View Full Version : Question for those in the Hampton Roads area

Matt Meiser
07-19-2015, 6:57 PM
We are thinking of taking our vacation in that area next year. Looking at renting a place on the Ware River, east of Gloucester, north of the river. Real world driving conditions, how bad would that be to get to Norfolk and Williamsburg for day trips? How close to above average options for food (we'd probably eat out 1 meal a day, eat the rest at the cottage.). Decent grocery stores?

Ted Calver
07-20-2015, 12:17 AM
I'm in Yorktown and usually take the Colonial Parkway to Williamsburg because I love the scenery. From my house, it's about a 25 minute drive @ the 45mph speed limit on the parkway. Gloucester Courthouse is about a half an hour drive from me, so depending how far from Gloucester you are, you are probably looking at 1.25-1.5 hours and one toll bridge (the Coleman at Yorktown) to get to Williamsburg. From Gloucester Courthouse to Norfolk is going to also be about 1.25-1.5 hours, depending on the traffic including one toll bridge and a toll free bridge tunnel (Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel(HRBT)). The HRBT gets clogged daily by work time traffic and gets even more clogged when you add summer visitors going to Virginia Beach. You will find a lot of work time traffic on rt17 as well. I can't help much with restaurants. Maybe Keith Outten will chime in.

Keith Outten
07-20-2015, 1:14 AM

You will be just a couple of miles from the courthouse area and will find grocery stores, shopping and restaurants on Route 17 about one mile from the Courthouse.

Matt Meiser
07-20-2015, 9:14 AM
It looks like about 8 miles from the place we are looking to rent to the courthouse.

We did Williamsburg about 10 years ago and back then we camped in Willamsburg. Our daughter was just a toddler so she doesn't even remember it. She'll be going to DC with a stop on the way at Gettysburg for her 8th grade class trip a few weeks before we'd be taking this trip so she'll either be on history overload or excited to see what came before what she sees in DC. We figure we'll play going to Colonial Willamsburg by ear. In Williamsburg, all the rentals seem to be condos and timeshares and we'd like something a little more laid back with some scenery. Found a few closer to the Yorktown bridge but keep going back to this one because its so much nicer.

Among the other options we're considering is Virginia Beach but its more costly to stay and I've heard mixed things about how nice it is--I've only been out there for dinners about 4-5 times while in Chesapeake and Suffolk on business so we didn't see much. VA is about the limit of our self-imposed driving distance radius for this trip.

Scott Shepherd
07-20-2015, 10:15 AM
Be VERY aware of traffic. If you are considering staying in VA Beach or Norfolk, I would not recommend trying to commute and retain sanity to Williamsburg. You basically (correct me if I'm wrong guys in that area), have two main options from getting from the beach area to the mainland (460 is kind of out of the way). Both are tunnels and both are horrific when it comes to traffic at rush hours of the day. I had to pick up some materials from Chesapeake about a month ago. That's about 1 hour and 40 minutes drive from us. Going there took 2 hours 15 minutes because of traffic, coming home took 3 1/2 hours. One tunnel has a car blocking one lane (happens ALL the time), and the other tunnel was backed up because everyone was trying to get around the tunnel with the car blocking one lane.

My advice, pick one side of the tunnel and stay on that side of it as much as you can. If you have to use the tunnel, do it between 10 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon. You might get lucky and drive right through at rush hour, but if you don't, it's a LONG wait, sitting there in downtown areas, just waiting in line for 1 hour just to GET onto the interstate that's backed up for the next hour. You could easily spend 2 hours sitting still.

In case you haven't noticed, I'm not a fan of traveling there. I love the places, and I love being in that area, it's a great area, but the traffic is some of the worst I've ever been in, and that takes Washington, DC into consideration. When you lose to DC traffic, you've got a problem :)

Keith Outten
07-20-2015, 12:49 PM

Don't forget that the weather in Hampton Roads in July and August is generally very hot combined with high humidity. I know that it can be pretty hot in your neck of the woods when you in the vicinity of any of the great lakes so it might not be much of a shock.
The heat index today is 105 degrees and its pretty miserable outside mostly because of the high humidity.

Matt Meiser
07-20-2015, 1:26 PM
Scott, good to know. I though the naval Museum in Norfolk was the one with 3 ships, but I see its "just" the Wisconsin. Must be mixing it up with another. That would have been our main reason for going to Norfolk.

We're looking at June. 105 heat index here would definitely be hot here. Saturday it was in the upper 90's--hottest heat index in 2 years.

Brian W Smith
07-20-2015, 4:36 PM
In a perfect world Matt,you'd come......from Mi to our house,here in the mnts(trust me).Then you would make an assault on the historic areas of which you speak.

