There is something wonderful about Virginia Beach that speaks to its visitors and residents. Among East Coast vacation spots, this one is unique in so many ways. For those who have never been to Virginia Beach, there is a lot to do and discover. However, once you’ve been here, you’ll feel compelled to return, to relive the splendor of vacations past in Virginia’s largest city. Others have become so enamored that they relocate completely – choosing to make Virginia Beach the place they live, work and most definitely play. The amenities and activities of city living combine perfectly with the beachfront culture. Meanwhile, natural preserves and rural communities maintain a special nostalgic charm.
So welcome to Virginia Beach! Prepare to become intrigued and discover why Virginia is for (beach) lovers…
The city of Virginia Beach is home to three distinctly different beaches. Though most people are aware of the beach that lies in front of the very popular resort area on the Atlantic Ocean, there is also the beach that lines the Chesapeake Bay, commonly referred to as Chic’s Beach, and the quieter, more residential beach that lies south of the resort area, Sandbridge. Each beach has a different feel. For a beach city vibe, visit the resort area. Those with small children may prefer the calmer, warmer waters of the Chesapeake Bay. And a more tranquil atmosphere can be found in Sandbridge, where expansive vacation houses can be rented for large family gatherings. The beaches alone exemplify how there’s something for everyone in Virginia Beach.
A trip to Virginia Beach would not be complete without a stroll on the boardwalk. It’s the best way to enjoy the hot sun, tempting aromas and salt air that are complemented by the roaring ocean and miles of scenic sandy beaches. People from all over converge here. They walk romantically hand-in-hand, pedal together on a family bike (called a surrey), jog for exercise, stop in to a shop or museum, or simply sit on a bench and take it all in. Repeatedly, the Virginia Beach Boardwalk has been named one of best boardwalks in the United States by countless travel publications. With the lighthearted atmosphere that abounds here, it’s easy to understand why.
Beach Street USA
Talented performers with a wide variety of acts come from all around the United States and Canada to entertain visitors between 17th and 25th streets along Atlantic Avenue and on various boardwalk stages. Musicians, acrobats, clowns, magicians and many others audition for a coveted spot as a “Beach Street USA” performer. Between June 17 and August 28, their efforts entertain and awe the crowds that gather to watch these amazing nightly performances from 7:30-11pm. One evening your family may be regaled with circus stunts and acrobatics. Another night could feature ventriloquists and comedians. The very popular Family Great Adventure Series returns in 2016 with nightly movies on the beach and themed activities every member of the family will enjoy. Rock-out to concerts on the boardwalk followed by brilliant fireworks bursting in the night sky on select nights. For a schedule of events and performances while you’re at the oceanfront, visit www.beachstreetusa.com.
The Neptune Statue
A perfect memento of a Virginia Beach vacation is a photo with the Neptune statue on 31st Street. This colossal 34-foot statue of the Roman god of the sea welcomes guests to the oceanfront while protecting his aquatic domain. Created by a Virginia artist, Paul DiPasquale, Neptune is one of the most photographed statues in Virginia and is an iconic symbol of Virginia Beach.
Epicureans delight at the plethora of independently owned restaurants to choose from—many on the water. Locally caught seafood and fresh produce from nearby farms are highlighted on many restaurant menus throughout Virginia Beach. Creative chefs expertly blend these ingredients to engage the senses and tempt your taste buds. Pair your meal with a craft beer from the area, a cocktail made with liquor from a local distillery, or any one of the hundreds of nationally acclaimed Virginia wines. Whether you dine in an intimate romantic setting or at a beachside tiki bar, a feast of your own design is in reach.
JT’s Grommet Island
In most resort areas, access to beach-related activities can be challenging for those with disabilities. Virginia Beach is the exception. JT’s Grommet Island is a beachfront playground paradise for “everyBODY.” Ramps over the sand help wheelchairs and other support devices enter the play area where kids can swing, twirl, play in the sand and just have fun in a family-friendly environment. Soon, JT’s Camp Grom will open in a lakeside park where “everyBODY” can swim, play and exercise in a serene park-like setting. Children and adults alike will have access to an aquatic center, gymnasium, nature trails, and various sports and recreational activities. Here, everyone in the family can interact together.
Patrons of the arts do not have to look far for cultural activities or performances while staying in the resort area. Museum exhibits, festivals, concerts and play productions take place in Virginia Beach with regularity. Indoors or out, there are numerous venues to choose from offering both free and ticketed events. Sunny Day Guide has all the information you need to find an event to attend while on vacation.
Not too many places can claim to be the start of a new world. However, members of the very first permanent English settlement in North America first set foot here in Virginia Beach. At First Landing State Park, it’s possible to step on the same tract of land where Captain John Smith first came ashore. A commemorative monument marks the site and can be seen while visiting Ft. Story. More history can be found in local museums and in some of the restored colonial houses that still stand today.
It’s impossible to miss the roar of jet engines as they zoom over the oceanfront or the sight of a naval vessel in local waters and not feel pride in our nation. Virginia Beach is home to many members of our military at bases including Naval Air Station Oceana, Dam Neck and Fort Story. Visitors will witness the military might of the Hampton Roads region when they see the armed forces in action. For a closer look, air shows, festivals and holidays including Memorial Day and the 4th of July present the power of the armed forces and further inspire a heightened sense of patriotism.
Largely because of the military presence, but also because of Hampton Roads’ regional colleges and universities, Virginia Beach has become home to transplants from all over the world. Though driving through the area can be tough alongside those from seemingly different schools of thought on rules of the road, the local populace is interesting and diverse. Most importantly, Virginia Beach is generally a friendly city that still maintains a bit of its Southern charm.
There are so many things to love about Virginia Beach; it’s no wonder that people from around the world choose to vacation here—and some choose to stay. So, with open arms, welcome to our city!