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Chesapeake, Virginia is one of the country's newest cities. While the area has been inhabited for over 300 years, Chesapeake only became a reality in 1963, after South Norfolk and Norfolk County united and adopted a new name. Chesapeake has been the seat of a rural community up until about a decade ago, when a sudden industry growth started attracting younger businesspeople to the area. Chesapeake has now a population of over 200,000. The median income for a Chesapeake family is now over $50,000 US Dollars (USD), rivaling cities like New York and Washington.
The Chesapeake Arboretum is a popular attraction in the city. Open free of charge to visitors, the 47-acre park houses a hardwood forest and a series of antique rose gardens. A farmhouse also serves as a visitor's center, offering hiking maps of the premises and information on the area. Nearby is the Dismal Swamp Canal, the oldest man-made canal in the US. Once an important commercial route, the canal is now popular with visitors, who can take a quick tour in one of the many recreational boats docked in Chesapeake. The Swamp Canal is shared with Northeastern North Carolina, and is considered a historical landmark because of its connection to the Civil War Underground Railroad.
Besides boating, Chesapeake is also popular with hikers, who come to the area to stay at the Northwest River Park campgrounds, while exploring the area. Birdwatching is a popular area activity, as it is taking to the trails behind the campground. The Northwest River Park also offers boating rentals, summer programs, and horse riding. People in need of a little more luxury can skip the hotels and reserve a place at the Bonny Blue, a luxury yacht offering rooms and exquisite views of the canal.
Children can find their little outdoor paradise in Chesapeake by visiting Fun Forest, a giant outdoor playground nestled in the city forest. The award-winning playground goes beyond the basics by featuring a replica buried dinosaur that children can help dig out, a series of shaky bridges and underground tunnels, plus a series of logical puzzles and science experiments. Fun Forest is right inside one of the largest parks in Chesapeake, and is a treat for the whole family.