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Things To Do in Virginia Beach, VA

Virginia Beach, VA, is a vibrant coastal city known for its stunning beaches, rich history, and diverse range of activities. As a premier vacation destination, Virginia Beach offers something for everyone, from serene nature parks to lively boardwalks. 

Whether you’re looking for family-friendly attractions, historical landmarks, or outdoor adventures, there is no shortage of things to do in Virginia Beach, VA. Even if you decide to make it your new home it has many benefits of living in Virginia Beach.

Virginia Beach Boardwalk

The Virginia Beach Boardwalk is a vibrant, three-mile-long promenade that stretches from 2nd Street to 40th Street along the Atlantic Ocean. 

This iconic boardwalk, 28 feet wide, is a hub of activity year-round, featuring a separate bike path ideal for cycling and rollerblading, and a variety of attractions that cater to all ages.

 Visitors can enjoy stunning ocean views while watching surfers catch waves, anglers fish, and children play at Grommet Island Park, a fully accessible playground located at the 40th Street end of the boardwalk. 

The boardwalk also boasts several stages at 7th, 17th, 24th, and 31st streets, which host nightly live music during the summer months, enhancing the festive atmosphere of the area.

The Virginia Beach Boardwalk is also home to numerous restaurants and shops, offering a delightful mix of dining and shopping options. Popular spots include Catch 31 Fish House and Bar, known for its fresh seafood and ocean views, and the Atlantic Wildfowl Heritage Museum, which celebrates the region’s hunting and decoy carving history. 

The boardwalk’s culinary offerings range from casual beachside snacks to upscale dining, ensuring there is something to suit every taste. Additionally, landmarks such as the bronze statue of King Neptune at 31st Street provide perfect photo opportunities. 

Events like the Neptune Festival, which includes the International Sandsculpting Championship, added to the boardwalk’s allure, attracting thousands of visitors each year to enjoy its many festivities.

Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center in Virginia Beach is a premier destination for marine enthusiasts and families alike. Recently, the aquarium underwent significant renovations and expansions, with a $28.9 million investment enhancing the South Building. 

This update introduced over a dozen new species and several interactive exhibits, including the Otter Habitat, Jellies Gallery, and the Undersea Super Powers Gallery. 

The South Building also features a touch pool, a play area for children, and an observable veterinary care center, allowing visitors to gain insights into the care and maintenance of marine life.

The Virginia Aquarium is not only a site for public education and enjoyment but also a hub for conservation and research. It operates a renowned Stranding Response Program that rescues and rehabilitates marine animals. 

The aquarium also engages the community with various educational programs, including summer camps, scout programs, and toddler activities such as Toddler Trek and Discovery Garden.

 Additionally, the aquarium hosts unique events like “Love Bites,” a fundraising initiative that humorously involves feeding symbolic “exes” to resident animals to support conservation efforts. With plans for future expansions and potential new management models, the aquarium continues to evolve as a leader in marine education and conservation.

Sandbridge Beach

Sandbridge Beach in Virginia Beach, VA, offers a serene and less crowded alternative to the bustling main beachfront areas, making it an ideal spot for a relaxing getaway. This hidden gem features pristine sands and warm waters, perfect for swimming, surfing, and sunbathing. 

Unlike the more commercialized areas, Sandbridge Beach primarily offers homes and condos for rent, with no hotels, contributing to its tranquil atmosphere. 

Visitors can enjoy a variety of local amenities, including a store for essentials and a few nearby eateries offering fresh seafood and delicious local fare.

The area around Sandbridge Beach provides numerous activities for outdoor enthusiasts. The nearby Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park offer opportunities for hiking, biking, and wildlife viewing. 

Water sports such as kayaking, paddleboarding, and fishing are popular, with equipment rentals and lessons available from local businesses like Surf & Adventure Company. 

For a unique experience, visitors can even enjoy horseback riding through coastal trails and shallow waters at the Easy Does It Ranch. With its blend of natural beauty and outdoor activities, Sandbridge Beach is a perfect destination for families and nature lovers seeking a peaceful retreat.

Mount Trashmore Park

Mount Trashmore Park in Virginia Beach, VA, is an iconic example of environmental innovation and recreational planning. 

Spanning 165 acres, the park features two man-made mountains, two lakes, and a variety of amenities including playgrounds, picnic shelters, a skate park, and fitness stations. The main mountain, Mount Trashmore, stands 60 feet high and 800 feet long, created by compacting layers of solid waste and clean soil. 

This transformation from a landfill to a park is celebrated for its environmental significance, showcasing sustainable practices like xeriscaping in its water-wise garden.

Visitors to Mount Trashmore Park can enjoy a multitude of activities. The park’s Kids Cove Playground, nearly 26,000 square feet in size, is designed with ADA compliance and features a giant play structure, swings, and climbing areas. 

For sports enthusiasts, the park offers volleyball courts, a skate park with various ramps and pipes, and multiple fitness stations along the shared-use paths. 

Fishing is available at Lake Windsor and Lake Trashmore, adhering to state regulations and requiring a freshwater fishing license. The park also hosts numerous events throughout the year, including the popular July 4th celebrations and summer carnivals.

Grommet Island Park

Grommet Island Park in Virginia Beach, VA, is renowned as America’s first 100% accessible oceanfront park, designed to be inclusive for visitors of all abilities. 

