45 Things To Do While Stationed At Fort Lee!

Are you here for six months or a 3-year tour? Don’t allow a potential lack of knowledge about the area to slow you down; instead do what the locals do …Get out and about……. EXPLORE! There’s not a shortage of things to do around Fort Lee. Whether it is in the Tri-Cities or a day trips away we’ve got a list to get you started.

1.Petersburg National Battlefield

Walk in the footsteps of Civil War soldiers and learn more about the Richmond–Petersburg Campaign,  a series of battles around Petersburg, Virginia, fought from June 9, 1864, to March 25, 1865, during the American Civil War which preceded General Robert E. Lee’s  (Which Fort Lee is named after) surrender later on at Appomattox County Courthouse.

2. Visit A Plantation

Meander down scenic Route 5 and visit a treasure from three centuries ago. The James River Plantations along scenic Virginia Route 5 in Charles City County help document the first westward expansion of English-speaking America.

3. Visit A Virginia Fish Hatchery

With just a 30-minute drive from FortLee, your family can enjoy a visit to a quaint fish hatchery on more than 440 acres of what once was part of Berkeley Plantation. Harrison Lake Fish Hatchery in CharlesCity (across the water from Hopewell) is not your typical hatchery! Recreational opportunities at Harrison Lake NFH include fishing, boating, hiking, wildlife watching, trails and picnicking!

4. Pocohontas State Park

One of the more popular parks in Virginia, Pocahontas State Park , is easily accessible from Fort Lee. It is also the largest State Park in Virginia. It was the first recreational park in the Richmond-Petersburg-Hopewell area and has more than 7,600 acres and two small lakes. It is popular with Richmond families for cooling off in the summer and hosts a yearly concert series – Pocahontas Live.

5. Mine For Gems

How about a little fun and education while you try your hand at mining? Lucky Lake Gem Mine and Morefield Mine are both under an hour away from Fort Lee. While your visiting Morefield be sure to head into town to visit Amelia Courthouse. After General Robert E. Lee retreated from Petersburg, in 1865, he spent April 4 and 5 here waiting for supplies from Richmond that never came. Grab a bite to eat at Black Forest Haus before heading home.

6, Dogwood Dell

With a little bit of everything, there is surely something that will suit your family. Catch FREE plays, concerts, fireworks, festival through the summer. For a small town feel, pay this small amphitheater a visit. There is also a dog park, play ground and walking trails. Dogwood Dell is located next to Byrd Park and Maymont Park.

7. Point Of Rocks Park

For a diverse natural area and a rich history visit this public park in Chester. The park contains the usual park amenities such as picnic shelters, play equipment, tennis and basketball courts and fields for football, soccer, and baseball . The gem of Point of Rocks is the system of nature trails, which includes a boardwalk through the freshwater tidal marsh of Ashton Creek. The park land was also the southern end of the Union position during the Bermuda Hundred Campaign. Remnants of Union earthworks can be seen along the park road and trails.

8. Dutch Gap Conservation Area

Visit this 810-acre environmental treasure for the opportunity to see and photograph numerous birds, catch fish from one of the several public docks, or just to hike along the trails. The 4.5 Dutch Gap Trail is a multiuse trail that takes visitors along bottomlands, meadows, a small pond and wetlands and circumnavigates the tidal lagoon. This is one of Fort Lee Families favorite outdoor spots.

9. Henricus Historical Park

Don’t get stuck in traffic on 64 trying to visit the Williamsburg area, stay local and pay a visit to the second successful English city in the New World- Henricus! Visiting is affordable and they regularly also participate in Blue Star Museum , which makes it FREE for military from Memorial Day through Labor Day each year. It has family friendly programs year round and is the site of many special events like Christmas Parade of Lights by boat.

10.Pony Pasture

Plenty of little spaces to relax in the water, shaped by years of erosion from the rapids for families who can’t make it to the beach. Pony Pasture is a favorite place for Richmond families to cool off and a popular location to launch a  kayak, canoe, raft or inner tube. For the brave you can try to venture through the Class II rapids to Williams Island, an uninhabited 100-acre stretch of land that is nestled in the middle of the James River.

