30+ Fantastic Things to do in Newport News VA

Just a few miles southeast of Williamsburg, and before you go across the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel, you will find galleries, historical gems, outstanding museums, and excellent outdoor trails throughout Newport News VA.

Newport News VA
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Newport News Hotels

With so many things to do in Newport News, Williamsburg, Jamestown, Surry and VA Beach, you might as well plan a few nights at a hotel or vacation rentals, right? Here are just a few of your options.

Newport News Restaurants

You can’t go to Newport News and not eat! Here are just a few of our favorite restaurants in the city.

  • The Crab Shack
  • Second Street American Bistro
  • Bryd’s Cafe
  • Viking Burger
  • Harpoon Larry’s Fish House & Oyster Bar
  • Mr. Boil
  • Vedeat
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Things To Do In Newport News

Williamsburg VA isn’t the only spot filled with American history. Take time to explore Newport News’ historical sites like the Lee Hall Mansion and the James A Fields House before venturing into the great outdoors at the Virginia Living Museum, The Noland Trail, and Newport News Park. 

Those who wish to have a little culture added to their visit stop by the Newsome House Museum and Cultural Center, or Ferguson Center for the Arts.

With so many exciting things to see and do, be sure to expand your Williamsburg or Virginia Beach vacation plans for a stop in Newport News.

Endview Plantation in Newport News VA
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Explore Newport News History

The boom of cannons and the cracking of rifles echoed through the forests and across the waters of Newport News during the Civil War. 

Find out more about the world’s first ironclad ship battle, the woman who disguised herself as a male soldier to fight for her country, and about the African Americans’ growing role in the U.S. military at the time. 

Take some time to hear the people’s stories, visit historical homes, monuments, or take a peek at part of the famous ironclad USS Monitor.

Lee Hall Mansion

The 1859 Victorian-style Lee Hall was home to the prominent Richard D. Lee. Guided tours through the restored home and property give you a view of Lee’s life in Virginia in the late 1800s.

During the tour, learn how the home was Generals Magruder and Johnson’s Confederate headquarters as you walk past period antiques and exhibits. Once you finish with the guided tour, take the self-guided walking tour of the grounds to learn more about this charming historical relic.

In the summer months, the Lee Hall Mansion offers children’s week-long summer camps.

Endview Plantation in Newport News VA
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Endview Plantation

The restored 1769 Endview Plantation was Dr. Humphrey Harwood Curtis’s home and medical practice. During the Civil War, the plantation home became a Confederate hospital.

Take part in a guided tour of the plantation to learn more about the cultural and historical significance of Endview.

Endview Plantation holds an annual two-day reenactment in September. Come and visit the soldiers’ camps and learn about what life was like for the soldiers. 

James A Field House in Newport News Virginia
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James A. Fields House

James A. Fields was a prominent lawyer and teacher in Newport News. He also operated the area’s first African-American hospital.

A guided tour through his restored home will give you insight into life in the early 1900s and the importance of the residence to the region.

The Newsome House Museum in Newport News VA
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Newsome House Museum and Cultural Center

The 1899 home of attorney and journalist J. Thomas Newsome was once the African-American meeting spot in Newport News. 

Take a tour of the restored residence, enjoy the special exhibitions that take place there, and learn more about what life was like during Newsome’s time in the house.

Transportation Museum in Newport News VA

Newport News Military History

US Army Transportation Museum – Fort Eustis

Check out how the army vehicles have changed over the years at this museum devoted entirely to US Army transportation history. The large, well-organized museum allows you to travel through time, look at the displays, and learn how transportation supported the army’s endeavors from colonial times right up to the present day.

The Museum also has an outdoor railroad and vehicle yards for you to walk through to see the larger trains, trucks, jeeps, and helicopters.

The museum is free but closed on Sundays and Mondays. 

If you do not have a military ID, it’s ok. Just drive through the visitor tent and show your passport or Real ID, car registration, and proof of insurance. 

Mariners Museum and Park in Newport News VA
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National Maritime Museum

America’s National Maritime Museum (aka The Mariners’ Museum) is the perfect spot for learning more about the United States’ nautical and maritime stories and seeing naval artifacts.The 11 different exhibit areas house over 35,000 artifacts, paintings, and model ships, making it one of the world’s largest maritime museums.

