Stretch Your Legs: Mix Business and Pleasure at Chesapeake’s Recreational TreasuresBy Jodi Thornton O’Connell
When on a business trip, you’ll want to get your chair-weary muscles moving after a day of conferences — and the mild climate of Chesapeake, Virginia, beckons you to think outside the gym.
Only a short distance from Delta Hotels Chesapeake, the city rolls out scenic and interesting places where you can get your bodies moving — and find yourself in the midst of what makes the town tick.
Ships That Pass in the Day: Elizabeth River Park
Driving time from Delta Hotels Chesapeake: 12 minutes
Duration: 30 minutes to 1 hour
Elizabeth River Park offers the perfect vantage point from which to watch and photograph recreational boats, barges, tugboats and other watercraft (some towering up to 160 feet high!) as they pass under the adjacent South Norfolk Jordan Bridge.
Stroll the half-mile parkway, eat lunch with a view of the river at the Picnic Pavilion, or meander out on the fishing and crabbing pier and enjoy the breeze. Want to burn more calories? The park also has outdoor fitness equipment with a view of the river.
Take a Walk in the Park: Indian River Park
Drive time from hotel: 3 minutes
Duration: 30 minutes to 2 hours
A natural antidote to a long day at the office, Indian River Park rolls out an “away from it all” experience just minutes away from your hotel. Start with an easy walk along the quarter-mile Virginia Tree Trail, where each tree species is labeled. The trail meanders along the Indian River wetlands and is an ideal place to view spring flowers and autumn foliage.
After warming up, walk through a rain garden designed to absorb runoff and help prevent river pollution and flooding. If you still have energy, stretch your legs on the 3.5-mile Outer Loop Trail that follows the river and delves into the woods, crossing picturesque wooden bridges along the way.
Watch for Wildlife: Dismal Swamp Canal
Driving time from hotel: 16 minutes
Duration: 30 minutes to 2.5 hours
Hike into history along the Dismal Swamp Canal trail, which wraps around the eastern edge of the Great Dismal Swamp Refuge. The canal has been around since the time of George Washington, a major canal shareholder, and was once an official stop on the Underground Railroad.
Keep an eye out for thousands of migratory birds that stop by in spring and autumn as well as for the endangered Red-Cockaded Woodpecker. More than 30 species of mammals call the area home year-round, including deer, bear, bobcats, nutria, beaver and mink.
Stop and Smell the Flowers: Chesapeake Arboretum
Driving time from hotel: 10 min
Duration: 1 to 2 hours
Meander through two acres of gardens tucked into 48 acres of woodlands at the Chesapeake Arboretum. Seven arboretum paths lead from a 19th-century farmhouse to picturesque bridges crossing streams and offering scenic views.
Trails include a native woodland garden path where sassafras and crab apples abound, a native tree trail with magnolias and dogwoods, and an urban forestry trail. Grab a map from a box at the trail’s start and head out on paths clearly marked with colored blazes.
Skate Away: Chilled Ponds Ice Sports Complex
Driving time from hotel: 5 minutes
Duration: 30 minutes to 2 hours
Beat summer heat or come in out of the rain at Chilled Ponds Ice Sports Complex. The 90,000-square-foot ice complex has dual rinks and hosts open skating with daytime and evening hours. Friday night sessions have a nightclub ambience with music playing and lights flashing. When you need a rest, grab some refreshments at the Chilled Ponds Café or watch adult leagues play or practice.