On our end,you'd hardly be noticed.Just sayin,there's much to be be seen,and done,on the venture from here twds there......it's all downhill,haha.

We have guests here regularly......besides 4 star meals,it's pretty brainless,duh.

Keith Outten
07-20-2015, 8:02 PM

The three ships are at Jamestown.

Matt Meiser
07-20-2015, 8:49 PM
Oh, i know about those. Isn't there somewhere on the east coast with an aircraft carrier and two other naval ships?

Scott Shepherd
07-20-2015, 9:22 PM
I'm sure someone here is more familiar with it than I am, but it seems to me that the available ships come and go through Norfolk. I've been on a carrier there and seen a number of ships in dock and I've seen it look almost vacant at times.

Matt Meiser
07-20-2015, 9:36 PM
I found it--its in Charleston, SC. When I was about 12 we did a family vacation south to Macon, GA to see my great grandmother, then east to Savannah north to Maryland. A lot of it has blurred together.

Rich Riddle
07-20-2015, 9:51 PM

If you take the interstate into the Hampton Roads area, avoid rush hour traffic at all costs. The interstate is two lanes for much of the trip and can prove brutal, especially if there is a disabled car or wreck. It's a great scene to see the naval vessels all lined up like soldiers though. Have fun.

Karl Andersson
07-21-2015, 8:21 AM
The Newport News Mariner's Museum is surprisingly good for an hour or two; lots of artifacts, a huge ship model collection, and other interesting things. The entrance used to be flanked by two enormous seahorse woodcarvings done for the museum by one of the last figurehead carvers (William Geggie)- although the museum has done some serious remodeling since I was there last, I hope they still have the carvings.

Keith Outten
07-21-2015, 10:26 AM
Driving East on Interstate 64 once you exit from the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel look to your right, the view of the Norfolk Naval Station is quite impressive. You will often see 5 nuclear aircraft carriers in a row, a very rare sight to see . You may on occasion see one of these giant carriers passing by over the HRBT and at times over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel entering the Chesapeake Bay. Hampton Roads, which is actually a body of water not a regional area, is said to be the best natural harbor in the world which is why Newport News Shipbuilding and the Norfolk Naval Base are here.

The Mariners Museum is a dynamic place, they are constantly revolving displays and bring new artifacts into the museum. The new Monitor Ironclad exhibit is impressive and contains a full scale Monitor built by the Newport News Shipbuilding Apprentice Program as well as the original turret, propeller and engine parts on display. There are also rooms to walk though that represent the internal areas of both the Monitor and the Merrimack, the experience is a unique look back to the past.

The City of Hampton is the oldest continuously setteled city in America established in 1610. In downtown Hampton you can visit the NASA Air and Space Museum and Historic Fort Monroe at the East end of the city.

Matt Meiser
07-22-2015, 2:39 PM
My wife is working on getting this booked. This could well end up being our last big family vacation as my daughter will be headed into high school so we're thinking of taking a second week and either heading north to Baltimore and Philly or south toward the NC coast and Charlotte. We'd like to go even further south but don't want to end up too far from home. We need to figure out if our budget will allow that over the next few months.

Jim Becker
07-23-2015, 11:49 AM
We vacationed two years ago a bit south of there in Kure Beach (curry beach) near Wilmington using a HomeAway rental. But we did stop in the Hampton Roads area and had a nice visit with Keith. :)

Jerry Bruette
07-23-2015, 6:19 PM
Visited my son when he was stationed there and we went to Nauticus, thought the tour of the Wisconsin and the other attractions was worth the cost. We went to Virginia Beach to the Lynnhaven Fish House for supper and was extremely happy with the seafood they served.

Keith Outten
07-24-2015, 8:26 AM

The battleship Wisconsin is on my short list of things to do this fall when the temperatures improve. I am a Member of the Mariners Museum and have been taking lots of trips there to catch up with all the new exhibits this year and my youngest daughter and I are planning to visit the Confederate War Museum in Richmond soon.

Matt Meiser
10-01-2015, 9:17 AM
Continuing to make plans...assuming its still standing after this week :eek: we have reserved the place we want for a week. I'm sure we'll spend at least 2 days in Williamsburg at the outlet malls, tourist attractions, and possibly Colonial Williamsburg. We know about Jamestown and Yorktown and may visit those (TBD how much history we'll do since my wife and I have seen some of it about 10 years ago and my daughter will have just spent a week in DC and Gettysburg and my be ready for a break from that.) We plan to spend a significant part of the time doing nothing as well. What's worth seeing north from say Yorktown on the west side of the bay, probably no further north than Fredericksburg? Any picturesque small towns and the like that would be interesting to visit and are worth the drive?