Are you dreaming of a sunny, sandy playground with a relaxed coastal vibe that includes sunset cocktails, scrumptious seafood, and relaxing vistas? Or perhaps you need a dose of natural beauty where you can get outside and hike, bike, boat, and breathe the fresh air. The world is your oyster in Virginia Beach, where you can do all of that and slurp up a few oysters, too.
Things To Do In Virginia Beach
Hit The Beach
The number one thing to do in Virginia Beach: Hit the beach! Whether you want to soak up some glorious sunshine, play in the Atlantic surf, or walk the soft sand, you will fall in love with Virginia Beach’s shoreline.
With 28 miles of public beaches, you can have your own little slice of glorious sandy paradise. Pack your beach toys, a picnic lunch, and a good book, then spend the day soaking up the bone-warming Virginia sunshine. Southern hospitality and charm paired with coastal vacation fun is what makes Virginia Beach such a popular vacation destination.
Virginia Beach Boardwalk
The Virginia Beach Boardwalk is three miles of on-the-ocean entertainment, restaurants, shops, and people watching. Whether you walk, bike, or rollerblade, you will find the boardwalk a great place to while away an hour or two.
Live on Atlantic is the go-to site for all your boardwalk event details. A favorite annual event is Sandstock: A Tribute To Rock and Roll, scheduled for late June. The free performances are held at the Hippy Dippy Stage, and this year include tributes to Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones, AC/DC, Van Halen, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Step back in time as you reminisce about the good old days of rock and roll. Don your tie-dye t-shirt, love beads, and rose-colored glasses as you groove to the classic sounds of rock and roll.
Enjoy The Great Outdoors
Pleasure House Point Natural Area is 118 acres of undeveloped tidal marsh and maritime forest that has been preserved for naturalists’ outdoor enjoyment. Non-motorized boating, fishing, and hiking are king. The park is open sunrise to sunset; be sure to check the website for exceptions before you go.
One of the world’s greenest buildings, the Brock Environmental Center at Pleasure House Point is an environmentally sensitive smart building. The center uses solar panels and wind turbines to produce more energy than it uses. Its water efficiency is the result of geothermal wells, rain cisterns, xeriscaping, and waterless toilets (something everyone should experience at least once). The buildings of our future will need to adapt to climate changes, and the Brock Environmental Center is a great example of how we could possibly live that life. The unique design and low impact on the surrounding environment make this a must-stop for anyone interested in coastal environments or green building management.
Less than a 30-minute drive north is Norfolk, Virginia, home to the world’s largest naval base. It is also NATO’s (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) North American Headquarters. There is so much to do and see in Norfolk. Plan to spend the day.
The battleship USS Wisconsin is docked in Norfolk. This imposing ship docked on the waterfront magnetically pulls you in for a closer look. Tours of the battleship include a unique guided exploration of the engine room deep in the belly of the battleship. The Command and Control tour highlights the officers’ and crews’ life at sea. There is also a self-guided tour that you can take at your own leisurely pace.
Wander down “restaurant row” on Granby Street. You will surely find a luncheon spot to satisfy your cravings, and you can absorb a little Norfolk history at the same time. Wide brick walkways, sidewalk seating, 18th-century buildings, and locals out and about contribute to a lively dining atmosphere.
Boating For Everyone
It’s all about when the fish are biting! What do you want to try and snag? The Rudee Tours fishing charter What’s Biting When chart will give you the perfect guide to plan your fishing journey. Rudee Tours offers half-, three quarter-, and full-day trips to satisfy every angler and angler wannabe’s desires.
Want to play in this water wonderland? Rent a pontoon boat. Bay Venture Boat Rentals offers lots of pontoon rental options so you can explore the bays, lakes, and inlets along the Chesapeake Bay area. Pack a cooler, a picnic lunch, and your sunscreen for a memorable day of fun, lazily floating your cares away. Pontoon boats are easy to steer and the waterways offer plenty of navigation space, so pretty much everyone can join in.
Virginia Beach Aquarium
The Virginia Beach Aquarium has over 300 species of marine life including harbor seals, Komodo dragons, Tomistoma crocodiles, and a plethora of sharks and turtles. It’s a fun place for kids of all ages. On non-beach days it can get very crowded, so plan to go early.
