Ready to discover a new side of Virginia Beach? With this visitor’s guide, you’ll find there’s a whole lot more to a coastal getaway than just sand and surf. Dig into the area’s top destinations, tastiest restaurants, and coziest stays for a trip you won’t soon forget.
Fun in the Sun
What’s on the agenda? That’ll probably depend on what you want to get out of your trip. Looking for a heart-pounding adventure or a spot where you can relax? Or maybe you want something the whole family can do together? Don’t worry—this beach town has it all.
Is a lack of running water a dealbreaker for you? If you answered no, then camping at False Cape State Park is the way to go. Four campgrounds feature primitive tent-only campsites that require you to carry in all the gear you’ll need for your stay. Before you can settle in for the night, you must first hike or bike between five to eight miles through Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge to reach the park. Without vehicle access, you’ll want to make sure you pack light. But all that work is worth it to enjoy one of the last undeveloped areas on the Atlantic coast as you watch the migrating birds, sit in the sand, and fall asleep to the sounds of the bay.
Don’t want to commit to a fully-immersive adventure? There’s still plenty of action to be found in other places. Several outfitters in town offer a variety of guided tours or the equipment you need to get out on your own. Whether you want to spend the day fishing for rockfish in the Chesapeake Bay, paddleboarding salt marsh habitats, or biking miles of trails, you don’t have to worry about packing a thing. You can even take a tour with Pleasure House Oysters where you can sample the legendary Lynnhaven Oyster pulled out of the water right in front of you. It doesn’t get any fresher than that.
For those who prefer to keep things more low-key, First Landing State Park is a great place to start. Follow one of the boardwalks to more than a mile of beach along the Chesapeake Bay or walk the interior trails past bald cypress swamps, waterways, and wildlife habitats. There are plenty of places to stop and enjoy the views along the way.
Running parallel to the city’s oceanfront, the Virginia Beach Boardwalk is an excellent spot for a leisurely jaunt. Whether you’re exploring on foot or bike, this paved pathway will lead you to three miles of restaurants, museums, boutique shops, and more. You can then head into the ViBe District to view vibrant murals and choose from an eclectic mix of dining options.
At the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, you’ll find there’s no shortage of activities to keep everyone entertained. Wander through a variety of habitats, featuring everything from harbor seals and komodo dragons to snakes, sea turtles, and sharks. When you’re done inside, the Adventure Park features a ropes course and ziplining that’ll have you soaring amongst the trees. For the true Virginia Beach experience, you can even book a whale or dolphin watching tour that’ll get you close to these magnificent marine mammals.
Depending on the growing season, you can then head out to the farms of Pungo to pick your own produce. Featuring a variety of crops, including strawberries, apples, peaches, and veggies, this is a great way to spend some time outside while you pick up something delicious to eat.
You’ll need several days in the area just to try all of the food within your reach. Even the pickiest of eaters will find something they want to try at one of these local eateries.
Start your morning off on the right foot with a Pungo Latte from Three Ships Coffee Roasters or a mouthwatering pastry from May’s Parlor. In the mood for something savory and sweet? Try pairing eggs benedict with a Cinnamon Toast Crunch latte from The Bee & the Biscuit.
Whether you choose to fill up on a wrap from Redhead Bay Café, a crepe from Commune, or something from the raw bar at Atlantic on Pacific, it’s important to keep your energy up during the day and make time to rest your body.
Round off your day with a delicious meal as you watch the sunset over the water. Sit on the deck at The Porch on Long Creek as you sip on cocktails and taste the local seafood, most likely caught earlier that morning. For panoramic views of the city and the ocean, head to Orion’s Roof on the 23rd floor of the Marriott Virginia Beach Oceanfront.
What better way to end your night than with a local craft beverage served amongst friends. Sip on spirits from Tarnished Truth Distillery in the Cavalier Hotel or choose from the 27 stops along the Virginia Beach Beer Trail.
Looking for something longer than a day trip? Virginia Beach has plenty of options when it comes to finding a place to rest each night. Wake up to a sunrise over the water at one of the hotels or resorts along the oceanfront. If you’re traveling with a bigger group, look for a vacation rental that will accommodate everyone. Plus, with countless bed and breakfasts, cabins, and campsites, there’s no shortage of ways to stay.
This is just the start of what Virginia Beach has to offer. With a variety of events and festivals throughout the year, plus dozens of restaurants to try and miles of beach to walk, there are endless opportunities to have a good time. Take this as your invitation to visit Virginia Beach.
Cover photo: Watch for migrating birds. Photo by Shannon McGowan