or a classic American beach getaway that’s close to home, Virginia Beach has activities and attractions that will appeal to every visitor, from exciting museum excursions to serene parks and soothing beaches.
Virginia Beach is located in the Hampton Roads metropolitan area of Virginia, on the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. With a population of 437,994 according to the 2010 Census, Virginia Beach is a resort city with miles of beaches and hundreds of hotels, motels, and restaurants along its oceanfront. Every year the city hosts the East Coast Surfing Championships as well as the North American Sand Soccer Championship, a beach soccer tournament. It is also home to several state parks, several long-protected beach areas, three military bases, a number of large corporations, two universities, Edgar Cayce’s Association for Research and Enlightenment, and numerous historic sites. Near the point where the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean meet, Cape Henry was the site of the first landing of the English colonists, who eventually settled in Jamestown, on April 26, 1607.
As a year-round destination, Virginia Beach beckons travelers looking to escape hectic routines and enjoy quality time with family and loved ones. Centrally located on the East Coast, Virginia Beach is within a day’s drive of one-third of the U.S. population and easily accessible to an additional one-third via major interstate highways. Less time in the car means more time in Virginia Beach!
10 great reasons for families to visit Virginia Beach:
1. Virginia Beach is the “World’s Largest Pleasure Beach,” according to the “Guinness Book of World Records.” It boasts more than 35 miles of ocean and bay beaches stretching from the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay to Virginia’s southern border.
2. The beach was widened to the length of a football field in 2001. The “Big Beach” project expanded the shore’s width to more than 300 feet using 3.2 million cubic yards of sand — enough to fill 15,000 residential swimming pools.
3. The Virginia Beach Boardwalk is nearly three miles long, complete with a separate bike path. First constructed in 1888, the Virginia Beach Boardwalk has received national acclaim in recent times as one of America’s favorite boardwalks by the Discovery Channel, and in magazines such as Coastal Living, Southern Living, and National Geographic Traveler. featuring a separate bike path, making it ideal for strolling, rollerblading and biking. Entertainment is offered nightly during the summer months and four oceanfront stages provide live musical acts. Along the boardwalk there’s a variety of quaint outdoor restaurants and vendors offering bike and surrey rentals. Nautical sculptures adorn many of the side streets which lead to Atlantic Avenue. While there, don’t forget to swing by and see King Neptune – a twenty-four foot, twelve-ton bronze statue that stands at the gateway to Neptune Festival Park on 31st Street. This is perhaps one of the most popular photo opportunities in the resort area.
4. Virginia Beach has more than 18,000 acres of state parks and wildlife refuges, and 121 navigable miles of waterways perfect for boating, kayaking or canoeing.
5. The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center (formerly the Virginia Marine Science Museum) is a popular aquarium near the oceanfront that features the 300,000-gallon Norfolk Canyon Aquarium, containing sand tiger, nurse and brown sharks, as well as sting rays and other large open-ocean dwellers. There is also a 70,000-gallon sea turtle aquarium, sea turtle hatchling laboratory, hands-on ocean exploration exhibits, jellyfish and octopus aquariums, and even a life-size model of a humpback whale. Other features include the Owls Creek salt marsh and a nature trail.
6. The mid-Atlantic’s largest population of bottlenose dolphins makes its summer residence in Virginia Beach.
7. Virginia Beach was the landing site of Capt. John Smith in 1607 before he continued north to Jamestown. Pay homage at the First Landing Cross commemorating this significant event or climb the Cape Henry Lighthouse, the oldest government-built lighthouse in America, to overlook the spot. First Landing State Park and False Cape State Park are both located in coastal areas within the city’s corporate limits as well. Both offer camping facilities, cabins, and outdoor recreation activities in addition to nature and history tours.
8. The Edgar Cayce Hospital for Research and Enlightenment was established in Virginia Beach in 1928 with 60 beds. Cayce was a psychic from Kentucky who claimed healing abilities and made prophesies. Cayce is known as the father of the “New Age” movement of the 1960s. Cayce resided in Virginia Beach until he died on January 3, 1945. His followers are still active in Virginia Beach. The 67th street facility features a large private library of books on psychic matters, and is open to the public. The traditional beach-architecture headquarters building features massage therapy by appointment. Atlantic University was opened by Cayce in 1930; it closed two years later but was re-opened in 1985. Atlantic University was originally intended for study of Cayce’s readings and research on spiritual subjects.
9. Quaint museums dot the oceanfront including The Old Coast Guard Station, a former U.S. Life Saving Station that dates to 1903, and the Atlantic Wildfowl Heritage Museum, dedicated to decoy-carving and preserving and promoting wildfowl of the Atlantic Flyway.
10. Exciting annual events splash the calendar, such as the Polar Plunge, Pungo Strawberry Festival, Viva Elvis Festival, Boardwalk Art Show, East Coast Surfing Championships, American Music Festival, Neptune Festival and Holiday Lights at the Beach.
Those are only a few of the fun things you can enjoy in this wonderful coastal city. So come on down, because the weather is fine any time of the year!
To learn more about Virginia Beach visit http://www.visitvirginiabeach.com/
For a schedule of events, visit http://www.beachstreetusa.com/
"On the Road" is a compilation of destination ideas, resort reviews, videos and more gathered from a variety of sources that includes our readers.
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