Virginia Beach in a nutshell
The perfect destination for the classic beach vacation, Virginia Beach maintains a long-standing reputation as a family-friendly oceanfront resort.
In Virginia Beach, visitors are invited to “Live the Life!”
A recently-widened 300-foot beach, three-mile long oceanfront Boardwalk, historic landmarks, exciting attractions, manicured golf courses, parks and wildlife habitats, and popular events enhance any visit.
Seaside lodging with spectacular views and dining experiences with succulent seafood abound, and the resort city’s mild climate makes it an ideal vacation spot any season of the year.
In Virginia Beach, balmy temperatures, cool breezes and an invigorating ocean have beckoned with the call of a classic American oceanfront vacation for more than 120 years.
Salty air, sandy beaches, a boardwalk and a relaxing hotel stay were key elements of a beach getaway even in the 19th century. Fast forward to the 21st century – where Virginia Beach is reaping the benefits of a $300 million face-lift, leaving it with a refreshing update to the historical oceanfront.
With a wider beach, new hotels, year-round attractions, historic landmarks, championship golf courses, and a new convention center on the horizon, the resort city invites visitors to relive old memories and create new ones along its shores.
Climate and Temperatures
Best time to travel / Season
The seaside resort’s mild climate continues to surprise visitors, and Virginia Beach’s appeal as a quality year-round destination is steadily growing.
What to do
First constructed in 1888, the Virginia Beach Boardwalk has received national acclaim in recent times as one of America’s favorite boardwalks.
In its various forms, the thoroughfare has seen it all:
Prohibition and German U-boats, Big Bands and surfer girls, shag contests and roller blades.
Throughout time, the Boardwalk has remained an enduring symbol of the seaside City of Virginia Beach.
Built from wooden planks during the nation’s “gilded age,” the five-block promenade attracted thousands of Victorian vacationers lured by the area’s salt water and fresh ocean air, and the famed Peacock Ballroom, where couples swooned to the music of legendary artists such as Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway and Tommy Dorsey.
A few things, however, have changed. Today’s Boardwalk is wider, longer and prettier than ever at an impressive 28-foot width and three-mile length.
A separate bike path running alongside the promenade makes for an enjoyable ride on wheels, while a new retaining wall of sculpted stone stands to strengthen and protect the boardwalk from below.
Handicapped parking, accessible restrooms and water fountains also can be found along the main thoroughfare.
Ocean and Bay Beaches
Virginia Beach is the “World’s Longest Pleasure Beach,” according to the Guinness Book of World Records? It boasts more than 35 miles of ocean and bay beaches stretching from the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay to Virginia’s southern border.
With 35 miles of waterfront property, Virginia Beach has long been considered a “classic American beach vacation” spot. In the resort area, newly-landscaped pedestrian beach entrances are easy to find, and parking is ample. If your idea of a “day at the beach” is more relaxed, try a tranquil vacation spot along the scenic Chesapeake Bay. Swimmers will enjoy the bay’s protected shallow waters, and parents will find its waves are gentle enough for even the youngest members of the family.
The beach has been expanded to wider than a football field. In 2001, a $22 million sand replenishment project pumped 3.2 million cubic yards of sand on the existing beachfront. In all, Virginia Beach has invested more than $300 million in resort improvements.
In Virginia Beach, a total of 14 miles of beach is open to the public.
Situated just a few miles from the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, the Lynnhaven Inlet offers anglers the chance to go after a diverse array of fish species.
There are several marinas and boat ramps situated at the Lynnhaven Inlet area where anglers can launch their own boat, or charter a guide for a day on the water. After a great day of fishing, visitors can enjoy some of the best seafood on the East Coast while in the midst of a majestic sunset view at the Lynnhaven Inlet area’s diverse selection of restaurants.
From fine dining elegance at restaurants such as One Fish Two Fish, to locals’ favorites like Chick’s Oyster Bar and Bubba’s Crabhouse, anglers will find plenty of tasty fish no matter how successful their day on the water.
Rudee Inlet at the south end of the Virginia Beach oceanfront opens into the Atlantic Ocean. For those who enjoy fishing from pier and surf, there are two major spots to fish at Rudee.
Outside the inlet on the beach, fish like puppy drum and stripers are caught in season. Inside Rudee Inlet, there is about 100 yards of fishable water where several species congregate.
