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Things To Do In Virginia Beach
© 2013 Express10
If you are looking for a fun and affordable vacation or weekend away, consider Virginia Beach, Virginia. It is a short drive or flight from many areas of the east coast and neighboring states. There are lots of things to do here whether you live here, are vacationing, or just passing through. During the winter months, locals outnumber tourists, enjoying the restaurants, shops, taking dogs for walks in the sand (not allowed during summer months), and exercising.
Most visitors avoid the oceanfront during the winter months because it's too cold to enjoy the water but there are many other options to enjoy on and off the beach. If you don't like crowds, visit in the fall, winter, or spring to see the fewest tourists and have more interaction with locals. If you enjoy bustling places, visit the oceanfront during the summer. A lesser known fact to many tourists is that you will find a fairly large number of international tourists in Virginia Beach during the summer. There are many French speaking Canadians who travel here during the summer in addition to Russians and students from abroad. Virginia Beach also has a large and diverse Filipino population. I have even had the pleasure of meeting people from France, Germany, Slovenia, Romania, and various Asian countries right in Virginia Beach.
The Virginia Beach Oceanfront
Some visitors enjoy the oceanfront restaurants and nightclubs year round and if this sounds about your speed, try visiting the oceanfront for the highest concentration of nightclubs in VB. You will literally be able to walk from one club to the next with many clubs located next door to or a block away from one another along with a mixture of stores and restaurants. Just be sure to park in the properly marked places or city garages or you may find your car towed upon your return. There are music entertainment options in Virginia Beach such as concerts at the Farm Bureau Live at the Virginia Beach Amphitheater and the Sandler Center For The Arts.
This year there will be over 30 different bands to listen to over the 3 day Verizon Wireless American Music Festival. The American Music Festival takes place in August of each year at the oceanfront and offers performances ongoing through the weekend on several different stages. Some performances are free while others are not, but you'll be able to hear the music if you're relaxing, dining at one of the restaurants on the ocean, taking a stroll on the beach, or boardwalk. There is good variety of everything from top 40, country, rock, and R&B. This music filled weekend is usually crowded so those who dislike crowds should probably stick to the areas well north of 33rd street or so. The last of the music stages is at 31st street and the crowds quickly thin out from 33rd street and higher.
King Neptune Statue at 31st Street, Virginia Beach Virginia
There are clubs and smaller venues around the city where you will be able to hear local artists play. For a good laugh, there is a Funny Bone Comedy Club in Town Center across the street from Pembroke Mall. The Town Center area is a popular gathering spot because of the restaurants, shops, movie theaters, and the Sandler Center For The Arts all withing walking distance of one another in just about a 5 block radius. At Town Center you will find restaurants such as Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, Bravo, Cheescake Factory, and P.F. Chang's. Pembroke Mall is just across the street from the Cheescake Factory and P.F. Chang's at Town Center. If you or your children would like to shop elsewhere, less than 10 minutes away from the oceanfront is the larger of Virginia Beach's two shopping malls, Lynnhaven Mall. It has over 185 stores and restaurants and this is where you'll find the AMC 18 movie theater with stadium seating and it is just a few minutes closer to the oceanfront than Pembroke Mall.
During the summer, you will likely be able to take in free fireworks shows at the oceanfront which can be seen from anywhere along the boardwalk and many areas of Atlantic Avenue. Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends typically are the most crowded and if you are planning a visit, be sure to book your hotel room(s) well in advance if you want to stay at an oceanfront hotel. This is even more important if you want a great room right on the ocean. Other hotels are a short drive of less than 5 or 10 minutes to the oceanfront and usually have more affordable rates. In addition, hotels that aren't located at the oceanfront often do not require a reservation so if you make a last minute decision to visit, there are always good places to stay less than 10 minutes away.
