BACK BAY NWR, VA
See river otters, whales, and dolphins.
The coast at 9,200-acre Back Bay is a great place to spot dolphins and humpbacks heading south each fall. Loggerhead sea turtles lay nests here too, though encountering a hatch, typically on evenings in early fall, is rare. Start at the visitor contact station for a four-mile leg leading into adjacent False Cape State Park (extend the trip with primitive beachside campsites at Barbour Hill; 800-933-7275). Return on the 3.5-mile East Dike Trail, cutting through still waters where bald eagles, deer, and river otters gather. This relatively long day is best for hikers 10 and up. fws.gov/backbay
Grab a slice at Pungo Pizza on the way home. In addition to a carb reload, kids will dig the big game room. (757) 721-4900
From Virginia Beach, take US 60 south to General Booth Blvd. Go 5.8 miles to Princess Anne Rd. Then take Sandbridge Rd. to Sandpiper Rd. to the park entrance.