By: Latoyia Downs
Virginia Beach is a popular coastal destination on the eastern seaboard of the United States, offering an array of exciting activities and attractions for visitors to enjoy. Whether you’re a nature lover, an adventure seeker, or a history enthusiast, there’s no shortage of things to do in Virginia Beach.
18 Fun Things to Do in Virginia Beach
Virginia Beach is known for its beautiful beaches, boardwalk, and outdoor activities. With so much to see and do, planning a trip to Virginia Beach can be overwhelming. Here, we have curated a list of the 18 best things to do in Virginia Beach to help you make the most of your visit.
1. Enjoy a Day at the Beach
Virginia Beach is a perfect destination for sun-seekers and beach bums with its 38 miles of pristine beaches. Its soft sand creates an ideal setting for spreading a towel or lounging on a beach chair. Visitors can surf and enjoy the waves of the Atlantic Ocean or simply enjoy the picturesque views of the coastline while lounging.
2. Explore the Iconic Virginia Beach Boardwalk
The Virginia Beach Boardwalk is a bustling 3-mile-long boardwalk that stretches along the beachfront and offers stunning ocean views. Visitors are encouraged to take a stroll or a bike ride down the boardwalk, with a parallel two-way path separating wheeled traffic from pedestrians to keep everyone safe.
The boardwalk comes alive with the energy of street performers and hosts a full calendar of festivals and special events. On any given day, the boardwalk will have live music and entertainment, souvenir vendors, delicious food, and a lively environment for visitors.
3. Take a Selfie with King Neptune
Residing on the boardwalk next to 31st Street Park boasts the presence of an awe-inspiring sight—the colossal bronze King Neptune Statue. Towering at a majestic height of 34 feet, this larger-than-life statue serves as a magnificent centerpiece, offering a picture-perfect backdrop for visitors and locals alike. The King Neptune Statue adds a touch of charm to the already lively atmosphere of the boardwalk.
4. Visit Mount Trashmore Park
Mount Trashmore Park is a former landfill converted into two mountains and a family-friendly park with two lakes, a playground, and a skate park. Made up of compacted layers of trash and soil, Mount Trashmore is 60 feet high and the centerpiece of the park, stretching 800 feet long.
The park has many amenities, including volleyball nets, outdoor fitness equipment, charcoal grills, and picnic shelters. Visitors can go fishing in the lakes, fly kites, and climb Mount Trashmore and Encore Hill.
5. Explore the City by Bike
Renting a bike provides a fun and convenient means to explore Virginia Beach. In addition to the designated bike lane on the boardwalk, the city has more than 100 miles of trails to explore. To add excitement to your ride, there are three themed bike trails available for exploration. The trail themes focus on the arts, breweries, and family fun. Once you pick your favorite, you can embark on your self-guided-themed ride.
Biking allows you to cover more ground and take in Virginia Beach at your own pace. Renting a bike in Virginia Beach is an excellent option for both avid cyclists and those looking to explore on two wheels.
6. Visit the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center
The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is one of the best things to do in Virginia Beach and a must-see for individuals interested in marine life and conservation. This aquarium provides an immersive experience with an assortment of marine displays. One of the most popular displays is the 300,000-gallon Norfolk Canyon Aquarium which showcases the marvel of marine life in the deep sea.
Aside from displays, the center provides educational programs, interactive exhibits, and IMAX movies, making it a fun learning experience for guests of all ages. The aquarium also offers seasonal boat tours for visitors to get up close and observe and learn firsthand about marine wildlife in their natural habitats. From dolphins in summer to whales in winter, visitors get an up-close experience of the most majestic marine life.
A visit to the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center offers an immersive experience that will captivate marine fanatics and inquisitive visitors alike.
7. Try Fishing from the Virginia Beach Fishing Pier
A visit to the Virginia Beach Fishing Pier is a must for passionate anglers. This pier extends 1,000 feet into the Atlantic Ocean and provides a chance to capture a variety of fish species, such as Spanish mackerel, bluefish, and flounder.
No matter your level of experience in fishing, the Virginia Beach Fishing Pier is suitable for all levels of fishing experience. If you haven’t brought your own gear, the pier has a bait and tackle that shop provides the option to rent equipment right, ensuring that you have everything you need
8. Explore the Waterways
Hop in a kayak or on a paddleboard and explore the stunning waterways surrounding Virginia Beach. With picturesque Back Bay and other nearby waterways, exploration by kayak or paddleboard allows you to immerse yourself in the area’s natural beauty. Paddle through serene marshes, spot fascinating wildlife like herons and ospreys, and revel in the peacefulness of nature.
Guided tours cater to all skill levels, including beginners, making them accessible for everyone to enjoy. It’s a unique way to experience Virginia Beach from a different perspective. Take advantage of the opportunity to embark on a kayak or paddleboard tour and discover the hidden treasures of Virginia Beach’s waterways.
