Virginia Beach Ranked One of the “Best Beaches to Visit this Summer” by Money Magazine
Every summer, millions of travelers head to Virginia Beach for some fun in the sun and to experience everything the city has to offer. From the beach to the dining and live entertainment, there are so many things to see and do in Virginia Beach that won’t break your vacation budget. It’s no wonder why Money Magazine named Virginia Beach one of the “Best Beaches to Visit this Summer.”
Money Magazine Ranks Virginia Beach Seventh
Virginia Beach earned a spot on Money Magazine’s list for a number of money-saving reasons. Traveling to Virginia Beach is simple, as the coastal city is accessible by major highways and visitors can fly into Norfolk’s and Newport News’ airports. Over the last year, flights into these cities neighboring Virginia Beach have dropped nearly 13 percent.
Money Magazine also praises Virginia Beach’s miles of sandy beaches, along with top-rated local bars and restaurants and a variety of attractions.
Top 5 Free Activities in Virginia Beach
Virginia Beach has a number of activities that are free to enjoy when you visit during the summer. Here are our top five favorite free things to do in Virginia Beach.
1. Head to the Beach
Virginia Beach boasts three beaches that each offer a different experience. Choose from the Oceanfront beach, Sandbridge Beach or Chesapeake Bay Beach (also known as Chic’s Beach). Spend a weekend exploring all three to figure out which is your favorite.
The Virginia Beach Boardwalk offers plenty to see and do. Bring your bicycle and ride down the designated bike lanes or start your day with a walk or jog along the three-mile boardwalk. As you stroll, take a look at all of the fantastic monuments and statues along the boardwalk, including the massive King Neptune sculpture.
During summertime, Virginia Beach is filled with live music from local restaurants as well as the stages on the streets and beach. Live! On Atlantic brings live entertainment right to the Oceanfront sidewalks from May through September. There are also free concerts held throughout the year that bring local and national headliners right to the beach.
4. Discover Virginia Beach’s Art Scene
The ViBe Creative District is Virginia Beach’s arts and culture neighborhood, located just a few blocks from the Oceanfront. The ViBe District is bursting with vibrant murals, sidewalks and buildings that showcase the city’s talented local artists. Explore the ViBe District and snap a few selfies along the way.
5. Find Free Summer Events
Many of Virginia Beach’s popular attractions feature free events and activities during the summer season. Attend a free gallery talk at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art. Watch a free movie at the Edgar Cayce’s A.R.E. Be sure to visit a local winery or brewery for free tastings throughout the week. The city also plays host to plenty of free, family-friendly events.
The Oceanfront, Sandbridge Beach and Chesapeake Bay Beach: Virginia Beach has Something for Everyone
Newcomers to Virginia Beach automatically assume that out city is just our signature boardwalk lined with hotels, shops and restaurants. Although we love our bustling boardwalk that runs three-miles long and connects oceanfront shopping, great food, plenty of entertainment and miles of beach, that’s not all that makes up this unforgettable beach destination. In fact, the Oceanfront area of Virginia Beach is just one of three beaches to choose from while vacationing here. When you prefer to be near all the action, stick to the Oceanfront. Relaxation and nature are yours to explore at Sandbridge Beach. Or keep it calm while enjoying outdoor family fun at Chesapeake Bay Beach.
Located in the heart of Virginia Beach, at the exciting Oceanfront, is the iconic boardwalk, home to a variety of hotels, restaurants, shops and live entertainment for all ages. Along the boardwalk, you will find fun and exciting activities for every family member to enjoy. As the soul of the city, the oceanfront is home to some of the most popular destinations in the area and is known for its endless entertainment—especially in the summertime. Bike along the boardwalk path and catch the sunset on the beach, pack a blanket and sit in front of the 31st Street Stage where live music and performances play all night long, or dine on an outdoor patio and indulge in fresh seafood that came straight from the Atlantic.
