Hampton Fun for Sailors

Sailor-Friendly Destinations and Festivities in Hampton, Virginia

Walkability, history, hospitality, and fun: these are four reasons to visit Hampton, VA. And we didn’t even mention the sailing! Of course, sailors love this city at the bottom of the Chesapeake Bay, especially in June when racing sailors descend upon Hampton Yacht Club for its signature Southern Bay Race Week (SBRW) May 31-June 2. 

Even if you’re not a competitive sailor, it’s worth driving into town or cruising in to dock at the Hampton Public Piers and explore this lively waterfront city. Here are places to visit and upcoming festivities in Hampton. To learn more about SBRW, find faithful SpinSheet reporter Lin McCarthy’s report on page 72 of our June 2024 issue.

virginia air and space museum hampton virginia
Sailors may visit The Virginia Air and Space Museum, which is an easy walk from the Hampton Public Piers. Photo by Sittie Karina Anayatin-Guiaman/ Facebook

Space Out

Only a three-minute walk from Hampton Public Piers, the Virginia Air & Space Science Center celebrates more than 25 years of educational excellence as the official visitor center for NASA Langley Research Center. Located in Hampton, the birthplace of America’s space program, the center features interactive aviation exhibits spanning 100 years of flight, more than 30 historic aircraft, a hands-on space exploration gallery, unique space flight artifacts, and more. The center is home to the Apollo 12 Command Module and the Orion PA-1 Test Vehicle.

The current IMAX movies showing are: “Cities of the Future,” “Deep Sky,” and “Astronaut: Ocean to Orbit.” 

There Be Pirates

Is it a coincidence that Hampton, VA, is overrun by pirates on the same weekend as Hampton Yacht Club’s Southern Bay Race Week? We think not. From May 31 to June 2, the waterfront comes alive with dozens of pirate re-enactors, costumed in historically accurate garb, who transform today’s Hampton into the busy seaport of yesterday. Led by Blackbeard the Pirate, re-enactors help visitors step back in time and re-live the history and legends of 1718 Hampton. Much of it centered on Mill Point Park, the festival offers a variety of children’s activities, live musical entertainment, fireworks, period vendors, arts and crafts, and people-watching galore.

Friday, May 31—Grand Pirate’s Bash, 7 to 10 p.m. at Virginia Air & Space Center.

Saturday, June 1—Festival Hours 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., with fireworks over the Hampton River at 9:30 p.m.

Sunday, June 2—Festival continues beginning at noon with “The Last Huzzah” at 6 p.m.

For details in links, visit the events page at visithampton.com.

Is it a coincidence that Hampton is overrun by pirates on the same weekend racing sailors come for Southern Bay Race Week? We think not. Photo by SpinSheet

What’s New at the Hampton History Museum?

An eight-minute walk from Hampton Public Piers will take you to the Hampton History Museum. As well as its thought-provoking standing exhibits, check out the June exhibit by artisans Dave Lee of Hatton Cross Steampunk, Mike Parodi of Master Creations Enterprises, Inc., and the merchants from A Steampunked Life with new contraptions, conveyances to display and demonstrate, and accoutrements for purchase to conjure up a time when airships were commonplace and steam power ruled the world; an alternative Victorian era and an imagined Wild West frontier.

Museum admission is free the weekend of the Blackbeard Pirate Festival: Saturday, June 1, 9 a.m.  to 5 p.m.; Sunday, June 2, 1 to 5 p.m. Find free parking in the garage across the street from the museum.

public pier hampton
The Hampton waterfront on the Hampton River off the Chesapeake Bay is very walkable.

Paddle Around Hampton

Shored Up offers several ways to see Hampton by kayak:

  • Birds, Bees & Trees Tour—Saturday June 8, 9 a.m. to noon. Explore the beauty of the Upper Hampton River during nesting season! See eagle, osprey, heron, and egret nests and listen for the peeps of the chicks. Learn about special trees and meet a local beekeeper and wildlife rescuer.
  • Phoebus Phun on Tap Tour—Saturday June 22, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Kayak your way around Hampton waters and end with a local craft cider from Sly Clyde Ciderworks. Bring a friend and/or make a friend on this “phun” tour!
  • Downtown Hampton Paddle & Pint—Saturday July 13, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Paddle in historic downtown Hampton and discover its unique seafood history as well as present-day restoration efforts. Reward yourself after the paddle with a cold pint or other beverage at Bull Island Brewing Company.
hampton carrousel
The carousel next to the Hampton Public Piers is an added bonus for younger visiting sailors.

Bluegrass, Blues, and Brew

From June 8 -10 Hampton Arts hosts its Coastal Virginia Bluegrass & Brew Festival at the American Theater, a restored 1908 vaudeville house and current performing arts center, in the Phoebus neighborhood of Hampton. The event features Chicken Wire Empire, the Jacob Jolliff Band, and Damn Tall Buildings Bluegrass Band. Learn more and find ticket links on the events page at visithampton.com.

13th Annual Day of Remembrance

Join The Sankofa Projects on Outlook Beach on Fort Monroe as they educate and celebrate the richness and diversity of the African diaspora and bring awareness to this tragic chapter in American and global history. The program includes African drumming, songs, dance, poetry, historical presentations, and traditional African libations. June 8, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Sunset Music Series

Make your way to the Virginia Air and Space Science Center for the last show in its three-part Sunset Music Series on June 27 from 6 to 8 p.m. (rain or shine), featuring Better by Tuesday.

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