Learn more about the historic Battle of the Ironclads as you walk around the deck of the full-scale USS Monitor model. Check out the historical artifacts from the USS Monitor both inside and outside of the museum. You can even view the actual turret as it is being cleaned and preserved. 

Before you go, look at their events calendar.  They have docent lead activities throughout the day, and some evenings they have great concerts in the park.

If you want to linger a little longer, take a five-mile walk, stroll, or run on the beautiful Noland Trail that begins just outside of the Mariners’ Museum.

Virginia War Museum

Do you have someone in your group or family that is a history buff? Then this small American military history museum is the perfect stop for you. It is PACKED with everything war-related from weapons, vehicles, uniforms, artifacts, and posters from 1775 to the present day. 

Virginia War Museum in Newport Beach VA

The Museum has exhibits about women and Blacks in the military along with a display of propaganda posters. Inside you will also find a section of both the Berlin Wall and the German Dachau Concentration Camp.

After touring the museum, take a walk around the grounds, where you will find a wide variety of tanks, cannons and artillery weapons on display.

Victory Arch in Newport News VA
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Newport News Victory Arch

In 1919, when WWI troops returned home by ship, they disembarked and marched through the Victory Arch. 

Today it is an Armed Forces memorial where Newport News holds ceremonies on Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

Newport News VA
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Animal Encounters

Kids are not the only ones who enjoy watching animals, so take an animal adventure trip to one of Newport News’ nature centers, petting zoos, parks or preserves to enjoy an encounter with a wide variety of creatures.

Virginia Living Museum in Newport Beach VA

Virginia Living Museum

The Virginia Living Museum is a great place to spend half a day or more exploring everything related to wildlife. There are indoor and outdoor exhibits to check out, including the swamplands, coves, inlets, and even a great glass-enclosed beehive.

Take the self-guided walk through the nature gardens full of flora and fauna, which leads you along a boardwalk that crosses the wetlands to the mammal and bird exhibits.

The museum has a wide array of docent programs throughout the day that you will want to participate in. 

Virginia Living Museum in Newport News VA
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Do you want to watch the aviary, beaver, fish, alligator, or turtle feedings, get your hands in the touch tank, or watch one of the several movies they have going on in the theater throughout the day? Check the schedule online to see which programs you are most interested in since all programs are not every day. 

Pack a lunch and eat outside the museum and return in the afternoon for more fun and exploration.

Newport News SPCA in Virginia
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Peninsula SPCA and Petting Zoo

The Peninsula SPCA and Petting Zoo is the perfect place to visit if you have children who love animals. 

Kids can get their picture taken, plus pet and feed many of the animals, including alpacas, llamas, chickens, goats, peacocks, sheep, and tortoises.  Be sure to stroll through the exotic sanctuary and say “Hi” to Shadow, the resident black leopard.

This local favorite is sure to be a hit with the animal lovers in your group.

Newport News Park in Newport News VA
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Trails and Parks in Newport News

Newport News Park

Can you imagine a city park nine times larger than Central Park in New York City?  Newport News Park is just that! 

As one of the largest US city-run parks, Newport News Park, at over 7,700 acres, has so much to see and do you could spend a week just within the park and stay busy.

Newport News Park Bike Trails in Newport News Virginia
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Enjoy walking over 30 miles of trails, have a geocaching adventure in the woods, practice your skills at the archery range, or bike along the 5.3-mile Newport News Park Bikeway Trail. Tip: the campground office rents bicycles.

Golf in Newport News Park in Virginia
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Golfers can enjoy 36 holes of golf or test their skill at the 18-hole disc golf course. 

Fishing in Newport News VA
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Rent a paddleboat, canoe or Jon boat, and paddle around the Lee Hall and Harwood’s Mill Reservoirs, or try your hand at freshwater fishing. 

Model Airplanes

Those with radio-controlled aircraft can head to the aero-model flying field to test their flying skills. Visit on the weekend afternoon when the area is the busiest and sit on the bleachers and watch the action.

Discovery Center

The Discovery Center is full of wonderful exhibits, a Wildlife Rehabilitation program, and where you can find the nature program schedule.

Japanese Tea House in Newport Beach Park in Virginia
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Japanese Peace Garden

To relax a little, venture off to the Japanese Peace Garden, where there is even a tea house.

Picnic Areas

The park is full of picnic areas that offer horseshoe courts and four playgrounds, including one for small children.

Newport News Park camping in Newport News VA
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Since there is so much to do, plan on camping at the 188 site campground within the park. 

