Air Power Park

While researching FREE places to go in Hampton on our trip to Bluebird Gap Farms (read about it here), I discovered the Air Power Park. Hampton has a rich history of air and space travel. I had never been to Air Power Park, but Neil remembers going as a child. The museum is open 9:00 am- 4:30 pm year round, seven days a week except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day.
In the 15 acre park you can go on a self guided tour of jets, missiles, and rockets. (One of the casings held a nuclear warhead... that's scary.) There were about 20 items outside and a small museum inside with 425 models and information on the history of USAAR/USAF at Langley.

One cool thing that we learned was that they have a few picnic tables and a canoe and kayak launch. This would be a fun place to go explore, canoe, and come back for a picnic lunch. Parking is free also. They also have a playground with slides, swings, and climbing items, but for some reason (too busy playing) I forgot to snap a picture of it.

We chose to walk around and explore outside first. One of the things we saw was this time capsule. Pretty cool, it will be opened in 2065. I do wish that inside it had said what was in it. 

You can see some orange fencing in some of the pictures. They are in the process of building a hiking trail that will lead to Hampton's Power Plant area where Bass Pro Shop is located. They are hoping to open this around January which will be another cool feature. 

When we walked inside, there was a friendly man waiting for us. He gave us all kinds of information, all about the park, about the Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach, a brochure with a list of aviation museums from Maryland to North Carolina, upcoming air show info, all kind of stuff. He was even kind enough to print us off some information about things that his grandson liked to do when he was big R's age. 

They did have a children's room with some books, but I wish that it had some toys in it. When I asked the docent, he said that they do sometimes get toys, but that kids can be hard on them. (Psh- I get it!) He said that they accept books and toy donations, so I plan on hitting up a used book store to look for some and keeping my eyes open for toys. If you decide to check it out and have some laying around- consider taking them some! They are looking for space/plane related things, but are not picky! The docent said that they had some dinosaur books that had to be thrown away finally because they were too worn.

If your kid is into planes or space, check out some of the info he shared with us of when cities normally have their air shows:

  • Manassas Air Show: May
  • Virginia Beach Air Show: May (Warbirds), June (Flying Proms), October 07-08 (WWI planes)
  • Stanton: October 14 Culpepper Air Fest 
  • Lessburg: September 
  • Washington Dulles Plane Pull: September 
The U.S. Army Transportation Museum- another FREE museum in Newport News with four buildings and four outdoor parks. Has road vehicles, amphibious crafts, aircrafts, and rail crafts. Lots of World War II coverage. 

Other free air and space museums: 

If you or your kid is into air and space stuff, or if you're looking for a little day trip to Hampton, this would be a perfect stop. We plan on going again once R is a little older and the trails are open. Neil loves Bass Pro Shop (ugh- I hate even thinking about going to that store with him... why does it take SO long?!), so it would be perfect for us.