A charming independent coastal city, Virginia Beach rests in the south-eastern portion of Virginia. Primarily a resort town, it is Virginia’s most populous city despite being very suburban. What’s more, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, Virginia Beach is home to the world’s largest pleasure beach.
When it comes to things to do in Virginia Beach, the options are plenty—from free attractions like parks and beaches to offerings like museums, special tours, aquariums, and amusement parks.
Each attraction is unique and reminds you of the sunny vibrancy of this delightful oceanfront town.
Go Hiking at First Landing State Park
Virginia was the first established European settlement in the US. In fact, it was at First Landing State Park where English settlers landed in 1607.
The 2,888-acre park features 1.25 miles of beachfront and 19 miles of walking trails through protected salt marsh habitat. As the most visited park in Virginia, it is a must-see attraction.
First, Landing State Park makes a beautiful location for a day trip of hiking or biking. The place is home to freshwater ponds, picturesque swamps, and a great visitor center that tells visitors the history of both the pilgrims and Native Americans. After a day of hiking and learning about the history, consider spending some time on the beach, enjoying the sunset.
Address: 2500 Shore Dr, Virginia Beach, VA 23451, United States
Fly in a War Plane at the Military Aviation Museum
If you are looking for the ultimate Virginia Beach adventure, the Military Aviation Museum is where you should head to. Not only does the place offer a tour of numerous classic planes from World War I and II, but they also offer you the opportunity to fly in a World War II biplane with a genuine pilot.
Put on your flight suits, wear your leather helmets, and jump on a 15-minute flight over the area, exploring the old runaways left over from WWII. As biplanes can’t take off in high crosswinds, the runaways were set up crisscrossing each other, so pilots could take off in any direction.
Address: 1341 Princess Anne Road Virginia Beach, VA 23457
The Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center
If you are visiting or living in Virginia Beach, one of the first places you should visit is the Virginia Museum and Marine Science Center. Situated on General Booth Boulevard, the center is home to more than 700 species of marine life, including seals, otters, and loggerhead turtles. But that isn’t all!
The Red Sea Tunnel is a see-through glass that helps you walk through the aquarium, watching marine life swim around you. Additionally, you can find the otter exhibit, a Komodo Dragon exhibit, an Adventure Park with an obstacle course and zip-lining, a 3D movie theatre, a dinosaur exhibit with moving mechanical dinosaurs, and a boat trip where you can watch whales and dolphins.
Address: 717 General Booth Blvd., Virginia Beach, VA 23451, USA
Pleasure House Oysters Boat & Tasting Tour
Oysters are an integral part of Virginia Beach’s economy. Hence, going on an oyster boat tour will help you get insights into how the industry acts as Virginia Beach’s backbone.
The fishers of Virginia Beach are very concerned about ensuring the waters remain sustainable. They have been working to regrow the oyster corals and bring the numbers back to the area.
When on tour, you will get to learn about how the oysters are raised to the optimal three-inch size. You will also get to tour the canals to check out the mansions and waterfront homes. Rapper and producer Pharrell Williams’ house is situated right on the shore. He was born and raised in the city and returns home often.
Oyster boat tours are pretty relaxing. You are free to do almost anything you choose. Expect to taste as many oysters as your stomach can hold. There is nothing better than fresh oysters shucked right out of the sea.
Cape Henry Lighthouse
Believe it or not, the Cape Henry Lighthouse is going to be one of the most interesting lighthouses you will ever visit. What makes this place unique is that it is situated in the heart of an operating military base.
Now, you will find two lighthouses here at Cape Henry—the newer New Cape Henry Lighthouse with a modern structure and the Old Cape Henry Lighthouse. The latter was the very first federally-funded lighthouse. It was lit by George Washington and the US federal government. So, it makes sense why it is considered a National Historic Landmark.
The Old Lighthouse was in use for nearly 100 years before replacing it with the newer one. Ensure you save enough time on your itinerary to head here and catch a glimpse of the Chesapeake Bay while you are here.
Address: 583 Atlantic Ave, Fort Story, VA 23459, United States
Where to Eat in Virginia Beach?
The food scene in Virginia Beach is outstanding, with restaurants serving almost anything you would wish to have. From classics like Carolina pulled pork biscuits to fine dining and contemporary cuisine serving seafood and oysters.
Commune, a place run by farmers, follows the farm-to-table movement and is ideal for grabbing some delicious breakfast. If you prefer seafood on the menu, you will be able to find it almost everywhere in Virginia Beach, but often it is infused with contemporary cuisine and seasonal fresh farm ingredients. When here, you can be sure to get some unique dishes created by award-winning chefs.
Some of the local favorites to eat include Esoteric, Commune, Bay Local Eatery, Leaping Lizard Café, and the Back Bay Gourmet. If you wish to make the most of Virginia Beach’s food scene, make sure you visit during Virginia Beach Restaurant Week.
Address: 3211 Lynnhaven Dr, Virginia Beach, VA 23451, United States
No matter your age, interests, or background, there’s a wide variety of things to do to keep you entertained. From beaches and restaurants to shops and museums, there’s something for everyone in Virginia Beach.