experience intense watersports, leisurely sails or simply enjoy the view from your hotel room. Take a tour of the Elizabeth River harbor on a majestic tall ship, or sign up for a boat tour of the world’s largest Naval Base.
The NEON District (New Energy of Norfolk), anchored by the Chrysler Museum of Art & Glass Studio and Harrison Opera House, has transformed part of downtown into an artist’s wonderland full of street art murals and galleries including Glass Wheel Studio, D’Art Center, Alchemy NFK, WORK | RELEASE and more.
Norfolk has become well-known for its wide variety of cuisine and is home to more than 80 chef-owned restaurants in the downtown area, many featuring Virginia wine and Virginia-farmed produce and meat. Sign up for one of Norfolk’s culinary or pub tours! With many options to choose from, you can taste a sampling of Norfolk’s various culinary delights & craft beers, plus a chance to see historic sites between stops.
In Norfolk, there is truly something for everyone! For additional information, call 800-368-3097 or visit www.VisitNorfolkToday.com
Vibrant Hampton, a seaside city with exciting attractions and heritage sites, lures visitors with its family-friendly offerings. The city’s history is broad-ranging, and its attractions capture the essence of this diversity. Whether it’s Civil War landmarks and historic fortresses like Fort Monroe National Monument, African American heritage sites, the NASA legacy of space exploration at the Virginia Air & Space Center or the seafaring legends founded on four centuries of Chesapeake Bay living, the destination appeals to visitors of all ages and interests.
With many attractions located within a short walk of the Hampton Visitor Center, guests can easily explore Downtown Hampton on foot. Discover St. John’s Church, the historic Hampton Carousel (built by European artisans in 1920), harbor tours, charter fishing vessels, festival parks, art galleries and the Virginia Air & Space Center with its soaring roofline. The center, celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2017, offers displays of suspended aircraft, flight simulators and IMAX® films that provide hours of family entertainment.
The tour aboard the Miss Hampton II winds visitors down the Hampton River past Hampton University and Fort Monroe to Fort Wool, where the vessel docks and passengers explore the island garrison located in the middle of Hampton Roads Harbor. The tour continues to Naval Station Norfolk, concluding with a history of the Battle of the Ironclads. It is a Coastal Virginia favorite and not to be missed.
Hampton University Museum, the oldest African American museum in the U.S., is a short walk or drive from downtown Hampton. The museum’s collection contains more than 9,000 works of African, Pacific, Native American and African-American fine and contemporary art and artifacts. The collection is one of the largest and strongest in the nation!
An ideal way to explore Hampton is to purchase a Sea to Stars Ticket, which includes admission to Virginia Air & Space Center’s exhibits and 3-D Digital IMAX®, Hampton History Museum, the Hampton Carousel and a fascinating three-hour tour aboard the Miss Hampton II. Tickets are available for one low price at the Hampton Visitor Center.
Hampton’s decadent dining and eclectic retail round out the visitor experience. Many establishments are locally owned, and customer service and attention to product are priorities for the merchants in Downtown Hampton and Phoebus. Specialty boutiques and eateries are complemented by national favorites presented at Peninsula Town Center, where visitors who spend a meal are compelled to stay for the day.
You can tour Hampton with the Discover Hampton Smartphone Tour at VisitHampton.com. You’ll also find a lot of great destination information that serves as the key to unlocking the treasures of this maritime trove.
For further visitor assistance and information, call 757-722-1102 or 800-800-2202
You’ve ridden the roller coasters and walked the historic streets... now discover the treasures of Williamsburg’s neighbor: Newport News! Spend a day in the great outdoors in Newport News Park.
Witness endangered red wolves, majestic bald eagles and playful river otters at the Virginia Living Museum. Experience the Civil War firsthand at the world-renowned Mariners’ Museum/USS Monitor Center. Imagine the courage of those who fought for freedom at the Virginia War Museum. See a truck that walks and a ship that flies at the U.S. Army Transportation Museum. Explore the ever-changing world of art at the Peninsula Fine Arts Center. Travel back in time with a visit to one of our historic homes. After a full day sampling all there is to see and do, take in a touring Broadway show or a concert at the spectacular Ferguson Center for the Arts … or help commemorate the 100th birthday of Newport News native Ella Fitzgerald at Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center during its 2017 season.
Let our experienced staff at the Newport News Visitor Center help plan your day. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, the Newport News Visitor Center is located at 13560 Jefferson Ave. (Exit 250B from I-64), at the entrance to Newport News Park. Call 757-886-7777 or visit www.Newport-News.org for more information.
The Mariners’ Museum & Park- America’s National Maritime Museum
The Mariners’ Museum and Park, located in Newport News, is one of the largest maritime museums in the world. The Museum is filled with fascinating stories that connect people to the world’s waterways through exploration and engaging experiences. The stories told through their world class collection are your stories and your history. Discover small craft from around the world. Explore the USS Monitor Center, home of the Civil War ironclad’s iconic gun turret, where the incredible story of her creation, battle, sinking and recovery are told in vivid detail. View maritime art, handcrafted ship models and rare artifacts. Experience a 3D film in the Explorers Theater. Located in a 550-acre park, guests can hike the award-winning, 5-mile Noland Trail or picnic at Lions Bridge overlooking the tranquil James River. The Mariners’ Museum and Park is sure to have something that everyone in your family will enjoy. See our special events starting on page 70.
