Skip to main content

Top 10 Things to Do in Virginia Beach

My family and I love to travel and explore new places. We have been blessed to travel across the United States.

Sunset at First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach, VA

Sunset at First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach, VA

Family Vacation in Virginia Beach

For our family vacation in 2017, we drove out to Virginia on a week-long road trip. We spent the first three days in Virginia Beach, which is an incredible place to visit. It is home to four military bases, great beaches, shopping, parks, and much more. There is so much to see and do there. Here is a look at the top 10 things to do when vacationing at Virginia Beach.

1. Explore the Virginia Beach Boardwalk and Beachfront

The Virginia Beach Boardwalk and Beachfront is a beautiful place. It is three miles long on the Atlantic coast and has plenty of benches to relax and enjoy the incredible views. The boardwalk is about 28 feet wide and also has a separate bike path. Visitors looking for souvenirs should check out the Virginia Beach Boardwalk shops. Hotels, resorts, and restaurants are also numerous along the boardwalk. The most iconic place is the large King Neptune statue near 31st Street.

We visited the Virginia Beach Boardwalk and Beachfront several times while we were there. The first night we arrived in time for the weekly firework show on the beach and enjoyed an ice cream cone. The next day we spent a few hours at the beach enjoying the water. On the final day, we rented a four-person bike and rode up and down the boardwalk. We also spent time visiting the Virginia Beach Boardwalk shops. I highly recommend this beautiful area.

2. Visit First Landing State Park

First Landing State Park is 2,900 incredible acres at the point where the Chesapeake Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean. It gets its namesake because it marks the spot that the first permanent English colonists landed in the New World back in 1607. They would go on and settle in Jamestown, which is further to the northwest on the James River. First Landing State Park is home to a great beach, 19 miles of hiking trails, dunes, tidal marsh, picnic areas, boat ramps, and more. It also offers camping and climate-controlled cabins.

We spent an evening there enjoying the beach and an incredible sunset. It was amazing. We also watched several ships enter the Chesapeake Bay from the Atlantic Ocean. It is a great spot to watch sunsets. I highly recommend checking it out.

3. Visit Sandbridge Beach

Sandbridge Beach is well worth a visit. It is away from the hustle and bustle of Virginia Beach. It offers a pristine five-mile long beach on the Atlantic Ocean. It is Virginia's version of North Carolina's Outer Banks. It is a great place to rent a house or condo on the beach. The Sandbridge Pier and the Sandbridge Market are spots that are worth checking out. Sandbridge Beach is a must see when visiting Virginia Beach.

4. Visit the Cape Henry Lighthouses

The Cape Henry Lighthouses are filled with history and are must-sees when visiting Virginia Beach. The lighthouses are on the Fort Story naval base. Visitors over 16 must present a valid ID at the security gate. The Old Cape Henry Lighthouse dates back to 1792 as part of the first federal construction project signed off on by President George Washington. The newer lighthouse, known as the Cape Henry Lighthouse, was built in 1881 a little more than a football field away from the original. Both Cape Henry Lighthouses are National Historic Landmarks and are on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. The original lighthouse is open to the public and offers incredible views of the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

5. Go on a Dolphin Cruise

Dolphin Cruises in Virginia Beach are a lot of fun. Large groups of dolphins gather off the coast, making it highly likely you'll get to see several groups of them. Many times dolphins will try to keep pace with the boat. It is incredible to watch.

We went on an afternoon Dolphin Cruise aboard the Rudee Flipper. It lasted about 90 minutes and was a blast. The cruise departs from Lake Rudee in Virginia Beach and then follows the Rudee Inlet out to the Atlantic Ocean. Then it heads north parallel to the Virginia Beach Boardwalk and Beachfront. We found several groups of dolphins just south of the Cape Henry Lighthouses. It was amazing. We saw some dolphins swimming along with a couple of people in kayaks. It is not an experience that I will soon forget.

6. Visit the Military Aviation Museum

The Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach is a cool place to visit. It is on 105 acres and home to one of the best private collections of World War I and World War II military aircraft. Many of the airplanes are still in use during airshows and demonstrations. The Military Aviation Museum is also a unique venue for weddings. It is incredible to see all of these beautiful planes that bring history to life. It is a must-see.

7. Visit the Virginia Beach Aquarium

The Virginia Beach Aquarium has something for everyone. It is one of the top aquariums in the United States and home to over 300 species including sea turtles, sharks, harbor seals, Komodo dragons, and more. The aquarium also offers boat trips, food, and an Adventure Park at Virginia Aquarium. It also hosts Mermaid Mondays, Easter Bunny Encounter, Special Needs Under the Sea, and more. It is a great place to take the whole family.

8. Drive on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel is an engineering marvel. It is 23 miles long and crosses the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. It has two undersea tunnels (Thimble Shoal Tunnel & Chesapeake Tunnel) that are each around a mile-long and allow ocean-going vessels to move freely between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. It is the only link between the Virginia Beach area and the eastern shore of Virginia. There are plazas at each end of the bridge to pay the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel toll.

We enjoyed the drive across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. It was a unique experience. The tunnels were amazing. We stopped at the gift shop and restaurant near the Thimble Shoal Tunnel and spent a few minutes shopping, which has been closed for the next several years for the construction of a second tunnel to allow four lanes of traffic to flow. Driving on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel is an absolute must when visiting Virginia Beach.

9. Visit the Virginia Beach Fishing Pier

The Virginia Beach Fishing Pier is a great place to fish and offers incredible views of the Virginia Beach Boardwalk and Beachfront. A fishing license for a day costs $10 for adults and $5 for kids under 12. It is $2 for visitors wanting to watch. Those interested in fishing can catch bluefish, croakers, king mackerel, kingfish, rays, trout, and more. There is also a seafood restaurant and gift shop on the pier. The Virginia Beach Fishing Pier is a must-see when visiting Virginia Beach.

10. Visit False Cape State Park

False Cape State Park is incredible. It is 4,000 acres and one of the few remaining undeveloped wilderness areas on the Atlantic Coast. It is on a narrow six-mile long piece of land located between the Atlantic Ocean and Back Bay. Visitors cannot access the park by car. The only way into the park is on a boat, bike, walking, or scheduling a ride on the Terra-Gator, which drives on the beach. The park is a great place to hike, camp, bike, and enjoy the beauty of God's creation.

False Cape State Park Camping

Camping at False Cape State Park is incredible. Campers can pitch a tent right on the beach and enjoy sleeping with the sounds of waves crashing on the shore. Sometimes dolphins can be seen playing in the ocean. Be sure to make reservations to reserve a camping spot.

Don't Miss a Chance to Visit Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach is incredible. There is so much to see and do there. My family and I loved our time there, especially the beaches. We cannot wait to go back again.

Map of the Top Ten Things to Do in Virginia Beach

© 2019 Eric Cramer

Related Articles