Virginia’s most visited state park, First Landing State Park, is an oasis within the bustling Virginia Beach area.
It’s also where English colonists first landed in 1607 before pushing up the James River to establish Jamestown.
The area is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as Seashore State Park Historic District and you can learn more about this historical site inside of the Visitor Center.
This Virginia State Park’s 2,888 acres and 1.5 miles of sandy beach offers visitors a chance to swim, fish, camp and explore the wetlands and maritime forests by foot or kayak.
Inside of this historical park not only will you discover trails, a beach, campground and picnic area but also a conference center, 2 gift shops, a well stocked camp store, 24 hour laundry facility and modern bathhouses.
These facilities are worth checking out during your visit:
- The Chesapeake Bay Center – A large conference center that houses historical and educational exhibits. This center and the outdoor courtyard, pavilion and amphitheater may be reserved individually for special events.
- The Cape Snack Bar & Gifts – This is where you’ll find snacks, drinks and souvenirs. It’s located inside of the main office and open seasonally.
- The Trail Center & Gift Shop – Information on the trail system plus trail guides and souvenirs. This center also has exhibits of the park’s natural and cultural resources.
Here are some of the activities that you can do during your visit to First Landing State Park:
Swimming at First Landing State Park
First Landing State Park has a 1.5 mile sandy beach that runs along the shores of Chesapeake Bay. Swimming is at your own risk as there are no lifeguards in the beach area.
There are no designated swimming areas inside the park, however, swimming at the Narrows is prohibited because of the strong currents.
Boating at First Landing State Park
The Narrows at First Landing State Park is a great place to enter the water in your kayak or canoe and explore.
There’s also a boat launch in this area for motorboats and other small water craft.
Access to the Narrows is located at the 64th St extension on the south side of the park.
Guided kayak tours are available seasonally as well as kayak and canoe rentals.
Fishing at First Landing State Park
The Narrows is also the best spot to fish at First Landing State Park. Here you can fish for crabs, bass, flounder, cobia or tuna. Fish from your boat or from the dock.
Remember to pick up a saltwater fishing license ahead of time. Virginia fishing licenses can be purchased online here.
Trails at First Landing State Park
There are 20 miles of trails to explore inside of First Landing State Park.
Many of these trails wind past cypress swamps, salt marshes, freshwater wetlands and through maritime forest and dunes.
Along these 10 trails you’ll discover interesting information about the area’s history and how the mostly African-American Civilian Conservation Corps created the park during the 1930s.
Only two trails are open for bikes – the Cape Henry trail and Live Oak trail, and bicycle rentals are available at The Bay camp store.
Trail guide books are available inside the Trail Center where you can also pick up information on guided tours and other programs.
These are a few of the more popular trails inside the park:
- Bald Cypress Trail – This 1.6 mile easy trail is probably the most popular one at First Landing State Park. Its well marked and easy to navigate path crosses dunes, bridges over ponds and offers beautiful views of the wetlands.
- Cape Henry Trail – A 10 mile trail that is easy to navigate across its paved boardwalk section before it becomes a gravel path. This long trail through the park is well marked and has benches scattered along its route for resting and taking in the scenery.
- White Hill Lake Trail – This moderate trail is 8 miles long and offers an up close view of the diverse habitats within the park.
Wildlife Viewing at First Landing State Park
Since there are many habitats within the park, many rare plants, flowers and wildlife may be seen here.
While exploring the trails you’ll probably see squirrels, chipmunks and other small creatures as well as lizards, snakes, salamanders and frogs.
Birds such as herons, woodpeckers, osprey and owls may also be sighted amongst the trees, trails and waterways throughout the park.
Lodging at First Landing State Park
First Landing State Park has a campground, cabins and yurts for guests wanting to stay overnight.
The seasonal campground is open between March and December and has over 200 campsites. 108 of these sites have electricity and water connections (20-, 30- and 50-amp) and many can accommodate RVs up to 50 feet.
A group camping area is available near the main campground. Those wishing to camp in this section must purchase at least 3 campsites together. These tent only sites do not have electric or water hookups.
Each campsite has a picnic table and fire grill and access to hot showers and modern restrooms.
The 4 yurts are located along Chesapeake Bay in the dune area. Each yurt has a bunk bed that sleeps 3 plus a dining table, chairs, sofa, large wooden deck, 2 picnic tables, a grill and a fire ring.
The yurts do not allow pets, smoking or cooking inside and also do not have electricity, water, heat, air conditioning or linens.
The 20 cabins are located across Shore Drive and do not have views of the water.
Each cabin has 2 bedrooms, a bathroom, a fully equipped kitchen and open dining/living area with rustic furniture and a screened porch plus a deck and grill. Cabins 7-20 have tvs and dvd players (no cable or antenna).
It’s important that you bring your confirmation letter with you when staying in a cabin. Your reservation number is part of a passcode that you’ll need to get into your cabin.
You’ll also need to bring your own bed linens, food, dishwashing liquid and towels, coffee and filters, salt and pepper, bath towels and toiletries and activities such as board games, cards, magazines and books.
Pets at First Landing State Park
Pets are allowed inside the park and in the beach area but must be kept on a leash no longer than 6 feet or in an enclosed area.
Please clean up after your pet and do not leave them unattended; and be sure to bring proof of a rabies vaccination (required in Virginia Beach).
Attractions Near First Landing State Park
First Landing State Park
2500 Shore Dr
Virginia Beach, VA 23451
Visit here For more information about the Virginia Beach WAVE buses that run seasonally between the park and the resort areas.
– Weekends are the busiest, expect delays. Once parking has reached capacity guests will be turned away.
– First Landing State Park is located next to a military training center. The center operates year round and often past midnight. Don’t be alarmed by any unusual noises and sights, there is never any danger to park guests.
Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at First Landing State Park: