In the heart of Virginia’s coast sits the city of Chesapeake. It’s an area that’s known for its outdoor life and the numerous ways to enjoy it – from paddling to crabbing. If you go a bit more inland, you’ll find artisanal markets and family-friendly farms. There are wonderful things to do in Chesapeake, Virginia with kids that’ll offer them a bit of adventure and learning. Any season is ideal for a visit and, depending on when you go, there are even more activities for kids to enjoy.
Chesapeake is situated on the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, just minutes from the city of Virginia Beach. Specifically, Chesapeake is on Mile Marker 12 of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (with is 3,000 miles long).
The area offers different eco-systems than the beach, so you’ll find diverse wildlife to enjoy. Families will love the array of indoor and outdoor fun that Chesapeake offers. Whether you go for the phenomenal food, great outdoor adventures, or wildlife – you’re sure to have an unforgettable coastal Virginia vacation.
Use this list to kickstart your family vacation to Chesapeake, Virginia. I’ve rounded up my favorite things to do in Chesapeake for all ages of kids. Boredom won’t be an issue when you see all of the spectacular things to do in this city!
Since Chesapeake is close to VA Beach, check out my other list – 21 Family-Friendly Virginia Beach Attractions That Kids Will Love. Plus, I’ve got some great Virginia Beach Aquarium tips for bringing kids.
Best Things To Do In Chesapeake, Virginia With Kids
Chesapeake is a short drive from the downtown Norfolk area. You can easily fly into the Norfolk International Airport and drive to the coastal areas. Some Chesapeake attractions are close to each other, but I recommend renting a car or using a ride share service to commute around the city with kids.
Outdoor Things To Do In Chesapeake As A Family:
Great Bridge Lock Park
Families can picnic and play at the Great Bridge Lock Park and it’s the perfect chill place to spend an afternoon. It’s a waterside park that has locks. Locks are used to raise and lower water levels for boats. The waterway is used to help boats travel from Florida to Maine. This special type of lock is used to help protect the environment. Watch the boats come in, toss a frisbee and have a picnic with the kids.
Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge
If you’re looking for beautiful wildlife to enjoy, look no further than the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge which has over 113,000 acres of land. The area contains some of the most important wildlife habitat in the mid-Atlantic region. Enjoy unspoiled nature by water, via canoeing or kayaking. Or take a family hike on their 40-miles of wheelchair accessible trails. Keep your eyes open for black bears, woodpeckers, bald eagles and river otters.
If the kids aren’t into an outdoor adventure, you can drive through the wildlife refuge. The Lake Drummond Wildlife Drive is a 6-mile drive which offers three places to stop at along the way. It’s a great (air-conditioned) way to enjoy the scenery and perfect for younger kids.
Family Boating in Chesapeake
If you have the need for speed and want to be on the water, there are several full-service marinas where you can rent a boat. Local rental companies will help you rent a boat, even if you’ve never done it before. Private marina companies will help you choose the right boat and will also recommend destinations, activities, and enhancements to ensure your outing is all that you imagined. Check out South River Boat Rentals for more information to plan your family boating experience.
Chesapeake City Park
Chesapeake City Park is so much more than your average park. It has over 60-acres of open space and it’s a premier destination, in the city area, for entertainment. Young kids will love Fun Forest, which is a playground area and there’s a skate park where older kids can test their skills. The park is also home to an outdoor amphitheater concert venue and the farmer’s market.
Family Jet Ski Tours
If you have tweens and teens, consider booking a Jet Ski Tour to see the Chesapeake waterways. Poseidon Watersports will give you a fun family experience while admiring nature and the Cape Charles peninsula. The one hour tour is a great way to see wildlife up close, like dolphins, and they’ll go at a pace you’re comfortable with.
