Virginia Beach offers the classic beach vacation, and maintains a long-standing reputation as a family-friendly oceanfront resort. Visitors are greeted by a 300-foot wide beach lined by Virginia Beach’s three-mile concrete oceanfront Boardwalk. The resort offers a mild climate year-round. Itineraries include lazy days on the beach, the state parks and Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge beckon, hiking, kayaking, and biking adventures. Fishing, golfing, whale watching, dolphin watching, historic landmarks, and exciting attractions and popular events are part of the Beach experience.
Virginia Beach is served by Norfolk International (IATA : ORF) in neighboring Norfolk, which is just west of the border between the two cities.
If you are coming from the Delmarva Peninsula, or anywhere northeast of it, the fastest way to drive to Virginia Beach is down Delmarva Peninsula, onto U.S. Route 13, and across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.
If you are coming from anywhere northwest or west of the area, the fastest way is along Interstate 64.
Coming from the south or southwest, it is easiest to take Interstate 85 or 95 to US 58.
While Virginia Beach has no train station, nearby Newport News has at least two daily trains both to and from Boston. Amtrak provides a connecting shuttle bus to Virginia Beach.
Virginia Beach shares a common trait with many American cities in that it is nearly impossible to get around without a car.
If you are staying at the Oceanfront, there are a few ways to get around the beach area, including the trolley and bus system operated by Hampton Roads Transit. If you want to explore other areas in Hampton Roads, the best way is to rent a car.
First Landing Cross marks the point where English settlers landed in 1607.
The Cape Henry Lighthouse on Chesapeake Bay was the first lighthouse built by the federal government, completed in 1792. Once you reach the summit, enjoy a panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay – the same view once seen by ship watchers more than 200 years ago. Located on the Fort Story military base, the original Cape Henry Lighthouse is open to the public. Across the dune line, you’ll find the new Cape Henry Lighthouse. Built in 1881, it’s the tallest iron-encased lighthouse in the country, and is operated by the U.S. Coast Guard. Adjacent to the lighthouses, visitors also can tour the Cape Henry Memorial Park which includes a replica of the First Landing Cross, planted by the first settlers to give thanks for a safe voyage after arriving on shore in 1607. Note: Access to military bases may be restricted for public tours and a valid picture ID is required.
Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, 717 General Booth Boulevard, 757-385-FISH, . The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is the state’s largest and one of the most-visited aquariums in the nation. It is an authority on the state’s various aquatic and marine environments and features more than 700,000 gallons of aquariums and live animal habitats, more than 300 hands-on exhibits and the IMAX® 3D Theater. A one-third mile-long nature trail connects the two Pavilions that make up this “must sea” museum, and an outdoor aviary offers an up-close glimpse of the marsh birds seen along Virginia Beach’s shore.
Mount Trashmore, . World-renowned Mount Trashmore Park is 165 acres, 60 feet high, over 800 feet long, and was created by compacting layers of solid waste and clean soil. Recognized for its environmental feat, Mount Trashmore Park features the Water Wise demonstration garden that boasts xeriscaping where you can learn how to create a beautiful garden with minimal water requirements. The park features two lakes and its facilities include four large and 11 small picnic shelters, skate park, playground areas, a basketball court, four volleyball areas, parking, vending machines and restrooms. Mount Trashmore Park also has a walking trail that measures approximately 1.45 miles.
The Old Coast Guard Station, 24th Street. Housed in a 1903 former U.S. Life Saving Station, this quaint, oceanfront museum is chock-full of rescue equipment used by turn-of-the-century surf men to save shipwrecked crews from a watery grave. Learn about shipwrecks that occurred just off the Virginia Beach coast and the history of life-saving service from World War II to the present day.
Atlantic Wildfowl Heritage Museum, 1113 Atlantic Ave, (757) 437-8432, . Located in the historically registered DeWitt cottage built in 1895, the Atlantic Wildfowl Heritage Museum displays art and artifacts documenting migratory wildfowl that pass through Eastern Virginia. Exhibits of wildfowl and shorebird carvings trace the evolution of this unique American art form. Enjoy on-site wood-carving demonstrations, interactive computer programs, decoys dating from historic times to present day and a collection of exhibits covering the history of Virginia Beach.
