Fall is here, Hurricane Matthew is gone, the days are sunny and the nights are cool. This is a great time of the year to come on over to the west side of the Elizabeth River and see what’s going on in Portsmouth.
These 10 Portsmouth attractions and local businesses make that dreaded tunnel toll feel like a bargain.
If you are ready to put the pedal to the medal and zoom around a quarter mile indoor track, visit G-Force Portsmouth in the Westgate Plaza on Airline Blvd.
G-Force has designed the track so that your kart will grip as you experience 1.5 G’s around the turns. There is also indoor paintball and remote control racing with cars 1/10th size. This is a great place for a birthday party or team building events. There are junior go-karts for ages 8 – 15 and adult go-karts for ages 15 on up.
Get your outdoor on. There are 142 acres on the banks of Hoffler Creek that are a perfect place to hike this time of year. The trees are changing color and, on a sunny day, you get double the beauty as the colors reflect off the waters of Ballard Lake. This beautiful slice of nature offers all kinds of programs, guided hikes, and kayak tours, or you can do you and explore on your own.
Hoffler Creek Wildlife Preserve is free and open to the public from 10:00 – 4:00, Tuesday through Sunday.
The spirits of the Olde Towne Civic League have been putting on this beloved Ghost Walk for over 30 years. Part performance art, part story telling, part history lesson and just a little scary, this is a one-night-only event, so clear your schedule this Friday, October 28. Guides take spectators on a dark, dark walk through Portsmouth’s Olde Towne, stopping at many of the historic homes where performers, dressed as things that go bump in the night, tell ghostly stories and legends.
The tour begins at Trinity Church graveyard. You can purchase tickets for one of three different times that evening.
If you have children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or are a caregiver to children, you must go to the Children’s Museum of Virginia. This might be my favorite place in all of Hampton Roads. A family membership is an incredible bargain.
There are all kinds of hands-on exhibits that children love, like the full size fishing boat, the huge model train layout with buttons to press, and the Bubble Room.
The Children’s Museum of Virginia gets in the holiday spirit too. Winter Wonderland is also on display in their special exhibits hall. Best of all, the Museum makes snow during the holiday season. “Snow Wonders” fall gently from the sky (or maybe it’s the roof of the Museum) several weekends in December.
Here’s a quick, important Portsmouth history lesson for y’all:
The African American citizens of Portsmouth, led by Rev. M.B. Birchette, opened their own Library in the 1920’s. Segregation banned African Americans from using Portsmouth’s Main Library. The community used the Portsmouth Colored Community Library for books, clothing drives and educational programs. It became a hub of the African American community. Through a partnership with the city, the Portsmouth Colored Community Library Museum opened in 2007. A new exhibit at the Museum explores some of the black-owned businesses that surrounded the Library in the mid-20th century. “Portsmouth’s Black Business District” will be on exhibit through 2017.
This a little gem of a museum worth visiting.
The fishing season is not over yet — not until you try out Portsmouth’s new fishing pier, at least.
Portsmouth has a brand new, 220-foot-long, 10 foot wide T-shaped, free fishing pier in City Park on Baines Creek, a tributary of the Elizabeth River. City Park has picnic facilities, a boat ramp, and state of the art playgrounds. It is a great place to bring the family before the cold weather comes.
Back into the wild! Paradise Creek is a unique opportunity to explore an urban river being restored. There are two miles of handicap accessible trails, and a free kayak and canoe launch site. The park is open from dawn to dusk. Paradise Creek also has the region’s only clear-bottomed kayaks available for guided tours, so you can make sure there aren’t alligators chasing you from below.
We always start out our holiday season with Winter Wonderland at the Portsmouth Art and Cultural Center. I am a Christmas Scrooge, but this event is guaranteed to put even coal-hearted me in the Christmas spirit. It is Christmas like it used to be, with old school, movable figures that the city has restored. There are the elves in Santa’s workshop, cutting and sawing the toys for all the good little girls and boys. There is a gingerbreadman bakery, with lots of candy and fake snow. Winter Wonderland has a great Santa Claus, who will spend time with your kids, and you can take the photo.
Opening weekend this year is November 25 – 27.
10. Olde Towne Holiday Music Festival
Christmas parades in Portsmouth are so much better than Christmas parades in my hometown of Detroit. We used to bundle the kids in so many layers, they could barely walk. Portsmouth’s Olde Towne is full of holiday spirit — at a much more bearable temperature — on Saturday, December 10.
The day starts off with an old-fashioned “Children’s Christmas Parade” right down High Street, starting at 10:00. Following the Christmas parade, High Street will be full of music, activities for kids and strolling characters. Last year, it was a warm day, and firefighters were out toasting marshmallows for the kids.
There are things going on in Portsmouth all the time. Go to PortsmouthVAevents.com for more information and find out what’s going on this week.
About the Sponsor of This Article:
People for Portsmouth is a Political Action Committee (#15-00602) formed by a diverse group of Portsmouth residents and those who love Portsmouth. Our purpose is to endorse and help support candidates for the 2016 local elections and beyond. We support candidates who pledge to govern with transparency, achieve financial stability, encourage economic development, assure a higher quality of life, prepare all children for educational success, and respect Portsmouth’s history, people, and natural resources.