With 28 miles of beach to roam at the Oceanfront, there are plenty of activities to do both on and off the water with the whole family. If you would like to experience the Oceanfront in its truest form, try one of the many adventurous activities available! Rent a surfboard and catch some waves, go jet skiing in the Atlantic or catch an aerial view of Virginia Beach while parasailing. But that’s not all there is to do here. You can go on a kayak tour through the open waters, climb aboard a ship and go exploring for dolphins, or discover the serene waters of Virginia Beach as you paddle through, taking part in a scenic water tour. These fun and exciting activities are just some of the outdoor opportunities available for those who are looking to spice up their vacation.
The Oceanfront can be just as relaxing as it is adventurous. Spend an evening at one of the many restaurants along the boardwalk and listen to music while enjoying a delicious appetizer, or simply grab a drink or two and then walk down the beach to catch the sunset. There are a diverse variety of restaurants, and with eateries ranging from fine dining to casual, you’re sure to find something in your price point. You can also cast a line at the Virginia Beach Fishing Pier on 15th street, where you will find some of the best fishing in the area.
If you are looking for the latest beach attire or would like to take a part of Virginia Beach home with you, browse through the many shops all along Pacific and Atlantic Avenues for some great beachside shopping. From candy stores to surf shops and everything in between. Get beach toys for the kids and a new colorful cover-up for you—don’t leave the boardwalk without a special treat for everyone in your crew.
There are numerous monuments and sculptures where you will want to stop and snap a photo, such as the 34-foot cast bronze statue of King Neptune on 31st Street. Other monuments off the boardwalk honor our brave military (who have quite a presence in Virginia Beach) as well as our local police force. The historic Norwegian Lady on 25th Street tells a sorrowful tale of a shipwreck that took place off our coast in 1891.
Hear more tales of shipwrecks and the brave heroes who rescued so many off our shores at the Virginia Beach Surf & Rescue Museum on 24th Street and Pacific Avenue. Visit the museum and explore a new exhibit each summer, or take part in an October Ghost Tour where you will take a stroll along the boardwalk while listening to stories of tragic shipwrecks, pirates who plundered the coast and other eerie tales. These and other museums let you take a break from the sun and learn more about the amazing history, nature and people in and around Virginia Beach.
The nightlife at the Oceanfront brings some of the best entertainment around. Take a ride on some of the craziest roller coasters and rides at a local amusement park. Live! On Atlantic features incredibly talented street performers, from bluesy musicians to hilarious jugglers and more. Attempt to win a big prize at the arcade or just try out the latest video games. You will find everything you need for a night of amusements without ever needing to leave the boardwalk. Exciting live concert events headline throughout the summer right on the beach, such as the American Music Festival, Virginia Beach Patriotic Festival and Sandstock.
For the 21 and over crowd, there are plenty of bars and pubs you can visit, ranging from laid back, sports-themed and even high-class. Dance the night away at a high-energy dance club, with electrifying music and friendly locals.
The Oceanfront features jam-packed excitement and fun, but located just 15 miles south is the secluded beach hideaway known as Sandbridge Beach. This quiet area is the perfect retreat if you are simply looking for miles of pristine beach and rolling sand dunes. The area contains a plethora of beach houses, many of which are available to rent during the summer and off-season months, so this may be where you want to plant your family during your stay in Virginia Beach.
As you drive down to Sandbridge, take advantage of the many farm stands you will find along the way. These rustic locations offer a variety of items—fresh seafood, in-season garden vegetables, fruits, breads and cakes, fresh cut flowers and much more. The Sandbridge area also features unique dining. Although the options are not as broad as the Oceanfront, they have a local charm you won’t want to miss. The unique pit stops and seaside markets located here are great places to get refreshed before hitting the beach, whether you need a few groceries or a nice cup of coffee.
The local surf shops in Sandbridge have great deals on beachy items you might have forgotten. Or get some new beach essentials like apparel, footwear, accessories and more. Many locations offer lessons and surf camps, kayak tours and surfboards, stand-up paddleboards and bike rentals.
A great place to spend your beach day is at Little Island Park. With a 2,000-foot swimming beach, you are sure to find lots of room for you and your family to have fun in the surf. This area contains a playground for the little ones and picnic shelters if you don’t feel like getting sand in your packed lunch. The adventure-lovers will enjoy using the 775-foot beach reserved for surfers. Canoe and kayak launches allow you to set off for adventure into the Back Bay. There are also courts for tennis, basketball and volleyball.
