Last edited: April 12, 2017

Looking for some fun things to do on your Virginia Beach Vacation? The Great Dismal Swamp might not sound like the perfect vacation spot, but don’t be fooled by a name.

There is so much to do and see here that you could spend every vacation day doing a new activity. It is definitely worth a look if you have never been to see it.

The Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge is well over 112,000 acres in size. The refuge is so big that it contains the largest natural lake in all of Virginia, Lake Drummond, at 3,100 acres. The name itself is believed to be redundant. Dismal was a common term for a swampy or morass area of land back in the day, thus making the meaning of the name close to The Great Swampy Swamp.

For those loving a good ghost story, the French translation means “cursed swamp”. The swamp itself abounds in many lore and legends, one of the best known being the Lady of the Lake. This tale was about an Indian maiden whose death right before her own wedding left her a canoe-paddling spirit on the great lake.

Besides legend lovers, the forested wetlands of the Great Dismal Swamp are perfect for an active vacation. You can go hiking and biking from sunrise to sunset if you desire it. It is also a great place to spot wildlife as bears, bobcats, bats, racoons, foxes, deer and river otters all call the area home. They even offer “auto-tours” so you can stay inside your car and view the wildlife.

Bird watching is another popular pastime here, as there are more than two hundred species of birds for you to spot. Water lovers can bring their canoe or kayak and enjoy a day of paddling the gorgeous waters. Those with a love of plants will have a great time, as there are so any species to enjoy here you can’t possibly see them all.

Keep your eyes open for the Log Fern, which is the rarest fern in the USA.

Other activities include camping and fishing near Lake Drummond Reservation. There are also places there for family picnics that include screened picnic areas, grills, tables and restrooms. History buffs will enjoy seeing some of the swamp’s historical sites, such as the spots where George Washington organized a land company.

Come enjoy one of the very last wild areas remaining in the Eastern part of the United States and decide for yourself if the name of the Great Dismal Swamp should be dismal or delightful.