Boasting some of the best weather in the state, the Chesapeake region is primed for spring adventures. Home to 22 miles of wind and wave free salt and fresh water, including the Smithsonian Magazine-recognized 167-square-mile Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, and the Northwest River Park, this place is an outdoor enthusiasts’ dream come true. Whether you’re looking to fish, camp or just play around, Chesapeake will show you a side of Virginia you never knew existed.
1. Paddle the Dismal Swamp Canal
This is the oldest continually operating manmade canal in the United States—The Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge has been recognized by Smithsonian Magazine and the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The earliest stories of adventure in the Dismal Swamp were on foot. Early in the Civil War, many of the runaway slaves escaped and used this boggy area as a refuge from ill-willed pursuers. This navigable flat water is beautifully quiet and holds countless history, species of wildlife, and breathtaking cypress trees for you to discover.
2. Get playful at Chesapeake City Park
There’s no shortage of things to do in Chesapeake City Park, a 90-acre site designed for people of all ages. Kids love our Fun Forest Playground, a 3-acre playground and imagination center with endless discoveries. And when it comes to play, the park is equipped for volleyball, horseshoe, basketball, and skateboarding with plenty room for all. Don’t forget your furry friends. The Dog Park allows generous space for your dog to roam and play unleashed.
3. Geocache in Northwest River Park
Choose from several different geocaching coordinates to explore the park for hidden treasures. With 763 acres, 66 campsites, two cabins, and some modern amenities, this park offers something for everyone.
4. Shop the day away
Perfect for a girls’ day out, Chesapeake is home to many quaint local shops filled with one-of-a-kind items. Spoil loved ones—or treat yourself—with local gifts that let you take a little piece of Chesapeake home with you.
5. Hike the trails at the Chesapeake Arboretum
No eastern adventure would be complete without being inspired by the beautiful forests. The Chesapeake Arboretum, located five miles from town, will give you a new sense of appreciation for old growth forests. Your eyes will be in the sky on the many species of birds as you walk along an exclusive part of the VA Birding and Wildlife Trail.
6. Walk or run the Jordan Bridge
The highest bridge in Hampton Roads is a great place from which to view the Elizabeth River It’s about three miles from Elizabeth River Boat Landing Park in Chesapeake across the bridge to Portsmouth and back. You can also cycle over it to the Paradise Creek Nature Park.
7. Fish in the Elizabeth River
Visit the handy public boat landing to the Elizabeth River at Elizabeth River Park and the fun Ships store (you have to get one of their famous slushies) and pickup bait and other fishing necessities. You’ll find plentiful plentiful trout, red drum, and striper.
8. Explore the waterways of Northwest River
Be sure to kayak, canoe, and fish the majestic Northwest River at the Northwest River Park and Campground. This park boasts 763 acres of majestic parkland that includes a 7 trail system for hiking. There’s also stellar crabbing and a 40-acre lake stocked with bass, trout and catfish.
9. Taste the local flavors
With an abundance of locally made artisanal goods—including soups, ice cream, coffee, beer and more—you’ll see why in Chesapeake the fun is as fresh as the food.