Summer vacation never gets dull when you live in Hampton Roads! Luckily, our area offers tons of family friendly sites to see and things to do, ranging from exciting city parks to super educational and fun museums! We’ve comprised this handy list of family friendly Hampton Roads spots for every age! Have fun and remember – Rutter Mills is available 24-7 if you need us. Simply call or text us at 757-622-5000, or click here to email us.
The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center
Located at 717 General Booth Boulevard, Virginia Beach, VA 23451.
Highlights: The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center hosts over 800,000 gallons of aquariums and live animal habitats focusing on Virginia’s diverse and unique marine environment. With more than 300 hands-on exhibits, a nature trail, an aviary, two animal touch pools and a National Geographic 3D Theater. A visit to the Aquarium can be fun and educational. To complete the experience there are two stores and a café. The Aquarium’s newest exhibit gallery, Restless Planet adds an international touch with habitats that showcase exotic animals such as tomistomas, Egyptian cobras, spotted eagle rays and Komodo dragons.
Cape Henry Lighthouse
Located at 583 Atlantic Avenue, Fort Story, VA 23459.
Highlights: The Cape Henry Lighthouse was built to guide maritime commerce at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. It stands near the “First Landing” site where English settlers arrived in 1607 and is one of the oldest surviving lighthouses in the United States!
Grommet Island Park
Located at 100 2nd Street, Virginia Beach, VA 23451.
Highlights: This 15,000 square foot beach park features wheelchair accessible entrances and an incredible playground that includes poured-in-place surfacing, raised sand tables for sandcastle building at an accessible height, a sensory board for children who are autistic and visually impaired, and a sway boat. The playground also boasts sculptural features such as dolphins, a surfboard, and a wave that are all fully accessible for children to pretend to ride the waves and swim with the dolphins. Wood polymer decking extends from the playground to accessible seating areas with an umbrella and hand-operated sand scoop designed to be used by a person in a wheelchair, allowing everybody to play in the sand.
Francis Land House
Located at 3131 Virginia Beach Boulevard, Virginia Beach, VA 23452.
Highlights: The Francis Land House, or Rose Hall, is a historic brick house in located within the Rose Hall District near Princess Anne Plaza in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The historic Francis Land House was once surrounded by hundreds of acres of farmland. It served as the home of Francis Land VI, a wealthy plantation owner from a prominent family in Princess Anne County, Virginia. While the architecture of the house is Georgian, the interior style is Federal. The house is furnished with a mix of period antiques and reproductions to interpret the period that Francis Land VI and his wives and daughters were in residence, circa 1805-1819. Tours of the Francis Land House consider plantation life; the roles of the household members, both free and enslaved; Federal style; and ways that the formation of the new nation affected private lives. Tour guides also discuss the colorful history of the house in the 20th century, when it functioned as the Rose Hall Dress Shop.
Bayville Farms Park
Located at 4132 First Ct Road, Virginia Beach, VA 23455.
Highlights: Bayville Farms Park is a 68-acre park established in 1978 through the cooperative efforts of the City of Virginia Beach, the National Park Service, and Virginia’s Department of Conservation and Recreation. Of special interest is the disc golf course, the first such course in Virginia Beach.
Mount Trashmore Park
Located at 583 Atlantic Avenue, Fort Story, VA 23459.
Highlights: World-renowned Mount Trashmore Park encompasses 165 acres and is comprised of two man-made mountains, two lakes, two playgrounds, a skate park and vert ramp, and multi-use paths. The main mountain, Mount Trashmore, now 60 feet in height and 800 feet long, was created by compacting layers of solid waste and clean soil. Recognized for its environmental feat, this former land fill features a water-wise garden that boasts xeriscaping which requires minimal water. The park also features a smaller mountain, Encore Hill, and two lakes. Lake Windsor (located along South Blvd.) is brackish water fed by Thalia Creek. Lake Trashmore (located along Edwin Drive) is freshwater and hosts various species of fish.
First Landing State Park
Located at 2500 Shore Drive, Virginia Beach, VA 23451.
