While you’re on the boardwalk, take some time to stop at one of the many memorials and monuments located just off the boardwalk.
Your Guide to the Monuments and Memorials along Virginia Beach’s Boardwalk
This time of year, the Virginia Beach boardwalk is bustling with summer fun and excitement. While you’re strolling, running, biking or roller-blading on the boardwalk, take some time to stop at one of the many memorials and monuments located just off the boardwalk.
John Wareing Monument – 17th Street
Following the death of local business owner and decorated war veteran, John Wareing, a larger-than-life statue was erected in 2004 at the 17th Street Park. The bronze statue of Wareing, founder of Wareing’s Gym, stands on a granite base, posed in a show of strength.
Naval Aviation Monument Park – 25th Street
View the history of the aircrafts, ships and people who dedicated their lives to the defense of our nation. The elaborate Naval Aviation Monument Park was dedicated in 2006 by the Hampton Roads Squadron of the Naval Aviation Foundation Association. Nine bronze statues tell the story of the Naval Aviation history through three historic times.
Begin with the start of naval aviation with the flight of Eugene Ely. The civilian pilot was the first to take off from a ship in 1910, right here in the waters of Coastal Virginia.
The next display showcases the “greatest generation” of naval aviators. WWII air crewmen emerge from a ship’s hatch to man their aircraft aboard a carrier.
The final display depicts today’s “modern force”—naval aviation in the 21st century. This is also the first monument to feature a female combat pilot.
The monument park also features several granite storyboards depicting naval aviation history from 1910 to the present. There is even a display on the history of local Naval Air Station Oceana, located right here in Virginia Beach.
Norwegian Lady – 25th Street
Just steps away from the Naval Aviation Monument Park, the Norwegian Lady stands overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Commemorating the tragic shipwreck of the Dictator, the Norwegian Lady is in remembrance of those who have died at sea.
Following the wreck of the Dictator, the ship’s wooden female figurehead washed ashore at the Oceanfront in the early 1900s. It was retrieved and placed on the boardwalk at 16th Street but began to erode over time. After significant damage from Hurricane Barbara in 1953, a new nine-foot-tall statue – the one we see today – was installed in 1962.
A matching statue stands in Moss, Norway, Virginia Beach’s sister city, as a symbol of friendship.
King Neptune Statue – 31st Street
A true landmark of the Oceanfront is the King Neptune statue. It’s nearly impossible to miss this enormous 34-foot-tall bronze statue. King Neptune rises from the Atlantic Ocean, overlooking Neptune Park, to welcome locals and visitors to Virginia Beach.
Constructed through the contributions gathered by the annual Neptune Festival, the massive statue was dedicated to the city of Virginia Beach and its citizens in 2005. The God of the Sea, grasping his might trident, is surrounded by the creatures of his realm. The Neptune statue not only honors Virginia Beach’s maritime legacy, but also stands as a reminder to respect and protect our coast and ocean.
Virginia Beach Law Enforcement Memorial – 35th Street
Honor, valor, pride, integrity and courage are etched in gold around the Virginia Beach Law Enforcement Memorial. Erected by the Virginia Beach Police Foundation in 2011, this 19-foot-high monument honors law enforcement offers who lost their lives protecting our coastal community. Three officers, representing the Virginia Beach Police Department, Virginia Beach Sherriff’s Office as well as state and federal agencies, reach out to help all who walk by.
Navy SEAL Monument – 38th Street
The boardwalk’s newest monument was unveiled last summer in 2017. The six-foot-tall statue of the Naked Warrior stands at the center of the Navy SEAL Monument. The SEAL depicted is a WWII Underwater Demolition Team swimmer. Instead of making the statue larger than life, like many others on the boardwalk, the Naked Warrior is purposefully life-sized. The SEAL reputation was not made by supermen, but by ordinary people who do extraordinary things for their country.
The monument depicts the rich history of the SEAL program and city’s 76-year-long part in their story. Surrounding the Naked Warrior is sand from over 100 locations around the world where SEALs and their forerunners have served, trained, fought and bled.
Monuments Off the Boardwalk
Virginia Legends Walk – 13th Street Park
Between Atlantic and Pacific Avenues, names like Ella Fitzgerald, Arthur Ashe, Edgar Allan Poe, Woodrow Wilson and more stand together. The Virginia Legends Walk was dedicated in 1999 to honor great Virginians who have made significant contributions to our nation and the world. Each year, a new inductee is added to the memorial.
Tidewater Veterans Memorial – 19th Street at the Virginia Beach Convention Center
Designed as a tribute to area veterans of all wars, from the Revolutionary War to today, the Tidewater Veterans Memorial was dedicated in 1988. This contemporary memorial was designed by local high school students and was intended to look more modern than a traditional bronze memorial.
Virginia Beach: Along the Oceanfront – 36th Street and Pacific Avenue
Take a walk through centuries of Virginia Beach’s history. In 2015, a local man installed a timeline of 27 panels on the 36th Street sidewalk. His display, titled “Virginia Beach: Along the Oceanfront,” begins with the first landing and goes into the history of The Cavalier Hotel, the Ash Wednesday Storm and much more through text and images.