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Exploring Virginia Beach - On the Land and in the Water

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Fans of the surf and the turf will find plenty of enticing things to do in Virginia Beach. The lively boardwalk and beaches get a lot of the attention - and rightfully so. Still, the city’s dedication to preserving its rich history and ecosystem provide plenty of other ways to keep the fun going when you need a break from the sun and sand.

Cape Henry


This serene area in northeast Virginia Beach was where the first English settlers landed in 1607 before establishing the colony of Jamestown. You can take in a panoramic view of where the settlers ran aground from the top of Cape Henry Lighthouse, built near the spot where the boat arrived. When you’re finished, head west along the coast to First Landing State Park and check out its 20 miles of trails - just be mindful of the sounds that may come from the nearby military training centre.


  • Cape Henry Lighthouse, 583 Atlantic Avenue, Fort Story 23459; Tel: +1 757 422 9421; Website: Cape Henry Lighthouse

  • First Landing State Park, 2500 Shore Drive, Virginia Beach 23451; Tel: +1 757 412 2300; Website: First Landing State Park

The beach and boardwalk


If you walk the entire 3-mile length of the Virginia Beach Boardwalk, you’ll have the chance to do some window shopping or grab a bite to eat. You can even get your picture taken with its impressive 31-foot King Neptune statue and maybe even catch a concert in the summertime. If you’d rather pick a section of the boardwalk and stay put, try watching cyclists and rollerbladers glide along the separate bike path or stretching out on the sand to watch the waves.



Exploring nature


You can wander through Virginia Beach’s marshes and sand dunes on 8 miles’ worth of trails at the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Tundra swans and Canadian geese fly around the area during the fall and winter, and loggerhead sea turtles are common sights in the summertime. The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science centre’s Adventure Park gives you the chance to soar through trees on a zipline. You'll want to give it a try if you can pull yourself away from their collection of rays, tiger sharks, and other marine critters.



Museums and historic sites


Virginia Beach is home to a few military bases and training centres. The acclaimed Military Aviation Museum showcases this connection to the Armed Forces through 4 hangars full of carefully restored World War II-era aircraft and other period artifacts. Virginia Beach also has several preserved houses and buildings that date back to the city’s early days. The Adam Thoroughgood House is arguably the most famous structure and tells the tale of one of Virginia’s first colonists.


  • Military Aviation Museum, 1341 Princess Anne Road, Virginia Beach 23457; Tel: +1 757 721 7767; Website: Military Aviation Museum

  • Adam Thoroughgood House, 1636 Parish Road, Virginia Beach 23455; Tel: +1 757 460 7588; Website: Adam Thoroughgood House


Watery adventures


Virginia Beach sits at the spot where the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay meet, and the city gives you plenty of options to actively explore either body of water. Surfing and stand-up paddling are popular pursuits. If you want to give them a try, companies like VB Surf Sessions specialize in teaching people how to ride the waves. More adventurous types can don a lifejacket, hop inside a kayak, and take a guided dolphin-watching tour. You can also spot the mammals aboard the Rudee Flipper if you’d prefer to stay dry.


  • VB Surf Sessions, 899 Vanderbilt Avenue, Virginia Beach 23451; Tel: +1 757 633 5330; Website: VB Surf Sessions

  • Rudee Tours, 200 Winston Salem Avenue, Virginia Beach 23451; Tel: +1 757 425 3400; Website: Rudee Tours