Little Island Park also offers a 400-foot fishing pier giving you the perfect opportunity to catch a bite or take in incredible views of the Atlantic. There’s also a brackish lake along the park’s western border where you can do some fishing or crabbing.
Sandbridge contains some of the most beautiful parks and seaside refuges in Virginia. Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge is over 9,250 acres of protected land, specifically designated to provide feeding and rest for migratory birds. The region is a critical segment in the Atlantic Flyway for a large variety of waterfowl. A little farther south is False Cape State Park, one of the last undeveloped areas along the East Coast and the perfect place to experience nature in its primal glory. Take a primitive camping trip, go hiking or biking through miles of untouched beauty, walk the pristine beaches or glide through the many waterway on a guided kayak trip.
Sandbridge Beach is the perfect place to truly relax and unwind while on your beach vacation. The water is always open for activities and the sandy beach is great for corn hole, digging for sand crabs or just soaking up the sun.
Chesapeake Bay Beach
Located at the northern end of Virginia Beach just off Shore Drive is the Chesapeake Bay Beach area, also known as Chic’s Beach. The waves are calmer, making this the perfect place for little swimmers. Fun outdoor activities abound—from swimming and sand castle building to hiking and kayaking through wooded marshes dripping with Spanish moss. There are plenty of exciting activities to do, historical attractions to see and beautiful scenery to witness in this secluded area. Take advantage of the smooth water while paddleboarding, join a boat tour searching for dolphins or visit a state park.
Located in this area is historic Fort Story. Although operated by the United States Navy as a joint expeditionary base, it is also a popular Virginia Beach attraction. See where the first permanent English settlers landed in 1607 and the First Landing Cross which marks this historic moment. This was also the location of a pivotal sea battle which took place during the American Revolutionary War. Visit Cape Henry Lighthouse, built in 1792 where you can climb up to the lantern room and see miles of beautiful Virginia Beach coast, take a walking tour on seasonal days or simply capture a few beautiful photos of the lighthouse at sunset.
The most popular park in Virginia Beach is First Landing State Park. This beautiful area is home to more than 19 miles of hiking trails, guided kayak ecological tours, marshes and bays to explore, wildlife, rare plants and a visitor center with special exhibits. Fishing and crabbing are also popular activities you can enjoy, especially at The Narrows located between Broad Bay and Linkhorn Bay. If you are looking for a fun, educational activity with a touch of nature, First Landing State Park also offers self-guided and guided programs that cover a range of historical, cultural and environmental opportunities. If you want to camp here, be sure to get your reservation in early as space fills up quick.
On top of all the bayside and beach activities you can do in the Chesapeake Bay Beach area, there are many dining destinations to choose from that will satisfy everyone’s taste buds. From freshly caught seafood to several locally-owned eateries, you will find a mix of dining options in one-of-a-kind atmospheres. Many restaurants also offer live entertainment during the evening and special events throughout the year.
After indulging in a delicious dish, treat yourself to some shopping! Shore Drive truly is a delight for shoppers with its name brand stores, funky retail shops and chic boutiques. There are three major shopping centers in the region full of a variety of upscale and casual retail stores. You are certain to find something you love! Choose which beach suits you best and start your unforgettable vacation today!
Many couples who get swept away in the romance and natural beauty of Virginia Beach return later to tie the knot. Having a ceremony on the beach is a truly memorable experience and a beautiful way to start a new life together. Here are some tips to help you get started!
Beach weddings are automatically equipped with the gorgeous glistening of the ocean, the perfect music of crashing waves, the tiny grains of sand beneath your feet and the breezy air against your skin. Any spot that you choose for your ceremony will be gorgeous, and now there’s a policy that allows couples to rent a space on the beach for their ceremony. The policy requires a permit if the couple is expecting more than 150 guests but is optional for small ceremonies. The $200 permit includes the reservation of privacy and space for a maximum of three hours and exclusion of the general population.
Our three diverse beaches will be the perfect backdrop for your wedding day. Whether you choose the convenience of the Oceanfront, the idyllic coastal scenery in Sandbridge or the calm waters of Chesapeake Bay Beach, a Virginia Beach wedding is unlike any other.
