Lake Lawson/Lake Smith Natural Area

The Lake Lawson/Lake Smith Natural Area is a 42-acre preserve with more than 12,000 feet of shoreline located in the Bayside Borough of Virginia Beach at the corner of Shell Road and Northampton Blvd. The area is a popular fishing destination.
​​Currently, parks remain open; however, as of Thursday, March 26, ALL playgrounds, dog parks, skate parks, basketball and volleyball courts are closed. Visitors should maintain 6-foot distancing, avoid gathering in groups of 10 or more and continue to adhere to CDC guidelines.

Questions? Please refer to this FAQ.

*For the latest updates on Parks & Rec closures and cancellations due to the Coronavirus, visit our Facebook page or the City’s emergency information page. Sign up for our email newsletter​ for messages pertaining to specific programs.​​​

​​​​​​​​​​​​Recent improvements to the natural area ​include:

  • New boat ramp
  • Formalized car and boat trailer parking
  • Stabilization along the shoreline to prevent erosion and re-establish native vegetation
  • Several fishing and overlook platforms
  • Floating crew dock 
  • Pedestrian Bridge to connect the north and south parcel
  • Renovations to the existing soft-surface trail along with installation of hard surface trails
  • New playground and picnic shelter
  • New park office and restrooms

Though the natural area surrounding Lake Lawson and Lake Smith is being improved by the City of Virginia Beach, the City of Norfolk still owns the water/reservoir and 25 feet around the water. As such, Norfolk currently​ controls the use of water regulations, including the requirement for a boat permit ​to use the water.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

For shelter reservations, please call 385-PARK.​


  • Mot​orized and non-motorized boating is permitted
  • Motors no larger than 10 H.P may be used; If a boat with a larger motor is put in the reservoir, the larger motor must be disabled
  • All boats, including canoes, kayaks and paddleboats (i.e. paddle wheelers), must have a valid City of Norfolk Boat Permit; the reservoirs of Lake Smith/Lake Lawson are governed by the City of Norfolk
  • S​wimming and the use of stand up paddle boards, sail boats, water skis, jet skis, tubes, rafts and other inflatables is not permitted
  • All boats must comply with Virginia and U.S. Coast Guard boating regulations​​​
  • Anyone under the age of 12 must be with an adult
  • Average water depth of Lake Smith and Lake Lawson is about 4.5 feet with a maximum depth of about 9 feet​


  • Fishing is permitted from designated shore areas and overlooks; boat fishing is permitted at designated areas with a boat permit​
  • Fishing maps can be found at​
  • A Virginia Freshwater Fishing license is required
  • Net fishing is not permitted; rod and tackle only
  • Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries regulations apply
  • Average water depth of Lake Smith and Lake Lawson is about 4.5 feet with a maximum depth of about 9 feet 

 History and Master Plan

​The property was acquired in multiple parcels between 2005 and 2009 through the Open Space Acquisition Program from the City of Norfolk and private landowners. The Lake Lawson / Lake Smith Master Plan was established in December 2010 with input from the public. The plan, which was very well received, provides a framework for planning, recreational programming, development and management of the site. ​

 Hours of Operation

​2020 Park Operating Hours

​Date ​Hours
​January 1 - February 5 ​7:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
​February 6 - March 7  ​7:30 a.m. - 6 p.m.
​March 8 - April 5 (Daylight Savings Time) ​7:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.
​April 6 - May 6  ​7:30 a.m. - 8 p.m.
​May 7 - August 5  ​7:30 a.m. - 8:30 p.m.
​August 6 - September 2 ​7:30 a.m. - 8 p.m.
​September 3 - September 16  ​7:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.
​September 17 - October 7 ​7:30 a.m. - 7 p.m.
​November 1 - November 30 (Daylight Savings Time begins November 1) ​7:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
​December 1 - December 31 ​​7:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.

  • ​Park operating hours indicate the times when facility parking lot gates, restrooms, offices, and other park amenities are opened and closed daily. All times are subject to change without notice or as posted and are dependent on scheduled special events and rentals at the facility.
  • All unstaffed community and neighborhood parks are available for use from sunrise to sunset daily. All day-use parks are posted as no trespassing after dark.
  • Parks and park facilities with lighted amenities will stay open until 11:00 p.m. between April 1 and November 30 to support city-sponsored leagues and programs as well as scheduled events and rentals.​​