Newport News offers breakthrough events and community connection

Guest Column

By Sarah Bowman, Newport News Tourism

Parks are crucial to a community’s quality of life. Studies show when people are new to a community, the first place they check out is the closest local park. But why is that?

Parks provide opportunities to relax, decompress and unwind while connecting us to nature and to one another. Spending time in nature is linked to both cognitive benefits and improvements in mood, mental health and emotional well-being. The nature clubs and groups that meet at local parks give like-minded individuals the chance to develop new hobbies, healthy habits and friendships that often last decades. Park playgrounds help children burn energy and often provide opportunities for parents to socialize and engage in “adult” conversation. And how many friendships have been formed, thanks to interactions with dogs at parks?

Newport News is fortunate to have 36 parks, from less than half an acre to more than 7,000. You read that right, there’s a park with more than 7,000 acres in the City of Newport News! 

One of the largest municipal parks in the United States, Newport News Park is nine times larger than New York City’s Central Park! At 7,711 acres, Newport News Park is an oasis in the middle of our large metropolitan city. The park is so large that it includes its very own campground, airplane flying field, 18-hole golf courses, a nature center, numerous playgrounds and picnic shelters and 35 miles of hiking trails.

Breakthrough adventures wait around every corner in Newport News, especially in parks. Stroll one of our beaches, go bird watching, enjoy cycling or mountain biking, launch your boat on the James River, challenge a friend to a game of disc golf or reel in some catches in our lakes and reservoirs. 

A great way to experience Newport News is by enjoying one of our special events, many of which take place in parks. In 2022, the city created the Outdoor Enthusiast Event to help foster appreciation for active lifestyles and the great outdoors. Whether an enthusiast or new to outdoor adventure, guests discovered fun and free experiences, including nature programs, boating instruction and rentals, obstacle courses, a wide variety of games of skill and chance, live lumberjack shows and even hot air balloon rides. Those who enjoyed the inaugural event will love this year’s expanded event, which takes place on April 22 from 10 a.m. until
5 p.m. at Newport News Park. 

Guests will be able to test their skills on everything from a rock-climbing wall and a ninja warrior course, to a wide variety of boating activities, horseshoes, hiking and disc golf. The event will also showcase live traveling lumberjack shows and live gator shows. Meet bestselling author and internationally recognized survivalist Cody Lundin, who will provide insight into wilderness survival skills and primitive living. A parkour and world chase tag game are also planned, along with axe throwing, camping and cycling exhibits and other surprises. Vendors will sell a variety of food, treats and beverages. Admission to the event is free, with a $5 parking fee.

If outdoor adventure isn’t your thing, Newport News Park is also home to the Children’s Festival of Friends. This popular event features more than 100 activities, including inflatables, make-and-take crafts, trackless train rides, costumed character photo ops and more! It returns on May 6 from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. This event is a favorite for many youth and families throughout the community, with a lot of people and loads of fun. Admission to the event is free, with a $5 parking fee.

There’s so much GOOD taking place and so many remarkable people, attractions and products made here in Newport News, like our special events, breakthrough businesses, community projects and new developments. We are a city of hope and vision, where residents come together to uplift one another, build our community and embrace what the future holds. A great way to connect with one another is by celebrating during one of the events or just walking through a park. 

Newport News is a city built on breakthroughs, with unique experiences for residents and guests of all ages. From museums and parks to arts, entertainment and extraordinary icons, there’s always something different to discover and something fun to enjoy. For details on all the exciting events taking place in Newport News, visit or for information on city attractions, restaurants, shopping and recreation. 

Sarah Bowman is interim tourism manager with the Department of Communication of the Newport News Tourism Division. She can be reached at or by phone at 757-926-1554 (o) or 757-846-7594 (c).