Virginia Beach Oceanfront Sunset, Virginia Aquarium
On the 4th of July, there are also free fireworks at Mount Trashmore. Mount Trashmore is a park with walking trails, a couple of playgrounds, grills and picnic areas, and a large lake. This event is always extremely popular and you will have to stake out a spot hours beforehand if you hope to get a prime location to view the show. Parking is available at Mount Trashmore but you really must get there several hours ahead of sunset to be assured a space. If hanging out all day to see fireworks is not something you'd like to do (even though there are often vendors and activities available), there are a couple of shopping centers and other places where you can visit while the fireworks are going off and you'll still get a great view. Just ask some locals that actually live in or know the area for details. I know several places that save you from the parking and waiting nightmare, but will not post them here as I don't want to get any flak about it. One last note about the 4th of July fireworks at Mount Trashmore. Certain portions of the surrounding roads are restricted or closed before and during the fireworks so you may have to take alternate routes or wait a bit.
Mount Trashmore, Virginia Beach
For those who enjoy the great outdoors, there are several state parks in Virginia Beach such as Fort Story and First Landing where you will be able to enjoy a variety of outdoor activities. If you are an early bird, you'll probably see dolphins playing in the water and you will be able to see whales just offshore as well. Year round Virginia Beach has a very active fishing community and there are lots of opportunities to get out and test your skills whether you have a boat or not. Try the Lynnhaven Fishing Pier and the Virginia Beach Fishing Pier at the oceanfront for sightseeing or fishing. Some out-of-towners and locals complain about having to pay to walk on the pier or just to sightsee. All that I have to say about that is that someone has to pay for the upkeep and that is the users. You will find many people fishing and sightseeing in other areas for free...if you look. Again, I'm not saying because I refuse to get any flak for advertising locals' spots and traditions. Jet skiing and kayaking are also popular pastimes and stand up paddle boarding is also gaining popularity. Beach Eco Tours offers group and private lessons and you might even have the chance to see dolphins while you're out paddle boarding! I highly recommend them. If you go to Beach Eco Tours, tell them you read about them here.
I would not be a true VB resident if I couldn't recommend the East Coast Surfing Championships/ECSC which takes place in August of each year drawing thousands of surfers, their family, and supporters to the beach. You will see great surfers from across the country and around the world. You will also be able to hear a variety of good bands, some of them local. This is a fun event to see even if you can't surf. Get out and take in the weather, music, and the surfing. And before you say that Virginia Beach has no waves (if I had a nickel for every time I've heard this...), just think about the fact that this competition is the longest running competition on the North American continent and the 2nd longest run competition in the world.
A winter evening on the Virginia Beach boardwalk just north of the pier.
IceLand, Virginia Beach
As a figure skater, I must tell you that you can get some ice at IceLand in Virginia Beach which is a good place to take the whole family or a group of friends. This rink is figure skating and hockey friendly with most public sessions occurring on the weekends. You can check the schedule online or by calling. Also, I hope that OceanFront Ice at the loop at Rudee Inlet becomes an annual outdoor rink, it was great this winter!
While in VB, you should visit the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center. It is relaxing, fun, and very informative. There is also an IMAX theater, an aviary, a gift shop, and a variety of events going on year round. There are also options to have meetings and other events at the Aquarium for a memorable and beautiful experience. Summer is the busiest time of year and by becoming a member, you can afford yourself speedier entry than waiting in line. At the Virginia Aquarium you will be able to get tickets to go dolphin or whale watching or spend part of your day behind the scenes with the seals. This is something that people of all ages can appreciate.
If you enjoy art, visit the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art located in VB at the end of the interstate where it feeds into the oceanfront. This museum has a large selection of pieces, there are classes, a gift shop, and a variety of ongoing activities to choose from. There are several art galleries in Virginia Beach and another nearby option would be to take a short drive to the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk. The Annual Boardwalk Art Show in Virginia Beach typically takes place in June and draws thousands of people to the oceanfront for art, music, and the beach.
© 2012 Express10
Virginia Museum Of Contemporary Art
- Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art
The Leading Contemporary Art Institution in Virginia fostering awareness, exploration and understanding of the significant art of our time.