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The more than 35 miles of gorgeous beachfront might be the reason you want to visit, but it’s just one of many fun things to do in Virginia Beach VA. There’s also an incredible spa, surf-worthy waves and a museum full of planes, to name just a few. Read on to learn about our favorite fun things to do in Virginia Beach.
The writer was hosted.
Mona Lisa with her cell phone kept me company at breakfast planning top things to do in Virginia Beach.
And the intuitive Edgar Cayce left a clear trail to follow about the healing powers of empathy and hypnosis.
Whales raised their humps and flashed their tales, while skilled surfers on shore tended to the details to welcome world-class competition riding the waves in August.
As if that weren’t interesting enough, the sun and the moon rose outside my hotel window the very same day! Same facing-the-Atlantic-ocean window.
This Virginia beach oceanfront town gave me shivering temps in February and was still fun in ways both remarkable and unusual. For sure the fun things to do in the warm months are robust, and diverse.
Why is this beach remarkable?
First, the Virginia Beach boardwalk
It’s three-miles long. And it’s wide — easy for families to ramble together and lovers to hold hands.
The stretch of sand leading to the water’s edge is wide too, with a spectacular playground.
Plus this boardwalk has a clearly designated side path for sightseeing bike riders, so relax: no need to listen for pedalers or their little bells of warning.
Stages for live music are easy to locate.
Atlantic Avenue parallels the boardwalk and Grommet Island Park anchors the south end, near General Booth Blvd..
That’s important to know because this beach playground has extensive ramping systems to take children using mobility devices to play opportunities. Inclusive and appropriate for all sorts of abilities is the goal.
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Beach wheelchairs are free.
On the way to Grommet Park find the Atlantic Wildfowl Heritage Museum which is inside the 1895 de Witt Cottage.
I don’t stumble across the evolution of decoy carving many places but that’s what’s here, along with watercolor and oil paintings.
Second, the art
Great big sculpted images don’t just pop up occasionally. Twenty seven of them populate this boardwalk.
Anticipate lots of personalities with whimsical beach themes and genuine, sincere homage to Navy Seals, to law enforcement and to veterans.
Look left and look right because big art shows up ocean side and toward-the-street side.
The King Neptune statue gets lot of attention, but he’s not the only wonder. He can claim Neptune’s Park where there’s live music in free outdoor concerts in the summer.
Third, the ocean access
The Virginia Beach oceanfront is 35 miles, with different personalities and outdoor activities. Think blocks with numbered names if they’re easier to picture than miles.
In August one big-wave segment of beach is devoted to competitions with surfers from around the world.
Closest to the hotel resort area, expect the beach scene to bustle.
Rudee Inlet offers fishing charters, boat tours jet skiing and other water sports at the southern end of the oceanfront district.
Fifteen miles south the scene is pristine, the sand dunes roll, and the swimming section is 2,000 feet long. Sandbridge Beach includes Little Island Park
Fishing happens off a 400-foot fishing pier and also in nearby Back Bay where families go crabbing on a Virginia Beach vacation.
Free things to do in Virginia Beach are part of the equation too!
Fourth, the surfing spaces
Virginia Beach oceanfront designates five sections for surfing with lifeguard protections. Surf forecasts are reliable for two weeks, say the local pros who prefer chest to head high waves.
TravelingMom Tip: Kind of cool to know where to go to watch the great surfers but not fear being in their way while simply playing in the ocean.
A spa with a library and archives
Of course you can schedule a luxurious massage in Virginia Beach. Consider some additional mind-body-spirit spa experiences too.
That’s possible because the Health Center and Spa draws on insight from 14,000 psychic readings given by Edgar Cayce to diagnose disease and outline treatments.
A copy of every reading is in the library, along with 90,000 volumes of related healing topics.
Maybe make an appointment to slip into the private lounge chair for 30 minutes of sound and color relaxation called “alphasphere.” Stay clothed for this experience, rare to find in North America.
TravelingMom Tip: Check out the therapies before you go because they fill up fast and many are options unique to this Association for Research and Enlightenment which the entire complex is called.
Get up close to world class surfers
Little kids are welcome too at the Virginia Beach surfing events where waves are considered “contestable” or competition worthy and surfers come from all over the world.
Twenty eight countries is the tally so far.
The Coastal Edge East Coast Surfing Championships are 60 years old in 2022. Expect music, art, games and food throughout the last week of August on nine blocks of beach.
Plus, of course, championship surfing. And competition divisions for all ages and skills, including the week before with water sports dedicated to people with disabilities.
Surfing camps for all ages are an option all summer, with three days of instruction at the ratio of one teacher for four students.
TravelingMom Tip: Since the surfing competition organizer, Coastal Edge, speaks as often about music and art, sustainability and culinary, and community — family friendly events populate all eight days of surfing.
