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Virginia Beach Area Features

The Charm of Virginia Beach

  By: Jacquelyn Eurice

The coastal city of Virginia Beach has drawn visitors to its shore for centuries. Back in the 1600s, voyagers from afar glimpsed sight of this land and stepped upon the soil. They proceeded to Jamestown and became the first permanent English settlers in the New World. Even before that, Native Americans would feast on the bounties from the sea and the bay on the river banks and sandy shores. Over 400 years later, visitors from around the world come to Virginia Beach for sun, sand, surf and also for culture, history, and entertainment. After all, Virginia Beach is one of the largest cities in the state and offers quiet, rural locations as well as sprawling cityscapes within its boundaries. This is why people from around the world choose Virginia Beach as an ideal vacation getaway.

Discover the Lay of the Land

Virginia Beach is part of Hampton Roads, the southeastern coastal cities and towns of Virginia that extend from the beach to Williamsburg. It is bordered by the Chesapeake Bay to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the east, North Carolina to the south, and the cities of Chesapeake and Norfolk to the west. The city thrives due to many factors, but the bordering bodies of water have always enticed people to the region. Plus, there are different types of beaches for different types of vacationers: the resort area, Chic’s Beach, and Sandbridge.

The most popular beach for visitors is at the oceanfront in the resort area, along the boardwalk. This is where tall hotels illuminate the evening skyline and high-end stores, souvenir shops, and restaurants of all types are found on every street. Music, concerts and amusing activities also keep guests entertained for the duration of their stay. So that “everyBODY” can enjoy the beach, JT’s Grommet Island was constructed. This beachfront playground paradise has ramps over the sand that can 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. Here, everyone in the family can interact together.

And don’t forget the boardwalk in the resort area! 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 flourishes here, it’s easy to understand why. Every day you’ll find people enjoying this landmark along the ocean. They walk romantically hand-in-hand, pedal together on a family bike (called a surrey), jog for exercise, stop in a shop or museum, or simply sit on a bench and take it all in. 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. In the summer, look to “Live! On Atlantic” (formerly known as “Beach Street USA”) to keep the fun going well into the evening.

Chic’s Beach lies on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay and is a quieter, more residential beach than its neighbor to the southeast, the resort area. This is where fishing boats are often seen hauling in their catch. There are only a few hotels to choose from, but the area is great for families with small children since the waves on the bay aren’t as strong as on the oceanfront. This area is also known for its selection of local restaurants offering fresh seafood and refreshing tropical drinks. Some may consider these establishments as a bit of a bar scene, but the food is outstanding and families are definitely welcome.

Finally, for those who want the thrill of the ocean’s waves with natural seclusion, Sandbridge is the place. Just south of the resort area and extending to the North Carolina state line are natural splendors such as a wildlife refuge, unspoiled bays and marshlands, and uncrowded beaches. Expansive vacation houses can be rented for large family gatherings on the northern tip of Sandbridge, and there are smaller rentals for more intimate family vacations scattered along the beach.  

Live! On Atlantic

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 “Live! On Atlantic” performer. Between June 15 and August 26, 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. There are activities every member of the family will enjoy. Rock out to concerts on the boardwalk followed by brilliant fireworks bursting in the sky on select nights.

Meet The Locals!

In addition to the true locals who have lived here since birth, Virginia Beach has become home to transplants from all over the world. Some moved here for work or school, but many call this area home because of the military. Virginia Beach is proud to have within its borders multiple military bases including Naval Air Station Oceana, Dam Neck and Fort Story. 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—and the locals are patriotic. Overall, you’ll find the citizens of Virginia Beach to be helpful and welcoming. The people are generally friendly and the city still maintains a bit of its Southern charm.

Tip: Visitors can 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.

Taste the Good Life

Food lovers delight at the abundance 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.

Enjoy Yourself!

Virginia Beach really does have a little bit of everything and something for everyone. For example, 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.

History enthusiasts will find many sites to explore that were witness to many events of our state’s and nation’s past. Not too many places can claim to be the start of a new world. However, at First Landing State Park, it’s possible to step on the same tract of land where Captain John Smith first came ashore in the founding of the first permanent English colony in what came to be called America. A commemorative monument marks the site and can be seen while visiting Fort Story. More history can be found in local museums and in some of the restored colonial houses that still stand today.

There are also opportunities for family fun around practically every corner. Of course, the beach is probably the most popular attraction but there are many other things that groups of all ages can do together. Take your pick of attractions from escape rooms to arcades and amusement parks to an aquarium. Indoors and out, entertainment abounds.

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. From its urban areas filled with popular shops and restaurants to its natural reserves where outdoor activities abound, the city is as diverse as the people who live there. No matter what interests you or your family, Virginia Beach has it all. So, with open arms, welcome to our city!

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