Highlights: On April 26, 1607, 100 English settlers landed here and established the first elective government in English America before pushing up the James River to establish Jamestown. The park offers a chance to explore a unique habitat featuring lagoons, large cypress trees and rare plants. More than 19 miles of hiking trails wind through the natural area!
The Virginia Zoo
Located at 3500 Granby Street, Norfolk, VA 23504.
Highlights: An accredited Association of Zoos and Aquariums facility, the Virginia Zoo exhibits more than 500 animals representing more than 100 different species on 53 beautifully landscaped acres. For more than a century, the Virginia Zoo has demonstrated a commitment to education and conservation, and offered a fun-filled day for visitors of any age.
Located at 1 Waterside Drive, Norfolk, VA 23510.
Highlights: Nauticus is a maritime-themed science center and museum located on the downtown waterfront in Norfolk, Virginia, also known as the National Maritime Center. Open daily from 10:00 AM until 5:00 PM from Memorial Day until Labor Day.
Hermitage Museum and Gardens
Located at 7637 N Shore Road, Norfolk, VA 23505.
Highlights: Historic home & picturesque gardens offering a fine art collection, professional program & classes. The Hermitage Museum & Gardens, formerly home to the Sloane family, is an early 20th century Arts-and-Crafts estate located on the shore of the Lafayette River in Norfolk, Virginia. The Hermitage features a nationally recognized art collection spanning 5,000 years, contemporary exhibition galleries, a Visual Arts Studio, and 12 acres of gardens and grounds that offer art and culture to the community, as envisioned by the Sloanes.
Norfolk Botanical Garden
Located at 6700 Azalea Garden Road, Norfolk, VA 23518.
Highlights: Norfolk Botanical Garden is a non-profit museum for plants and our mission is to enrich life by promoting the enjoyment of plants and the environment through beautiful gardens and educational programs.
Located at 740 Duke Street, Norfolk, VA 23510.
Highlights: Connecting community and artists. Watch, Create, Learn, Collect and Enjoy work from diverse artists in an interactive environment.
Virginia Living Museum
Located at 524 J. Clyde Morris Boulevard, Newport News, VA 23601.
Highlights: View endangered red wolves. Get up close to a loggerhead turtle and jellyfish. See fish with no eyes and frogs that change colors. Touch live spider crabs and fossilized dinosaur tracks. It’s all at the Virginia Living Museum, Newport News, where living exhibits depict Virginia’s natural heritage from the mountains to the sea. Experience a steamy cypress swamp and cool mountain cove. Explore the underwater world of the Chesapeake Bay and the underground realm of a limestone cave. See flying squirrels, stingrays and other creatures of the night. Touch famous Bay creatures. Kids especially enjoy the Touch Tank with its sea stars and horseshoe crabs, role-playing being an animal keeper and vet in Wild and Well and exploring the Nature Playground. Enjoy hands-on activities. See spectacular views of the sun from the observatory and travel the universe in the state-of-the-art digital planetarium. Outdoors, stroll the boardwalk to view coastal birds, beavers, otters, coyotes, endangered red wolves and other animals in naturalized habitats. Butterfly Garden, Virginia Garden and landscape plantings display one of the most extensive displays of native plants in Virginia. Learn how to live, build and garden green in the Conservation Garden and Green Living House.
The Mariners’ Museum and Park
Located at 100 Museum Drive, Newport News, VA 23606.
Highlights: Created in 1930 by Museum founder Archer Huntington, The Mariners’ Museum Park is the largest privately maintained park in America. The Park is 550 acres of privately maintained, naturally wooded property that offers visitors a quiet and serene place to walk, run, or picnic. The famed Lions Bridge is a stunning Park landmark with gorgeous views of the James River, noted for its four lion statues created by the Museum founder’s wife, Anna Hyatt Huntington. The 167-acre Lake Maury is an ideal location for experiencing wildlife and escaping the crowds. A seasonal boat dock allows for weekend rentals of jon boats, paddle-boats, canoes, and kayaks. Following the shoreline of Lake Maury is the five-mile Noland Trail.
