The Hampton Roads area is uniquely suited to beautiful flowers and foliage, not to mention expansive green spaces for recreation and contemplation. Check your community’s parks and recreation listings to see more of what your local area has to offer.
Aberdeen Gardens Historic Museum
55 and 57 N. Mary Peake Blvd.
Hampton, VA 23666 757-722-2345
Celebrate the history, heritage and future of the Aberdeen Gardens housing development. This 440-acre community was built for and by African Americans in 1934 as part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal program. The site was added to the Virginia Landmark Register as well as the National Register of Historic Places in 1994. For tours, call for an appointment. Admission is free.
Air Power Park
413 W. Mercury Blvd.
Hampton, VA 23666 757-727-8311
This outdoor 15-acre roadside park museum details the vital role Hampton played in America’s early space exploration and aircraft testing. Conduct your own self-guided tour amid jet planes, missiles and rockets, then let the kids romp in the playground area. Admission and parking are free.
Bluebird Gap Farm
60 Pine Chapel Road
Hampton, VA 23666 757-825-4750
Come for a taste of traditional farm life at this site featuring domesticated and wild animals on more than 60 acres, the Azalea nature trail, and the Hampton Master Gardeners’ Display Garden and Arboretum. A children’s playground, picnic tables, grills, garden, walking trail and more add to the free family-friendly atmosphere.
Buckroe Beach and Park
North First St.
Hampton, VA 23664 757-850-5134
Relax on the wide, clean beach lapped by the gentle surf of Chesapeake Bay, and make it a day by bringing a picnic to one of the many shelters. More active beachgoers can enjoy the area’s playgrounds, the nearby Buckroe Fishing Pier and the option to rent kayaks and paddleboats. Pets are not allowed May 15 through Sept. 15. Park Rangers are on-site year-round.
Casemate Museum, 20 Bernard Road
Fort Monroe, VA 23651 757-788-3391
Fort Monroe, recently designated as a National Monument, is the largest stone fort ever built in the U.S. Within this historic fort’s walls, the Casemate Museum chronicles the history of the fort and the Coast Artillery Corps. During the Civil War, Fort Monroe was a Union-held bastion and helped shelter thousands of slave refugees. Visit the cell where Confederate President Jefferson Davis was imprisoned. Free admission.
Hampton Roads Harbor
Hampton, VA 23611 800-800-2202
Imagine the history this island fortress has seen. Dating to 1819, construction of the fort was directed by Robert E. Lee, and the site played an important role in the Civil War and both World Wars. Most notably, the fort was witness to the historic battle between the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia (also known as the CSS Merrimack). Though this attraction is not accessible by car, it can be reached by local boat tours. Private boats are welcome to dock 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday from May through September.
Norfolk Botanical Garden
6700 Azalea Garden Road
Norfolk, VA 23518 757-441-5830
This botanical wonder stretches across 175 acres and spotlights 52 themed gardens full of stunning plants. A Virginia Historical Landmark, the garden has a rose garden, Japanese garden, butterfly house, wildflower meadow, mirror lake, picnic shelter and much more. Known not only for its natural beauty, the garden also features a boat ride through canals, educational programs, bicycle tours, a honey bee festival and special fun runs through trees sparkling with festive lights at night. Visit the website for hours, ticket information, special event schedules and tips on what flowers are in bloom.
Sandy Bottom Nature Park
1255 Big Bethel Road
Hampton, VA 23666 757-825-4657
Outdoor beauty and recreational adventures abound across the complex’s 456 acres, with two lakes, wetlands, hiking and biking trails, fishing, nonmotorized boating, picnic areas, a playground, campground, yurts and a nature center. Call for special nature programs or tours.