Virginia Beach travel guide

The Resort City

Virginia Beach Tourism | Virginia Beach Guide

You're Going to Love Virginia Beach

Family-friendly, full of entertainment options and easy to reach from many of the Eastern Seaboard's largest cities, Virginia Beach proves that you don't need to go to Florida or the Caribbean to enjoy a wonderful beach vacation.

If all you want is a tan and a few days of relaxation in the sunshine, Virginia Beach is the place to do it. Rent a sun lounger and set yourself up on the beach, and you'll be bronzed in no time.

Then again, if dozing on the beach isn't your thing, Virginia Beach is packed with attractions, from the fun-filled family amusement park to the opportunity to kayak in Broad Bay, take whale-watching trips or dance the night away at clubs like Peabody's.

You can shop for luxury brands at Lynnhaven Mall, dine on fresh Chesapeake seafood at restaurants like Tautogs or spend the night enjoying a few beers with friends at Catch 31. Whatever you want to get out of your next beach vacation, Virginia Beach is the perfect place to go.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Virginia Beach

The Beach

Virginia Beach is built around an almost 5-mile long boardwalk. Backed by Atlantic and Pacific Avenues, the beach isn't just a place to relax. It also regularly hosts music events like July's Sandstock Rock and Roll Festival, and even monster truck rallies. There's always something happening to entertain visitors.

Golf

There are 8 affordable and high-quality public courses in Virginia Beach itself and more than 20 in the surrounding area. Coupled with the pleasant climate during spring and summer, this makes the resort heaven for amateur golfers.

Food

Seafood is king in Virginia Beach, and there aren't many better places to dine on fish tacos or crab cakes. Try the crab soup at Blue Seafood and Spirits, dine on shrimp at the seafront at Tautogs or fill up on fish tacos at Big Sam's.

History

The area around Virginia Beach isn't a new development. In fact, Cape Henry was one of the first places English settlers visited in the early seventeenth century. Nowadays you can visit historic landmarks like Cape Henry Lighthouse or see the First Landing Cross which shows exactly where the Europeans arrived in 1607.

Clubbing, Music and Good Times

Virginia Beach is also a vibrant beach resort. Head to clubs like Peabody's where dance DJs keep people on the floor until the morning. Make a date to watch the Americana acts at the American Music Festival in September, or be there during Spring Break to sample one of the East Coast's liveliest party venues.

What to do in Virginia Beach

1. Virginia Beach Boardwalk: Relinquish Your Inner Self

Stretching out three miles along the oceanfront, the Virginia Beach Boardwalk is the heartbeat of the Croatan Beach all the way up to the North End beaches. Savor outdoor activities on the soft, golden sand like biking, running and skateboarding. Discover tantalizing delicacies and an exclusive shopping experience behind the boardwalk and Atlantic Avenue. The park-like set up spreads out for miles with a laid-back beach ambiance. Enjoy live musical arts, summer concerts, display of nautical sculptures like the renown bronze statue of King Neptune and so much more.

2. First Landing State Park: Where History Meets Nature

At the heart of Virginia Beach lays a beautiful oasis, First Landing State Park (formerly Seashore State Park). It coins its name from the landing of the first English colonists in 1607. This recreational haven boasts 20 miles of hiking and biking trails which await to be traversed. Or, you can simply enjoy breathtaking views over the Chesapeake Bay. Aside from its historical significance, it displays a unique habitat that features plants and lagoons. The park offers picnic areas, boat ramps and whatever you'll need to make your stay at the park comfortable.

3. Sandbridge Beach: The Ultimate Hideaway

Located 15 miles south of the Resort Area of Virginia, this secluded beach hideaway offers complete relaxation from the hustle and bustle of the resort area. The five-mile beach stretches out to the coastline and features waving sea oats and untainted sand dunes. Explore the seashore to Cypress Birding Trail to view some eye-catching birds. Enjoy the breeze while strolling or go for a romantic picnic on the scenic beach. The overall breathtaking landscape of houses set far away from the wide beach gives the impression of a rural setting.