Located at 5500 W. Mercury Boulevard, Newport News, VA 23607.
Highlights: Huntington Park is a park located in Newport News, Virginia, USA. It offers a beach, two fishing piers, gardens, tennis, and museums. It is run by the Newport News Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism.
Peninsula Fine Arts Center
Located at Mariners’ Museum Park, 100 Museum Drive, Newport News, VA 23606.
Highlights: The Peninsula Fine Arts Center is the Virginia Peninsula’s community resource and social hub for the visual arts. Discover the ever-changing world of art at the Peninsula Fine Arts Center, where diverse artworks and dynamic exhibitions are just part of the fun. Children can create personal masterpieces in the interactive Hands On For Kids gallery, while adults can find original works by local artists in The Gallery Shop. Regular gallery talks and one-day workshops enhance the visitor’s experience. Special events and evening programs are held year-round. Parking is free.
Riverview Farm Park
Located at Riverview Parkway, Newport News, VA 23602.
Highlights: Riverview Farm Park is home to the Fantasy Farm Playground, a 30,000 square foot community playground in an open area. Picnic areas and restrooms are conveniently located near the playground and soccer field. Riverview Farm Park is the home of the City’s first Dog Park- Fido Field. The park is also home to the Grin & Grow Learning Garden. Use of the family sized picnic shelters is first come-first served. The large barn shaped shelter, which is situated in the middle of the playground, is for general public use. The three large shelters on the side of the parking lot can be reserved: call (757) 888-3333 or reserve this picnic shelter on-line. A concession stand is open Saturdays (10am-5pm) and Sundays (Noon – 5pm) April through October. Skate Park-A 3,100 square foot, modular skate park is located inside Riverview Farm Park . It consists of 2 quarter pipes, 2 bank ramps, 2 grind rails and 2 wedge flats. Registration and a permit sticker are required. All users must wear a registration sticker on their helmet while in the skate park. For registration information call the Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism at 926-1400 or 888-3333. Another attraction at Riverview Farm Park is the two miles of paved multi-use trails surrounding the playground and soccer fields. In addition, a trail leading from the Riverview Farm Park Visitor Center (located at the end of City Farm Road) to the shore of the Warwick River also provides a beautiful setting for a leisurely walk. The Visitor Center is currently available (by reservation) throughout the week for groups requesting special interpretive programs.For more information about Riverview Farm Park or other city parks, call 757- 886-7912..
Virginia Air and Space Center
Located at 600 Settlers Landing Road, Hampton, VA 23669.
Highlights: The Virginia Air and Space Center is a museum and educational facility in Hampton, Virginia that also serves as the visitors center for NASA’s Langley Research Center and Langley Air Force Base.
Located at 20 Ingalls Road, Fort Monroe, VA 23651.
Highlights: Fort Monroe is a decommissioned military installation in Hampton, Virginia—at Old Point Comfort, the southern tip of the Virginia Peninsula. Fort Monroe is a wonderful place to visit! If you are a history buff, nature lover or simply looking for a good meal, a day at Fort Monroe is unlike any other. At the Casemate Museum you can explore the history of the Fort, dating back to Captain Christopher Newport’s exploration of the Chesapeake Bay in 1607. If you want to be outdoors, you can enjoy a stroll along the beautiful nature trails or the beaches along the Bay. Fort Monroe is also home to a full-service marina and year-round fishing. Grab a bite to eat at one of the Historic Chamberlin’s waterfront dining options. Round out your day by catching one of the wonderful events at Fort Monroe, such as the summer concert series.
Casemate Museum of Fort Monroe
Located at 20 Bernard Road, Hampton, VA 23651.
