This charming town is located just minutes from Williamsburg, in Southeastern Virginia, on the shores of Hampton Roads Harbor.
It’s a short distance to the Atlantic Ocean and Virginia Beach and is full of thrilling experiences for the whole family.
There are a number of beautifully preserved traditional buildings, historical gems, and several museums that preserve and record the region’s history and maritime heritage.
Newport News is also home to one of the largest urban parks in the US and many parks, zoos, and nature preserves. It also captures important periods of the American Civil War.
Read on as you find out some of the best things to do in Newport News.
Fun Things to Do in Newport News
1. Check Out Newport News Park
This natural oasis is home to two freshwater reservoirs and an area of 8,000 acres.
Newport News Park is also home to a wide variety of fauna and flora, including flowering meadows, lush wetlands, and lush forests, along with native wildlife such as otters, beavers, deer, foxes, and raccoons.
You can also enjoy recreational activities here. Facilities include a disc golf course, a five-star archery range, ropes and initiative courses, a golf course, a horse show arena with a stage, and more than 30 miles of mountain biking and hiking trails.
Visit because Newport News Park is open daily from sunrise to sunset.
2. Visit James A. Fields House
The James A. Fields House used to be the home of a well-known Newport News teacher and lawyer.
The house is popular because it served as his law office for so many years and was operated as the first hospital in the African-American community.
The house has undergone extensive restoration but is now a museum that gives visitors a taste of what life was like in Newport News in the 1900s.
Here you can take a tour with a docent and guides who are all friendly and willing to answer your questions about the cultural and historical significance of the residence.
3. Visit Fort Monroe
Fort Monroe is very well known as the largest stone fort ever to stand in the United States, and it was built in 1834.
The purpose of this fort’s construction was to provide defense along the Chesapeake Bay coastline, and it functioned in this capacity for hundreds of years before being deactivated.
Currently, Fort Monroe is a United States National Monument that is available for tours. Join other visitors and tour the fort as you learn more about its history.
Things to Do in Newport News at Night
1. Dinner at Second Street Restaurant
This is an American bistro that offers a classy atmosphere of contemporary cuisine.
Second Street Restaurant is open every day for lunch and dinner.
It offers an enticingly presented menu of creative and innovative dishes, seasonal small plates, appetizers, desserts, and main courses made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
Their signature dishes are watermelon salad, goat cheese and roasted garlic pizza with balsamic glaze, and New York-style cheesecake.
Their cuisine is supported by an extensive wine list from all over the world, along with handcrafted cocktails, imported spirits, and craft beers.
2. Don’t Miss a Show at the Peninsula Community Theater
Things to do in Newport News include a visit to the Peninsula Community Theater. The Peninsula Community Theater is an inexpensive, versatile venue that has become a major hub for entertainment and events.
This theater started in the 1950s as the Newport News Little Theater and has been a strong presence bonding people together in the local community ever since.
The Peninsula Community Theater is an art deco movie theater; through regular changes and improvements, the auditorium turned into a stage theater.
Consequently, you can expect a variety of shows such as murder mysteries, Broadway musicals, comedy nights, and even special productions for children.
3. Visit Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center
The Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center adds to our glowing list of the best things to do in Newport News.
The Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center is popular for being the location of the Ella Fitzgerald Theater.
The theater is a well-deserved tribute to one of the city’s stars and has a capacity of more than 270 spectators. The Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center attracts people from all parts of the country for various events and parades.
You can see a variety of shows here, so while you’re in town, be sure to check your local listings for available events.
The Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm, except Sundays.
Things to Do in Newport News For Couples
1. Tour the Endview Plantation
Endview Plantation is an 18th-century plantation that focuses on the cultural and historical significance of the area.
Endview Plantation was built in 1769 and used to be the home of Dr. Humphrey Harwood Curtis, from where he began his medical practice before the house was converted into a hospital during the Confederate era.
The house is a museum that presents an informative exhibit of colonial and Civil War life.
Endview offers tourists the opportunity to explore the house on guided tours and learn more about the life process during the Antebellum era.