After a day on the water, you may have worked up a bit of an appetite, and Rudee Inlet offers a vast variety of delectable dining choices.
Fishing in Virginia Beach
With its modern marinas and easy access to the ocean and bay, Virginia Beach is the perfect departure point for a day on the water. Deep sea fishing for yellowfin tuna, marlin, amberjack and wahoo is a popular sport for both the experienced and novice angler.
North America’s largest and most productive estuary, the Chesapeake Bay teems with striped bass, flounder, tautog and spot – as well as oysters, shrimp and crab.
Virginia Beach also hosts the annual Striped Bass World Championship each November through December.
This tournament offers thousands of dollars in cash and prizes to both locals and visitors.
The Old Coast Guard Station
Housed in a 1903 former U.S. Life Saving Station, this quaint, oceanfront museum is chock-full of rescue equipment used by turn-of-the-century surf men to save shipwrecked crews from a watery grave.
Learn about shipwrecks that occurred just off the Virginia Beach coast and the history of life saving service from World War II to the present day.
Don’t leave without taking a peek through TOWERCAM, a roof-mounted video camera that zooms in on passing ships dotting the Virginia Beach horizon.
The camera transmits its pictures to a 27-inch television monitor, affording museum visitors the same view crewmen had from the tower nearly 100 years ago.
Atlantic Wildfowl Heritage Museum
Just a short stroll up the Boardwalk from the Old Coast Guard Station, discover another Virginia Beach treasure – the Atlantic Wildfowl Heritage Museum.
Located in the historically registered DeWitt cottage built in 1895, the Atlantic Wildfowl Heritage Museum displays art and artifacts documenting migratory wildfowl that pass through Eastern Virginia. Exhibits of wildfowl and shorebird carvings trace the evolution of this unique American art form.
Enjoy on-site wood-carving demonstrations, interactive computer programs, decoys dating from ancient times to present day and a collection of exhibits covering the history of Virginia Beach.
Naval Air Station Oceana
Virginia Beach is home to five military installations, including Naval Air Station Oceana.
A master jet base, NAS Oceana is home to both F-14 Tomcat squadrons the East Coast-based F/A-18 Super Hornet aircraft.
Visitors to Virginia Beach marvel at the Aviation Historical Park, located just inside the main gate, as well as the power and grace displayed by the planes during regular flight training.
Base tours are available from Memorial Day through mid-September.
Also in Virginia Beach, the Little Creek Amphibious Training Command is the largest base of its kind in the world and the major operating base for the amphibious forces of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet.
Note: Access to military bases may be restricted for public tours and a valid picture ID is required.
First Landing State Park
History comes alive at First Landing State Park where, on April 26, 1607, three British ships, captained by John Smith, weighed anchor near the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay before continuing north to settle at Jamestown.
At departure, the crew planted a cross and claimed the land for England, and then named it Cape Henry in honor of the Prince of Wales.
A virtually undiscovered ecological treasure, Virginia Beach is one of the last great saltmarsh habitats on the East Coast. Virginia Beach’s many state and federal parks offer hiking, bird-watching, biking, canoeing and kayaking. Some of the most popular parks include: First Landing State Park, a 2,900-acre park that fronts the Chesapeake Bay; ,Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge a 7,700-acre refuge of beach woodland and marsh; False Cape State Park,a maritime park accessible only by boat; and, North Landing River Natural Area Preserve owned and operated by the Nature Conservancy, and one of the largest and most significant natural area preserves in Virginia.
One of southeastern Virginia’s first permanent residents was Adam Thoroughgood, a former indentured servant, who prospered in the colonies as a result of his astute business sense.
In 1635, he petitioned for a grant of more than 5,300 acres based on a 50-acre “headright” for each of the 105 men and women he transported from England.
For a peek into the lives of Virginia Beach’s earliest residents, visitors may enter a number of historic homes located throughout the city:
The Adam Thoroughgood House (circa 1680) stands on land that was part of the original land grant.
Other historic homes still standing in Virginia Beach were constructed later in the colonial period such as the Lynnhaven House (1725) and the Francis Land House (late 1700s).
All homes are open to the public for tours and host special interpretative programs throughout the year.
