By Carla Olivo, USMC Spouse

The list of things to do in Hampton Roads, Newport News, or the Norfolk area truly is endless. Here are 10 suggestions for creating some great family memories on Virginia’s eastern shore.

#1 TOUR A BATTLESHIP

1 Waterside Dr, Norfolk

The Battleship Wisconsin is one of the largest and last battleships ever built by the U.S. Navy. This majestic ship earned five battle stars during WW II. The Wisconsin served in Operation Desert Storm through February of 1991. This marked the last time that a United States battleship ever actively participated in a foreign war. With 40,820 tons of weight, this Iowa Class battleship is worth either a self-guided or formal tour.

#2 HAVE A SLEEPOVER ON A BATTLESHIP

1 Waterside Dr, Norfolk

Yes! You read that right! For a truly memorable experience, you can book an overnight and sleep in one of the areas the sailors did. So put this on your bucket list! Of all the things to do in Hampton Roads, this experience will last a lifetime!

#3 PERFECT FOR ODDBALLS

1735 Richmond Rd, Williamsburg

There is a little something for everyone at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! in Williamsburg. The Odditorium has over 350 exhibits showcasing odd, rare, and mind-undoing world records, people, and animals in 11 themed galleries. Exhibits range from an 8’ tall car part robot and a 900 pound Millennium Falcon made from car parts to a two headed cow and a genuine shrunken head. The Laser Race is a challenge requiring cat-like balance and the ability to weave through light beams.

The action is complemented by the fourth dimension of interaction, in-audience effects at the in-house 4-D theater . You can watch the shows with 3D glasses while being blasted with air, misted with water, have your legs tickled and a host of other sensory experiences. Tickets prices and more info can be found at Ripleys.com.

#4 SET SAIL WITH CAPTAIN JACK

308 Mediterranean Ave, Virginia Beach

Looking for a swashbuckling adventure? Set sail on the Lost Pearl! Capt. Jack’s Pirate Ship Adventures provides a nautical voyage sure to delight the entire family. All hands will help search for a grand treasure stolen by that scurvy dog Blackbeard! The mission is to track down the booty, and take revenge on the thieving scoundrels who stole the loot. The trip is just over an hour. Kids 2 and under are FREE and Military receive a discount on admission.

#5 ATTEND A HIGH FLYING PROM

1341 Princess Anne Rd, Virginia Beach

The hiking trails in Hampton Roads and the surrounding area are definitely an attraction for some. But those looking to get their daily steps in will love our next attraction! With over 100 acres and 70 vintage aircraft, the Military Aviation Museum is home to one of the world’s largest collections of privately-owned WW1 and WW2 aircraft. Most have been restored to flying condition. Although the museum is open year-round, the annual “Flying Proms” are not to be missed. Rooted in U.K. tradition, this event takes place one night a year and is a symphony airshow. Pack a picnic basket and prepare to watch a ballet in the sky evoking a bygone era. You won’t see this anywhere else in the U.S.

#6 READ WITH PEARL S. BAILEY

2510 Wickham Ave, Newport News

Technically, you can’t read with the Tony and Emmy Award winning entertainer because she passed away in 1990. But you can read one of six books she wrote in the library named for this native daughter. From an early age Pearl sang, performed, entertained and captivated her audiences throughout the world. She was the United States Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations and worked tirelessly on behalf of literacy and AIDS prevention/awareness. In 1988 Newport News named its Wickham Avenue Library in honor of Ms. Bailey.

#7 A NATURE LOVER’S DREAM

524 J Clyde Morris Blvd, Newport News

Often called the “crown jewel of Virginia”, the Virginia Living Museum showcases local flora and fauna and diverse species like such as bald eagles, red wolves, and sea turtles. There is an observatory on site as well as a planetarium where you can learn all about the night sky. Other attractions include self-guided tours of the nature gardens as well as a boardwalk and a greenhouse.

#8 CHRYSLER MUSEUM OF ART 

1 Memorial Pl, Norfolk

Home to over 30,000 objects that span thousands of years of world history, the Chrysler Museum of Art is a “must see” while stationed here. One of the major art museums in the Southeastern United States, it was originally founded as the Norfolk Museum of Arts and Sciences in 1933. The museum grew into what it is today through a large donation of art by automotive heir Walter Chrysler.

#9 SEE A SHOW

2410 Wickham Avenue, Newport News

The Ella Fitzgerald Theater, a 276-seat venue named for the “First Lady of Song” hosts a wide variety of shows throughout the year. It is part of the Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center, a multi-purpose cultural space in southeast Newport News.  The historic building was originally built as the Walter Reed School, and has been restored and is now owned and operated by the City of Newport News, Parks, Recreation and Tourism department.

#10 EXPERIENCE HISTORY

Finally, if you are moving to Hampton Roads, put this next one on your bucket list! Colonial America comes alive in nearby Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown. Jamestown has two areas, the archaeological site and Jamestown settlement which is a living museum interpretive site. Williamsburg is a 7-mile drive from Jamestown and is another living-history museum. Don’t miss Yorktown with its waterfront charm and historic battlefields.

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Author: Carla OlivoPCSgrades Director of Strategic Communications, has garnered numerous TV industry awards including the Associated Press award for Spot News Reporting and Documentary Reporting. She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, a retired USMC Lt. Colonel and their two children.

Carla Olivo

PCSgrades Director of Strategic Communications