HAMPTON ROADS, Va. – Between inflation, gas prices, the cost of living and more, waiting for your summer plans may not be as exciting as it once was.
But we live in such a beautiful place, which makes “vacation” an easy and cheap option.
News 3 is spending the month of July helping you plan your trip to the Seven Cities and Northeast North Carolina.
We start with the city of mermaids! The Nauticus Museum is hard to miss if you’re heading downtown and is open seven days a week, year-round.
The museum’s newest exhibit, featuring drones, has just opened.
A general admission ticket also lets you explore Battleship Wisconsin! Walk the deck, get a close look at the missile launchers, and even peek inside the ship.
- Adult 13 and over: $15.95
- Child 4-12: $11.50
- Child 3 and under: free
- Discounts: Military and Seniors (55+) with ID
The Virginia Zoo is also just down the street. You can take a trip around the world without leaving Norfolk, seeing giraffes, rhinos, lions and more up close.
To add to the family fun, ZooGroove concerts have made a comeback. Each outdoor concert features a new local band.
Food trucks and wine trucks are also on site.
- Adult (12+): $17.95
- Children (2-11): $14.95
- Seniors (62+): $15.95
- Discounts: Zoo Members, Military, First Responders, Norfolk Residents, College and University Students
There is also the Norfolk Botanical Garden, located near Norfolk International Airport. The garden covers 175 acres of beautiful flowers and plants, which you can explore on foot or by tram.
On top of that, there’s a garden just for kids, with sprinklers and activities to keep them entertained.
- Adult: $16.00
- Child (3-17): $14.00
- Military: $14.00
- Senior (65+): $14.00
How about taking a look under the sea with the Virginia Aquarium? Tickets cost around $25 for adults and $20 for children.
Adult (12-61): $24.95
Child (3-11): $19.95
Senior (62+): $22.95
Plus, if you want a break from the great outdoors, the Adventure Works Wetland Zipline Park is right outside. You can get to the treetops and explore a fun ropes course.
Tickets cost a bit more, starting at $50 per person.
Just down the street is the Ocean Breeze Water Park. Hampton Roads can get HOT in the summer, so why not find a place where you can cool off?
And if you’re looking for a break from the waterslides, Motor World is right next door, with several go-kart tracks for the whole family.
The water park is open most days at 10 a.m. Tickets range from $35 to $50 per person.
- Adult weekdays (10+): $44.99
- Weekend adult (10+): $49.99
- Weekday child (3-9): $34.99
- Child weekend (3-9): $39.99
If you’re looking for a more relaxing and cheaper option this summer, there’s always First Landing State Park.
The state park has over 20 miles of trails, as well as a connection to US history – it’s where English settlers first landed when they arrived in the US in the 1600s.
If you are not a national park member, you may have to pay a small fee to enter.
City of Elizabeth
All summer long in Elizabeth City, you can listen to music by the water! This year, Elizabeth City presented the musical series Summer Sounds, which will take place at Mariner’s Wharf Park.
The best part? It’s completely free – just bring your own blanket or chairs.
The concerts take place every second and fourth Sunday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
If you’re looking for a way to spend your mornings, the Downtown Waterfront Market is open every Saturday the rest of the month. It also happens at Mariner’s Wharf Park from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
There are dozens of vendors lined up selling food, soaps, fresh produce, jewelry and more.
And just because the school is closed for the summer doesn’t mean the learning stops! You can always head to the Planetarium at Elizabeth City State University to learn about the galaxy, the world of flight, nearby stars, and more.
The Khan Planetarium is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. It’s completely free, but you’ll need to book a ticket in advance.
What better place to start than the Great Dismal Swamp? Rich in history, the marsh stretches across much of Suffolk, but also touches Norfolk and North Carolina, covering over 100,000 acres.
If you visit, there are a ton of things you can do, like a road trip, walking trails, biking, fishing, camping, and more.
Suffolk is also a great place for horse riding! There are several farms throughout the region that offer guided horseback riding for the family.
You can choose from several different rates depending on your budget.
Plus, every week this summer, Suffolk is hosting a concert celebrating the end of the working week!
The TGIF Summer Series takes place every Friday at Constant’s Wharf Park or Bennett Creek. The concert is free and takes place from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.