4. Back Bay Wildlife Refuge: Nature Unraveled

Started in 1938, the over 8,000-acre freshwater refuge lies between the Atlantic Ocean on the east and Back Bay on the west. It's also approximately 18 miles south of the resort area. It features maritime forests, ponds, big sand dunes, freshwater marshes and so much more. The serene habitats are a perfect get away for trekking and coming across a great view. Check out the False Cape Start from here.

5. Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center: Home of Sea Creatures

Home to over 12,000 animals that represent 700 species, the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is a must-see attraction. The aquarium is located south of Rudee Inlet with a panoramic view over the deep waters from the decks. Get to see several creatures of the marine world like turtles, seals, sharks and so much more. Elaborate displays in the vast complex give a sneak peek into what Virginia was like 1,000 years ago. This is a fun-filled, educational and recreational spot all wrapped up in one.

6. Colonial Williamsburg: Turn Back the Hands of Time

Colonial Williamsburg is a captivating place with pleasant surprises. It offers you the opportunity to spend some personal time with America's brave ancestors. Take a look at the beautiful ancient buildings and wander around the rich, fertile gardens. Learn about America's incredible history and try out some amazing and fun historical games. It'll feel like you didn't miss a thing as the valiant men of war led this wealthy country to victory.

Virginia Beach BoardwalkVirginia Beach Boardwalk
First Landing State ParkFirst Landing State Park
Sandbridge BeachSandbridge Beach
Back Bay Wildlife RefugeBack Bay Wildlife Refuge

1. Virginia Beach Boardwalk: Relinquish Your Inner Self

Stretching out three miles along the oceanfront, the Virginia Beach Boardwalk is the heartbeat of the Croatan Beach all the way up to the North End beaches. Savor outdoor activities on the soft, golden sand like biking, running and skateboarding. Discover tantalizing delicacies and an exclusive shopping experience behind the boardwalk and Atlantic Avenue. The park-like set up spreads out for miles with a laid-back beach ambiance. Enjoy live musical arts, summer concerts, display of nautical sculptures like the renown bronze statue of King Neptune and so much more.

2. First Landing State Park: Where History Meets Nature

At the heart of Virginia Beach lays a beautiful oasis, First Landing State Park (formerly Seashore State Park). It coins its name from the landing of the first English colonists in 1607. This recreational haven boasts 20 miles of hiking and biking trails which await to be traversed. Or, you can simply enjoy breathtaking views over the Chesapeake Bay. Aside from its historical significance, it displays a unique habitat that features plants and lagoons. The park offers picnic areas, boat ramps and whatever you'll need to make your stay at the park comfortable.

3. Sandbridge Beach: The Ultimate Hideaway

Located 15 miles south of the Resort Area of Virginia, this secluded beach hideaway offers complete relaxation from the hustle and bustle of the resort area. The five-mile beach stretches out to the coastline and features waving sea oats and untainted sand dunes. Explore the seashore to Cypress Birding Trail to view some eye-catching birds. Enjoy the breeze while strolling or go for a romantic picnic on the scenic beach. The overall breathtaking landscape of houses set far away from the wide beach gives the impression of a rural setting.

4. Back Bay Wildlife Refuge: Nature Unraveled

Started in 1938, the over 8,000-acre freshwater refuge lies between the Atlantic Ocean on the east and Back Bay on the west. It's also approximately 18 miles south of the resort area. It features maritime forests, ponds, big sand dunes, freshwater marshes and so much more. The serene habitats are a perfect get away for trekking and coming across a great view. Check out the False Cape Start from here.

5. Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center: Home of Sea Creatures

Home to over 12,000 animals that represent 700 species, the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is a must-see attraction. The aquarium is located south of Rudee Inlet with a panoramic view over the deep waters from the decks. Get to see several creatures of the marine world like turtles, seals, sharks and so much more. Elaborate displays in the vast complex give a sneak peek into what Virginia was like 1,000 years ago. This is a fun-filled, educational and recreational spot all wrapped up in one.