11. Visit A National Wildlife Refuge

Presquile National Wildlife Refuge is on an island in the James River slightly northeast of Hopewell. The Refuge may be visited only with advance reservations or during refuge sponsored events. The Refuge routinely hosts field days and tours annually that allow the public to visit. Advance registration may be required, however.

12. Visit Crewe, Virginia

A little town that owes it’s existence to the Norfolk & Western (N&W) Railroad. For less than a hour in the car, you can visit The Crewe Railroad Museum , a ‘not-for-profit” memorial to the many residents of Crewe and the surrounding areas that lived here and were employed by the N&W Railroad. It is staffed and managed by volunteers and offers many opportunities to climb on real trains!

13, Visit Blackstone

Located near Crewe, Blackstone is home to the FREE Robert Thomas Carriage Museum, which houses a collection of 24 completely restored horse-drawn carriages, sleighs & buggies and Schwartz Tavern, a fully restored Revolutionary War Era Tavern. It’s also home to Fort Pickett where you can also fish or just pop into the PX for small staples. Blackstone draws visitors to the Bevell’s Ace Hardware store. Each December they display a model train village (over 500 square feet) that is worth driving to see. For a delicious treat, pop into Blackstone Herb Cottage on a Sunday for brunch. Our family has been known to drive from Fort Lee just for brunch!

14. Weston Plantation’s Sounds of Summer

Take in a summer concert on the shores of the Appomattox River at the Historical Weston Plantation in Hopewell. Weston is on the National Register of Historical Places and is considered notable for preserving much of its original interior, especially its distinctive moldings, wainscoting and chair rails. Bring your own beverage and snack and explore music on it’s historical lawn.

15. Kings Dominion

Virginia’s premier themed amusement park, need we say more? Special days geared towards military members that include free admission and plenty of fun for the whole family make this area amusement a must when stationed at Fort Lee.

16. Busch Gardens

Attractions for the whole family including rides, shows, animal encounters and more. This amusement park is popular with Fort Lee families because it participates in the Waves of Honor program , which allows service members and up to three dependents to get in free each year.

17. Children’s Museum of Richmond

Interactive exhibits in three Richmond locations that enable kids to move, climb, farm, draw, play & learn about their world. A cost friendly place for Fort Lee families with younger kids to visit. CMOR participates in $1 Target Family Nights and has 15 cent days too!

18.Hollywood Cemetery

More than a cemetery,  Hollywood is a great example of the rural garden style cemetery. You can learn about the cemetery’s history, artwork, symbolism and some it’s more famous residents, including well-known writers and politicians by taking in a guided tour. Want to visit on your own? Be sure to look for Confederate notables and the graves of two U.S. Presidents, James Monroe and John Tyler.

19. Take A Ghost Tour

Find out why Petersburg is such a “spirited” city and visit some of the town’s most historic buildings. Learn details about Petersburg that you haven’t heard in a history class with a 90-minute ghost tour.

20. Visit A Farmers Market

Want to test out the freshest and tastiest produce in Virginia? The farmers market is your place! With regional produce like Hanover tomatoes and Virginia peanuts, honey and more on display the local farmer’s markets allow you to bump into friends and meet local farmers face to face.

21. Pick A Fresh Virginia Pumpkin

Autumn means a burst of color on the trees and pumpkins in the fields. Head to a local farm to take a hay ride, pick pumpkins, and get lost in a corn maze. Support Virginia agriculture with your family by visiting a local farm for a fall festival.

22. Exercise

Did we really mention this? Yes, we did!  The gym facilities and outdoor tracks located on Fort Lee are FREE to use and one of your benefits!  Fort Lee Gyms also offer low-cost exercise classes if you prefer group settings. If that doesn’t tickle your fancy there are miles of trails around Fort Lee for walking and running.

23. Check Out A Book

Visit the local library. Libraries loan books, movies, and video games as well as give access to free digital content. Today’s library is more than a place for a bookworm. Local libraries offer free fitness programs, summer reading programs and cater to the home school community too!

