End your summer with a Labor Day picnic

Labor Day weekend, summer's last official hurrah, is this weekend. If you don't already have plans, consider a picnic with family or friends. Hampton Roads offers plenty of beaches and parks where you can spread a blanket and enjoy the day. For a complete list, go to

In this special edition of The DP List, here are five places that offer great views and plenty of family-friendly amenities perfect for a summer outing.

Huntington Park – Newport News

Huntington Park, on a bluff overlooking the James River, makes for an ideal family picnic location, in large part because it offers something for everyone. Start with Fort Fun, the 14,000-square-foot playground that has things to climb on, slide down and roll around in. Simply put, young children will have a blast here.

For the older kids and adults, the picnic shelters near Fort Fun are within easy walking distance of a small but pleasant beach, fishing piers for adults and kids, tennis courts ($4 per hour during the daytime, $5 per hour after the lights come on), a landscaped rose garden with a gazebo, and a concession stand that sells sno-cones, ice cream and other treats. It's a great way for the family to spend the day outdoors.

Make sure your picnic lasts until sunset – the view across the river is lovely at dusk.

Location: At the intersection of Mercury and Warwick boulevards, adjacent to the Newport News YMCA

Public restrooms: Yes

Barbecue grills: Yes

Pets: Dogs are allowed but must be on leashes.

Alcoholic beverages: Not allowed

Shelters: Several shelters available for rental. Cost is $35 from 9:30 a.m. sundown. Add $10 for a shelter with electricity, and $5 for a shelter with water.

More information or reservations: 757-888-3333 or 757-886-7912

Bluebird Gap Farm – Hampton

Bluebird Gap Farm in Hampton brings the country to the city and is well-suited for a family outing. The 60-acre farm has about 150 domestic and wild animals, including farm animals, a raccoon, birds of prey, whitetail deer, tortoises and peacocks.

In addition to the shelter, other picnic tables are placed throughout the farm. There are also snack and drink vending machines in the antique display barn. Animal feed machines (bring quarters) are in several locations for approved feeding of various animals. The farm is also home to a large playground, a nature trail, and a stage with seating for special events.

Location: 60 Pine Chapel Road, Hampton, just off Interstate 64.

Public restrooms: Yes

Barbecue grills: A 2- by 2-feet charcoal grill is available; bring your own charcoal.

Pets: Not allowed

Alcoholic beverages: Not allowed

Shelters: The shelter has the grill and four picnic tables; it can accommodate 25 people, all on a first-come, first-served basis; reservations are not taken; free. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Monday.

Other things you should know: No balloons, confetti or rice permitted. No swimming. No unaccompanied children under 16.

More information: Farm slated to re-open Aug. 27 after parking lot repaving; call before you go, 757-827-2765.

Waller Mill Park — York County

The park is situated around a 286-acre lake is open for fishing, boating, pedal boating, canoeing and kayaking. Numerous picnic tables, four shelters, play fields, and playground equipment are scattered throughout the picnic area. Hiking trails offer water and wooded views, while a two-mile asphalt bike trail connects Mooretown and Rochambeau Roads. A short hike from the park along the asphalt bike trail will bring you to the Lookout Tower, which offers a panoramic view of the water and woodlands. In an effort to preserve the natural characteristics of the park, feeding of wildlife is prohibited.

Location: Airport Road (Route 645) between Interstate 64 and Route 60 West.

Public restrooms: Yes

Barbecue grills: Yes

Pets: Allowed on a leash.

Alcoholic beverages: Not allowed

Shelters: Four picnic shelters are available for rent that can accommodate up to 150 people depending on the shelter rented. Reservations are taken on a first-come, first-served basis and can be made by contacting the park or visiting the operations building. Call 757-259-3778 to check on shelter availability before completing an Online Facilities Request Form.

York River State Park — James City County

A scenic waterfront setting combines with canoeing, kayaking, playgrounds, a fishing pier and a 30-mile network of woodland hiking, mountain biking and equestrian trails to make York River State Park a prime holiday picnic ground.

Other attractions of the 2,550-acre park include a fossil-studded riverfront, a native plant arboretum, a visitor center with displays exploring the history, use, wildlife and preservation of the York River and its marshes and three picnic shelters capable of accommodating large groups or extended families who need bigger spaces for their celebrations.

Location: 9801 York River Park Road

Fees: $3 per car weekdays, $4 weekends

Public restrooms: Yes

Barbecue grills: Yes

Pets: Dogs are allowed but must be on leashes

Alcoholic beverages: Not allowed

Shelters: Three shelters accommodating from 35 to 75 people are available for rent ($60 to $90) at locations overlooking scenic Taskinas Creek and the York River as well as Woodstock Pond. The park also features 40 picnic tables in numerous locations available for free on a first-come, first-served basis.

For information or reservations: 757-566-3036 and 1-800-933-PARK

Windsor Castle Park — Smithfield

Windsor Castle Park is a 208-acre park that offers four miles of walking trails and mountain biking trails. You can also get on the water by renting a kayak. They are available for $10 per hour on Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It also offers a picnic area, dog park, fishing pier (you will need a license to fish) and the historic Windsor Castle site. The park is open daily from dawn to dusk.

Location: 301 Jericho Road

Fees: Free

Public restrooms: Yes

Barbecue grills: There are a handful of grills at the park.

Pets: Dogs must be leashed. There is a dog park, but registration is required in advance. The annual fee for the dog park for county residents is $10 for the first dog; $5 for additional dogs. Non-residents can get an annual dog park pass for $15. A single day pass is $2. Call 757-365-4200 to register for the dog park.

Alcoholic beverages: Not allowed

Shelters: None. But six picnic tables are available at no charge. Make reservations for large groups of 70 or more people.

For information or reservations: 757-356-9939 to reserve a picnic area.

Staff writers Mike Holtzclaw, Prue Salasky, David Nicholson, Mark St. John Erickson and Felicia L. Mason contributed to this report.

About the DP List

The DP List runs every Friday in Ticket and online at It features the best of things to see, do and eat in Hampton Roads.

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