6. Colonial Williamsburg: Turn Back the Hands of Time

Colonial Williamsburg is a captivating place with pleasant surprises. It offers you the opportunity to spend some personal time with America's brave ancestors. Take a look at the beautiful ancient buildings and wander around the rich, fertile gardens. Learn about America's incredible history and try out some amazing and fun historical games. It'll feel like you didn't miss a thing as the valiant men of war led this wealthy country to victory.

Virginia Beach BoardwalkVirginia Beach Boardwalk
First Landing State ParkFirst Landing State Park
Sandbridge BeachSandbridge Beach
Back Bay Wildlife RefugeBack Bay Wildlife Refuge

Top activities & attractions in Virginia Beach

Where to Eat in Virginia Beach

Dining out is one of the highlights of a Virginia Beach vacation, and you can find great restaurants from almost every corner of the world. If you want fish tacos stuffed with freshly caught local seafood, Gringo's Taqueria is the place to go, while for crab cakes Croaker's cannot be beaten. Tautog and Catch 31 are popular seafront restaurants with great ocean views while Il Giardino is the finest Italian in town. And prices aren't too high at all. Expect to pay $6 for a fish taco, $15 for a mid-range meal and $30 or more for a high-quality night out.

Most popular restaurants in Virginia Beach

American
Excellent (402 reviews)
Italian
Excellent (298 reviews)
$$$$
American
Excellent (221 reviews)
American
Excellent (178 reviews)
Bar / Lounge / Bottle Service
Excellent (169 reviews)
Japanese
Excellent (137 reviews)

When to visit Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach in January
Estimated hotel price
$136
1 night at 3-star hotel
Virginia Beach in January
Estimated hotel price
$136
1 night at 3-star hotel

Summer is the best time to visit Virginia Beach if all you want to do is lounge on the sand. However, the high humidity and heat of July and August isn't for everybody. If you want to visit the attractions, walk the coast and play some golf try booking a visit in May or September - times of year when the weather is pleasant and the crowds aren't so dense.

Data provided by weatherbase
Temperatures
Temperatures
Average
Fahrenheit (°F)
Data provided by weatherbase

How to Get to Virginia Beach

Plane

If you are flying into Virginia Beach, the best option is to touch down at Norfolk International, around 20 miles to the west of the resort. From there, you can take shuttle buses provided by James River Transportation or arrange a taxi into town. Taxis cost around $35-40, depending on the size of your travel group.

Train

Although there is no Amtrak station in Virginia Beach itself, you can get pretty close to the resort by train. Both Newport News and Norfolk are connected to Boston, New York and Philadelphia via the Northeast Regional service, and you can easily take a taxi from either city to Virginia Beach.

Car

Driving to Virginia Beach from nearby cities is the easiest way to get there. Take I-95 from Washington D.C., New York or Philadelphia and switch to I-64 at Richmond. I-95 also links the resort to southern destinations like Atlanta and Miami.

Bus

There is no Greyhound stop in Virginia Beach, but the city is connected to regional locations via the Sprinter Bus service. This handy service runs from New York via Arlington and Alexandria and stops right in the heart of town.

Airports near Virginia Beach

Airlines serving Virginia Beach

United Airlines
Good (2,861 reviews)
Lufthansa
Good (2,162 reviews)
American Airlines
Good (4,419 reviews)
KLM
Good (350 reviews)
Air France
Good (402 reviews)
British Airways
Good (1,428 reviews)
Delta
Excellent (3,078 reviews)
Turkish Airlines
Good (1,333 reviews)
Qatar Airways
Good (1,216 reviews)
Emirates
Excellent (972 reviews)
Iberia
Good (921 reviews)
Air Canada
Good (1,425 reviews)
Austrian Airlines
Good (279 reviews)
TAP AIR PORTUGAL
Good (541 reviews)
Brussels Airlines
Good (101 reviews)
Finnair
Good (704 reviews)
LATAM Airlines
Good (791 reviews)
Alaska Airlines
Excellent (2,654 reviews)
Scandinavian Airlines
Good (440 reviews)
Spirit Airlines
Good (2,503 reviews)
Show more

