Put this amazingly warm weather to use and get outdoors for a little road trip to... a swamp!? That's right, the fire's out -- and it turns out that the Great Dismal Swamp is a great way to get outside and enjoy nature.
Located in Southeastern Virginia, the swamp (3100 Desert Road Suffolk, Va.) is the northernmost swamp along the Atlantic Ocean and located between two eco-regions. This thriving marshland is spread out over 112,000 acres of forest wetlands, with trails open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
You'll find plenty of opps for nature photography (there's even a contest, deadline April 1), wildlife observation, hunting, fishing and boating.
And speaking of boats, Lake Drummond (vast at 3,100 acres) is in the heart of the Great Dismal Swamp. It offers spectacular views of lake-y stillness. If anything, you should visit just to take a photo of the Bald Cypress tree sticking out like a sore thumb in the middle of the lake. It's quite an oddity.
Expect to see many walks of life as you walk along the wooden trail walkways above the swamp -- everything from black bears and alligators to otters and owls call it home. More than 200 bird species have been identified on the refuge as well.
The Railroad Ditch entrance, which includes an auto tour route, is open for public access to Lake Drummond. Passes are free; you can get one from the refuge HQ between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m.