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Critique my two-day Hampton Roads sightseeing

Eugene, Oregon
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Critique my two-day Hampton Roads sightseeing

We're coming to Virginia Beach for a wedding in April. We will have two full days to do sightseeing (Thursday and Friday).

We are interested in history, Colonial and Civil War and Modern, flowers, animals, really just about anything. We are two older adults, no children with us.

There is SO MUCH to see and do in this area that narrowing it down was a very daunting task! I've listed a first draft of what I think would be good below, please feel free to tell me "don't bother" or "do this instead".

We have already been to Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown on a past trip. Ok, here goes:

One day: Head from VB on Rte. 264 to 64 and up to Hampton. Visit the Mariners' Museum and Monitor Center, the Virginia Living Museum, and then head up Rte. 17 to Yorktown, visiting both the Yorktown Victory Center and a driving tour of the Yorktown Battlefield. Will this fill up a day from 10 am - 4 pm? We're trying to also avoid rush hour traffic - which way is the general flow?

Another day: Head from VB again on Rte. 264 to exit 10 (what will this sign say?) to go to the Douglas MacArthur Memorial. Then what route would we take to the Norfolk Botanical Garden (April is such an amazing time for flowers we hate to pass this up), then over to the Naval Station Norfolk for a tour. We thought about taking one of the boats that would pass by a lot of the same carriers, etc., but this tour is narrated by Navy personnel, and also includes passing by several historic homes which may not (or will they?) be visible from one of the boats. Any suggestions on routes connecting these sights will be appreciated.

I think this gives us a nice balance of old and new - what do you think? Do you think either day has too much/too little? Hope you all can give me some insights! Also, are there any amazing places for lunch near any of these places - I'm thinking at least one meal in a Colonial tavern or restaurant? Thanks.

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1. Re: Critique my two-day Hampton Roads sightseeing

You are certainly going to take advantage of every moment! Day one's activities easily fill up 10am-4pm, and you may not have enough time to do it all, fortunately Mariners Museum and Va Living are near each other in Newport News and both are convenient to RT 17 (J Clyde Morris Blvd NN) for the drive to Yorktown. The activities you've selected are great, but if you don't have enough time, I would drop Va Living Museum or Yorktown Victory Center. Since day one is a Thursday in April, you should not encounter traffic problems due to the tunnel (Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel), just normal local rush hour traffic should be avoided, 4pm-6pm.

Day two...exit 10 off 264 is called City Hall Ave and the MacArthur Memorial will be on your left shortly after you cross over St Paul's Blvd...the MacArthur Center Mall will be on the right.

To get to the Botanical Garden, here's an easy way (if you want a slightly faster route using local streets let me know)...get back on 264 toward Va Beach, exit at I64W (follow signs to Hampton/Richmond, it's a left exit), go 4-5 miles to Norview Ave (Airport Exit), follow Norview Ave to Azalea Garden Rd (about 2 miles) and turn left, the entrance to the Gardens is about 1/2 mile on right.

The Naval Base has bus tours that start from the Pass Office on Hampton Blvd....if that's where you're going next, reverse your last route...Azalea Garden to Norview Ave, turn right, follow Norview to I64E, I64 splits after the Tidewater Drive exits so stay left and take I564 to the end, turn left onto Hampton Blvd, Pass Office is a mile or so on the right. The historic homes are part of the bus tour.

Hope this helps. Enjoy the area.

Chesapeake, VA
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2. Re: Critique my two-day Hampton Roads sightseeing

I would skip the Living Museum on Day 1, but I really enjoyed the Victory Center, so I'd keep that in even if you can't do the whole center. If you happen to be there when they're demonstrating firing the cannon, you'll want to see that.

I've been on several boat tours and don't recall seeing any homes - if we did, there was no mention of it, so yeah - stick with the Naval Station tour.

As for lunch in a Colonial tavern, since you're not going to Williamsburg, I don't think you'll be able to do that. But you might check out the Carrot Tree in the Cole Digges House (oldest home in Yorktown) -- never eaten there myself but it sounds good on the website. There are also some cute eateries along Riverwalk.

In Norfolk, there are lots of good places for lunch in MacArthur Center (mall). Many are upscale chains but still good. Local favorites not in the mall: Hell's Kitchen and Gourmet Gang.

Eugene, Oregon
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3. Re: Critique my two-day Hampton Roads sightseeing

Thanks to both of you - we were actually going to jettison the Living Museum, we can see animals anywhere, but where else can you see the site of the last battle of the Revolutionary War?

Another question...we're staying at the Ramada on the Beach and I know about the Mahi whatever restaurant in there, but what other restaurants are within WALKING distance of the Ramada (we don't want to have to drive)? Fancy or not - steaks, burgers, pizza, seafood...anything, just close by.

Also, do we want to go to Smithfield?

Chesapeake, VA
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4. Re: Critique my two-day Hampton Roads sightseeing

I love Smithfield, but for your short stay, you can skip it. The historical sites are spread out requiring a lot of driving, and many of the cute shops are falling prey to the current economy.

