Virginia Beach, Virginia
Value for Money:
Personality Types that Like it Best
Did You Know … ?
- English settlers landed at Virginia Beach before moving on to found Jamestown (1607).
- The Old Cape Henry Lighthouse at Fort Story is the oldest federally funded lighthouse (1791).
- Guinness cites Virginia Beach as having the world’s longest pleasure beach (approximately 35 miles).
- Virginia Beach’s original wooden boardwalk was built in 1888.
- The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel is the longest bridge-tunnel complex in the world (17.6 miles shore to shore).
Virginia Beach, which faces the Atlantic Ocean, wins a mention in the history books as the point where the Jamestown founders landed before heading up the James River to found the first permanent English settlement in the New World. Virginia Beach is equally close to Colonial Williamsburg and about an hour’s drive from Yorktown, where General Cornwallis’ surrender in 1781 ended the American Revolution.
However, tourists don’t have to leave this beach town to see colonial-era houses and other colonial structures, such as the local lighthouse.
Virginia Beach is the site of five military installations as well as the Military Aviation Museum.
But when all is said and done, Virginia Beach is a resort town with a mild climate throughout the year. Its best-known symbol is its boardwalk, the focal point for much of the action for visitors. The boardwalk is paved, 28 feet wide and three miles long with a separate bike path.
Tourists come to town to play on the city’s seriously long beaches or on the water, lose themselves in the parks, go whale watching, be entertained at a wide variety of festive doings and take in boardwalk diversions. Also, they combine the rewards of entertainment with learning a thing or two at local museums, at historic sites and at the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center.
One of the more unusual options is to visit or even attend a seminar at the Edgar Cayce’s Association for Research and Enlightenment. The facility is a source of information about the late psychic Edgar Cayce and his influence today in the fields of health, education and more.
Virginia Beach is the state’s largest city, with nearly half a million people, and it offers a full range of accommodations, covering all budget categories. One access road is via the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, which, as the name suggests, takes travelers across Chesapeake Bay. Roughly 5,5 million visitors overnight at the destination each year.
Things to do for Venturers
- Look for feral pigs, loggerhead turtles, wild horses and American bald eagles in Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park.
- The names say it all. Consider arriving in time for the FunkFest in August or the Blues at the Beach Festival in September. Or, hear the steel band competition at PANorama Caribbean Music Fest in the spring.
- Cycle in the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge or First Landing State Park, and look for migrating waterfowl at both sites.
- Ride the Skyscraper extreme thrill ride, if you dare, at the Virginia Beach Amusement Park.
- Go parasailing or surfing. Or, try flyboarding, which by forcing water through a hose connected to the board and hand jets, can lift a rider as much as 15 feet into the air.
- At First Landing State Park, sign on for an educational program devoted to surf fishing.
Things to do for Centrics
- Explore the Military Aviation Museum, home to one of the largest private collections of World War II and Korean War era aircraft. There are five military installations in Virginia Beach.
- Sign on for half a day or a full day of sportfishing.
- Time your visit for an ethnic-themed festival. Festa Italiana occurs in September, and the Craft Beer Festival — which has decidedly German leanings — occurs in October.
- Visit Old Cape Henry Lighthouse, an 18th century original, and climb to the top of the tower for sweeping views. It is on the Fort Story military base.
- Build a fantastic sandcastle in the sandcastle-building competition that is part of Virginia Beach’s end-of-summer Neptune Festival. Participate in or watch other events: athletic competitions, wine tasting, an air show, an open-air art show and the Neptune Parade.
- Join a summertime shipwreck and ghost walk to learn about local legends of shipwrecks, ghosts, pirates and even witches.
Things to do for Authentics
- Visit the spot where the first Jamestown colonists first touched shore, called First Landing Cross.
- Go to the beach. Chesapeake Beach is a tranquil choice, but Sandbridge is even more secluded.
- Watch the free live concerts and theatrical productions, which are offered on the oceanfront every night of the week in summer.
- Attend the Boardwalk Art Show and Festival in June. And play golf almost anytime you want.
- Visit colonial era homes, beginning with the Adam Thoroughgood House, but also including the Lynnhaven House, the Ferry Plantation House and the slightly later Francis Land House.
- Observe a behavioral training session with harbor seals at the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center. Or, join one of the center’s winter wildlife boat trips to see whales and a wide range of seabirds.
For more information, consult the Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau at www.visitvirginiabeach.com