2. Shop at Dean and Don’s Farm Market
Dean and Don’s Farm Market has provided fresh farm produce and homemade goods since 1967. It is a family-owned, managed, and operated farmers’ market.
This farmers market is open and operates from April to October every year.
It sells fresh fruit and vegetables straight from the farm and is delivered by the family’s fleet of trucks to maintain absolute freshness.
You can also find fresh-cut Christmas trees at Dean & Don’s Farm Market during November and December.
3. See Skiffes Creek Redoubt
Skiffes Creek Redoubt is a historic landmark in Newport News, built during the 1862 Siege of Warwick-Yorktown during the Peninsula.
Skiffes Creek Redoubt is one of five earthworks built by the Confederates to help protect the Mulberry Island/James River flank of Major General John Bankhead Magruder’s Second Peninsula Defense Line.
The right flank of the line was heavily fortified by Magruder, including this redoubt—a small, walled defensive fortress built of wood, sod, and earth.
Only two of this line of redoubts remain, and they stretch from Lee’s Mill on the Warwick River to Skiffes Creek, preventing any Federal escort movement across Skiffes Creek or Mulberry Island.
Today, the Skiffes Creek Redoubt is located in a wooded area between industrial parks and can be accessed by visitors along a short, barrier-free boardwalk.
Things to Do in Newport News For Kids
1. Let Them Spend Some Time at Peninsula SPCA and Petting Zoo
This is more like an animal sanctuary and adoption center that operates and maintains a “no kill” policy and rehabilitates rescued animals until they pass.
In addition, the SPCA hosts a variety of educational programs for visitors of all ages and offers preventative veterinary care for injured, rescued, and orphaned animals.
In the sanctuary section of the petting zoo, you will see the various rescued animals that are housed there.
These include chicken, sheep, goats, turtles, alpacas, peacocks, and black leopards.
Children can pet and feed the animals from the yard, and there is an opportunity to learn more about exotic animals in the zoo.
2. Take Them to Riverview Farm Park
Located in Newport News is Riverview Farm Park, a city park operated by the Newport News Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism.
This park is home to the 30,000 sq. ft. Fantasy Farm Playground. It also has picnic areas and restrooms that are accessible near the playground and soccer field.
The family picnic shelters are used on a first-come, first-served basis, but the sizeable barn-shaped shelter located in the middle of the course is open to the general public.
Across the parking lot, there is also a group shelter that can be reserved for special activities and picnics and can accommodate up to 100 people.
The park is open every day of the week from 8 am to 6 pm.
3. Check Out Peninsula Fine Arts Center
The Peninsula Fine Arts Center should be a must-see for anyone who loves art. You will find a diverse range of artworks on display at this location.
Located along Museum drive, Peninsula Fine Arts Center is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and is one of the exciting things to do in Newport News.
You will see both static and rotating exhibits here, but one of the most interesting aspects of this center is the fact that you can create your own artwork if you wish as a visitor.
There is also a Hand-On-For-Kids gallery where younger people can play and apply their masterpiece.
You can also purchase the different types of artwork on display and take them home as souvenirs.
Indoor Activities to Do in Newport News For Adults (Indoor Activities)
1. Spend Time at Virginia Living Museum
Recognized as a jewel in the state’s crown, the Virginia Living Museum makes our list of things to do in Newport News.
The museum is a combination animal sanctuary, aquarium, botanical garden, science center, and nature park that showcases the natural beauty, fauna, and flora of Virginia.
The interactive center offers a wide range of exhibitions, exhibits, and hands-on activities for visitors of all ages and classes.
You will see habitats for animals such as otters, red wolves, otters, bald eagles, and bobcats and watch the night sky in the planetarium’s state-of-the-art digital theater.
Features at this center are a Conservation Garden, a Butterfly Garden, and a Green Living House, which contains a wide variety of native Virginia native flora.
Other attractions include garden tours and guided promenades.
2. Go Shopping at Patrick Henry Mall
Another exciting thing to do in Newport News, especially for shopping enthusiasts, is to visit the Patrick Henry Mall.