9. Visit First Landing State Park
Exploring First Landing State Park, Virginia’s most visited state park, is the perfect thing to do in Virginia Beach for outdoor enthusiasts and history buffs. First Landing State Park spans over 2,800 acres and offers a wealth of outdoor recreational opportunities. The park has 20 miles of trails and the beautiful sandy Chesapeake Bay beach frontage. The park features picnic spots, a boat launch for kayaking and canoeing, and a beach for swimming.
First Landing State Park has played a role in many historic events, has been named a National Natural Landmark, and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
10. Visit the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel
Experience the wonder of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, a mesmerizing bridge that transforms into a tunnel that spans the Chesapeake Bay for 17.6 miles. This spectacular work of engineering connects Virginia Beach to Virginia’s Eastern Shore.
You can take a scenic drive across the bay and stop at the designated scenic overlook to take photos and enjoy the sweeping bay views. The overlook is a popular spot for birders as they frequently spot species migrating along the Atlantic Flyway.
11. Visit the Cape Henry Lighthouse
Cape Henry Lighthouse is a historic marvel nestled within Fort Story’s military base. This iconic structure was built in 1792 and is the oldest lighthouse in the U.S. to have received federal funding. It, along with the second lighthouse built in 1881, is in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and is designated as a National Historic Landmark.
Immerse yourself in history by visiting the Cape Henry Lighthouse. Don’t miss the chance to explore the Cape Henry Lighthouse and uncover the rich heritage of this iconic site while learning about fascinating stories of the past. You can even climb to the top of the lighthouse to be rewarded with sweeping, panoramic views of the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.
12. Enjoy the Local Spirits
For those seeking an adventure involving libations, Virginia Beach is also home to exceptional distilleries, where master distillers harness their artistry to create exquisite spirits. Embark on a distillery tour, where you’ll witness the meticulous process of transforming raw ingredients into liquid gold. Indulge in tastings of meticulously crafted spirits, each sip offering a glimpse into the distinctive flavors and character that define these exceptional creations.
Tarnished Truth is a Virginia Beach distillery located in the Historic Cavalier Hotel. It is the first distillery in a hotel in the United States. Tarnished Truth offers tours of their distillery and educates visitors on their distilling process. The tour ends in their beautiful tasting room, where visitors get to taste their most popular spirits.
Born in the heart of Virginia Beach, Waterman Spirits is a distillery that produces organic vodka filtered using coral. Waterman Spirits frequently debut new, specialty-flavored spirits, including orange-infused vodka, grapefruit-infused vodka, and orange liqueur. They have a public tasting room open to visitors. For a true taste of Virginia Beach, try their famous premixed Orange Crush.
13. Take a Thrilling Ride on a Jet Ski
For an exhilarating adventure, rent a jet ski and experience the thrill of riding the waves along the Virginia Beach coast. Jet skiing is a popular water activity in the area, with multiple operators offering rentals along the beach.
If you’re an adrenaline junkie, skiing across the waves of the Atlantic Ocean is an experience that you do not want to miss out on. Regardless of your skill level, rest assured that accommodations are available to cater to your specific needs and preferences.
14. Go on a Sunset Cruise
Experience the awe-inspiring beauty of a Virginia Beach sunset by going on a sunset cruise. Hop aboard a cruise boat and set sail along the coast to experience the golden hues of the setting sun. Some sunset cruises even offer the option for a romantic dinner while capturing the magic of a Virginia Beach sunset.
15. Take a Scenic Flight Over Virginia Beach
Take your Virginia Beach experience to new heights by taking a helicopter ride over the coastal landscape. Several aviation companies offer flights in small aircraft or helicopters, providing a bird’s-eye view of Virginia Beach. Soar high above the ocean, beaches, and iconic landmarks such as the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel and Cape Henry Lighthouse.
16. Discover the Local Food Scene
Virginia Beach has a diverse and vibrant food scene, with a wide range of restaurants and eateries offering fresh seafood caught right off the beach. Indulge in a seafood feast with freshly caught oysters, crabs, and fish, or savor farm-to-table dishes made with locally sourced ingredients.
Virginia Beach also has some of the most interesting locally-owned restaurants that you cannot get anywhere else.
Get Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream from Gerald’s Ice Cream Bar
Gerald’s Ice Cream Bar is a locally-owned ice cream bar nestled in Virginia Beach. Using liquid nitrogen, a super-cold liquid commonly used by scientists, Gerald freezes his ice cream mixture instantly, giving it a unique, velvety texture. With over 30 flavors made in-house, a visit to Geralds after a long day at the beach will leave you happy and refreshed.
