Make the Most of Your Mariners’ Park Visit!
Along the Noland Trail, Mariners’ Lake waterfront, and in the forest of Mariners’ Park, there are many idyllic spots to view nature, spend time with friends and family, and enjoy your favorite activities.
Easy Access Overlooks
Each of the four Noland Trail overlooks offers something special. But if you’re short on time, these two overlooks are the easiest to access:
Access from North Entrance
A short walk from the North Entrance and located between bridges two and three, Monitor overlook is a great place to take in a unique view of the Museum and USS Monitor replica along with the splendor of Mariners’ Lake.
Holly Tree Overlook
Access from Harvey Field
At the end of the Harvey Field parking lot is a paved road, providing direct access to the Holly Tree overlook. Find picnic tables and a great view of the Lake! If you choose to enter the Noland Trail here, please be aware that steeper sections and water bars (wooden beams) are not as stroller-friendly as other areas in the Park.
Best Spot to Watch Wildlife
You can’t go wrong choosing a spot on the Noland Trail to view the Park’s flora and fauna. However, here are some of the top locations to view animals. (Please remember, do NOT feed or touch the animals!)
Bridge 2 – Turtle Bridge
Access from North Entrance
Many of our bridges draw attention, but the one most families love is fondly called “Turtle Bridge” or Bridge Two. Many species of turtles that live in the Lake swim up to visitors at this spot, including snapping turtles, sliders, painted turtles, and many more! Take pictures and enjoy watching the turtles, but please do not feed them. Learn more about our Park rules and guidelines on the main Park page.
Access from Museum Drive
Lions Bridge is an easily accessible, relaxing location to see birds that love water, such as mallards, Canada geese, great blue herons, egrets, double-crested cormorants, gulls, and even juvenile brown pelicans. This is also a great spot to see birds of prey that are drawn to fish-filled waters, including osprey and bald eagles on the lakeside and along the James River shoreline.
Bridges 7 and 8
Access from East Entrance
On the other side of Mariners’ Lake by Williams Field, these two bridges are well-known locations to spot turtles and even otters!
Mariners’ Park is a perfect backdrop for scenic and wildlife photographers to immerse themselves in nature, view wildlife in its natural habitat, and capture some of the best sunset views in Hampton Roads.
Lions Bridge & Kettle Pond
Photograph waterfowl and turtles from the bank of Mariners’ Lake near Lions Bridge. Cross Museum Drive to Kettle Pond for dynamic photos of wildlife and the iconic Selene statue.
Oak Tree Overlook
James River sunsets never disappoint. Capture the sunset with a foreground view of Mariners’ Lake from this overlook.
Of course, one of the community’s go-to spots for picnics, games, and relaxing is the Lions Bridge area. Find a shady spot under a tree or enjoy the sunshine with a stunning view of Mariners’ Lake and the James River.
Lil’ Mariners’ Play Zone
Our new natural playground is located near the Museum’s Business Entrance and our Bumblebee Learning Garden. Picnic tables make this a great lunch spot for the whole family!
Williams Field & Oak Tree Overlook
Oak Tree overlook has a fantastic view of the Lake, is close to the Williams Field entry area, and has picnic tables.
Harvey Field & Holly Tree Overlook
Harvey Field’s large grassy areas and towering trees make for a great blanket picnic spot. The nearby Holly Tree overlook is at the end of the paved parking area for Harvey Field. It is easily accessible and has picnic tables with a stunning view of Mariners’ Lake.