Located at the southern end of the Virginia Beach Boardwalk, this 15,000-square-foot park features a variety of accessible amenities, including wheelchair-friendly entrances, a fully accessible playground with poured-in-place surfacing, and raised sand tables for sandcastle building. 

Additionally, the park has a sensory board for children who are autistic or visually impaired, and sculptural features like dolphins and surfboards that are designed for interactive play.

Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art

The Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (Virginia MOCA) in Virginia Beach is a dynamic cultural institution known for its ever-changing exhibitions that feature local, regional, and internationally renowned artists. 

Located at 2200 Parks Avenue, within the vibrant ViBe Creative District, the museum is easily accessible and offers free parking onsite. Virginia MOCA engages with over 1,500 artists annually, providing a platform for a diverse array of contemporary art. 

Notable upcoming exhibitions include the “Made in VA Biennial” and “Nikki Leone: Rule Breaker,” both opening on July 12, 2024. These exhibitions promise a robust selection of exceptional contemporary art that reflects the talent found across Virginia.

Hunt Club Farm

Hunt Club Farm in Virginia Beach, VA, is a family-owned, 35-acre attraction that combines educational and recreational activities, making it a popular destination for families and visitors of all ages. 

The farm features a variety of friendly animals in its petting zoo, including goats, chickens, cows, sheep, donkeys, llamas, and pigs.

 One of the standout attractions is the BirdWalk Aviary, where visitors can interact with and feed colorful parakeets. The farm also offers pony rides and the TreeWalk Adventure, providing a panoramic view of the farm from above.

Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

The Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge is a vast and ecologically rich area covering nearly 113,000 acres of forested wetlands, straddling southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina. 

This refuge is a significant remnant of a once much larger swamp that spanned over one million acres. The swamp’s diverse ecosystem is home to a variety of flora and fauna, including over 200 species of birds, 47 species of mammals, and 96 species of butterflies. 

Bird watchers can spot various warblers during the spring migration from mid-April to mid-May, and wildlife enthusiasts might encounter black bears, bobcats, and river otters throughout the year. The refuge also provides critical habitats for many reptile and amphibian species.

Visitors to the Great Dismal Swamp can explore the area through an extensive network of trails and boardwalks. There are over 40 miles of hiking and biking trails that offer a chance to immerse in the swamp’s unique environment. 

One of the key attractions is Lake Drummond, a three-mile-wide natural lake located at the heart of the swamp, which is accessible via the Lake Drummond Wildlife Drive. 

Activities such as fishing and kayaking are popular on the lake, and with the appropriate permits, hunting for black bears and white-tailed deer is permitted in designated areas during certain times of the year. Additionally, the Suffolk Tourism Board offers guided tours that provide in-depth insights into the swamp’s history and ecology.

Virginia Beach Surf & Rescue Museum

The Virginia Beach Surf & Rescue Museum, located at 24th Street on the Virginia Beach Boardwalk, is a significant historical site that celebrates and preserves the maritime heritage of Virginia’s coastal communities. 

Housed in a building that is itself an icon listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the museum offers a variety of exhibits that delve into the history of the United States Life-Saving Service and the U.S. Coast Guard along the Atlantic coast. 

These exhibits showcase artifacts and stories from the local surf and rescue operations, highlighting the bravery and dedication of those who have safeguarded the region’s shores.

The museum, which reopened for the 2024 summer season, is open from Wednesday to Saturday, 10 AM to 4 PM. It features engaging displays on shipwrecks, rescue missions, and the evolution of beach safety equipment. 

Special programs and events are also part of the museum’s offerings, including the annual Norwegian Lady Ceremony, which commemorates the lives lost in the 1891 wreck of the Norwegian ship “Dictator.” 

Additionally, the museum’s gift shop provides a range of unique maritime-themed items. Located in the heart of the oceanfront district, the Virginia Beach Surf & Rescue Museum serves as an educational resource and a tribute to the city’s rich maritime history.

Dolphin Paddleboard Eco-Tour

The Dolphin Paddleboard Eco-Tour in Virginia Beach, VA, offers an exciting and immersive experience for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike. Operated by Chesapean Outdoors, this guided tour allows participants to paddleboard alongside Atlantic bottlenose dolphins in their natural habitat. 

Tours typically depart from North End Beach, where participants receive a safety briefing and paddling instructions before heading out into the Atlantic Ocean. Along the way, guides not only help with navigation but also share fascinating information about the local marine ecosystem. 

Participants can expect to see not only dolphins but also other marine wildlife such as pelicans, ospreys, cow-nose rays, and sea turtles.

Pleasure House Oysters

Pleasure House Oysters in Virginia Beach, VA, offers a unique and immersive experience that combines learning about oyster farming with tasting some of the freshest oysters available. 

This family-owned oyster farm provides two main tour options: the two-hour “Tasting Tour” and the four-hour “Waterman Tour.” On the Tasting Tour, participants can enjoy a scenic boat ride on the Lynnhaven River while learning about the history and cultivation of the legendary Lynnhaven Oyster. 

The highlight of the tour is tasting the oysters straight from the water, often accompanied by homemade mignonette. The Waterman Tour, on the other hand, offers a more hands-on experience where visitors don waders to explore the oyster beds and participate in the farming process.