Association for Research and Enlightenment, . Visitors from around the world gather at the Association for Research and Enlightenment at 67th Street and Atlantic Avenue to attend workshops, conferences and lectures based on the works of Edgar Cayce, one of the most documented clairvoyants of the 20th century. As a young man, Cayce found that by placing himself in a self-induced trance, he could answer questions or give accurate information on any topic. Today, physicians are finding Cayce's “readings” to be on the cutting edge of many health-care concerns, particularly the mind-body relationship to health and healing. Founded in 1931, his Virginia Beach headquarters houses 14,000 readings (on everything from medicine to world affairs)and one of the most extensive metaphysical libraries in the world. Guided tours that include films,lectures, meditation classes and ESP demonstrations are offered daily, as well as a full menu of health services including massage, facials and reflexology.
State Parks and National Wildlife Refuge, . Virginia Beach is home to some of the world’s most pristine natural environments, with more than 18,000 acres of state parks and national wildlife refuges. First Landing State Park, the most-visited state park in Virginia, contains 2,700 acres of protected salt marsh habitat, bay and dune maritime forests and freshwater ponds. You will find a campground, miles of hiking and biking trails and both cultural and natural history interpretive displays. A registered Natural Landmark, it fronts the Chesapeake Bay. Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, an 8,500-acre plot is made up of barrier islands, dunes, freshwater marshes, maritime forests, ponds and ocean beaches. Sharing a border is the 4,321-acre False Cape State Park, featuring six miles of unspoiled beaches in an ocean-to-freshwater bay habitat. Both Back Bay and False Cape are home to wild horses, feral pigs, loggerhead turtles, American bald eagles and a large variety of migratory birds and endangered species, making the comprehensive area a true Virginia jewel. Additionally, the 2,907-acre North Landing River Natural Area Preserve, owned and operated by the Nature Conservancy, is one of the largest and most significant nature preserves in the state.
Virginia Beach Farmers Market, 3640 Dam Neck Rd, 757-427-4395. Experience the rural side of Virginia Beach at the Farmers Market, a country-style, open-air market that features fresh, locally grown produce, dairy products, organic groceries, a meat market, home and garden gifts, jams and jellies, and a restaurant. It is open year-round and special events are held each month.
Ocean Breeze Waterpark, 849 General Booth Blvd, 757-422-4444, . Inside the 19-acre park, visitors will find brilliant, colorful water slides and tubes for all-day excitement, featuring a million-gallon Runaway Bay wave pool and 13 water slides. Shoot the rushing Rocky River Rapids on an inner tube or soar down the Maui-Wowie speed slide.
Virginia Beach Convention Center, . The resort city is becoming a year-round meeting destination. Virginia Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) manages the Convention Center, which hosts regional and national trade shows, conventions, sports tournaments and special events, and sponsors some of the city's major festivals and special events.
Golfing, . With eight public courses in Virginia Beach and 20 in the surrounding region, players will experience intriguing, challenging greens for all handicaps, from beginner to novice to pro. With designs by Arnold Palmer, Rees Jones, Pete Dye, George Cobb, Gene Bates and others, golfers will find miles of bent Bermuda grasses, hardwood forests, and challenging layouts. Year-round affordable golf package opportunities are offered. The resort city's mild weather permits play almost year-round.
Surfing. The surf in Virginia Beach is sometimes small but usually rideable. In August, more than 100 of the world's top professional surfers and an estimated 400 amateur surfers come for North America's oldest surfing contest, the East Coast Surfing Championships. One of the best surf spots is at the beach called Croatan, off of General Booth Blvd. Visitors can also experience surfing with former professional champions who offer surf camps for people of all ages. The various outfitters, including Quicksilver and Billabong Surf camps, offer individual instruction, 2-hour classes, 1-day, 3-day and 5-day camps.
Unfortunately, Virginia Beach local surfers are notoriously unfriendly, especially if you are not local. A word of advice is to arrive at the beach early or stay later to avoid the big crowds, angry old men, and have a chance of catching a wave without getting threatened.