24. Visit The Pocahontas Island Black History Museum

The Pocahontas Island Black History Museum, located on the historic Pocahontas Island in Petersburg, Virginia and a stone’s throw from the Appomattox River, was once a stop on the Underground Railroad. Claimed as one of the oldest black communities in the country it is worth a visit to this free museum to help keep history alive. While it is free, donations are encouraged.

25. Visit Old Towne Petersburg

Petersburg may be the source of unnerving chatter about crime, but I assure you if you head downtown you’ll find a thriving district that is safe and enjoyable. With plenty of popular restaurants like Dixie and Croaker Spot (which also has a Richmond location) mixed among antique galleries, boutiques, craft shops, restaurants, and events like First Fridays, downtown Petersburg is worth a visit.  Lunch, shop at the weekend Farmers Market or snap a memorable photo against a historical streets brick backdrop.

26. Join The VFW

More than men in silly hats, If you have received a campaign medal for overseas service; have served 30 consecutive or 60 non-consecutive days in Korea; or have ever received hostile fire or imminent danger pay, then you’re eligible to join the Veterans of Foreign Wars ranks. Even if you don’t fit that criteria, you may still be eligible to join the Men or Women’s Axillary, a supportive arm of the VFW. Post 637 in Hopewell helps decorate Historical City Point Cemetery for Memorial Day , serves the veterans at Hunter Holmes McGuire Center in Richmond, Participates in the Virginia War Memorial ceremonies and serves the local community. Consider joining any local chapter of the VFW even if just for a year.

27. Farmers Bank

In Petersburg, there is a well-preserved 19th-century bank and it’s the oldest standing building in Virginia that was created as a bank! Do not miss seeing what they did to secure a 400 pound safe every night.

28. Edgar Allen Poe Museum

It may be small, but the Edgar Allen Poe museum houses the largest collection of Poe’s works and memorabilia. For any Poe fan, this museum is not to be missed for the magnitude of information that it holds. Don’t miss the 3-D maps of Richmond during Poe’s years spent there.

29. Watch A Horse Race

Colonial Downs is Virginia’s only pari-mutuel horse racetrack. Did you know that eighty percent of the summer thoroughbred races are held over the Secretariat Turf Course, which at 180 feet wide, is the widest grass surface of any track in North America. The location is also home to other events like Pro Rodeos.

30. Nascar

Richmond is home to the Richmond International Raceway.  If your a Nascar fan, entertainment is just a short drive north of Fort Lee.

40. Go To The Beach

Virginia has a long Atlantic Ocean coastline. There are beaches big and small to suit individual families. From the Virginia Beach oceanfront to the warm, but overlooked Eastern Shore and great little beaches in between, Fort Lee families will find a beach that’s perfect for them in Virginia.

41. Visit The Mountains

Day trip it to pick apples in the fall, visit the homes of Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe or James Madison. Visit America’s oldest show cave or unwind at a winery. Less than a  two-hour car ride will deliver you to the mountains.

42. Shenandoah National Park

Cascading waterfalls, spectacular vistas, quiet wooded hollows and 200,000 acres of protected lands invite you to take a hike, picnic with the family or camp amongst the wildlife. Skyline Drive is beautiful in the fall! Take advantage of the annual pass for the military to visit this park and other National Parks.

43. Washington DC

Our Nationals Capitol ……Two hours from Fort Lee finds you there. Washington D.C is a must! D.C is family friendly, and there is a lot to do! Save some money by reserving a room on a military installation like Fort Belvoir, Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Andrews Airforce Base or one of several other military installations in closer proximity.  Make the most of your visit by taking advantage of all the FREE museums and activities.

44. Historical Triangle

It doesn’t matter where you were born, nowhere else tells the exciting story of America’s history quite as vividly than in America’s Historic Triangle: Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown. An area rich in history, yet quaint and with small town charm.  Go for the history, play at the amusement park and beaches!

45. Explore Fort Lee

So there are a few little gems right here on the installation like The U.S Army Women’s Museum and The U.S Quartermaster Museum but, you’ve probably never heard of little spots like the Regional Archaeological Curation Facility . The facility houses a small exhibit room that that contains over 500 artifacts on display. It is open to the public. There is also a 27-hole championship golf course located at Fort Lee. The original 18 holes (Red and White) were built in 1947 and a pool to cool off in the summer time.

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