Things to Do with the Whole Family in Hampton Roads, Virginia
Hampton Roads is home to military members of all branches and is an ideal combination of a vacation destination/hometown. Across the state, Virginians trek to visit the birthplace of the country’s first settlements, play at the oceanfront, and tour all the “best of” entertainment hot spots that military families stationed in Hampton Roads have in their backyard. You’ll probably have more guests than you’re used to, thanks to all of the attractions in the region!
If you’re still in the planning stages of your PCS to Hampton Roads, be sure to download our free ebook, Military Family Guide to Hampton Roads. It’s the perfect resource to get details about where to live and what to expect.
On to the fun stuff! Let’s look at the must-do-or-the-kids won’t-stop-begging-destinations in Hampton Roads! Try them all before you leave, but just know you’ll probably make more than one trip to the kids’ (and maybe yours) favorites.
There’s a reason TripAdvisor ranks Colonial Williamsburg as the #1 Thing to Do in the city of Williamsburg. Newcomers focus on the grounds of Colonial Williamsburg to see the live-action recreation of one of the nation’s first settlements. You’ll tour 18th-century homes, shops, and municipal buildings. You can even eat as the locals did in a period restaurant, but with a modern menu. Check out the calendar of events to find your favorite activity the day you visit.
If summertime is your kid’s favorite time, head to Water Country USA to keep cool and entertained. A lazy river and thrill rides are just the 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 to eat and take a breather from all of the sun and fun.
You can’t PCS to Hampton Roads without heading to Busch Gardens. But if you live in the Hampton Roads area, there’s no need to pack everything into one day or even in one summer season. In fact, visiting Busch Gardens for their Halloween or Christmas events is a great way to take in another festive activity. Use your free entrance from the Waves of Honor program to make a one-time trip more affordable.
The Alpengeist at Busch Gardens Williamsburg by Douglas Whitaker, Wikimedia Commons
Are you having a hard time choosing the perfect place to live? Read Military Move to Hampton Roads, Virginia? Explore These 6 Communities for everything you need to know.
Another way to learn about military installations in Hampton Roads is to check out MilitaryByOwner’s area base pages:
- Norfolk Naval Shipyard
- Naval Station Norfolk
- JEB Little Creek Fort Story
- JBLE Fort Eustis
- JBLE Langley AFB
- Oceana NAS
- Portsmouth Naval Medical Center
An oldie but a 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 take advantage of the slower, more family-friendly weekdays in the summer (and off-season) when the boardwalk is less crowded.
Wondering about which VA beach to choose? Check out The 9 Best Beaches to Visit in Virginia Beach
You can’t claim a city as your own until you’ve toured the local zoo! Parents of smaller kids love the Norfolk Zoo’s 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.
Photo by mytwocents at Wikimedia Commons
A kid-sized train runs the course of the zoo throughout the day so that everyone can take a rest and a view of the zoo grounds. If you’ve packed accordingly, kids love 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.
Headed to Norfolk and curious about the city? Watch Norfolk, Virginia’s Must See Sights:
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 they adore. There is a room dedicated to trains, a grocery store, and a music store to play with instruments made from unusual household objects.
Is there really anything cooler than NASA? Head to Hampton to check out the amazing visitor center for Langley Research Center. The Space Explorer Gallery features interactive displays and showcases space artifacts in cutting-edge exhibits. And, if you’re an IMAX aficionado, the theater was recently renovated, adding a new screen and projection. Watch either Asteroid Hunters 3D or Dinosaurs of Antarctica 3D. After, walk through the Robot Zoo!
Kids love donuts! After your space trip, head to Glazed Doughnuts in Hampton. Read more about the 7 Best Doughnut Shops in Hampton Roads.
Newport News is home to the Virginia Living Museum and more than 250 species of animals found in Virginia, including reptiles, mammals, birds, and fish. It’s also a haven sanctuary for orphaned, non-releasable, or injured animals. The museum is also Virginia's best Dino Destination and has a planetarium to visit.
Visit both museums and discover everything you need to know about the first permanent American colony, settled in 1607. You’ll visit immersive gallery exhibits like one dedicated to Pocahontas and the local Indians who lived in the area. You’ll also walk through outdoor living history reenactments. Kids who live locally take advantage of summer camp opportunities and specific programs just for homeschoolers.
Can you believe this is just the beginning of all the things your family can do in Hampton Roads? Learn more about the area in our free guide to the Hampton Roads area.