NAS Oceana and Dam Neck Annex are within the city limits of the world’s largest resort city, Virginia Beach, Va., giving station and squadron personnel the opportunities afforded by a resort area. The leading summer attraction at Virginia Beach is the 6 miles of sandy beach lined by a boardwalk.
Virginia Beach offers an exciting variety of recreational opportunities throughout the year. During the summer, the sand beaches of Virginia Beach and Dam Neck Annex offer excellent swimming and sunbathing. There is golfing, tennis and horseback riding along shore or woodland bridle paths. One may go sailing, surfing, water skiing or just strolling along miles of boardwalk. By night, the entertainment spectrum includes classical music concerts and theater performances, as well as nightclubs, jazz and discos.
The Virginia Beach area is also a paradise for those who enjoy hunting and fishing. Located in the mainstream of the Atlantic Flyway, Back Bay is a migrating stopover for many varieties of waterfowl. Hunters come by thousands for game birds in such numbers that they actually cover the bays at times. Back Bay marshes also provide plenty of sporting excitement for deer, fox, possum, raccoon and rabbit hunters.
Four kinds of game fishing are available. First there are charter trips into the Atlantic’s Calf Stream where record catches wait along the continental shelf. Next, inshore waters boast the all-time sport fishing records of channel bass, cobra and black drum. Also, you can stay on land and fish from a pier, stand in the foaming surf and cast for offshore runners or go crabbing in the Chesapeake Bay. Finally, the Back Bay region lakes and streams are havens for all kinds of freshwater fish. Proper hunting and fishing licenses are required for these activities in Virginia. For more information on Virginia hunting and fishing licenses, visit the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries at www.dgif.virginia.gov/licenses.
U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE
SERVICE, BACK BAY
NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
The Virginia Beach area showcases one of the most spectacular National Wildlife Refuges in Virginia. Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge is on the Atlantic coast in the southeastern corner of Virginia. The refuge is an important link in the system of National Wildlife Refuges administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Situated on a thin strip of coastline, Back Bay Refuge contains more than 9,250 acres of beach, dunes, woodlands and marshlands. Much of the productive marshland consists of many islands within the waters of Back Bay. These islands have excellent habitat for waterfowl. More than 250 bird species may be observed on the refuge throughout the year. Many migratory ducks and geese may be observed during the months of October through February. Within the refuge boundary, 4,600 acres of Back Bay waters have been closed to migratory bird hunting since 1939 by presidential proclamation.
Traveling inland from the Atlantic Ocean to the northern basin of Back Bay, refuge visitors will encounter the barrier beach. A barrier beach is a line of fragile sand dunes with marshlands existing behind the protective dunes. In several locations, woody vegetation is invading the marsh, and in some areas woodlands have developed. A variety of plant and animal life can be found in these diverse habitats.
More than 100,000 visitors come to Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge each year. A variety of wildlife-focused activities are available on the refuge. Some of the activities are hiking, biking, nature photography, wildlife observation, salt and freshwater fishing, nonmotorized boating and environmental education. These types of recreational activities are encouraged in the refuge insofar as it does not interfere with the primary function of the area — to serve as a sanctuary for waterfowl and wildlife. Visitors come to enjoy the unique beauty of the area, to learn about wildlife, and to participate in environmental education and wildlife-oriented recreation. Because wildlife needs to have priority on a wildlife refuge, visitors may encounter seasonal closures and special regulations during a visit.
The Bay Trail, Dune Trail and Seaside Trail meander through various refuge environments. A dike system includes more than 4 miles of road, which are open seasonally. The dike system offers excellent opportunities for wildlife viewing. Visitors may also travel through the refuge to False Cape State Park via tram tours.
The refuge is open daily during daylight hours, a half-hour before sunrise and a half-hour after sunset. Please call Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge for additionalinformation at 757-301-7329 or visit www.fws.gov/refuge/Back_Bay.
FLAME OF HOPE MEMORIAL/JET OBSERVATION PARK
The Flame of Hope Memorial is on Oceana Boulevard just outside the main gate. The park is dedicated to the memory of prisoners of war, missing in action and those killed in the service of their country. The Flame of Hope itself is lit at all times to light the way for these brave young service members to find their way home. The park is situated in such a position that it affords visitors an excellent advantage for photographing and viewing Oceana jet aircraft as they take off and land. The park includes picnic tables for use by the public.