Have fun with oysters
Oysters here seem like tourist attractions as much as dinner.
The Lynnhaven River is part of the reason, and so is Chris Ludford who farms and harvests oysters to sustain their future, and share their wonders.
His tours are eco sustainable, multi-hour dining experiences. Not often the dinner table is set up in the water! Waders provided.
Lynnhaven oyster trips can can be working as well as tasting. Handling gear, picking up oysters and maybe crabs, eels and fish pots possible.
Ludford calls his passion Pleasure House Oysters; think of him like an oyster sommelier. Expect to learn more than imagined about oyster liquor, percentages of. brine and relationship of the estuary to the ocean.
His energy’s contagious.
Museums offer beach breaks
Can’t hurt to get out of the sun now and then. A few of the Virginia Beach getaways are worthy afternoons.
The Virginia Aquarium is also a marine science center. Maybe that explains the two komodo dragons. They’re considered vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Bottlenose dolphin are rather large for an indoor tank, so this aquarium holds boat tours to go into the deep and also spot seabirds, sea turtles and interesting fish. Whale watching is a Virginia Beach option with private companies too.
Museum visits ought to stretch what we know, right? I never heard of a tomistoma before this Virginia Beach vacation.
Two live in the Virginia Aquarium, although home is originally Malaysia. Sort of an unusual crocodile, they appear, with eyes and nostrils on the top of their head. That means they’re more likely underwater than above to be seen.
TravelingMom Tip: Point out to the kids some of the facts available in the Aquarium because they help make sense of other world issues. Clearing rainforests, as for palm oil, drains freshwater swamplands and the tomistoma lose their homes.
Military Aviation Museum
Yes, it’s a museum with a roof, and exhibits. The Military Aviation Museum is also an airport of sorts. These World War I and II planes also fly.
Book a 15 or 30-minute flight April – October over the Intracoastal Waterway and the sand dunes of Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
The Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art
Vibrant art of today—that’s the expectation of what to encounter at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art – MOCA for short.
They think of art as possibly mysterious, but never exclusive. Don’t look for the permanent collection because it doesn’t exist.
These exhibit spaces are ever changing, seeking yet another perspective
Not one lighthouse, but two
Choose the northern end of the beach to see two lighthouses, and climb one. Access to the Cape Henry Lighthouse is through a bookstore/gift shop.
George Washington authorized the building of this one in 1792; it’s not how I normally think of him.
Funny the other lighthouse is newer, built in 1881, but closed to the public. Both overlook the Chesapeake Bay.
Is it comforting to know the Army takes temperatures and closes the Cape Henry Lighthouse if the summer heat index reaches 125 degrees!
These grounds are also Fort Story, and that means the Joint Expeditionary Base here also monitors the comings and goings of travelers seeking this Virginia Beach attraction.
Be ready to show your ID and leave it with them until you leave.
Near the lighthouses is First Landing State Park, wonderful for campers and quite enticing to day trippers who like to hike or simply sit on a bench in the forest overlooking a lake.
Historic hotel with a sense of humor
Less is more is part of the story of the Cavalier Hotel and Beach Club in Virginia Beach. So is tongue-in-cheek humor and a grand ability to not be self important.
The “less” is the fact that a 1918 meticulous renovation of the original 1927 hotel turned 195 guest rooms into 85. More space for today’s traveler.
The humor shows up everywhere: Tarnished Truths is the name of the on-site distillery. Mona Lisa chats on her cell phone in a gallery wall of art.
U. S. presidents engage in real-life lighthearted moments in photographs lining one of the guest room hallways — real people doing normal things.
The hotel is lovely, the beach is just across the lawn and the adjacent Atlantic Avenue and Pacific Avenue lead into downtown, including the ViBe Creative District.
Public art beyond the boardwalk
Tracking all the art in Virginia Beach calls for a six-panel brochure that opens with an arm spread.
Find a lot between 17th and 22nd streets from Pacific Avenue to Parks Avenue at the Virginia Beach oceanfront. Murals, sculpture, portraits – and a place to take many selfies!
Even a stairway claims art, and it’s on the way up to Mount Trashmore Park. This is turning an unsightly landfill into a family-friendly park.
Hiking trails, playground, fishing from the land, picnic shelters and a wheelchair swing are among the wonders of the vision to reuse trash.
Mount Trashmore Park is 165 acres of solid waste trash that was compacted with clean soil.
The newest of the play areas is fully ADA accessible and barrier free. And wheelchairs are available to. borrow on site, along with volleyball nets, corn hole toss boards and frisbees, horseshoes and more.
In the region
It’s not too far to Norfolk, which is the nearest airport, or to Williamsburg.
If you plan an autumn trip to Virginia Beach, these suggestions from a big, active family will be a great help.