In Virginia Beach, my first thought turned to the old slogan, “Virginia is for Lovers.” I questioned if Virginia Beach could also be for a solo mom with two kids in tow. Turns out it can. Here are the top places to eat, sleep and play in Virginia Beach, Virginia, with kids.
Play and Learn at the Virginia Aquarium
When we decided to visit Virginia Beach, I didn’t actually plan on visiting the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center. The visitors bureau suggested we go to see the Washed Ashore exhibit going on this summer until September 28th, 2014. In reality, the exhibit, which features sculptures made out of trash from the ocean, was only a small part of how incredible the aquarium is. My kids are still talking about how trash can kill marine life and how they got to touch horseshoe crabs. There is something for everyone at the aquarium from the traditional sea life exhibits to tree top trekking similar to the one we experienced at Smuggler’s Notch in Vermont. Be prepared to walk quite a bit. There are two aquarium buildings and it is about a ten minute shaded walk between them. Smaller children may require strollers or to be carried.
Eat in Virginia Beach
Exploring an aquarium can work up an appetite. I personally really wanted some seafood. My general restaurant rule is that if a restaurant does not have a sign and there is a line out the door, it is bound to be good. I wasn’t wrong. We drove by Tautog’s Restaurant in Virginia Beach and I immediately pulled over. The kids and I sat in a screened in porch and enjoyed fresh seafood and great service. They do take reservations so you may want to call ahead. While we were eating, the line outside grew substantially and wait times ranged from 45 minutes to an hour. Don’t forget to try the She-Crab soup, a Virginia staple and house delicacy made with fresh crab and sherry.
There are a lot of places to play with your kids in Virginia Beach. One of our favorites was Jungle Golf, which has been open for over 40 years. Jungle Golf is a 24 hour mini-golf course with huge animal sculptures and a smoking volcano. The kids loved exploring the jungle while trying to get a hole-in-one. I loved the vibe of this place. Families, couples, college students and seniors all came together to just have fun. We met a lot of the people who were playing at the same time and shared some great laughs. When someone got a hole-in-one, the whole place would erupt in congratulations and applause. A pretty big deal when you are four and six (or any age, really!).
Virginia Beach is hot in the summer and you will be too. Located right next to the Virginia Aquarium is the Ocean Breeze Waterpark. This waterpark is perfect for families and we really enjoyed our time there. The kids area is huge and it was a great place to cool off and relax. Parents sit in chairs in the water as the kids run around and cool off on mini slides and in a kid sized lazy river. It was a perfect fit for the three of us and families of all sizes and ages will find it a nice break from the heat of summer.
After a long day of adventuring, you and your kids are going to be exhausted. In Virginia Beach, there are two main hotel districts. The first is the ocean side boardwalk district. At night, Virginia Beach hosts a series of concerts and street performers and this area is quite lively and fun. The other district are hotels that sit on the Chesapeake Bay. This area is much quieter and the breathtaking view includes a view of one of the seven modern engineering wonders of the world, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel.
We stayed at the Virginia Beach Resort Hotel and Conference Center on the Chesapeake Bay. I loved being able to come home to a quieter hotel at the end of our long day. There is an indoor outdoor pool, a huge clean beach and a great restaurant and bar on the ocean. The hotel itself shows its age but the vibe, staff and view will make you happy you stayed. The hotel also has a great kids club included in the cost of your stay. The kids club gives parents a break for a few hours at different points of the day while the kids go exploring the beach and get together for dinner and a movie.
Visiting Virginia Beach
Whether you spend your nights on the Boardwalk enjoying the sites and sounds of Beach Street USA or you choose the calm and serenity of the Chesapeake Bay, I have no doubt you will enjoy your family vacation to Virginia Beach. The only warning I have for you is to be extremely cautious when in the main tourist district. Even if you are crossing the street in a designated crosswalk, cars do not stop or even remotely slow down. I have not seen this anywhere else and hope you’ll take extreme caution especially with children when visiting the main beach district.