Have dinner overlooking the ocean at Orion’s Roof
If you are in the mood for an upscale lunch or dinner, a meal at Orion’s Roof restaurant inside the Marriott Virginia Beach Oceanfront Hotel is a must. The restaurant has a great menu with elevated Asian Fusion cuisine showcasing both land and sea. With floor-to-ceiling windows and located on the top floor of the Marriott Virginia Beach Oceanfront Hotel, you can enjoy a meal at this restaurant and the beautiful views of the Atlantic Ocean.
17. Go To A Festival
The city also hosts a variety of festivals and events throughout the year. Virginia Beach has a festival for every hobby or interest, from music festivals to art extravaganzas. Here is a list of some annual festivals that happen in Virginia Beach:
- V.A. Bourbon Invitational
- VA Beach Surf Art Expo
- La Fiesta Virginia Beach
- Bulls & Barrels Beach Rodeo
- JACKALOPE Festival
- Town Center Snow Globe Spectacular
- Coastal Virginia Magazine WineFest
- Beach It Music Festival
- Annual Virginia Festival of Jewish Film
- Annual Yuengling Shamrock Marathon Weekend
- Something In The Water Festival
- Pungo Offroad Monsters on The Beach
- East Coast She-Crab Soup Classic
- Annual Coastal Edge Steel Pier Classic & Surf Art Expo
- Annual Virginia Arts Festival
- Virginia Beach Water Lantern Festival
- Annual Mural Festival
- Annual Virginia Beach Neptune Festival Boardwalk Weekend
- Annual Virginia MOCA Boardwalk Art Show
- VA Beach Jeep Fest
- Atlantic Coast Kite Festival
18. Get a Custom Surfboard at MAR Surf Exchange
MAR Surf Exchange offers local, hand-shaped boards and DIY board-building experiences with one-on-one guidance from an experienced instructor. Using a professional shaping bay and tools, you can craft your own custom surfboard to suit your style in the East Coast’s only DIY board factory.
Although vacation times often fall short of allowing for the creation of a custom surfboard, fear not. The MAR surf exchange holds an abundance of ready-to-purchase surfboards tailored precisely for capturing the exhilarating waves of Virginia Beach.
Where to Stay in Virginia Beach
Virginia Beach boasts a wide array of revitalized historic hotels, resorts tailored for families, and trendy retreats. The abundance of options can make it challenging to find the ideal accommodation. To assist you in planning the ultimate getaway, we have a few suggestions on where to stay in Virginia Beach, including luxury hotels and mid-range options
The Cavalier Virginia Beach, Autograph Collection
Guests rave about the Cavalier Virginia Beach, and it is the #1 rated hotel on Trip Advisor. Guests are delighted by contemporary features such as an indoor pool, a well-equipped fitness center, and a luxurious spa. The seasonal Cavalier Beach Club, complete with an infinity pool and a bar right by the beach, has become a true treasure, elevating this Marriott property to one of the most remarkable destinations in Virginia Beach.
Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront
This Hilton hotel boasts a coveted location right on Virginia Beach. However, there is much more to appreciate beyond its enviable spot. Many guests rave about the rooftop infinity pool and bar, although it’s important to note that these amenities are not accessible during the off-season. Fortunately, during the winter months, guests can still enjoy the convenience of a heated indoor pool.
Westin Virginia Beach Town Center
Situated on the west side of town, The Westin Virginia Beach Town Center boasts a prime location near the city’s finest restaurants and shops. The beautiful sandy beaches of Virginia Beach are just a quick 15-minute drive away. Guests staying at this hotel not only enjoy proximity to popular attractions but also have access to a range of amenities, including a heated indoor pool, a 24-hour fitness center, and the added convenience of being pet-friendly.
Hyatt Place Virginia Beach
The Hyatt Place Virginia Beach, which opened in 2022, is designed to accommodate families, groups, and couples seeking relaxation and beachside entertainment. Situated right on the picturesque oceanfront of Virginia Beach, this hotel delivers the exceptional experience you would anticipate from the Hyatt brand. After a day of adventure, retreat to your inviting guest room and unwind on your private balcony, taking in the stunning vistas of Virginia Beach, including the iconic Boardwalk and bustling Atlantic Avenue.
Things To Do In Virginia Beach
Virginia Beach is a great place to visit for any occasion. From enjoying the pristine beaches and exploring the coastal ecosystem to indulging in the local food scene, the list of things to do in Virginia Beach is endless.
This article originally appeared on Savoteur.
Latoyia is a travel enthusiast and founder of the travel blog, The Impulse Traveler. A graduate student with wanderlust and limited vacation days, Latoyia usually takes short, last-minute trips. She created The Impulse Traveler to share travel guides for travel where readers can experience a destination in just a weekend.