Where to stay in Virginia Beach

The Seafront – The centerpiece of Virginia Beach is the beach itself - miles and miles of sand fringed by nightclubs, restaurants, hotels and entertainment venues. Check into hotels along Pacific Avenue like the Comfort Inn to enjoy sea views, and be close to vibrant clubs like Peabody's - the city's major dance venue.

Popular Neighborhoods in Virginia Beach

Downtown Virginia Beach – A few hundred meters inland from the seafront you'll find Virginia Beach's major cultural institutions as well as major business venues like the Virginia Beach Conference Center. Check out the Museum of Contemporary Art, which always seeks to involve visitors with workshops and performances, or relax in cafes like Zoe's, on 19th Street.

Bird Neck Point – Tucked away on its own peninsular, Bird Neck Point is an exclusive residential district with some of the city's most luxurious homes. If you want to rent an apartment or home during your vacation, this is the place to look. You can also rent boats to sail in Linkhorn Bay, play tennis or enjoy a round at the Cavalier Golf and Yacht Club.

Where to stay in popular areas of Virginia Beach

Most booked hotels in Virginia Beach

Hyatt House Virginia Beach/Oceanfront
Excellent (8.2, 2084 reviews)
$117+
Schooner Inn
Excellent (8.2, 2081 reviews)
$63+
DoubleTree by Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront South
Excellent (8.1, 991 reviews)
$116+
Holiday Inn Express Portsmouth Gunwharf Quays
Good (7.8, 5472 reviews)
$99+
Ocean Beach Club By Diamond Resorts
Good (7.8, 2519 reviews)
$107+
Jurys Inn Southampton
Good (7.6, 5047 reviews)
$58+
See all hotels

How to Get Around Virginia Beach

Public Transportation

Getting around Virginia Beach by bus isn't easy and there is no tram or light rail system either. You can travel up and down the seafront with Hampton Roads Transit buses for $1.50 a ride, but getting to suburbs by public transit isn't a reliable option. Renting a car or taking cabs is always preferable.

Taxis

Taxis are a convenient way to get from your hotel or resort to the beach. Prices vary according to the company and type of car you choose, but typical fares are $3.25 for the meter drop, then $2.40 per mile and $0.50 for extra items of baggage. Getting around with Uber is a good way to save money as their basic fare is $0.70, then $0.60 per mile, so significant savings are possible.

Car

Many visitors to Virginia Beach find that having their own automobile is essential. Getting around the streets shouldn't be hard. The resort is fairly compact around the major tourist areas, and attractions are well signposted. Parking is cheap in the center of town as well, with lots on Atlantic Avenue charging a maximum of $10 per day.

The Cost of Living in Virginia Beach

Shopping Streets

If you want to mix sunbathing with shopping, Virginia Beach is a fantastic place to do so. There are two major shopping malls within five minutes of the beachfront district. Lynnhaven offers stores like Apple, Forever 21, H&M and Vans, while Hilltop North offers a similar mix of brands along with plenty of restaurants and up-market grocery stores. If you just want ocean-themed souvenirs like postcards, the stores on Atlantic Avenue will be ideal - but don't expect any bargains.

Groceries and Other

Staying in self-catering accommodation is a good way to keep your costs low while staying in Virginia Beach, and there are a number of grocery stores in the middle of town. Options include Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and Farm Fresh, while further out you can find a Walmart Supercenter and Kroger's. The city isn't expensive. Expect to pay $2.60 for a gallon of milk and $2.30 for 12 eggs.

Cheap meal
$12.00
A pair of jeans
$43.29
Single public transport ticket
$1.88
Cappuccino
$4.08
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