One-third affordable party spot for local college kids, one-third haven for families with small kids and one-third renaissance beach town, Virginia Beach is a coastal city making an attempt to lure beachcombers up from their usual Ocean City, Outer Banks and Myrtle Beach haunts to its own revitalized stretch of East Coast sand and boardwalk. And it's not doing too shabby either. Like those other towns, "VA Beach" offers scenic coastal views, enough sand ... continue»
- #1First Landing State Park
- #2Virginia Beach Boardwalk and Beachfront
- #3Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center
See the Best Hotels in Virginia Beach»
The best time to visit Virginia Beach is from late May to early September, when you'll experience oceanfront culture in full swing. But fair warning, this is the peak season. The city and beach can get very overcrowded which could make your trip less than ideal. For cooler weather and lower prices, you should plan your trip during in April or early May before the crowds show up on Memorial Day. Since the winter in Virginia Beach gets very cold, hotel rates plummet, and beachside attractions shorten their hours, if they're open at all.Best Times to Visit Virginia Beach»
Virginia Beach Neighborhoods
Virginia Beach's boardwalk is lined with hotels and shops, as well as a healthy sampling of bars and restaurants. You'll also find nightclubs along this stretch, particularly along the southern end of the strip. In contrast, the northern tip of the city and past the boardwalk is the least developed part of Virginia Beach. The beaches here are quieter and less crowded. To the north of Virginia Beach, you'll also find the First Landing State Park, which was the location of the first English settlement before the settlers moved to Jamestown.
The picturesque concrete boardwalk, complete with bike paths, extends north from Rudee Inlet to 39th Street. Atlantic and Pacific avenues run the length of the beachfront. Streets intersect these avenues and increase in number as you travel north.
Farther inland, you'll find the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, which has an IMAX theater, as well as a nature trail that takes guests through the Owls Creek salt marsh and an aviary which features bird species native to the area. You can book public whale- or dolphin-watching trips through the aquarium.
South of the general beach area is Sandbridge. A community of oceanfront cottages and private residences, Sandbridge connects Virginia to North Carolina's Outer Banks. The area is worth a visit for the views of its marshes and waterways alone. Nearby is the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
Virginia Beach is generally a very safe city. However, you should take common sense precautions when swimming in the ocean. Swim near a lifeguard and avoid rip currents, which are recognizable by particularly foamy and choppy waters. If you do get caught in one, tread water or swim parallel to the shoreline until you are out of it; do not swim against it.
If the waters are especially dangerous, lifeguards will raise a red flag. Heed their warnings and stay out if a flag is up.
The best way to get around Virginia Beach is by car, even though parking and summertime traffic can be tough. Most people drive to area, but you could also fly into Norfolk International Airport (ORF) and then rent a car for the 20-minute drive to the waterfront. Alternatively, shuttle service from the airport will run you about $40. Around town, you'll be fine walking if you plan to stick to the beach. There's also a trolley service that runs along Atlantic Avenue.Getting Around Virginia Beach»