Summer in Hampton Roads is here. I love it. Sure, it’s hot and humid, but we have the water, people. There is a river, a creek, a bay and even the ocean close by. That means it’s easy to find a breeze. Do not shut yourself inside the air-conditioned comfort of your house. Pack a picnic and some beverages, get out and enjoy the fresh air.
It was our friend John’s birthday last month, and it just happened to coincide with Hermitage Museum and Gardens first Sunsets on the River event of the summer. We packed chicken, potato salad, delicious chocolate birthday cake and our lawn chairs. It was a beautiful night. There was a wonderful breeze coming off the Elizabeth River. We snagged a spot underneath the giant magnolia tree, enjoyed the food, the friends and the two bands featured that night.
You don’t need to bring your own food. There is always a good assortment of food trucks. Adult beverages are sold on site. “Well-behaved dogs on leashes” are allowed. It’s a great time. Kids play together while the grown-ups visit or dance. It feels like a block party, but with the river behind you and the beautiful Hermitage house in front of you. There are six more Sunsets on the River this summer. For a complete list, including the bands, the food trucks and all the other details, go to Sunsets on the River.
NOTE – Hermitage Museum and Gardens special exhibit opens inside and outside the museum on June 14. “Conversations: Contemporary Asian Art” features the work of ten of the most celebrated Asian artists working today. Admission to the exhibit is included when you purchase a ticket to Sunsets on the River.
Let me entice you with a few more things to do this summer in Hampton Roads. Disclaimer – this is only a partial list of some of my favorites. There are tons of things going on in Hampton Roads this summer. Feel free to add on in the comments.
We love the Virginia Zoo. There are all kinds of events going on all summer. Go here for a complete list –
There are two things I’m happy about. The June Membership Swap with the Norfolk Botanical Garden. If you are a member at either one of these great places to be outside, you can use your membership at both places for the month of June. All the details are here.
The other is Adults Only Zoo Night on July 11. Food and adult beverages will be available. You can visit with the animals. “Let your inner child roam free.”
I love to walk way back into the Enchanted Forest on the shores of Lake Whitehurst. It’s shady, quiet and very peaceful. There are Dog Days, Bike Nights, and your kids will love the water fountains in WOW (World of Wonder). “Barkitecture” is the summer exhibit you will not want to miss. Beginning in July, “my” Enchanted Forest will become the setting for designer doghouses, “worthy of the most pampered pooch.”
Here’s a list of some other great gardens all around Hampton Roads that you can get out and explore.
Catch a Tides Game at Harbor Park.
Harbor Park is an open-air stadium right on the Elizabeth River. What’s more American than cheering for your local team on a hot, summer night? If you’re coming from the Portsmouth side of the river, catch the Elizabeth River ferry. It drops you off right at Harbor Park.
Bike the Elizabeth River Trail. The sun doesn’t set until almost 9:00 in the summer. Plenty of time to go out and bike the ten miles along the river and enjoy the breeze.
Practice yoga outdoors. Bhav Brigade hosts yoga events around Hampton Roads, including sunset yoga at the Pagoda in Norfolk.
There is also Yoga in the Courtyard of the Portsmouth Art and Cultural Center every Saturday morning, weather permitting. It’s a beautiful setting, under the big trees of the historic courthouse in Olde Towne Portsmouth.
Don’t forget that there are outside events going on every weekend at Town Point Park on the Elizabeth River. I love listening to the Virginia Symphony Orchestra under the stars. It’s free and open to the public.
I live on the Portsmouth side of the river. I love Olde Towne Portsmouth. There are free concerts at High Street Landing on the water each Thursday through September 5. The Elizabeth River ferry runs from Waterside in Norfolk to High Street Landing. There are great breweries and restaurants, all within walking distance.
The first Saturday of each month is always a fun time in Olde Towne. Portsmouth has an excellent Farmers Market every Saturday on the corner by the Portsmouth Art and Cultural Center. First Saturday usually includes some special events, like a free concert. First Saturday is also the day of the Olde Towne Portsmouth Antiques to Flea Market. This is an excellent place to find some real gems at good prices.
Another place I love getting outside and exploring is Fort Monroe in Hampton. We take our bikes and ride on the boardwalk along the beautiful beaches on the Chesapeake Bay. It’s never crowded. You can ride right across the moat into the historic fort and see where Jefferson Davis was imprisoned. There is camping available close to the fort, on the water. Fort Monroe is unique. There is water, beaches, lots of history and the Oozelfinch Brewery.
If you want to be on the water, not just next to the water, I wrote about about kayaking and stand up paddling boarding in Hampton Roads. You can find a place near you to rent or take your kayak of SUP.
Last, but not least, there are the beaches. Bring your cooler and your sunscreen. You’re going to need both in the summer around here. These are my favorites. I’m sure you have yours.
- The Oceanfront in Virginia Beach. Something for everyone here. There is always something going on if you don’t want to build sand castles all day.
- First Landing State Park.
The beach is quieter here. There are also more bugs, so bring your insect repellent.
- Outlook Beach at Fort Monroe.
Quiet, peaceful and nice little inlets for the kids to play in the water.
- Ocean View Beach in Norfolk.
- Seven miles of free beach with beautiful views of the Chesapeake Bay.
I hope this list encourages to you dig out your cooler, pump up your bike tires, put on your sunscreen and get outside this summer. You’ll find me on my pink Townie, just riding along, enjoying the breeze.
About the Sponsor
The Hermitage Museum & Gardens is a waterfront estate just off Hampton Blvd. between ODU and the Naval Base. The museum is an Arts and Crafts style mansion that contains over 5,000 art objects from 30 countries, and the estate is made up of twelve acres of serene gardens, wetlands, and wooded walking trails.