May 21, 2019 - Monday, May 27, is Memorial Day, the official beginning of beach season, and beach-goers will notice some returning favorites and some changes this summer.
Buckroe Park and the iconic miniature lighthouse from the former amusement park got major improvements during the off-season – much more than the coating of paint it usually gets. It needed a great deal of stabilization and new concrete in order to sustain it.
Different food trucks will be available, especially on weekends. And now there’s a seating area near the vendors with tables and umbrellas for outdoor dining – with a view. Watercraft rentals from jet skis to paddle boards to sea kayaks will return. The rental location will be adjacent to the Boardwalk Way and First Street parking lot. Hampton Watersports will also sell beach items and concessions.
Buckroe Beach and the James Wilson Fishing pier offer 588 nearby free parking spaces, in addition to overflow lots across from the pier. Still, parking can be an issue at Buckroe, mostly during Sunday afternoon/evening to accommodate both beach-goers and those who are attending Groovin’ By the Bay concerts in the park. To alleviate a parking crunch at peak times on the weekend, the city will again offer an additional parking lot at Jones Magnet Middle School, 1819 Nickerson Boulevard. A free, 42-passenger shuttle bus will run to/from the school from 3:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Sundays. In addition, the city has added:
- A “drop-off zone,” on Buckroe Avenue and First Street near the playground for those who wish to unload gear and guests before parking in permanent spaces.
- Additional handicapped parking between Buckroe Avenue and Boardwalk Way.
- Motorcycle parking between Buckroe Avenue and Pembroke Avenue beginning this year.
Buckroe isn’t the city’s only beach
Outlook Beach at Fort Monroe has lifeguards at the calm coves between jetties, and the water has a gradual slope ideal for young children and waders. The adjacent parking area has portable restrooms available.
- The city will now station lifeguards at a third public beach: Salt Ponds. There are 13 two-hour parking spots along Bayfront Place and public beach access in several places.
- Grandview Beach Nature Preserve is rustic, with a half-mile hike to the beach. The preserve covers 475 acres of salt marsh, tidal creeks and bay beachfront.
Buckroe Beach offers a half-mile cement boardwalk and three-quarters of a mile of clean Chesapeake Bay beachfront. The park has three shelters with grills available for rental(private grills not permitted), a children’s playground, restroom facilities, and a stage pavilion. A free observation pier behind the pavilion offers a great view, and a fishing pier on the southern end of the beach gives anglers a great place to socialize and catch a variety of seasonal fish. Admission to the fishing pier includes a fishing license for the day.
Sunday shuttle bus: The Parks bus will make a stop at Buckroe Avenue and the beachfront, looping back to the parking lot about every 25 minutes. Groups or those with bulky chairs and coolers might prefer to drop their gear and a guest or two at the beach using the new drop-off spaces on Buckroe Avenue while the driver parks the car and shuttles back. (Remember, alcoholic beverages are not permitted at city parks, and dogs are not allowed in the park during the main summer season.)
Shelters: If you are interested in renting a shelter or planning an event at Buckroe Beach and Park, reservations typically book early, and certain events require a city permit. To check availability and for further information, please visit https://hampton.gov/register/parks, or call Parks, Recreation & Leisure Services at (757) 727-6348.
Food trucks: Trucks will be based next to the Buckroe Pavilion, and include: Franks’ Monster Munchies, Caribbean Castle, Kona Ice, Mama Neem’s Mobile Seafood Inc., Mr. Cream Cones, Southern Hospitality Food Truck, Dula’s Fish on the Fly, Gourmet Burger Bistro, and Ben & Jerry’ s Ice Cream.
Farmer's Market: The popular Farmers Market returns to Buckroe this summer. Open since May 4 and continuing through Nov. 16, the market offers local produce, baked goods, sausage, seafood, jarred food and much more every Saturdays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on the grassy area surrounding the Buckroe Beach gazebo on First Street near East Pembroke Avenue. The market dates are May 4, 11, 18, 25; June 1, 15, 22, 29; July 6, 13, 27; August 3, 10, 17, 24; Sept. 14, 21, 28; Oct. 5, 123, 19, 26; and November 2, 9, 16. Along with the regular market Saturdays, at least three "themed" market dates will be included. For more information about the market visit www.villageevents.org