Outdoor Adventures in Virginia Coastal State Parks

Planning to vacation on the Virginia coast this summer, but hoping to avoid the crowds and the tee-shirt shops? Maybe you’d rather hike along a quiet beach, or enjoy a honeymoon picnic amidst the deep tranquility of a lonesome cape. Virginia’s coastal state parks have something for everyone, from the solo traveler in need of some personal time to the family seeking a weekend away from phones and television. Consider spending a day or two in one of these beautiful state parks this summer.
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Caledon State Park

Spend a day with the birds. Caledon State Park is a National Natural Landmark and is graced by the presence of an enormous population of bald eagles. Take an eagle tour, or hike one of the park’s beautiful old-growth forest trails; if you’re feeling especially adventurous, you can enjoy paddle-in/hike-in backcountry camping as well. There is also a picnic area and a visitor center with exhibits on the bald eagles. This park is located near Fredericksburg, off highway 218.

Caledon State Park is one of several great Virginia Coastal State Parks
Caledon State Park

False Cape State Park

If you happen to be staying in Virginia Beach, False Cape State Park is close by. There are biking and hiking trails as well as primitive camping, and registered users may boat in as well. Bird watchers will enjoy this park almost as much as Caledon, as it is a destination for many migratory species. Surprisingly isolated considering its closeness to the city, False Cape can only be accessed by foot, bicycle, tram, or boat. Tram rides are available through the Back Bay Wildlife Refuge from April through October.

First Landing State Park is one of several great Virginia Coastal State Parks
First Landing State Park

First Landing State Park

Another easy-to-reach destination, First Landing State Park is Virginia’s most popular—but it still promises some peace and quiet, as well as gorgeous scenery. This park commemorates its 1607 colonial settlement, which was eventually moved to Jamestown. The park offers hiking and biking trails, fishing opportunities, Chesapeake Bay swimming access, and kayak rentals. Look for lagoons, cypress trees, and rare plant species here, and consider renting a cabin or campsite if you want to extend your stay.

Kiptopeke State Park

Kiptopeke means “Big Water,” which is a description that perfectly suits this park. Kiptopeke features Chesapeake bay access, saltwater fishing, biking and hiking, and plenty of bird watching. Cabins, RV and campsite spaces, yurts, and a group lodge are available for rent, and guests can enjoy a lighted fishing pier, picnic areas, bathhouse, playground, and seasonal education programs on the area’s history and ecology. This park is also easily accessible, located near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.

Belle Isle State Park

Finally, nature lovers will not want to miss Belle Isle State Park, located in the Northern Neck area. This 733-acre park features tidal wetlands and coves, lowland marshes, upland forests, and more. Adventurers looking to spend the night out here will have to canoe to their campsites, and the journey will be worth it for the solitude and the unforgettable sunrise. The Park also has horseback trails, hiking and biking trails, saltwater fishing, and motorboat/canoe rentals. Guests can also elect to stay at the Bel Air Mansion or Guest House.

Paddling and bird photos courtesy of Caledon State Park

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