Virginia State Parks see surge in visitors looking to escape stress of pandemic

Posted at 11:46 AM, Aug 12, 2020

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - If you are looking for an affordable way to get outside and escape the pandemic, heading to a state park could just be the best medicine.

"We have great picnic areas, shoreline areas, trails, hiking, biking and walking paths - so many great experiences," said Melissa Baker, Director of Virginia State Parks.

Baker says visitation is up four percent since last June. That equates to about 120,000 more visitors than last year.

"Four percent doesn't sound like much, but that incorporates two months of all of our lodging, museums and buildings being closed," she said.

State parks offer affordable stay-cation opportunities within a short drive, Baker said.

Related: More options available at Virginia State Parks as state continues to open during pandemic

"We have 38 state parks. Within those state parks, you can find anything related to nature that you would like to do," she said. "You can stay in a yurt or a cabin; you can camp; you can be on the coast one day and the next day in the mountains."

Just within our region, you can head to First Landing, York River, Chippokes Plantation or Kiptopeke. Baker says while park use is on the rise, so is litter and alcohol use, and even damage at some facilities.

"Just remember these parks belong to all of us for future generations to come," she said.

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