Memorial Day Driving Tour of Hampton Military Sites

This weekend we take time to remember the men and women that died fighting for our country. We are honored to be home to a place rich with military history, and home to Langley Air Force base, established during World War I. Hampton has had a strong military history since the Revolutionary War began in 1775, and has continuously played a prominent role throughout United States history. Learn more about our military history this year with a driving tour of our military sites. Take a moment to remember the soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.

These locations include:

Virginia Air & Space Center

600 Settlers Landing Rd
Hampton, VA 23669

Begin your tour in Downtown Hampton by driving past, and stopping at The Virginia Air & Space Center. This building is an important landmark to the Hampton community. Designed by world-renowned Mitchell/Giurgola Architects, The Virginia Air & Space Center takes up 110,000 square feet, with nine-stories. The museum opened on April 5, 1992, and creates a place for visitors to learn about the birthplace of America’s space program. Showcasing 100 years of flight, and more than 30 historic aircraft, The Virginia Air & Space Center shares a deep history that is important to Hampton. Purchase a Sea to Stars ticket, so you can fly off to outer space and explore over 100 years of flight and history.

St. John’s Church                                                       

100 West Queen’s Way
Hampton, VA 23669

Continue through Downtown Hampton to St. John’s Church located on West Queen’s Way. This historical landmark is the oldest continuous English-speaking parish in the United States, established in 1610. The church has been at its current location since 1728, and seen the city through all of its highs and lows.

Hampton was attacked and destroyed during the Revolutionary War and The War of 1812. Post 1812, the church was restored, and was the only building to survive the city’s burning during the Civil War (1861). St. John’s Church is a Hampton treasure that has seen the city change and grow through the years. 

Emancipation Oak

100 E Queen St
Hampton, VA 23669

Your next stop will take you past Emancipation Oak, a living symbol of freedom for African Americans, located at the entrance of Hampton University. Under this tree, Abraham Lincoln gave the first southern reading of his Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. Designated as one of the 10 great trees of the world by the National Geographic Society, this oak is ninety-eight feet in diameter, and continues to be a source of inspiration and freedom for African Americans. 

Fort Monroe                                                 

Fort Monroe, VA 23651

Southeast of Downtown Hampton, Fort Monroe is located at the Hampton Roads entrance, and lower Chesapeake Bay. Rich with military history, Fort Monroe is the largest stone fort in America, and covers 63 acres. Construction on the fort began after The War of 1812 to create a coastal defense strategy, and continued till 1836. During the Civil War, Fort Monroe remained a Union post, never falling into confederate hands. It also became the birthplace for the Civil War-era freedom movement, gaining the nickname “Freedom Fortress”.

After the Civil War, Fort Monroe was used as a Coast Artillery Training center, playing a large part in World War II. Following WWII, Fort Monroe became headquarters for the US Army’s Training and Doctrine Command. After many years of military service it was decommissioned as an active army installation on September 15, 2011. To learn more about Fort Monroe’s military history and involvement visit their website, and return to visit their museum and grounds when they re-open to the public. 

Air Power Park

413 W Mercury Blvd
Hampton, VA 23666

Drive over to Air Power Park, to visit the 15 acre roadside museum. It is home to vintage aircraft and experimental space launch vehicles from the 1950s and 1960s, including jets, missiles, and rockets. These aircraft contributed greatly towards America’s early space exploration and aircraft testing. With Langley Air Force Base and NASA Langley Research Center nearby, Hampton is filled with aeronautical and military history.