The Virginia Beach Aquarium offers several tours, including three “behind the scenes” tours. Experience a unique tour of the harbor seal building guided by one of the aquarium’s seal trainers. Your guide will educate you on their training techniques, and you will enjoy a meet-and-greet with one of the harbor seals. This is one of those tours you can humble-brag about.
Day Trip To Williamsburg
An hour’s drive north of Virginia Beach is the historical town of Williamsburg, home to Colonial Williamsburg and William and Mary College. Williamsburg is worth a trip if you have a history buff in your group. There is much to see and explore; it will take all day. It is a good break from the beach (if you need one).
Restaurants In Virginia Beach
There is no shortage of Virginia Beach restaurants. The main difficulty will be deciding which ones to try. You can choose traditional, finger-licking, shack-style seafood or refined, elegant culinary adventures. Of course, there are options in between these two extremes, meaning lots of great choices and variety for every lunch and dinner during your stay.
For the true foodie, the James Beard House-acclaimed Terrapin Restaurant is a must-dine. Begin your culinary adventure with the House Charcuterie, which includes rustic duck prosciutto, lavender and thyme salumi, and more served with an amazing ciabatta bread. Selecting an entree is a difficult decision, but you won’t go astray with the octopus fettuccine Pomodoro or the short rib rigatoni. Who’s hungry now?
Quintessential Seafood Buffet Spot
If a casual night out is the plan, then check out Captain George’s Seafood Restaurant. With buffet dining taken to the next level, you can dine on so-called She-Crab Soup, oysters Rockefeller, steamed crawfish, barbecue, hush puppies, and other regional specialties. Follow that up with cobbler, cake, or cookies. You will satisfy your buffet dreams with their bountiful spread.
Toes-In-The-Sand Seafood Shack
Harpoon Larry’s Killer Seafood and Oyster Bar is Virginia Beach’s answer to quintessential beachside dining. Between the starters and the raw bar, the selection is mouthwatering. Order several of each for a smorgasbord seafood feast. Good options are the Shrimp Jammers (with jalapeno), calamari, and fish tacos paired with the Killer Combo from the raw bar. Voila! Dinner is served. Of course, they offer entrees, too, which makes decision making even more difficult.
Shopping In Virginia Beach
The Town Center offers a variety of shopping options from Brooks Brothers to Five Below and everything in between. Be sure to stop at the Royal Chocolate for a confectionary pick-me-up, and to avoid the shopping hangries.
Stroll along the Boardwalk for a casual shopping experience. Just off Atlantic Avenue are the Shops at 31 Ocean, a mini-mall with boutiques, beachy shops, and casual dining.
Places To Stay In Virginia Beach
The options for beachy vacation stays are pretty much endless. You can choose from family-friendly to luxury, highrises to cottages, rustic cabins, and yurts. No matter what you choose, you will sleep well from all the sunshine, fresh air, and activities of your vacation adventure.
Oceanfront Tower Views
Walk out of your highrise, oceanfront rental at Barclay Towers, and you will be tempted to stay beachfront forever. Barclay Towers offers suites with I-could-sit-on-this-balcony-all-day ocean views. Steps from the sandy beach and sparkling Atlantic waters, Barclay Towers is perfectly situated for your getaway fun.
Quaint Beach Cottages
Angie’s Guest Cottages offer sweet little beachy hangouts for a casual, rustic Virginia Beach adventure. Angie’s is strategically located for walking access to almost everything down at the beach. Renting a cottage is like having your own private oasis on the sand. These cottages are gobbled up fast, so book early.
Virginia Beach Campgrounds
There are several state parks in Virginia Beach that offer campsites.
Kiptopeke State Park and First Landing State Park offer cabins, lodges, and RV and tent-site camping. For a unique stay, you can rent one of their yurts, which sleep between three and six guests. The yurts come with a rocking chair-adorned deck in addition to traditional cabin amenities.
The state parks offer boat ramps, hiking and biking trails, and beach access. They’re perfect spots for your nature-filled vacation experience.
Virginia Beach is a wonderful place to vacation, perfect for some weekend fun with enough to keep you busy for a week. If you are looking for action, select a stay near the Boardwalk or on Atlantic Avenue. For a more zen, nature-infused getaway, try one of the state parks.