Highlights: Museum chronicling Fort Monroe’s colonial roots & its military role from the 19th century onward. Completed in 1834, Fort Monroe was originally designed to protect the Hampton Roads waterway from an enemy attack and is the largest stone fort in America. Within the fort is the Casemate Museum, which chronicles the military history of Fort Monroe from the construction of Fort Algernourne, the first defensive fortification at the site in 1609, through the last major command to be headquartered at Fort Monroe, the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command. The museum features the room where Jefferson Davis was held briefly as prisoner following the American Civil War, highlights the 1861 “Contraband of War” decision that granted three enslaved men, and thousands who followed, sanctuary at Fort Monroe, earning it the nickname “Freedom’s Fortress.” The museum also features the casemate where Jefferson Davis was held briefly as prisoner following the American Civil War and tells the history of the US Army Coast Artillery Corps.
Hampton History Museum
Located at 120 Old Hampton Lane, Hampton, VA 23669.
Highlights: The Hampton History Museum serves to increase the awareness and understanding of the history of Hampton by maintaining an educational and research center for the collection, exhibition, interpretation, preservation and promotion of the vast historic resources of the city.
Bluebird Gap Farm
Located at 60 Pine Chapel Road, Hampton, VA 23666.
Highlights: Bluebird Gap Farm offers an exciting, family-oriented adventure and educational experience rarely seen in an urban environment. The 60-acre farm has around 150 domestic and wild animals. We have the usual farm animals such as horses, cows, pigs, goats, and chickens. We are also home to birds of prey, whitetail deer, llamas, alpacas, tortoises, peacocks, rabbits, and waterfowl! Offers regular family programs and free admission. Seasonal special events and story times.
Air Power Park
Located at 413 W. Mercury Boulevard, Hampton, VA 23666.
Highlights: The Air Power Park is an outdoor, roadside museum in Hampton, Virginia which recognizes Hampton’s role in America’s early space exploration and aircraft testing. The outdoor park is open year-round, seven days a week from sunrise to sunset.
Sandy Bottom Nature Park
Located at 1255 Big Bethel Road, Hampton, VA 23666.
Highlights: Hampton’s premier park is a 456-acre environmental education and wildlife management facility. Born from borrow pits and garbage dumps, the park is truly a success story of reclamation of our natural resources. From the 10,000 square foot nature center overlooking Sandy Bottom Lake to the elusive creatures that inhabit the wetland marshes, there is something for everyone at Sandy Bottom Nature Park.
Located at 624 Oak Grove Road, Chesapeake, VA 23320.
Highlights: The Chesapeake Arboretum is located in the heart of Chesapeake and is a 48-acre “Nature’s Classroom” that promotes horticultural and environmental awareness through displays, education and research. Dedicated at its current site in November 1996, it boasts one of Virginia’s finest trail systems that wanders through a mature hardwood forest with many varieties of trees and plants.
Located at 312 Cedar Road, Chesapeake, VA 23322.
Highlights: On Thursday nights at 8:00 PM, the general public is invited to attend free programs. These programs are provided as a free service of the Chesapeake Public School System. Topics for these programs change every month and are educational in nature. They are designed to give the individual a general overview of astronomy. * It is recommended that children below the first grade level not be admitted to the planetarium chamber. All quiet children are welcome.
Children’s Museum of Virginia
Located at 221 High Street, Portsmouth, VA 23704.
Highlights: The Children’s Museum of Virginia is the largest children’s museum in the state of Virginia. The Children’s Museum of Virginia is a place where families and caregivers with children ages 1-11 are encouraged to imagine, explore, and discover together through play. Children step inside a world where bubbles grow bigger than they are, where the forces of energy electrify and spark their imagination, where they can be a farmer, a banker, a scientist, a star gazer and more!
City Park of Portsmouth
Located at Cpl J M Williams Avenue, Portsmouth, VA 23701.
Highlights: City Park is open year round from dawn to dusk. The Park offers a multitude of things: Fishing Pier, 3-pier boat ramp, sailboat launch area, small watercraft beach, ‘The Links’, a 9-hole golf learning center, lighted driving range, and natural putting course (757-465-1500), state of the art playgrounds, lighted tennis courts, Friendship Gardens Wedding Area, shelters with picnic tables and grills, and a priceless waterfront view
Located at 1 Visitor Center Drive, Williamsburg, VA 23185.