Patrick Henry Mall is a shopping center that features and is anchored by major stores such as Dillard’s, J.C. Penney, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Macy’s.
Patrick Henry Mall also has indoor and outdoor shops specializing in women’s and children’s accessories and clothing. You would like their beautiful clothing, home decor, and accessories stores.
The outlet center also featured dining and entertainment options and modern amenities such as ATMs, parking accessible throughout the center, modern restrooms with changing stations, playgrounds, nursing mothers’ stations, and security and police stations.
It provides a complete shopping mall experience!
3. Don’t Miss a Show at Ferguson Center for the Arts
If you are an art lover, then Ferguson Center for the Arts is a place you should not miss as it is known for housing some of the best artworks from all parts of the world.
The Ferguson Center for the Arts is part of Christopher Newport University and conveniently makes it the best thing to do in Newport News.
The center also hosts regular performances held at the local theater, such as dance recitals and music concerts.
Each year, about one million visitors and possibly more flock to the Ferguson Center for the Arts, giving them the right to comfortably establish themselves as one of the best places to absorb culture if you’re in Virginia.
Romantic Things to Do in Newport News
1. Go on a Tour of Lee Hall Mansion
Built between 1851 and 1859, the Lee Hall Mansion or Lee Hall is a perfect example of Victorian architecture and is also one of the last remaining antebellum homes on the Virginia Peninsula.
The mansion was the home of Richard Decauter Lee, a well-known resident.
It has been beautifully restored to its former glory and stands as a house museum, taking visitors back to the mid-Victorian era.
The historic brick plantation house also served as the Confederate headquarters of General Johnston and Gene Magruder and boasts a variety of period antiques and exciting exhibits.
To learn more about the historic landmark, visit this site and enjoy guided tours of the house and grounds.
2. Picnic at Huntington Park
The 60-acre Huntington Park is a popular park with a variety of recreational facilities, amenities, and outdoor activities.
The park features a public beach and boat ramp, a bigfoot playground near the James River with great views, and Biggins Lake – which offers an urban trout program and excellent tourist fishing.
Other facilities include an award-winning rose garden, a sports pitch, 20 floodlit outdoor hard courts, and a beachside snack bar, which is usually open in the summer.
3. Try Some Seafood at Skrimp Shack
With several locations in the area, Skrimp Shack is a family-owned fast food chain that offers seafood and side dishes for both lunch and dinner.
The Shrimp Shack offers a wide variety of seafood specialties such as fish sandwiches, fried shrimp and fish, dinner specials, po’boys, a variety of sides, and special children’s meals.
This restaurant also has a food truck for rent for special events and festivals. So, when you’re in Newport News, take advantage of this fast food chain.
Free Things to Do in Newport News
1. Relax at Mariners’ Museum and Park
Also known as the U.S. National Maritime Museum, the Mariner’s Museum and Park are dedicated to all things maritime and maritime history.
Founded in the 1930s by Archer Milton Huntington and Homer L. Ferguson, this museum explores the history of seafaring from the period of European exploration to the present-day United States Navy.
2. See the Newport News Victory Arch
The Newport News Arch of Triumph is a monument that was built in 1919 to commemorate those who sacrificed their resources in the US Armed Forces during the war.
This memorial is located in Victory Landing Park and was renovated in 1962, with an eternal flame (donated by the American Legion) added to the arch on Memorial Day in 1969.
The Newport News Arch of Triumph now stands as a memorial with an ever-burning eternal flame to all people (both men and women) of the armed forces.
3. Participate in Port Warwick Art and Sculpture Festival
This is an annual juried fine arts festival, well recognized for its phenomenal treatment of artists.
The Port Warwick Art and Sculpture Festival takes place in the beautiful Styron Square in the center of Port Warwick!
It sees locals and visitors enjoying the beautiful fall weather and fine artisans from near and far displaying beautiful works of art in the community.