You could easily walk to The Raven, Waterman's, Big Sam's, Rockafeller's, and Rudee's. But for a real treat, hoof it up to Tautog's at 23rd St. Check out their sister breakfast-lunch spot too, Doc Taylor's.

Virginia Beach...
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5. Re: Critique my two-day Hampton Roads sightseeing

Oops....I noticed an error in my directions from Botanical Gardens to the Naval Base. When leaving the Gardens take Azalea Garden Rd, turn right at Norview Ave, go about 2 miles to I64W (west not east as I indicated in earlier post, that's the mistake), to I564 at the end turn left onto Hampton Blvd and to the Pass Office.

Happy trails

Virginia
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6. Re: Critique my two-day Hampton Roads sightseeing

...And don't think the hike to Tautog's is too far. If you take the Boardwalk you don't even notice the passing of the blocks...so much to see along the way. (Do a word search for Boardwalk and you'll find my post on all the things/museums/sites/entertainment stages etc. as you walk along the boardwalk)

Or you can take a bike...perhaps a tandem bike...and park it at the restaurant. Don't miss it...there's no big sign...just two historic cottages with a discreet sign (Doc's next door to Tautog's).

Black Angus is across the street and to the left as you leave Ramada on the Beach. David's is near Black Angus is a quick stop and souvenir type place for last minute milk, cereal, sun lotion, shell picture frames..usually nicer souvenir items...bags, etc. and aspirin...always handy to have a place like that. Directly across the street as you walk out of ROTB is a Sub shop and Haagen Daz, which also comes in handy for something quick, extremely casual and off usual dining hours.

At Mahi Mah's you can eat indoors or out, which we enjoy if the weather is nice...watching everything going on.

If you're driving, your parking garage will be diagonal across the street as you walk out of ROTB and you can valet it or get it yourself and park it yourself...just fyi for when you do use the car.

Virginia Beach...
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7. Re: Critique my two-day Hampton Roads sightseeing

Another thought.......while you are in Downtown Norfolk at the MacArthur Memorial, the Battleship USS Wisconsin is only 3 short blocks away. The admission is free and it's quite interesting as well as impressive. You could check it out and spend as little as 30-45 minutes. It is adjacent to Nauticus Museum (you actually board the Wisconsin by entering, but not paying admission, Nauticus). There is a small Naval Museum at the entry to the ship which is also no charge. If you are interested, walk down City Hall Av, away from MacArthur and St Paul's Blvd, when you get to the end, the ship is in front of you. Also, across City hall Ave from MacArthur Memorial is St Paul's Church. Embedded in it's brick building is a cannonball fired by Lord Dunsmore in 1776.

Eugene, Oregon
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8. Re: Critique my two-day Hampton Roads sightseeing

This is all great information!

What I've decided to do on the first day is drive to Yorktown FIRST, that way we know we've done that, then when we go to the Mariners Museum/Monitor we'll see if we DO have time for the Living Museum. That will also put us in Yorktown for lunch.

How long will it take to drive from VB to Yorktown? If we leave our hotel at 9am will we miss a lot of rush hour traffic (again, I'm not sure what the business hubs are, so not sure which direction the most traffic will be - into downtown Norfolk from all directions?

I'll check out Tautog's, thanks.

We're going to have a little time on Saturday and Sunday to explore the VB boardwalk area so that's why I hadn't mentioned it.

Will everything along the beach be open in April (it's sort of before beach season, right?)

Virginia
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9. Re: Critique my two-day Hampton Roads sightseeing

Along the Boardwalk, there's the Classic Car show one weekend and an air show and a Gospelfest. Dewitt Cottage, along the Boardwalk, is also especially mentioned among the open properties for Virginia Beach's day during Historic Garden Week in Virginia. Check out www.vbfun.com for what's happening during your stay.

A few of the things you'll see long the boardwalk: you will see the Atlantic Wildfowl Heritage Museum in the historic DeWitt Cottage at 11th, one of the oldest on the oceanfront;

The Virginia Legends Walk at 13th off the Boardwalk; honoring Virginians who have made important national and world contributions in their lives;

The Fishing Pier at 15th and the boardwalk;

The Old Coast Guard Station at 24th and the Boardwalk in the historic 1903 Life Saving Station cottage.

The Naval Aviation Monument is at 25th and the Boardwalk. It is actually many bronze sculptures paying tribute to Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard from the early 1900s to the present. There are laser-etched granite storyboards since this is outdoors so you know what you're looking at. The sculptures are of people in outfits from the period...real people...depicting significant events in history.

Neptune's Park, adjacent to the Hilton, has entertainment...many nights in the summer...maybe weekends in May. Right beside the boardwalk

Stages for outdoor entertainment are at 7th, 17th (a park actually), 24th and 31st.

Eugene, Oregon
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10. Re: Critique my two-day Hampton Roads sightseeing

Thanks for all that! We're leaving on the 20th so will miss the Garden Week.

Sounds like it will be a happening time anyway!