Located off Exit 258A on I-64, The Mariners’ is just 20 minutes from Williamsburg. The Museum is open Monday–Saturday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Memorial Day to Labor Day 9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily. Special event hours may vary; please call 757-596-2222 or visit MarinersMuseum.org
Virginia Living Museum
Go wild at Virginia’s animal attraction!
Don’t let the word “museum” fool you. Much of what you see at the Virginia Living Museum is very alive and interactive. There is no better place to experience Virginia’s rich natural heritage, from the mountains to the sea. Located just 20 minutes from Williamsburg, the VLM is part zoo, nature park, aquarium, botanical garden, planetarium and science center. Visitors can view 250 species of animals, including the red wolf, bobcat, otter and bald eagle. Discover native Virginia animals in naturalized habitats including a limestone cave, mountain cove and cypress swamp. Explore the underwater world of the Chesapeake Bay with a loggerhead sea turtle and touch a horseshoe crab. Enter an aviary of coastal birds. See spectacular views of the sun from the observatory and voyage across the galaxies in a state-of-the-art planetarium theater. Learn how to build, live and garden “green.” Young kids particularly enjoy the Nature Playground and role play as an animal keeper and vet. Explore our new permanent outdoor Dinosaur Discovery Trail with 16 life-like dinosaurs, paleo camp and dig pit, and sniff out facts about dogs in “Wolf to Woof: the Story of Dogs” through May 14.
Minutes away at I-64, exit 258-A. 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. daily. 757-595-1900. www.thevlm.org
Just a free ferryboat ride from the Williamsburg area is one of the earliest settled regions in the country—Surry County, Virginia.
Once considered part of the original Jamestown Colony, Surry has retained its rural charm and more than 360 years of history. Visit Smith’s Fort to discover more about the lives of Captain John Smith, Pocahontas, John Rolfe and Chief Powhatan. Don’t miss the opportunity to stop at Bacon’s Castle, the oldest documented brick house and the only example of Jacobean architecture in British North America. Bacon’s Castle was the site of an earlier revolt against British rule—100 years before the
Visitors to the area will want to explore Chippokes State Park. Open 365 days a year, it contains historic homes with English gardens, the Farm and Forestry Museum, miles of trails for hiking, picnic and playground areas, overnight accommodations, an Olympic-sized swimming pool and riverfront beaches. To continue your outdoor adventure, consider a visit to Hog Island National Wildlife Refuge for amazing views of the James River and wildlife sightings. Science lovers will enjoy a stop at the nearby Surry Nuclear Information Center to learn more about nuclear power and solar power generation.
Surry has restaurants that feature Italian and Asian cuisine as well as local seafood and waterfront dining at the Surry Seafood Company at Gray’s Creek Marina. Consider spending some time at one of the “pick-your-own” farms or farmers markets for fresh, local produce. Edwards Virginia Smokehouse and Edwards Virginia Ham Shoppe have been doing business in Surry for almost a century, producing and selling authentic, southern smoked meats and specialty foods. The Hampton Roads Vineyard & Winery, which opened in late 2015, is easy to find and well worth a visit, too.
Whether you come for the fascinating history, the exciting outdoor adventure or the taste of delicious food and drink, we invite you to come on over and “Savor the Secrets of Surry!”
A short trip along the scenic Colonial Parkway (or Jamestown Road) to the Jamestown/Scotland Ferry, a relaxing (free!) ferry ride across the James River and a lovely country drive along Route 10 brings you to the heart of downtown Smithfield.
Enjoy a little piece of heaven on the banks of the Pagan River. The Historic bustles with galleries, restaurants, and specialty shops among quaint Gothic, stately Colonial and sprawling Victorian homes. The river takes center stage in the historic district where area icon, Smithfield Station, holds the spotlight with its replica Victorian Coast Guard Station hotel, restaurant, marina and lighthouse! Just across the street is one of three convenient entrances to Smithfield’s riverside Windsor Castle Park with its brand new children’s Natural Playscape playground, 4+ miles of trails, a state-of-the-art kayak/canoe launch (rentals available seasonally), picnic areas and a mountain bike path.
Great dining abounds in the Ham Capital of the World, from the historic Smithfield Inn and riverside dining at Smithfield Station, to a gourmet bakery, an old-fashioned ice cream parlor and “Taste of Smithfield,” the flagship ham shop and café of Smithfield Foods. The town also boasts its own brewpub—Wharf Hill Brewing Company.
Begin your visit at Smithfield’s Visitor Center, which shares space with the Arts Center @ 319 where you can peruse the gallery and gift shop. Historic attractions include St. Luke’s Church, the Old Courthouse of 1750, Fort Boykin Park, Fort Huger and the Schoolhouse Museum. Stop by the Isle of Wight Museum with its Smokehouse and Civil War exhibits, and most notable artifact—the world’s oldest ham. Pick up a map at the Visitor Center for a self-guided Porcine Parade Tour to see Smithfield’s eight pig statues situated throughout the historic district; each statue was created by a local artist to reflect the region’s culture and heritage.
Plan your trip around one of the many special events the area offers—from free outdoor concerts to an award-winning farmers market. You’ll be sure to enjoy your time in one of the most idyllic small towns in the USA—Genuine Smithfield, Virginia! Call (757) 357-5182 or (800) 365-9339 or go to www.VisitSmithfield.com