Most people say they travel to Virginia Beach for the gorgeous beaches. With its 35 miles of coastline, long stretches of pristine white sand, beautiful ocean views, and comfortable year-round temperatures, that’s not surprising. But the wonders of Virginia Beach don’t end there. This oceanside city is filled with an endless array of scenic adventures, art-inspired festivities, and unique foodie experiences.
Virginia Beach’s famous three-mile boardwalk is, without a doubt, the most popular landmark in the area. With its biking and walking paths, spectacular views, and easy access to nearby restaurants and hotels, visitors can spend a few minutes or a full day relaxing, sunbathing on the beach, or enjoying the street performers. Benches line the concrete path, and the area is clean and well-lit, perfect for relaxing evening strolls, or an energetic walk to fend off the day’s calories. Bike and electric scooter rentals are available, or strap on some inline skates.
Just a few blocks from the Boardwalk, visitors will discover the ViBe Creative District, the city's cultural arts hub. Founders of the district initiated it as a revitalization project in 2008, to attract both technology-based and creative businesses. Today, it is home to artists and technical and artsy businesses alike. Both locals and tourists visit this vibrant district for walking tours, exhibits, galleries, shopping, art challenges, and recurring weekly events. Enjoy a Hawaiian coffee or a smoothie at Bad Ass Coffee, or wind down with a happy hour cocktail at Esoteric, an eatery housed in a historic 1920s-era building. A visit to the ViBe district should be on everyone’s must-see list.
In the southern part of Virginia Beach, surrounded by grain silos, restaurants serving farm-to-table-fresh meals, roadside stands, and 8,000 acres of serene farmland is the rural community of Pungo. Spend the day picking your own fresh berries or vegetables, sampling homemade country wines at a local winery, or taking a cooking class from a top chef. Visit the Military Aviation Museum and catch a ride aboard a vintage 1941 Boeing biplane. Make plans to attend the annual Strawberry Festival in Pungo during the Memorial Day weekend and share a 36-year tradition with locals.
Vacations and weekend excursions can be challenging for those who depend on a wheelchair for getting around. Thousands of local supporters, businesses, and organizations worked together to raise the funds needed to create JT’s Grommet Island Beach Park & Playground for EveryBODY. They designed the 15,000-square-foot oceanfront beach playground specifically for children and adults of all physical abilities. With cushioned play surfaces, wheelchair accessible entrances, raised tables for sandcastle building, sensory boards for visually impaired children and children with autism, and soft play sculptures, JTs lets everyone enjoy a day at the beach together.
Between late December and mid-March, nature lovers have the opportunity to observe several species of whales during their annual migration to warmer waters. Charter boats offer daily whale-watching tours narrated by an experienced tour guide. Bring a pair of binoculars and a camera to catch some unforgettable views. If you prefer not to ride the waters, plan a trip to the Virginia Aquarium, instead, to score up-close views of more than 300 fish species, sea turtles, sharks, seals, and more. Enjoy hands-on exhibits or explore the nature path or marshlands exhibits.
The beach views from the ground may be spectacular at Virginia Beach, but imagine taking in the beauty at 2000 feet. Charter a sky tour aboard a plane or helicopter to take in the splendor of the coastline and points of interest during the day or experience a spectacular night flight. Fall tours are available to view the beautiful fall foliage. Holiday tours in the winter months highlight the spectacular seasonal light displays around the city.
With so many beach destinations, travelers can easily find one to match their mood. Sandbridge Beach is a favorite due to its calmer waters. It’s much less crowded than the beaches closer to the Boardwalk. Those seeking more of a surfer’s paradise can head to Croatan Beach. Rent a wave board or take surfing lessons. About five miles away, combine a primitive camping experience with your beach time at False Cape State Park. The False Cape beach itself is accessible only by kayak, boat, bicycle, or the park’s beach transporter, and the area is teeming with wildlife.
Unlike most festivals that start and end on a specific date, the Virginia Beach Neptune Festival offers around 40 events throughout the year. The annual Boardwalk Weekend in late September has daily concerts, artisan booths, an art and craft show, an 8k race, and an international sand sculpting competition. In May, the annual Spring Wine and Food Festival offers tasting stations for more than 70 wines from around the world and cuisine from local eateries. While exploring the Boardwalk, don’t forget to visit the 34-foot bronze Neptune statue guarding the gateway to Neptune Park and the surrounding beaches.
The abundance of popular landmarks around Virginia Beach creates multiple opportunities for memorable photos. A sunrise or sunset beach photo is mandatory, of course. The Miyazaki Japanese Garden is a beautiful, serene site on the grounds of the 97-acre Red Wing Park and is especially photo-worthy in the spring. Visit Mount Trashmore, a former landfill now a sprawling 165-acre park featuring lakes, man-made mountains, picnic shelters, playgrounds, and a skate park. The beautiful surroundings are the perfect backdrop for family vacation photos.
Local folklore is alive and well in Virginia Beach, and its deep historical roots allow it to thrive. Through the years, ghost hunters and the paranormal-curious have targeted buildings and homes for investigations. Those who like a little spooky ambiance mixed in with their sightseeing can join the Stroll of Lost Souls tours held each October. Observers report seeing ghosts and experiencing other strange phenomenon at the Ferry Plantation House, the Thoroughgood House, and the Virginia Beach Surf and Rescue Museum, to name just a few.