AVIATION HISTORICAL PARK
Located just inside the main gate is the Aviation Historical Park with 13 aircraft from the past as well as the F/A-18 Hornet. You must have base access to visit the park, which is open daily.
Nearby is Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy and today, the capital of Virginia. The city houses a number of intriguing monuments and relics from its storied past: colonial-era buildings, Civil War monuments and southern plantations. Former home to Edgar Allen Poe, dancer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson and tennis star Arthur Ashe, it offers both scenic, historic and shopping opportunities unsurpassed anywhere in the Old Dominion.
It was near Charlottesville, Va., that Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States, built his dream home and named it Monticello. Not only was this architectural masterpiece of Jefferson’s design, but the nearby campus of the University of Virginia reflects much of his influence. The university’s rotunda, modeled after the Pantheon in Rome, was designed by Jefferson. Tours of both Monticello and the rotunda are available.
Traveling further west, the tourist discovers the Shenandoah Valley, with its rolling hills covering giant caverns and underground streams. The city of Staunton, queen city of the valley, is in the center of the valley and prides itself as being the birthplace of Woodrow Wilson. His home is open daily. Traveling south of Staunton, the series of natural phenomena makes one feel that nature collected beauty and deposited it here. Natural Bridge, a sheer rock arch has been carved by nature for thousands of years, offers a breathtaking view.
Nearby are other historical sites including the city of Lexington and the homes of Gens. Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. (Stonewall) Jackson. Both are buried in Lexington, and many of their memorabilia are on display daily, including Traveler, Lee’s faithful steed. All around, the names of towns ring with historical significance: McDowell, Clifton Forge and Waynesboro are all waiting for inspection by the Oceana tourist.
The Shenandoah National Park features the famous Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway and more than 300 square miles of wonderfully scenic wilderness playgrounds. The park has four campgrounds, and most of the park is open to backcountry camping. For more information on the Shenandoah Valley and its offerings, visit www.visitshenandoah.org.
In 1699, the capital of the English colony moved to nearby Williamsburg and built a beautiful city. Here, the adolescent government of the colony began to mature as the representatives from across Virginia met at the House of Burgesses. It was there that Patrick Henry protested against the stamp tax and was accused of treason, thus sparking the American Revolution. Ravaged by time and war, the colonial city of Williamsburg gave way to decay. Throughout the years, 88 buildings were built on original foundations forming the historical area of 173 acres.
A visitor to Williamsburg may browse through the 17th-century taverns and view the city from the gardens of the governor’s mansion. Horse-drawn coaches are available for real colonial transportation, and costumed guides supply a wealth of information about the various buildings and activities. In Williamsburg, the tourist is afforded a great anthology of colonial history all within an afternoon’s drive.
The Commonwealth of Virginia offers to the military family or individual a vivid course in the history of the South, the War Between the States and the American Revolution. Historical sites for these conflicts are all within a weekend driving distance of NAS Oceana.
Following their original landing at Cape Henry in 1607, the passengers of the three tiny ships — the Susan Constant, the Godspeed and the Discovery — set up a base camp on “James Town Island,” which later became the site of the first permanent English settlement in the New World. Located just 65 miles from NAS Oceana, the remains of that settlement are waiting to be viewed by military personnel and their families, offering prime subjects for photography. From the shores and flat land of the east to the memory-worn mountains of the Blue Ridge, sheltering the Beautiful Shenandoah Valley, the state is a haven for tourists.
ASSOCIATION OF NAVAL AVIATION
The Association of Naval Aviation is a professional, nonprofit, educational and fraternal society of naval aviation whose main purpose is to educate the public and our national leaders on the vital roles of Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard aviation as key elements of our national defense posture. ANA continuously seeks to define the key issues impacting naval aviation through published writings, symposia, speeches and discussions with various interest groups. ANA also seeks to foster the strong pride, esprit and fraternal bonds that exist among those involved in naval aviation.
The national headquarters of ANA is in Alexandria, Virginia, which allows the organization to stay abreast of programs and policies that affect naval aviation. The association also has 60 regional squadrons as well as squadrons in Italy, Malta, France and Australia. Among the largest and most active units is the Hampton Roads Squadron. The squadron hosts many social functions and has an active website with news, articles and other naval aviation information. For more information on the Hampton Roads Squadron, visit www.HRANA.org.