There is live entertainment throughout the weekend, including Latin American dance lessons led by a professional instructor to the music of Latin Jazz Conspiracy.
Children will have fun in the educational Children’s and family area.
It also features Scavenger Hunts and take-home games and a Young Collector’s Tent where children 14 and under can purchase artwork donated by artists at subsidized prices.
Cheap Things to Do in Newport News
1. See Military Relics at U.S. Army Transportation Museum
Located on the grounds of Fort Eustis, this is another interesting thing to do in Newport News.
By displaying transportation-related equipment, vehicles, and memorabilia, the U.S. Army Transportation Museum is dedicated to collecting, preserving, and exhibiting the history of transportation in the U.S. Army.
This museum boasts an extensive collection of over 1,000 display props and 7,000 artifacts, ranging from airplanes, helicopters, and landing craft to hovercraft, trucks, jeeps, and trains.
The collection features signature items, including the only hovercraft in existence to have been seen in combat and the first helicopter to fly at the South Pole, as well as the only surviving cannon from the Vietnam War.
Take a good look at this museum in the city.
2. Grab a Meal at Fin Seafood
With chef and owner Kenny Sloan at the helm, the restaurant offers a menu of enticing seafood dishes made with only the finest and highest quality local and organic ingredients and fish.
Fin Seafood is characterized by its surf and turf flavor, where it uses prime steak and the highest quality seafood to prepare a delicious blend of fruits from the land and the sea.
The restaurant offers an impressive wine list that features fine wines from all over the world as well as imported spirits and craft beers.
You can sign up for lunch and dinner any day.
3. Check Out the Battle of Lee’s Mill
One famous battle in Virginia history is the Battle of Lee’s Mill. In 1962, there was a battle for the Confederates to resist the movement adjacent to the Union.
In 1856, Richard D. Lee built a grist mill here on the Warwick River, which still stands today to commemorate the event.
Access to the battle site is now through a small parking lot inside a residential area west of Warwick Boulevard (U.S. Route 60) via Rivers Ridge Circle.
There are several historical markers and interpretive trails near the river. They all make for an interesting tour.
Cool Places to Visit in Newport News
1. USS Monitor Center
The USS Monitor Center is quite a popular ship in America’s history and is housed in the Mariners’ Museum and Park; you can’t miss it.
The iron-hulled steam-powered warship was built during the American Civil War for the Union Navy and played a vital role in various decisive battles.
Visitors can take guided tours to explore the ship and participate in several interactive activities, such as walking aboard a full-scale replica of the monitor.
You can also participate in the battle in the ultra-modern battle theater with advanced technology.
This vessel offers self-guided and guided tours and is open year-round. These attractions make our list of the best things to do in Newport News.
2. Virginia War Museum
The Museum is dedicated to documenting American military history through a diverse collection of unusual historical artifacts.
The Virginia War Museum offers several exhibits and displays and is located in Huntington Park Beach.
Some of its features include personal artifacts, weapons, uniforms, vehicles, posters, documents, and other items related to the U.S. military that can be traced from 1775 to the present day.
Signature exhibits include articles and photographic exhibits such as Women at War and Marches for Freedom and a piece of the outer wall from the Dachau concentration camp.
The museum hosts various evening programs and various special events throughout the year.
3. Newsome House Museum & Cultural Center
The Newsome House Museum & Cultural Center was the former home of J. Thomas Newsome honors the legacy of this distinguished and respected jurist.
Thomas Newsome was also a society leader, journalist, and clergyman who was popular for his ongoing African American history and cultural work.
The center is a recognized gathering place for the area’s African-American community, and the house was instrumental in the region’s culture and history.
The Newsome House Museum & Cultural Center is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Various educational programs and special events are held here throughout the year.
There’s no doubt that you wouldn’t want to miss out on the exciting opportunities that Newport News has to offer.
And as they are displayed here, there are plenty of things to enjoy and try while the others are still lying around.
Start planning a visit to Newport News already. Make it your next vacation destination, and you will have an unforgettable memory for yourself as there are lots and loads of things to do in Newport News.