Highlights: Discover Colonial Williamsburg and become a citizen of the Revolutionary City. Engage with the local community and experience firsthand the daily struggles of wartime. Explore our art museums, unleash your kids’ inner colonists, tee off a game of golf, or relax and unwind at the Spa. Stay at one of the official Colonial Williamsburg hotels, with a variety of opportunities to shop and dine, and you’ll never want to leave.
Veterans Park (formerly Mid County Park)
Located at 3793 Ironbound Road, Williamsburg, VA 23188.
Highlights: Veterans Park, formerly Mid County Park, is home to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial monument donated by local resident David Hooker in 1993 to honor residents who gave their lives in the Vietnam War. The 19-acre park is also home to Kidsburg, a 30,000-square-foot lighted playground that features separate play areas for children ages 2-5 and 5-12, a ship replica, swing areas and a zip line. Other park amenities include a 0.6-mile paved ADA accessible multiuse trail, sand volleyball courts, lighted basketball courts and tennis/pickleball courts, wi-fi connectivity and lots of open space.
Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum and 4D Theater
Located at 1735 Richmond Road, Williamsburg, VA 23185.
Highlights: The Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum and 4D Theater in Williamsburg offers over 350 exhibits ranging from an 8′ tall transformer, a 100lb Millennium Falcon made entirely from used car parts to a genuine shrunken head and a 2 headed cow. In addition, there are multiple interactive exhibits including our Vortex Tunnel. Inside the Odditorium, enjoy the Virginia’s on Impossible Laser Race – race against the clock as you navigate a web of lasers. After touring the museum, be sure to check out the 4D theater! Guest experience 3D films on our 50′ HD screen with wind, water, snow, scent and a host of other sensory experiences.
Jamestown & Yorktown:
Located at 1368 Colonial Parkway, Jamestown, VA 23081.
Highlights: Walk in the footsteps of Captain John Smith, Pocahontas, and the colonists who in 1607 settled England’s first permanent colony in North America. Experience the place where Pocahontas and John Rolfe married in 1614 and the first representative assembly in America met in 1619. Take an archaeology walking tour and join a Park Ranger for a walk through New Towne established in the 1620s. View the 17th-century brick church tower and reconstructed Memorial Church along with statutes and monuments commemorating events at Virginia’s first capital. Soak up the island’s environment observing bald eagles, blue herons and white-tailed deer. After departing the Visitor Center, drive the five-mile Island Loop. Waysides explain how the early Jamestown settlers survived in this environment. Don’t miss a stop at the Glasshouse of 1608 to observe artisans practicing glassmaking, an early industry attempted at Jamestown.
Located at 16289 Rolfe Highway, Surry, VA 23883.
Highlights: The Jamestown Ferry is a free automobile and bus ferry service across a navigable portion of the James River.
Jamestown Settlement and the American Revolution Museum
The Jamestown Settlement is located at 2110 Jamestown Road, Route 31 S., Williamsburg, 23185 and the American Revolution Museum is located at 200 Water Street, Route 1020, Yorktown, 23690.
Highlights: Take a journey of historic proportions at Jamestown Settlement and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown – two living-history museums that explore the story of America’s beginnings, from the founding of America’s first permanent English colony in 1607 to the Revolution and the establishment of a new nation almost two centuries later. Discover artifact-filled exhibition galleries and take part in activities in outdoor living-history areas to learn about life in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Located at 309 Water Street, Yorktown, VA 23690.
Highlights: Located on the Yorktown, Virginia waterfront just upriver from the Riverwalk shopping and dining area, the Watermen’s Museum is the perfect addition to your Historic Triangle visit. Their mission is to demonstrate the role Chesapeake Bay Watermen, from pre-colonial to modern times, have played in the shaping of our nation. This museum provides a historical display of exhibits, crafts and methods of their trade, and a look into their lives. The Watermen’s Museum offers school and civic groups educational field trips and we conduct summer children’s programs, such as Archaeology, Boatbuilding, Nature Explorer, and Pirate programs. We also have a volunteer team that operates our Chesapeake Bay boat building program, constructing and refurbishing boats ranging from a two-person skiff to a colonial gunboat being built on our beach.