Kayaking and Canoeing. Virginia Beach’s 121 navigable miles of waterways, channels, bays and lagoons are perfect for kayak and canoe enthusiasts. Explore the multitude of coves and inlets on a guided tour of coastal Virginia, or experience kayaking alongside bottlenose dolphins in the ocean. Virginia Beach’s creeks and rivers are also perfect for canoeing – venture into Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge or state parks such as False Cape and First Landing.
Running. The resort city hosts several professional and amateur races, like Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon, that draws more than 20,000 athletes. The Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon features musical talent along every mile for both participants and spectators to enjoy. Virginia Beach also hosts the Shamrock Sportsfest Marathon, Half Marathon and 8K - another event where records have been shattered.
Fishing. With the food-rich Chesapeake Bay meeting the Atlantic Ocean, Virginia Beach and its neighboring waters are home to a multitude of freshwater, brackish and saltwater fishing opportunities. Croaker, spot, flounder, striped bass, tautog, sea bass, trout, bluefish, skipjack, cobia, mahi-mahi, spanish and king mackerel, puppy and red drum, yellowfin and bluefin tuna, marlin, amberjack and wahoo are abundant at various times of the year. Tow your boat and choose from several different put-in locations or opt for a company that specializes in half-day or full-day private charters. Group party boats are also available at Rudee Inlet and on Shore Drive. If you choose to stay near shore, cast a line from one of the four piers. Try your hand at one of Virginia Beach’s annual fishing tournaments, including the Striped Bass World Championship or Waterman’s Rockfish Shoot-out. Freshwater and saltwater fishing licenses are required.
Dolphin and Whale Watching. Humpback and fin whales journey to the food-rich mouth of the Chesapeake Bay and warmer waters of the Atlantic Ocean for their annual retreat. From December until March, Virginia Beach offers visitors the rare opportunity to spot these magnificent creatures up close on a whale watching boat tour conducted by Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center. Whale watching vacation packages are available. Every year, bottlenose dolphins migrate off the Virginia Beach coast during the spring, summer and fall. Several outdoor outfitters offer dolphin-watching boat trips and kayaking excursions, where the dolphins often frolic on the waves just several feet from the kayaks.
Birding. The Seashore-to-Cypress Loop, part of the initial Coastal Phase of the statewide Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail, was officially opened October 4, 2002 by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. It traverses the city of Virginia Beach and extends into the neighboring city of Norfolk. The Seashore-to-Cypress loop contains 12 viewing sites teeming with flocks of migrant shorebirds, songbirds and raptors, winter wetlands filled with waterfowl and whales swimming offshore and summer swarms of dolphins, butterflies and dragonflies. Popular stops include the Chesapeake Bay-Bridge Tunnel, First Landing State Park, Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, False Cape State Park and the Virginia Aquarium.
Baker's Crust, 704 Hilltop North Shopping Center, +1 757 422-6703, Perfect place to have nice lunch with speciality coffees and crepes for dessert. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Sunday-Thursday: 8AM-8:30PM Friday-Saturday: 8AM-9PM.
Timbuktu Restaurant, 3107 Atlantic Ave, +1 757 491-1800, . Oceanfront dining that offers up menu items such as seafood, steaks, chicken, pasta, salads and unique daily specials. Breakfast 7AM-11AM, lunch 11AM-3PM, dinner 3PM-10PM; seven days a week.
Croaker's, 3629 Shore Drive, +1 757 363-2490. Daily 5PM-10PM. Jimmy Buffett would feel right at home in this seafood haven. A bit weathered on the outside, this relatively small restaurant serves up a wide variety of fish and crustacean delights that draw the locals like groupers to a pinfish. Excellent!
Gringo's Taqueria (Gringo's) , (757) 961-2987, Open Tue-Sat 11AM-9PM, 612 Norfolk Ave Virginia Beach, VA 23451, Corner of Cypress and Norfolk Ave, Local hole in the wall will ruin all other Mexican food for you. Great fish tacos; voted Best of the Beach. Chef Jen Cavey is an alumnus of the San Francisco Culinary Academy and whips up nightly chalkboard specials. Be warned, when they're gone, they're gone, so get there early. Friendly staff provides great service.