Newport News Park in Newport News VA
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The Noland Trail

The Noland Trail is a favorite jogging and walking trail with the locals. This 5-mile trail is in the Mariners’ Museum and Park complex. As you travel along the path that winds along Lake Maury’s shoreline, you will cross fourteen bridges, pass a picnic area and the beach.

An evening walk may even grant you a beautiful sunset at the Lions Bridge as you overlook the James River.

Victory Landing Park in Newport News VA
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Victory Landing Park

Set along the James River, this 5-acre park with walking and bike paths will provide you with a great view of Newport News Shipbuilding and the Navy ships docked along the river. 

The trails in the park also lead to the nearby Victory Arch.

Huntington Park in Newport News VA
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Other Places to Enjoy the Outdoors

  • Monitor-Merrimac Overlook Park
  • Huntington Park
  • Riverview Farm Park
  • Deep Creek Landing Kayak Rentals
Canoes in Newport News Park in Newport News VA
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Fishing in Newport News VA

Harwood’s Mill

At the southeast corner of Newport New Park, Harwood’s Mill offers fishermen 265-acres of freshwater to fish for sunfish, bass and pickerel. 

If you want to test your skills from the water, there is a boat launch, and the park also rents out boats every weekend from Memorial Day through October.

Along with fishing, there is the Harwood Mills Trail that is a 5-mile mountain bike trail to test your skills, a scattering of picnic shelters, and the pet-friendly 4.2 mile Mariners’ Lake Trail.

Fishing Pier on the James River in Newport News VA
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King-Lincoln Park

For those wanting to saltwater fish from a pier, the King-Lincoln Park offers a free pier to fish the James River. The dock is also an excellent spot for which to see the Newport News Middle Ground Shoal Lighthouse.

The park also has tennis and basketball courts, picnic tables, and an interpretive center that is open during weekends throughout the summer. 

If you visit in summer, check out the free concerts on the stage in the park.

Newport News Middle Ground Shoal Lighthouse

Just off the east side of the 1-664 Monitor Merrimac Bridge sits the red lighthouse. Since there is no stopping permitted on the bridge, take a quick look from here or head to the King-Lincoln Park (600 Jefferson Ave) where you can get the closest view from land.

The lighthouse was up for sale in 2005, and no preservation groups purchased it, so two families paid $31,000 for the lighthouse and have made it into their vacation home.

Check out more Virginia lighthouses

Ferguson Center in Newport News VA
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Arts and Culture in Newport News

Ferguson Center for the Arts

Part of Christopher Newport University, the Ferguson Center offers visitors a chance to see great artwork along with some of the best concerts, Broadway shows, and dance recitals.

Check their schedule to see what performance you can catch while in town.

Downing Gross Art Gallery in Newport News VA
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Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center

The 270-seat Ella Fitzgerald Theater, located within the Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center, is the perfect place to enjoy a show.

The theater pays tribute to Fitzgerald, who was born in Newport News, VA.

Port Warwick in Newport News VA
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Port Warwick

On summer evenings, pop down to Port Warwick’s Styron Square, where you can lay down your blanket or set your chair down to enjoy a summer concert.

City Center at Oyster Point in Newport News VA
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City Center at Oyster Point

The Fountain Way Stage in City Center is the place to be on the 3rd Thursday of each month. This is when you can enjoy a free concert by one of the premier bands in the area. 

The festivities also include children’s activities, food vendors, cornhole, and a dance area.  Be sure to bring your chair or blanks and enjoy a beautiful evening under the stars.

Childrens Festival in Newport News VA
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Newport News Festivals

Newport News Greek Festival

Each June, the Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church sponsors the 3-day Newport News Greek Festival. During the festival, you can immerse yourself in Greek cuisine, including gyros, loukoumakers, Greek honey donuts, and our favorite- baklava.

There will also be authentic Greek music and dancing.

More Newport News Festivals

  • Great Food Truck Festival (September)
  • Harvest Faire (October)
  • Bacon, Beer and Bourbon Bash (May)
  • RunFestRun (May)

Guide to Christmas in Newport News, VA

Newport News VA
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What to do in Newport News when it rains

On a rainy day, there is still a lot of fast or slow-paced places to visit.

  • Peninsula Family Skating Center
  • LazerRush
  • TagTime Laser Tag
  • Surge Adventure
  • Bounce House

Pin it and Start Planning!

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