NAVAL AIR STATIONOCEANA AIR SHOW
NAS Oceana provides an action-packed weekend for the entire family every September with its award-winning air show. Showcasing the world’s finest aviators, the air show features acts such as the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, Dale Snodgrass, the U.S. Navy Leap Frog Parachute Team and much more. The air show also features golf tournaments, live music, fireworks and fun entertainment for kids of all ages. Visit www.oceanaairshow.com for more information on this annual event.
AREA POINTS OF INTEREST
Journey through the world’s oceans at Nauticus, an interactive science and technology center that showcases the naval, economic and nautical power of the sea. Featuring more than 150 exhibits including computer and video interactive, commerce and military-related displays, and exotic aquaria, Nauticus offers a fun and exciting educational experience for all ages. Nauticus is also home to the USS Wisconsin, one of the largest and last battleships built by the U.S. Navy. Self-guided and guided tours of the battleship are available. For more information, visit www.nauticus.org.
THE HAMPTON ROADS NAVAL MUSEUM
Exhibits trace the history of the United States Navy in Hampton Roads from the Revolutionary War through the establishment of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The National Maritime Center is in downtown Norfolk on the second floor of Nauticus. Admission is free. Hours are seasonal; check the website for current hours of operation. For more information call 757-322-2987 or visit www.hrnm.navy.mil.
ARMY TRANSPORTATIONMUSEUM, FORT EUSTIS
The Army Transportation Museum is devoted entirely to the history of U.S. Army transportation from colonial days to present. It offers a unique glimpse of the importance of logistical support to the Army and is a must when visiting the Virginia Peninsula. The museum is open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. The gift shop inside the museum offers a variety of transportation-related gifts, souvenirs, T-shirts, toys, books and models. Admission is free, and plenty of parking is available.
FIRST LANDING CROSS ANDCAPE HENRY LIGHTHOUSES
The First Landing Cross marks the landing of the first permanent settlers in 1607, who eventually founded Jamestown. Nearby, the original stone Old Cape Henry Lighthouse was authorized by George Washington. Completed in 1792, it is the third oldest lighthouse still standing in the U.S. and is the oldest on the Chesapeake Bay. A newer lighthouse was built in 1881, only 357 feet to the southeast, and is still in use.
Nine galleries arranged in two levels circle the rotunda and tell the story of Gen. MacArthur and the millions of American men and women who served in the United States armed forces from the Civil War through the Korean War. The memorial’s theater contains several special exhibit galleries and continuously shows a 22-minute film on the life and times of General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, one of the most colorful and controversial men in American history. The gift shop displays MacArthur’s 1950 Chrysler Imperial limousine, which he used from 1950 to the end of his life. The museum proper is housed in Norfolk’s stately 19th-century City Hall. A monumental rotunda is the general and his wife’s final resting place, where they are surrounded by inscriptions, banners and flags heralding the general’s long and glorious career. The MacArthur Memorial is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free. Visit www.macarthurmemorial.org for more information.
FIRST LANDING STATE PARK
This nearly 2,900-acre park in Virginia Beach off U.S. Highway 60 contains rare plants and wildlife and a network of trails. The park offers cabins, campsites with water and electric hookups, picnic areas, a camp store with bicycle rentals, an amphitheater and more. The park’s Chesapeake Bay Center features historical and educational exhibits. The park is open year-round. For more information, visit www.dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/first-landing.shtml.
OLD COAST GUARD STATION
The Old Coast Guard Station honors and preserves the history of the U.S. Life-Saving and Coast Guard services. The museum’s two galleries are housed in a 1903 Coast Guard station, which is at 2401 Atlantic Ave. in Virginia Beach. The museum contains ship models, scrimshaw and an exhibit of the wreck of the Dictator. For more information, visit www.oldcoastguardstation.com.
OTHER POINTS OF INTEREST
Other local points of interest include the Hermitage Museum & Gardens, the Mariners’ Museum, the Naval Aviation Monument, the Moses Myers House, Naval Station Norfolk, the Virginia Living Museum, the Adam Thoroughgood House, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, the Chrysler Museum of Art, the Norfolk Botanical Gardens, Busch Gardens, the Virginia Air & Space Center and the Hampton History Museum.