By Carla Olivo, Marine Spouse
Twenty-six miles of Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay beaches, wildlife refuges, scenic rivers, state parks, botanical gardens, 8,000+ acres of forests, 30 miles of hiking trails, and two fresh-water reservoirs will definitely keep you busy if you’ve recently relocated to the Hampton Roads/Newport News/Virginia Beach area.
But if you are looking to venture out a bit, there are some great, interesting, easy day trips available.
History & Shopping Day Trips
Virginia’s capital city is an easy 2.5 hour drive from Hampton Roads. Lying along the James River, Richmond offers a little something for everyone in the family. For the history buff there is the Virginia State Capital, designed by Thomas Jefferson himself. It houses the oldest elected legislative body in North America.
The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts features more than 5,000 years of art from around the world. There are often special, seasonal exhibitions in this world-class museum.
Known as the father of the psychological horror story, the Edgar Allan Poe Museum offers many artifacts celebrating this great American author.
Often called the “Mile of Style,” Carytown features nine blocks of boutiques, specialty stores, cafés, bookstores, antiques, and art galleries.
For the outdoor enthusiast, Richmond offers numerous spots that allow you to enjoy whitewater rafting. Belle Island State Park features seasonal festivals and concerts.
Yorktown is most known as the site of the surrender of General Cornwallis to George Washington during the American Revolutionary War. History is kept alive through patriotic events and festivals throughout the year. Park Rangers lead guided walking tours of the battlefield and the 18th-century town. You can drive through the battlefield and visit the Moore House, scene of surrender negotiations; and Surrender Field, among other sites.
Take a trip into the past at Colonial Williamsburg and the Jamestown Settlement. You can interact with colonists as you walk the historically accurate Duke of Gloucester Street.
Wine & History Day Trips
Ninety minutes up Route 17 brings you to the Northern Neck area. This historic region is bound by the Rappahannock and Potomac rivers and the Chesapeake Bay. There are 10 wineries to choose from along with dozens of antique shops.
Ingleside Vineyards is the oldest in the region. Many vineyards offer tasting events and tours. Here are a few to check out.
- Belle Mount Vineyards. 2570 Newland Road, Warsaw. 804-333-4700.
- General’s Ridge Vineyard. 1618 Weldons Drive, Hague. 804-472-3172.
- The Hague Winery. 8268 Cople Highway, Hague. 804-472-5283.
- Oak Crest Vineyard & Winery. 8215 Oak Crest Drive, King George. 540-663-2813.
- Ingleside Vineyards. 5872 Leedstown Road, Oak Grove. 804-224-8687.
- Vault Field Vineyards. 2953 Kingsmill Road, Kinsale. 804-472-4430.
- Good Luck Cellars. 1025 Good Luck Road, Kilmarnock. 804-435-1416.
- The Dog and Oyster Vineyard. 170 White Fences, Irvington. 804-438-9463.
- Athena Vineyards and Winery. 3138 Jesse Dupont Memorial Highway, Heathsville. 804-580-4944.
- Jacey Winery. 612 Train Lane, Wicomico Church. 804-580-4053.
Visit the Shenandoah Valley
Drive three hours west on I-64, and you’ll arrive in Charlottesville, a college town with a lot to offer. The main campus of the University of Virginia is located here, as are several vineyards and historical sites. On the outskirts of town is Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s plantation house and gardens. This region also features stunning views of the nearby mountains.
The Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge
This refuge is the largest intact remnant of a vast habitat that once covered more than one million acres of southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina. There are over two hundred species of birds, 96 species of butterflies and at least forty-seven species of mammals recorded within the boundaries of the refuge. This outdoor attraction is located in Suffolk which is the birthplace of Mr. Peanut, the mascot of Planters’ Peanuts, also in Suffolk.
A couple of hours south are the Outer Banks of North Carolina or OBX. These barrier islands separate the Atlantic Ocean from the mainland. Beautiful beaches, state parks and challenging shipwreck diving sites make the OBX a perfect day trip from Hampton Roads.
Please add your favorite day trips below! And consider helping out your fellow military and veteran families by leaving your base housing, neighborhood, REALTOR®, or moving company review on PCSgrades.com.
Author: Carla Olivo, PCSgrades Strategic Communications Director, previously served as the Director of Communications for Operation Hug-A-Hero and as the Media/Community Relations Officer for the Delaware Department of Transportation. She 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, their two children. You can follow her on Twitter @olivowriter.