Kid-Friendly Things to Do in Hampton Roads
In honor of the Month of the Military Child, let’s focus on fun, kid-centric things to do while living in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia. If your family is moving to the area for the first time, these events could bring some excitement to exploring another new city.
Hampton Roads contains multiple cities over several directions, so there’s plentiful opportunity to explore and discover the area’s must-do kid activities. Check out some options in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Williamsburg.
Kid-Friendly Things to Do in Hampton Roads, Virginia
Virginia Beach Boardwalk
Virginia Beach Boardwalk at Night. Photo by Brian Berkowitz on Wikimedia Commons.
An oldie, but goodie, the boardwalk cannot be missed. Iconic to the region, the boardwalk boasts traditional fun and fare, but has plenty of Virginia Beach specialties to make the location unique. If you’re a Virginia Beach local, you’ll be able to take advantage of the slower, more family friendly weekdays in the summer (and off season) when the boardwalk is less crowded. Tourists from around the world arrive on the weekends, so be prepared for more traffic and longer lines.
A fun education and an escape from the heat? Yes, please! The planetarium is part of the local school system, but the public is welcome to participate in programming throughout the year. Thursday nights are free nights, and the astronomy topics vary each month. Scheduled presentations include Tour of the Planets, Mystery of Stonehenge, and The Summer Stars. Kids will learn to use small telescopes and binoculars to survey the night skies.
Photo by mytwocents at Wikimedia Commons.
You can’t claim a city as your own until you’ve toured the local zoo! Parents of smaller kids love the size and accessibility. The major animals kids love to see are on site: lions, giraffes, elephants, and farm animals. The giraffes and farm animals have interactive options to get up close and personal. A kid-sized train runs the course of the zoo throughout the day, so everyone can take a rest and a view of the zoo grounds. If you’ve packed accordingly, the kids love getting soaked in the splash garden at the front of the zoo. The yearly pass is affordable and a smart idea if you plan to visit more than once.
Kids love donuts! After your zoo trip, take them to the 7 Best Doughnut Shops in Hampton Roads.
Children’s Museum of Virginia Portsmouth
Another rite of passage of childhood is visiting your state’s children’s museum. Hands-on and designed for kids to poke and prod, the exhibits are entertaining and focused on topics that they adore. There is a room dedicated to trains, a grocery store, and a music store to play with instruments that are made from unusual household objects. Finally, there’s a bubble room where children create bubbles of all sizes, including their own!
The Governor's Palace, Williamsburg by Ron Cogswell, Wikimedia Commons.
Decidedly the most touristy destination in Hampton Roads, Williamsburg may seem run of the mill at first glance, but each trip promises something different, if you know where to look. Newcomers focus on the grounds of Colonial Williamsburg, the live action recreation of one of the nation’s first settlements. But, repeat guests find new things to do during presentations, reenactments, and activities such as RevQuest, where kids save the Revolution through modern day conveniences such as text messages!
If summertime is your kid’s favorite time, head to Water Country USA to keep cool and entertained. A lazy river and a new thrill ride, the Cutback Water Coaster, are just the very beginning of what is beyond the gates at Water Country USA. The park accommodates the smallest of kids with shallow and heated splash parks, pint-sized water slides, and even swim lessons for those who live close! Older kids have it even better, as more than a dozen water slides and rides await. Parents, be sure to reserve a cabana for a central meeting place and somewhere to eat and take a breather from all of the fun.
(After the summer vacation, it’s time to head back to school. Research Schools in Hampton Roads to find the best fit for your kids.)
The Alpengeist at Busch Gardens Williamsburg by Douglas Whitaker, Wikimedia Commons.
You can’t come to Williamsburg without heading to Busch Gardens. But, since you live in the Hampton Roads area, there’s no need to pack everything into one day, or even summer season. In fact, visiting Busch Gardens for the Halloween or Christmas events, instead of fighting the summer crowds, is a great way to take in another festive activity. Using your free entrance from the Waves of Honor program makes it more affordable to visit the park multiple times per year.
These are just the start to so many options throughout the region. Farmers' markets, an aquarium, fancy bowling, kayak tours, and farm team baseball games are all favorites of the locals.
If you're looking for more insight to the area, MilitaryByOwner has the guide for you. The Military Family Guide to Hampton Roads is a free ebook packed with the details every newcomer needs, including information on weather, schools, and traffic.