Published: Winter 2010

First Landing State Park, Virginia Beach, Va.  

It's quite appropriate that the first place where members of the Virginia Company landed in 1607 would become the first state in the nation to launch an entire state park system. Virginia launched into history, again, with the opening of six parks on June 15, 1936. Today, Virginia has 35 parks and a bold motto of "at least one park within an hour's drive of any Virginian." The Virginia State Parks will celebrate its 75th year in 2011 and we agree that … "parks are as refreshing, invigorating, enticing, and full of life as ever."

SHM Traveler is a big fan of state parks. They offer a safe, convenient, comfortable, and affordable experience in the great outdoors of the southeast. Virginia had over 8 million visitors to its parks in 2010 with an economic impact of $200 million. This is simply more proof of the high value Americans put into their parks. Visitors to First Landing State Park in Virginia will be treated daily with beautiful sunrises and magnificent sunsets. You can enjoy a day at the beach or "discover" the beauty of the Bald Cypress Swamp and never leave the park. Campers can choose to explore on foot on one of the many board walked trails or discover nature by bike on a bike friendly trail.

Built by the CCC in the 1930's, First Landing State Park is located by the Chesapeake Bay. It is Virginia's most visited state park. It has garnered the award of being listed as a Top 100 Family Campground in 2010. Open year round, the park has a boat launch, swimming, as well as nature and history programs, hiking, biking, and picnicking. It is "total package" for the outdoor enthusiast who likes to trail, hike and be on the beach at the same time. Note to Paul – insert swamp and beach photos) It has cabins for rent and campsites for tents and RV's up to 50 feet long. It has 20 miles of hiking trails nestled over 2888 acres of beautiful Virginia wilderness.

The park's name was changed in 1997 from Seashore State Park to First Landing State Park to reflect its heritage as the first place members of Virginia Company landed in 1607. The park does offer groups specific historical, cultural and environmental programs upon request. Some good sites we found to learn more about the historical backdrop of First Landing (Cape Henry) and Jamestown include:,_Virginia

The park has a calendar full of events taking place for the rest of this year. In March, a first time class will be held to teach participants outdoor survival skills. Learn how to use a compass, start a fire, and make rope from natural material and more. A class in orienteering will be held in April. Come out and meet Smokey Bear in May and enjoy a nice spring day full of fun activities centering on wildfire prevention and wildlife conservation. Enjoy a moonlight movie in June in the park's Amphitheater. Learn about amazing creatures of the world. Movies are free and always kid-friendly. One of the biggest events of the year is the Fall Festival held in October. Activities include hay rides, pumpkin decorating, kids' crafts roasting s'mores along with special exhibits while you enjoy natural surroundings. Our favorite activity at SHM-T is hiking. First Landing has nine trails totaling 20 miles and includes both biking and fitness trails. Bald Cypress Trail is the most popular. It crosses dunes and ponds and is handicapped accessible.

The geocachers out there will be pleased to know that First Landing has an active cache. Although originally part of the 2010 Virginia State Parks Geocaching Wildlife Adventure, the park has taken over the cache. Rewards are not given for finding the hidden treasures. A 75th Anniversary Geocaching Adventure kicks off in March of 2011.

First Landing gets high marks from visitors and campers who post reviews on sites such as TripAdvisor. The many adjectives associated with First Landing include, "amazing" and "very clean." "We had a great camp site," and "the best camp store ever…it has everything," are some other comments that can found. One review states, "Our vacation spot every year." Another puts the icing on the cupcake with, "a perfect vacation spot for a family with small children."

We enjoyed reviewing First Landing State Park and hope you visit real soon. Be sure to call the park for current weather conditions and site availability. There are online reservations, but there not site specific and aren't really "reserved" until you arrive at the park. It has everything you need in a park. You won't be bored even if you stay two weeks. Happy Camping!

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