Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Top 10 Things to do in Hampton Roads

Recently when I traveled to Arizona, I sat next to a woman who has a daughter my age that is moving to Hampton Roads this weekend! I mentioned that my mom was Navy, but I grew up in Norfolk and know the area like the back of my hand.  She asked me what are some good things to do while she was helping her daughter move here and that really got me thinking and was the inspiration for this post! In no particular order, here are my

Top 10 things to do in hampton roads, blog with the browns

 Home to the first ice cream cone maker, Doumars is a Norfolk classic.  Featured on Diners, Drive-In's, and Dives, Doumars has been a family owned business for the past 100 years.  Their menu is not too big, but the BBQ is delicious and personally I love the salt box (grilled cheese)! Obviously dessert is a must when you grab any food here.  My go to is a classic two dip chocolate cone! You can either dine in or have curbside service to your car, but be sure to avoid the lunch rush!

Top 10 Things to do in Hampton Roads, Doumars

Even though the downtown tunnel is now tolled, I promise the Children's Museum in Portsmouth is worth it.  Even if you don't have kids, this is a perfect place to take your nieces, nephews, or even the kids you are babysitting.  From trains and cargo shipment education to bubbles that form around you, there is something for everyone.  The admission is extremely reasonable and they even do free admission for teachers! I grew up going to the museum and over the years it has gotten bigger and better.  It still has some of the classic attractions that I remember as a kid. One of the best parts about the museum is Dr. Forces Traveling Energy Extravaganza! In this area, you can explore the energy and physical sciences in a carnival sideshow.  You will learn about magnetism, electrical energy, waves, and more!

Children's Museum of Virginia, Top 10 Things to do in Hampton Roads

3. Boating

Nothing is better than spending a day on the water in Hampton Roads.  Whether you like to go tubing, skiing, fishing, or just go out on the boat for the day, there are different places on the water where you can do all of the above.  Growing up in this area, the beach and the bay have played a huge part in who we are as locals. The trick to tubing and skiing is to get in the water earlier enough in the season that the jellies are not in yet. Some of the best places to explore on the boat are the islands that just pop up when the tide is low and you can dock up for the day.  I would highly recommend spending a day on the water down here.

4. Naval Station Norfolk- World's Largest Navy Base

Until I was 16, my mother was an active duty Navy officer. I never really appreciated or realized what I had at my fingertips this whole time.  To me, the jets, helicopters, and ships were second nature and I didn't think anything of it. When I realized that not everyone was able to go on base and see what I saw, I was able to appreciate what we have in Norfolk more. With the worlds largest Navy base all around us, there are plenty of things to see and take in while you are in town.  Go downtown to see the USS Wisconsin and get a tour of the ship or get a day pass on base and drive around to see the carriers and jets that wait to leave for deployment.

5. The Norva

 Being named one of the Best Big Rooms in America by Rolling Stone magazine, The Norva is a special place to see a concert.  In the heart of downtown Norfolk, the Norva is close to tons of local eats and places to stay.  The Tide, the downtown Norfolk's light rail cars make it easy to get anywhere you need to be.  From bands like Modest Mouse to Corey Smith and even local bands like Major and the Monbacks, The Norva is a perfect venue to get up close and personal.  The earlier you arrive, the better seats you can get! I have seen some pretty awesome artists in this venue and will always remember the great concerts there!

6. Botanical Gardens
What is more beautiful than flowers? Something about them just cheers me up and brightens my day.  The Norfolk Botanical gardens has everything from rose and hydrangea gardens to the garden of lights they have during the holiday season! They have a fountain park for kids to play in during the hot summer heat as well as a butterfly garden! The facility also doubles as one of the most beautiful wedding venues in the Hampton Roads area.  Surrounded by any flower imaginable, your pictures would be sure to turn out fabulous here.  If you are looking for an outside activity for all ages, this is your place.

Rusella Photography, Botanical Gardens, Merryman
Rusella Photography 
Rusella Photography

7. Beaches
No one can complain when they have the salty air blowing in their hair and the sand stuck between their toes.  Some prefer the craziness of the beach at the Oceanfront Boarwalk while others prefer a more secluded area of relaxation.  Hampton Roads has something for everyone.  Below are a few of the areas finest:
  • Buckroe Beach which borders the Chesapeake Bay in Hampton, Virginia is 8 acres of family-friendly (pets included!) beaches.  It also has a places for kids to play, and picnic shelters with tables and grills!
    Buckroe Beach, Top Beaches in Hampton Roads
  • Croaton Beach is one of the beaches that only the locals know about.  Starting at Rudee Inlet, this beach provides awesome surf for the board lovers in the area. It is open from 9:30 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. and has lifeguards on duty.
  • East Beach,which is located in the East Beach neighborhood in Norfolk, is a perfect quiet and relaxing area.  With the lack of big waves because of the jetties, this beach is perfect for little kids. This is my go-to after work when I just want to be in the sun for a few hours. 
    Eat Beach Norfolk, VA Top Beaches in Hampton Roads
Overall, this area has many options as to what beach you should go to. There is not an area in Hampton Roads that you cannot be at a beach in less than 15-20 minutes!

8. Williamsburg Winery

A little ways up the road in Williamsburg sits one of the best white wine I have ever had!Their Governor’s White is the best selling Virginia wine in the state. The 300 acre farm has won many awards for their wines and the tastings are delicious.  This is another great place for a wedding! 
Williamsburg Winery, Top 10 Things to do in Hampton Roads

9. Mount Trashmore 

Although it sounds gross, Mount Trashmore is actually a very fun place to take the little ones. A great place to go for the afternoon, Mount Trashmore has places to set up a picnic, play on the playground, or even take a walk (1.45 miles to be exact) around the pond. It was created by compacting layers of solid waste and clean soil and totals 165 acres, 60 feet high, and 800 feet long. The Kids Cove is great for kids and I would highly recommend Mount Trashmore for a fun summer activity for kids!

Top 10 things to do in Hampton Roads

If you are making a trip to this area, you MUST stop and get a Taste Unlimited sandwich.  My favorite is the Hilltop [all natural turkey, provolone, and house dressing on French bread].  The Hilltop has been their most popular sandwich for over 40 years.  What makes these sandwiches melt in your mouth is the house dressing.  Words can't even describe how delcious it is.  You simply must taste it yourself.  They have locations in Norfolk and Virginia Beach! Make sure to add this to your lunch menu while you are in town!

Taste Unlimited Top 10 Things to do in Hampton Roads, Blog with the Browns

Visiting Hampton Roads anytime soon? What do you have planned for your trip? Let me know what I missed on the Top 10 list that I need to check out!

  Happy hump day everyone!


  1. Well you know I will be bookmarking this for later! Considering my love affair with food, naturally I am most excited about Doumars haha


  2. LOVE this list! Still rather new to the area and living with someone who has always LIVED in the area (and so therefore nothing is 'new' or 'fun' to him) I have always wanted to look around more. What a great way to do so. Thanks for the hints - they really ARE appreciated.


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