Civil War Museums
& Visitor Centers
The Casemate Museum
On the grounds of Fort Monroe National Monument
20 Bernard Road, Hampton VA 23651
This fine museum outlines the history for the fort, now a National Monument. Continously occupied by the Union during the war, the fort was the site of early slave "emancipation" under Gen. Ben Butler's "contraband" policy and was the jumping off place for McClellan's Peninsula Campaign in 1862. The casemate where Confederate president Jefferson Davis was imprisoned following the war is preserved. Open daily 10:30 am–4:30 pm. Free.
Hampton History Museum
120 Old Hampton Lane, Hampton VA 23669
New museum covers 400 years of Hampton history and includes inventive galleries on the Antebellum, Civil War and Reconstruction periods. Topics in the Civil War gallery include the Battle of Big Bethel, the Burning of Hampton and the effort of Union Gen. Ben Butler to declare escaped slaves "contraband." Monday–Saturday 10 am–5 pm, Sunday 1–5 pm. $5/adult.
The USS Monitor Center / Mariners' Museum
100 Museum Drive, Newport News VA 23601
The new $30-million Monitor Center, now a major part of the well-established Mariners' Museum, offers a comprehensive look at the famous ironclad USS Monitor and its famous battle with the CSS Virginia (formerly USS Merrimack) at Hampton Roads March 9, 1862. The Center, using both traditional and state-of-the-art audio-visual experiences, takes visitors through the process of creating the Monitor, through the dramatic "Battle of the Ironclads" and finally the recovery of the Monitor wreck off Cape Hatteras, NC.
Highlights include the "Battle Theater" that puts visitors in the middle of the ironclad battle and parts of the actual Monitor, including the famous turret, which is undergoing conservation. Admission price for the Center includes the rest of the fine museum, which covers 3,000 years of maritime history. Open Monday–Saturday 10 am–5 pm and Sunday 11 am–5 pm. $12/adult.
Virginia War Museum
9285 Warwick Blvd, Newport News VA 23607
More than 50,000 displayed artifacts document America's wars from 1775 to the present. Features Civil War weapons, flags and accouterments. Inquire here about living history programs and tours of the Newport News Civil War sites. Open Monday–Saturday 9 am–5 pm; Sunday noon–5 pm. $6/adult.
163 Yorktown Road, Newport News VA 23603
Restored antebellum mansion that served as Confederate headquarters during part of the 1862 Peninsula Campaign now serves as a visitor center for that phase of the war. Restored rooms reflect both military and civilian life. The English basement offers exhibits and other material related to the commanders and the fighting on the Peninsula. Civil War Trails interpretation near a fortification on the property. Open Monday, Thursday–Saturday 10 am–5 pm; Sunday noon–5 pm (April–December); Thursday–Saturday 10 am–5 pm, Sunday 1–5 pm (January-March). $6/adult.
362 Yorktown Road, Newport News VA 23603
A much earlier and more modest structure than its sister, Lee Hall just down the road, Endview was used during the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and the Civil War. Tours of the building and grounds and frequent living history programs are highlighted at this site. Open Monday, Thursday–Saturday 10 am–5 pm; Sunday noon–5 pm (April–December); Thursday–Saturday 10 am–5 pm, Sunday 1–5 pm (January-March). $6/adult.
James A. Fields House
617 27th St, Newport News
Civil War Trails sign located in front of the house owned by Fields, who was born a slave and escaped to Union lines in 1862 as a "contraband of war." He later became a lawyer and served as justice of the peace and as local representative to the Virginia House of Delegates. Home open Tuesday–Saturday. Call first. $3.
Civil War Cruises (from Hampton)
The Miss Hampton II offers daily boat tours (twice a day during the summer) of Hampton Roads including Civil War history and a stop at Fort Wool. Call 888-757-BOAT.
Venture Inn Charters offers a "Civil War at Sea" tour. Call 800-320-2055.
Hampton Roads Naval Museum
In Nauticus, One Waterside Drive, Norfolk VA 23510
Well-done naval history museum shares building with Nauticus. Much good material on the battle of the ironclads and other Civil War action. Free to visit this museum. (There is a charge for Nauticus but you do not have to pay if you only want the Naval Museum.) Open daily 10 am-5 pm.
Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Museum
2 High St, Portsmouth VA 23704
Museum chronicles the history of the City of Portsmouth, the Norfolk Naval Shipyard and the armed forces in Hampton Roads. The museum’s Civil War exhibit discusses Portsmouth and Gosport Navy Yard (now the Norfolk Naval Shipyard) under Confederate and Union occupation and the shipyard’s role as birthplace of the ironclad CSS Virginia.
Hours September–May: Tuesday–Saturday 10 am–5 pm.
Memorial Day–Labor Day: Monday–Saturday 10 am–5 pm and Sunday 1–5 pm.
Admission: $3. Please call for admission and schedule details.
510 N Main St, Suffolk VA 23434
Near the intersection of Routes 10 and 460, Suffolk
This historic house, built in 1837, served as Union headquarters. The top floor interprets its Civil War use. Permanent Civil War exhibit,"Our Bleeding Country," is open. Soldier graffiti. Open Thursday, Friday 10 am–5 pm; Saturday 10 am–4 pm; Sunday 1–5 pm. Closed Monday–Wednesday. $4/adult. Civil War Trails sign.
Portsmouth Visitor Center
6 Crawford Parkway
Civil War information and walking tours of the historic areas. Water and trolley tours are available in season.
Norfolk Visitor Centers are located just off I-64 at exit 273 and at 232 E Main St. 800-368-3097.
Hampton Visitor Center
Located in the Hampton History Museum, 120 Old Hampton Lane (I-64 exit 267). 800-800-2202.
Newport News Visitor Center
13560 Jefferson Ave (I-64 exit 250B)
This location is a stone's throw from some of the Peninsula's most important Civil War sites. Get maps to area Civil War sites and more.
Suffolk Visitor Center
At the Historic Prentis House (c. 1800)
321 N Main St (off Business Route 58)
757-923-3880 or 866-SEE-SUFK
One of the oldest standing homes in Suffolk and within walking distance of two official Virginia Civil War Trail sites.
Williamsburg Visitor Center
Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
Yorktown National Park visitor center
Although emphasis is on the Revolutionary War, plenty of Civil War information also is available here. Open daily 9 am–5 pm daily. Expanded hours during the summer. $4/adult.
Links to websites of Virginia places: Virginia Links