Catch 31 at the Hilton at 31st Street is a popular new hangout for young professionals and tourists alike. There is an indoor and outdoor bar, with fire pits outside. Bands often play at the adjacent park.
Red Star Tavern at Town Center is another popular hangout spot for locals. It is usually crowded on weekends, and has a great bar menu. Town Center usually is pretty vibrant at night, in general. Other popular spots include Gordon Biersch, Sonoma Wine Bar and Guadalajara.
Luck Oyster Seafood Grill , (757) 430-9600, 11Am to 11PM, 2165 General Booth Blvd, Bldg #154, Oysters and wings, can't get much better than this! They offer wonderful prices on oysters, clams and chicken wings during their Happy Hour. Make sure that you try the corn bread and pretzel bread. The restaurant has a nice nautical theme. Lots of big screens in the bar for the sport nut! Great people! Great place!
Three Amigo's, (757) 818-9579 , 1920 Centerville Tpke, Virginia Beach, VA, Three Amigos Mexican Restaurant is a clean well run Mexican bar an grille with excellent service. It stays packed with locals.
TownePlace Suites by Marriott Virginia Beach , 757-490-9367, 5757 Cleveland Street, TownePlace Suites Virginia Beach/Norfolk is located centrally within the Virginia Beach Business District. This Virginia Beach hotel is near the Oceanfront and located just 6 miles from Downtown Norfolk and 5 miles from Norfolk International Airport ORF.
Marriott Courtyard Virginia Beach Norfolk , 757-490-2002 , 5700 Greenwich Road, The Marriott Courtyard Virginia Beach/Norfolk is located inside the Central Business District of Virginia Beach. This Marriott hotel is located just 6 miles from downtown Norfolk and 5 miles from Norfolk International Airport (ORF).
Holiday Inn Express Virginia Beach , 2607 Atlantic Avenue,•Virginia Beach, Virginia 23451, Formerly the Holiday Inn Surfside, newly renovated hotel located in the center of the Virginia Beach resort area, all rooms include a complimentary continental breakfast and have a private balcony with a full oceanfront view of the beach and boardwalk.
Wingate by Wyndham Norfolk , 5800 Burton Station Road, Wingate by Wyndham Norfolk is an ideal hotel for vacation or business travel in Virginia Beach, VA, only four miles from Norfolk International Airport and miles of beautiful Virginia beaches.
Turtle Cay Resort, 600 Atlantic Ave. Beautiful Resort one-half block from the beach. The style and architecture resemble the beach charm and atmosphere that visitors come to the beach for. US $69-299.00
Barclay Cottage Bed and Breakfast, 400 16th Street, 1-757-422-1956, This award winning Victorian B&B located in an historic neighborhood with only a 2 minute walk to the beach is a romantic alternative to high-rise lodging.
The Westin Virginia Beach Town Center , (757) 557-0550, 4535 Commerce St, Virginia Beach hotel with service and sophistication to spare; Can accommodate an intimate gathering for 20, or a festive gala for 500. Located in the heart of a new
Sheraton Oceanfront Hotel , (757) 425-9000, 3501 Atlantic Avenue, Sheraton Virginia Beach Oceanfront Hotel offers a relaxing atmosphere, right in the middle of all VA Beach has to offer. Direct beach access, indoor/outdoor pools and upscale dining.
The city is home to Lynnhaven Mall and Hilltop Shopping Center. Approximately five minutes from the oceanfront, the Hilltop area contains several smaller shopping centers with national brand stores and smaller boutiques. Virginia Beach’s newest downtown area, Town Center, spans 17 city blocks and provides a mix of upscale retail, luxury residential, and an array of cafes and restaurants, along with business-class and deluxe hotels. Blue Taxi Clothing Company, Blanc and STAC are three locally-owned boutiques in Town Center with designer clothes and high-end merchandise.
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Eco84, David, Peter Fitzgerald, Keith , David, Andrew Haggard, Jim Logan, jbc, Tom Holland, Ryan Holliday, Terry, Colin Jensen, Evan Prodromou and Paul N. Richter, Inas and Beenthere
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