Adam Thoroughgood House
1636 Parish Road, Virginia Beach
4405 Wishart Road, Virginia Beach
Francis Land House
3131 Virginia Beach Boulevard, Virginia Beach
Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center
Location: 717 General Booth Blvd., Virginia Beach
The Contemporary Art Center of Virginia
Each year, more than 300 juried artists travel to Virginia Beach for one of the nation’s most prestigious events, The Boardwalk Art Show and Festival.
The Atlantic Ocean is the inspiring backdrop for this weekend event that showcases both visual and performing arts.
And, it’s only natural that a city maintaining such a long-standing association with the arts has its own outstanding visual arts center.
The Contemporary Art Center of Virginia is the only facility in southeastern Virginia that focuses on 20th-century art. Additionally, visitors can experience opera, dance and musical performances at venues throughout the region.
Each spring, Virginia Beach also participates as a regional venue in the annual Virginia Arts Festival, which brings some of the world’s finest performers of classical music, dance, world beat and more to Coastal Virginia cities within a 50-mile radius.
Shopping in Virginia Beach
Malls, boutiques and shopping centers are nearby or easily accessible, so get ready to fill those shopping bags with wonderful treasures.
Approximately five minutes from the oceanfront, the Hilltop area contains several smaller shopping centers with stores such as Williams-Sonoma, Talbots, and Blue Ridge Mountain Sports.
Along Atlantic Avenue, visitors will find a number of quaint boutiques and souvenir shops offering a variety of selections
Greenbrier Mall is the heart of the family shopping experience and located in Chesapeake, easily accessible from Virginia Beach and Norfolk!
The center has 120 specialty stores including two sit-down restaurants and diverse offerings in the Food Court.
Located on Greenbrier Parkway, South (off I-64,exit 289B). Web: https://www.greenbriermall.com/
Hilltop Shopping Center
Discover over 120 award-winning shops, restaurants and services minutes from the beach!
Know how to make a great vacation even better? Great shopping!
In Virginia Beach, that distinction goes to The Shops At Hilltop North, East & West.
Located just 2 miles from the Virginia Beach resort strip, our outstanding quality, selection and service have earned them the area’s prestigious “Best of the Beach” award nine years in a row.
At the northeast corner of Laskin Road (31st St.) & First Colonial Roads
One of the largest malls on the East Coast, Lynnhaven Mall offers over 1.4 million square feet of shopping. The mall features four department stores including the area’s only Lord & Taylor, a flagship Hecht’s, Dillard’s, and JCPenney.
Plus great specialty retailers like Banana Republic, Brookstone, Charlotte Russe, Jessica McClintock and Old Navy. All in all you’ll discover over 170 stores and services. Amenities include a complete Food Court, a one-of-a-kind double-decker carousel, an elaborate childrens’ play area and FREE parking. Lynnhaven Mall is located 10 minutes from the Virginia Beach Oceanfront at 701 Lynnhaven Parkway
A boisterous and beloved send-off to summer, the Neptune Festival offers everything from a wine tasting and world-class sandcastle competition to numerous athletic competitions, an air show and the famous Neptune Parade.
It has been ranked among the Top 10 festivals in the Southeast by the Southeast Tourism Society and is one of the top 100 festivals in the country.
Pungo Strawberry Festival
Although known for its great beaches, Virginia Beach also has miles and miles of beautiful farmland. This area called Pungo, and so a ‘Pungo Strawberry Festival’ is held annually every Memorial Day weekend.
All the strawberries you can eat prepared in over 50 different ways is the Festival highlight, but activities will also include a Pie-Eating contest, several Racing Car exhibits, one of the largest Carnivals on the east coast, continuous entertainment on 4 stages, a Parade, Livestock Sale and Show, a multi-million Military Display, Pig Races, Youth Art Show, and some of the most unique Arts and Crafts exhibited on the east coast.
Don’t miss this family-oriented, fun, wholesome, alcohol-free event.
Data & Facts
248.29 sq. mi (643 sq. km)
Hampton Roads Transit
ca. 455.ooo (2019 estimate); ca. 438.ooo (2010); 425,257 (U.S. Census 2000)
Norfolk International Airport
Virginia Beach Visitors Center
2100 Parks Avenue, Virginia Beach, VA 23451