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Williamsburg and Hampton Roads Travel Guide

  • Photo: n4 PhotoVideo / Shutterstock
  • Photo: Kim Reinick / Shutterstock
  • Photo: Tom Mc Nemar / Shutterstock
  • Photo: Travel Bug / Shutterstock

Plan Your Williamsburg and Hampton Roads Vacation

The region known today as the Hampton Roads Area is made up of not only the large natural harbor, into which five rivers flow, but of the peninsula to the north that extends southeast from Williamsburg, and the Tidewater area between the mouth of the harbor and the Atlantic Ocean. On the peninsula are the cities of Newport News and Hampton; to the south and east are Norfolk,

Portsmouth, Chesapeake, and Virginia Beach. These cities have been shaped by their proximity to the Chesapeake Bay and the rivers that empty into it, either as ports and shipbuilding centers or, in the case of Virginia Beach, as a hugely popular beach town. Hampton and Norfolk are the "old" cities of this area; recent development and revival efforts have made them worthy of a second look.

During the Civil War the Union waged its thwarted 1862 Peninsula Campaign here. General George McClellan planned to land his troops on the peninsula in March of 1862 with the help of the navy, and then press westward to the Confederate capital of Richmond. Naval forces on the York and James rivers would protect the advancing army. However, beginning with the blockade that the ironclad CSS Virginia (formerly the USS Merrimack) held on the James until May, events and Confederates conspired to lengthen and foil the campaign.

Perhaps no other region in Virginia contains more variety and options for the traveler than its southeastern coastline. Colonial Williamsburg has evoked the days of America's forefathers since its restoration began during the 1920s. Jamestown and Yorktown make the area one of the most historically significant in the United States. When it's time for pure recreation, you can head to theme parks such as Busch Gardens Williamsburg and resort areas, including Virginia Beach.

At the end of the Virginia peninsula is the enormous Hampton Roads harbor, where the James, Elizabeth, and Nansemond rivers flow together into the Chesapeake Bay and then eastward into the Atlantic Ocean. Hampton Roads has also played a crucial role in the discovery and settlement of the nation, its struggle for independence, and the conflict that nearly dissolved the Union.

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Top Reasons To Go

  1. Colonial Williamsburg Escape to the 18th century in the world's largest living-history museum. Virginia's capital from 1699 to 1780 and Britain's largest, wealthiest New World outpost was restored so "That the future may learn from the past."
  2. Celebrate early American history Jamestown was the first permanent English settlement in the Americas. Washington's momentous 1781 Revolutionary War victory at Yorktown secured the country's independence.
  3. Water, Water, Everywhere! From the James River and Chesapeake Bay to the Atlantic Ocean, get in or on the waters of Tidewater Virginia. Surf the waves, steam past the world's largest naval station, sail on a schooner, or sup on a ship.
  4. Immerse Yourself in Nautical and Military History Don't miss the Mariners' Museum, the MacArthur Memorial, the Virginia Air and Space Center, and the world's largest naval base at Norfolk Naval Station.
  5. Glimpse the Gracious Gentry Life and the Hard Life of Slaves Visit America's oldest plantations and historic homes, including one chartered in 1613 and continuously occupied by 11 generations, two homes of presidents, and one claiming to have celebrated the first Thanksgiving.

When To Go

When to Go to Williamsburg and Hampton Roads

Fall and spring are the most pleasant times to go to the Historic Triangle. Winters can be chilly and summers in Virginia are damp and hot. Remem...

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Check historic weather for your trip dates:

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