After touring the city of Hampton for a day, we’ve discovered quite a number of really fun things to do for the entire family. From museums, to a craft brewery and a beach club, there is something for everyone. Downtown Hampton has several hidden gems, Fort Monroe is filled with history and Buckroe Beach has an exciting new addition this year. Enjoy your summer with this family-friendly summer guide for the city of Hampton!
Enjoy the first of our 3-part Hampton Summer Guide – “Downtown”.
Virginia Air & Space Center
All I can say is WOW! After about 10 years since my last visit to the Virginia Air & Space Center, I was blown away (no pun intended). From the second you walk into this massive structure, you’ll be awestruck from the incredible assortment of planes hanging from the ceiling, aeronautical exhibits and historic spacecraft.
There are lots of options for all ages to enjoy. You can choose from the flight simulator, walking an entire AirTran retired plane; including checking out the cockpit, or experience the ‘solarium’ room and learn about the sun’s atmosphere and solar flares. Enjoy incredible views of the city from the observation deck at the top floor and even check out a movie in the IMAX theatre, free with ticket purchase.
New this year is the ‘inflatable habitat’ thanks to NASA, which enables the guest to experience life in space. You can also request a guided tour in advance from one of the many knowledgeable docents available. Coming in the next year will be several new interactive upgrades to make learning even more fun! Summer hours are 10-5pm daily, except for Sunday which is 12-5pm.
For more info and to purchase tickets, visit vasc.org.
Hampton History Museum
The Hampton History Museum is another one of downtown Hampton’s many treasures. Not only will you find amazing artifacts ranging from the Kecoughtan Indians to the present, but also monthly special events. From my recent visit, I was intrigued to learn about the “Give Me Liberty” exhibit which includes the stories of fugitive slaves, many women, and the long revolution against slavery.
Another highlight is the “Human Computers” exhibit from NASA featuring the amazing story of three African-American women who were featured in the Oscar-nominated film “Hidden Figures.” I was also quite interested to learn about the tale of Edward Teach, aka Blackbeard the Pirate, and how his head ended up on a stick at the mouth of the Hampton River!
The museum also features really cool monthly themed events such as stories from Blackbeard’s quest and most recently, a highly-popular Steampunk event.
For a detailed list of events and exhibits, visit hamptonhistorymuseum.org.
The great thing I’ve noticed about the fine city of Hampton is there are plenty of fun activities to do all within walking distance of each other. Hampton’s Carousel is a beautiful tribute to the skill of its creators. With the original mirrors and oil paintings still in place, along with 48 intricately decorated horses, this is something you must see in person.
With the popularity of antique carousels at its peak, Hampton’s restored 1920 merry-go-round has drawn thousands of visitors to the city’s downtown waterfront. One of only 70 antique carousels still in the United States, the Hampton Carousel is a rare and beautiful example of American folk art.
Rider fees are $1.00 per ride or purchase the Carousel Ride Pass to get 25 rides for $20. Group discounts are available. Tickets on sale at the Hampton History Museum and at the Hampton Carousel.
For more info, visit www.hamptoncarousel.com.