The Mariners Museum and Park has exhibits from the ironclad USS Monitor to Chesapeake Bay small craft, seen here. Photo: Newport News Coastal Virginia

Find Fishing, Hiking, Bay Museums in Newport News

Hampton Roads is a beating heart of the lower Chesapeake Bay, with a major Navy presence, a booming international port, destination beaches and plenty of boating.

Amid the bustling Virginia Beach and the naval Norfolk waterfront, don’t overlook Newport News. Both in the warm season and in the winter, it offers Bay lovers plenty to do.

This time of year, when chilly waterfront views are best enjoyed from indoors, head into one of the museums of Newport News. The Mariners Museum, which is also home to incredible restored parts of the USS Monitor, is a great start. The USS Monitor Center holds more than 200 tons of artifacts recovered from the wreck of the Monitor, including its revolving gun turret, Dahlgren guns and steam engine. The Mariners Museum is its official caretaker.

The museum itself boasts exhibits ranging from the America’s Cup race history to Navy sea power and intricate miniature ships. Best of all, admission is $1.

A good catch in Newport News. Photo: Newport News Coastal Virginia

The Virginia Living Museum, also in Newport News, is like a blend of a zoo, science center and nature park focusing on native Chesapeake region species. You and your family could spend hours experiencing it all (ask how I know).

In warmer months, fishing is a draw in Newport News. At Huntington Park, there’s a public boat ramp (and beach) along with Lake Biggins, a lake stocked with brown trout, brook trout, or rainbow trout annually.

Fishing is also popular at Newport News Park, along with hiking. The Noland Hiking Trail is an award-winning place to walk. You can find the serene five-mile trail at the Mariners Museum’s 550-acre Mariners’ Park, which is free and open to the public.

You can find a list of “Hidden Gems” from Newport News residents for more things to do as well as places to eat and stay. Newport News Restaurant Week is underway now, running through Jan. 28.