In addition to offering some of the finest schools and medical institutions in Hampton Roads, southside is home to some of Virginia’s most celebrated park and recreational systems. Mount Trashmore in Virginia Beach is distinguished as the most visited municipal park in Hampton Roads, drawing its unusual name from the fact that it was developed from a city landfill through sheer urban ingenuity. Standing 68 feet high, Mount Trashmore incorporates an 800-foot long mountain of solid waste and clean soil into its many attractions. With two lakes, picnic areas, tennis courts, a skateboard ramp, a volleyball court, a basketball court, and a spectacular sledding hill — the park is a dream come true for area children.
Nature lovers will want to explore the unspoiled beauty of Suffolk, home to more than 8,000 acres of lakes that promise and deliver some of the state’s finest freshwater fishing and seasonal hunting. Stroll along a nature trail, enjoy a horseback ride on miles of scenic trails, target shoot on archery ranges, or use a model airplane field to test your wings. Boating, sailing, and water-sport enthusiasts will find an outdoor paradise in South Hampton Roads’ numerous lakes, swift-running rivers, deep canals, calm bays, and Atlantic oceanfront.
Straddling Suffolk and Chesapeake is the Great Dismal Swamp, but don’t be fooled by the dubious name. Here, you’ll find such wonders as 1,000 square miles of primeval forest, 23 species of fish, and 21 types of snakes along with bear, bobcats, and otters. A remote location with limited access has assisted in the preservation of this 20,000-acre wilderness that was first surveyed by George Washington.
Undeveloped land as well as abundant housing options are magnets for newcomers to South Hampton Roads, who keep the construction and real-estate industries booming. New residential developments and communities spring up prolifically throughout the area, and the phenomenal growth that once marked Chesapeake and Virginia Beach is reaching further into Isle of Wight County and Suffolk.
Horse farms, three-acre farmettes, quaint farmhouses, older homes in established neighborhoods, waterfront properties, and modern subdivisions are all available in South Hampton Roads. Whether your dream is a restored Victorian in the historic downtown district or a high-rise condominium in the heart of the city, you can find the idyllic property on the southside.
Wherever you decide to call home, you can look forward to festivals, celebrations, concerts, performances, and events sponsored by an active cultural community. While Norfolk offers a rich tradition of nationally acclaimed cultural amenities like opera, ballet, symphony, and Broadway productions; Virginia Beach claims a rapidly maturing and exciting arts scene that attracts visitors from across Hampton Roads. Families will love the great food, shows, rides, and fireworks at such spectacular annual events as Jubilee in Chesapeake, Smithfield’s Olden Days Festival, or the Isle of Wight County Fair.
Colorful and exciting waterfront areas are waiting to be explored in revitalized downtown districts like Waterside Festival Marketplace in Norfolk or Portside in Portsmouth. Newcomers can fill their leisure hours in fragrant gardens, the Virginia Zoological Park, river and bay cruises, sprawling malls, or charming historic districts. The Virginia Marine Science Museum and Nauticus provide a fascinating contrast between the past and the latest technological advancements.
The harmonious blend of 21st century technology and traditional southern hospitality that marks South Hampton Roads is mirrored in the positive attitude demonstrated by thousands of military personnel and their families who call southside home. Known for their volunteerism and positive contributions to civic organizations and community life, these men and women are generous with their talents and their time. In fact, a significant percentage of retirees were once stationed in southside as military personnel. Their simple sentiment is shared by other newcomers and long-time residents — "I wouldn’t live anywhere else!"