Elizabeth River Park
One of the most amazing things to do in Chesapeake is watch the sun set. Elizabeth River Park is located at Scuffletown Creek and offers some of the most beautiful sun set views. Additionally, there’s a walking trail, dog park, crabbing pier and boat ramp. It’s a great spot for kids to burn off some evening energy and take a sunset family walk.
Beginner Fishing For Kids In Chesapeake
If you’re introducing the kids to fishing, try bank fishing at one of the local parks. The Oak Grove Lake Park has over 65-acres of hardwood forest and they offer bank fishing from sunrise to sun set. Additionally, Lakeside Park has a fishing pier where kids can cast a line.
Chesapeake offers saltwater and freshwater fishing, so they can experience the difference between the two. Winter Striper and Yellow Perch are easy to catch. If you’d rather watch the fishing, catch one of the big fishing tournaments that take place throughout the year.
Kayaking In Chesapeake
Kayaking is very popular in Chesapeake and one of the best ways to peacefully experience the area’s waterways. Chesapeake’s Northwest River Natural Area Preserve offers a paradise for kayakers of all levels. Kayaking offers an up-close view of the pristine nature that the Virginia coast is known for. There’s no wind, no waves and no big boats on the Chesapeake kayaking routes. Adventure Kayak & SUP Tours is open year round and offers small group kayaking tours. Younger kids can tandem kayak with parents and teens can enjoy their own experience.
Family Camping Areas In Chesapeake
There are two big campgrounds in the area. Chesapeake Campgrounds offers primitive camping with amenities like two pools, miniature golf and pony rides. The other choice is Northwest River Park and Campground which is RV-frinedly. It offers over 763 acres of breathtaking views, walking trails, biking and horseback riding areas.
Enjoy beautiful botanical gardens at the Chesapeake Arboretum. It’s over 48-acres of vibrant florals that make the perfect backdrop for family photos. Their Nature Academy in Nature’s Classroom offers hands-on, exploratory education on a variety of topics focused on the flora and fauna found at the Arboretum. Children explore the forest, play games, and create a craft. Sign up online – perfect for kids ages 5-12.
Get A Bird’s Eye View Of Chesapeake
The Hampton Roads Air Tours offers an extravagant experience that tweens and teens will love. Book one of their 5 different tours to really see the beauty of Chesapeake, from the sky. It’s an unforgettable experience and offers a completely new perspective of the area.
Family-Friendly Chesapeake, Virginia Farms
The working farms in the area are at the heart of the ingredients that Chesapeake is famous for. Kids can enjoy u-pick fields, corn mazes and patches – depending on the time of year that you visit.
Brookdale Farms offers two seasons of picking (strawberries and pumpkins) and kids love the farm animals. Greenbrier Farms is a working nursery and farm which offers pumpkin picking, with family hay rides, in the fall season. They are also known for their famous Haunting at Greenbrier Farms, if your older kids are looking for a scare.
Indoor Things To Do In Chesapeake As A Family:
Great Bridge Battlefield & Waterways Museum
Kids will love stepping back in time to learn about some of Virginia’s defining Revolutionary War history at the Great Bridge Battlefield & Waterways Museum. Visitors will experience life in 18th century Virginia, learn about the water that defined the landscape, visit a Three Tun Tavern and find themselves in the middle of the Battle of Great Bridge which led Virginia on the course for independence.
Every December, they offer a Battle of Great Bridge Reenactment which is a really cool way for kids to see history come to life!
As part of the Chesapeake African American Heritage Trail, the Cornland School is a historic one-room schoolhouse that guests can tour. It was built in 1885 by formerly enslaved people, but today it’s the only known school that’s still in coastal Virginia.
H.E. Williams Candy Company
If your little ones have a sweet tooth, you’ve got to visit the 100-year-old H.E. Williams Candy Company. Kids will love watching taffy be pulled and even try some salt water taffy that Virginia is famous for. They still use the same methods of candy making from the early 1900’s. They’re famous for their “peach buds” candy that you can only get during the summer season.
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