Attire for the Bride
The beauty of a beach wedding is that brides don’t have to buy an extravagant, heavy dress with a full-length train. Instead, they can opt for something light and flowy. Popular beach styles include one-shoulder or strapless dresses and open backs. Heels aren’t a necessity either. In this casual setting, it’s easy to get away with adorned flip flops or even going barefoot!
Attire for Groom
No groom should suffer in the hot sun while wearing a black suit. Guys can dress down in linen or cotton in shades of tan, grey or white. Flip flops are acceptable for grooms as well. Don’t forget the fun shades for groomsmen!
Thanks to the ample water and wonderful restaurants in this area, many unique options exist for fabulous cuisine. Opt for fresh coastal cuisine served in a variety of exceptional ways, or choose from an assortment of ethnic creations and gourmet masterpieces.
There are many fabulous bakeries in the area, and since beach weddings are so popular, most are accustomed to creating coastal cakes complete with seashells, edible sand and Adirondack chairs.
Since you’ll have the ocean as a backdrop and you’ll be surrounded by beautiful sandy beaches, there’s no need for over-the-top decorations. At most, you could incorporate an arch with breezy fabric to match your wedding colors and a path of shells down the aisle. To help with this, contact Virginia Beach Wedding Chapel. They offer naturally beautiful decorations especially made for beach weddings such as bamboo or calla lily wedding arches, fresh, custom-made floral headers, shell strands, wedding gazebos, floral-topped tiki torches, seashell art and paths, willow stands, dolphin topiaries and more. They also offer off-site wedding packages as well as options for getting married in their indoor wedding chapel on 10th Street. Visit VirginiaBeachWeddingChapel.com to learn more about their services.
Just because you’re getting married on the beach doesn’t mean your wedding can’t be a floral wonderland. Experienced local florists can help make your dream wedding décor come to life. Choose from an array of flowers and other greenery to match your style and budget. Your guests won’t soon forget your intricate touches and outstanding details.
Honeymoon in Virginia Beach
Don’t worry about spending loads of money on airfare or a cruise. You’re already at a fabulous destination, so plan to spend a few extra days here in newlywed bliss. Stay in a marvelous honeymoon suite overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, or rent a romantic room in one of the area’s bed and breakfasts.
Whether you envision a grand or intimate ceremony, your Oceanfront wedding will be a romantic and memorable occasion, now complete with more options, more privacy and more reasons to love getting married on Virginia Beach.
To Beach or Not to Beach?
How do you know if a beach wedding is right for you? Here are some tips from Beach Weddings Virginia to help you decide if a sandy ceremony is in your future.
Couples considering this type of ceremony should be free spirited and relaxed.
Brides shouldn’t be bothered by the little things—like getting the hem of their wedding gown wet or sandy.
Couples should enjoy feeling the surf tugging at their toes and the music of waves crashing against the shore.
Beach Weddings Virginia specializes in destination beach weddings, elopement packages and classic wedding packages. Visit BeachWeddingsVirginia.com to learn about their varied assortment of packages available and to read exclusive advice for getting married on the beach, as well as which location is right for you. You can also view photos from past beach weddings and take an online compatibility test to see if you’re ready to take your relationship to the next level.
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The Insider’s Guide on Fresh Seafood in Virginia Beach
Forget everything you know about beach resort towns. Virginia Beach is huge town with lots of restaurants, especially of the seafood variety, to try out. The Oceanfront is fantastic place to test with your taste buds, but there are also other places throughout Virginia Beach that you might want to put on your list. If you’re looking for fresh seafood, Virginia Beach is probably the best place to be. Being located next to a bay and the Atlantic Ocean, the restaurants and local markets provide an abundance of fresh shrimp, crabs, fish, oysters, clams and other seafood delight. You will Run out of time on the Virginia Beach oceanfront before you run out of places that serve fresh seafood.
Rudee’s Seafood Platter in Virginia Beach
Here is a directory of seafood specialties that you will find both on the Virginia Beach Oceanfront and greater Virginia Beach: