Newport News stretches for almost 35 mi along the James River from near Williamsburg to Hampton Roads. Known mostly for its coal shipping and huge shipbuilding industry, the city is largely residential and is a suburb for both Williamsburg and the Norfolk area. Newport News has a number of Civil War battle sites and a splendid municipal park. The fabulous Mariners' Museum may be the best museum in the state. Close by, the Virginia Living Museum is a pleasant zoo experience for kids.
Newport News first appeared in the Virginia Company's records in 1619. It was probably named after Christopher Newport, captain of the Susan Constant, largest of the three ships in the company of Captain John Smith that landed at Jamestown in 1607. Newport News Shipbuilding is one of the largest privately owned shipyards in the world, and with approximately 18,000 employees, probably the second-largest employer in Virginia. It's the only shipyard in the country capable of building nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.