First Landing State Park

First Landing State Park

As Virginia's most-visited state park, it's an oasis within urban Virginia Beach. The park has 20 miles of trails and 1.5 miles of sandy Chesapeake Bay beach frontage. First Landing offers many recreational and educational activities and has many unusual habitats including bald cypress swamps, lagoons and maritime forest, as well as rare plants and wildlife. Cabins, water and electric hook-up campsites, picnic areas, boat ramps and a camp store with bicycle rentals are also available. The Chesapeake Bay Center houses historical and educational exhibits. The Trail Center conference room, outdoor courtyard, pavilion and amphitheater can be rented for special events and weddings.

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Hours

Day-use areas open 8 a.m.-dusk. When open, overnight areas are accessible 24 hours a day.

(Note: Many places fill to capacity on busy, nice weather days, especially holiday weekends. Please call ahead or visit the official website to get the most up-to-date information before visiting.)

Fees

Daily Parking - $4 weekdays $5 weekends. Other fees my apply for boating or fishing.

History

The park is where English colonists first landed in 1607. Native American canoes, Colonial settlers, 20th century schooners and modern cargo ships have navigated the park's waterways. Its cypress swamps were a source of fresh water for merchant mariners, pirates and military ships during the War of 1812. Legend has it that Blackbeard hid in the Narrows area of the park, and interior waterways were used by Union and Confederate patrols during the Civil War. Built in part by an all African-American Civilian Conservation Corps in 1933-1940, the park is a National Natural Landmark and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Activities

Fishing and crabbing (valid Virginia fishing license required).

Boating: Motorboats and other small craft may be launched from boat ramps in the park's southern area (no rentals available).

Swimming: at your risk in Chesapeake Bay.

Interpretive Programs: Crabbing, Junior Rangers, Kritter Kids, evening programs, beach walks, osprey hikes, nature hikes and night hikes.

Trails: Hiking, bicycle trails (and bike rentals), self-guided trails; 9 walking trails total approximately 19 miles.

Picnicking: picnic area equipped with drinking water, fire grills, refuse disposal, tables and restrooms; large shelter available for rent on a first-come, first-served basis by calling 1-800-933-PARK.

Environmental Education Center: First Landing's Chesapeake Bay Center features a wet lab, educational displays and an ecotourism welcome center; programs for grades K-12 with curriculum guide for teachers.

Facilities

Chesapeake Bay Center: visitor information, environmental education, displays; Trails Center with exhibits on the history and marsh life in the park. Campgrounds, picnic areas and shelters, trails, bike rentals.

Accessibility

Most facilities are handicapped accessible; see park website for details.

Main image: First Landing State Park
Captain John Smith Trail
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