Provided by VisitVirginiaBeach.com
"Love the Moment" in Virginia Beach all year – especially in the spring and summer when the sun shines warm on your skin. For those who long to strap on their running shoes, pedal some trails or sleep under the stars, nature's gifts await you in Virginia Beach. Grab a surfboard, swim through the mighty waves, kayak with dolphins, embark on a sport fishing adventure, dig your toes into the sand, or traverse the world-class 3-mile boardwalk, which boasts a separate bike path, perfect for strolling, rollerblading, biking or just watching the passers-by. What a life!
Although Virginia Beach beckons to sunbathers and sandcastle-builders, the resort city is a wonderland for more physical adventures and springtime is the perfect season to get outside and enjoy the warm air after being indoors throughout the winter months. With more than 18,600 acres of nature in two state parks and a wildlife refuge, over 121 navigable miles of waterways and 35 miles of ocean and bay beaches, visitors can enjoy a variety of landscapes for exploring the great outdoors. First Landing State Park is a 2,888-acre park fronting the Chesapeake Bay and features 1.25 miles of beachfront and more than 19 miles of interpretive hiking trails through protected salt marsh habitat, freshwater ponds, beach, dunes, forest, tidal marsh and cypress swamp. A registered National Landmark, First Landing is the most visited state park in Virginia and contains one of the most endangered habitat types in the world, the maritime forest community. The park offers interactive programs and outdoor adventures such as crabbing, junior rangers, beach walks, nature hikes and structured environmental education programs that are perfect for kids and parents.
Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and its next-door neighbor, False Cape State Park, offer a combined 13,400 acres and are home to over 300 species of nesting and migratory songbirds, American bald eagles, shorebirds and ducks, as well as otters, white-tailed deer, red fox, loggerhead turtles, feral pigs and reptiles. From April through October, visitors may travel into the heart of the two parks on a tram and explore by foot from there.
For an exhilarating ocean adventure, hop on a surfboard and ride the curl or test your endurance at stand-up-paddling. Rent a board and try it on your own or learn from the experts. A variety of lessons and camps are offered by professional surfers, who teach water safety and surfing fundamentals. To continue a thrill-seeking day, embark on an ocean kayaking excursion to observe bottlenose dolphins as they feed, tail slap and jump among the ocean's waves. Virginia Beach is situated where the Chesapeake Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean, creating the perfect playground and feeding spot for these fascinating creatures as they undertake their annual migration. Or, perhaps enjoy the Surf & Adventure Lunch Box Kayak Tour, a 2.5 hour kayak tour through Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge hosted by an experienced instructor followed by a picnic on the water with a box lunch from local favorite Back Bay Gourmet.
An indoor option to discovering Virginia Beach's fascinating marine life is the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center. Ranked among the Top 10 marine science and aquarium facilities in the U.S., the aquarium offers 800,000 gallons of aquatic environments and over 300 hands-on exhibits. Jump out of your seat while experiencing a 3D movie shown in the six-story Virginia Aquarium's IMAX® Theater. Get nose-to-nose with loggerhead sea turtles, gaze at sand tiger sharks as they gracefully swim by or "pet" the velvety skin of a cownose ray. Check out Restless Planet, home to 6,000 animals and 367 species including Komodo dragons, exotic cobras, the endangered Tomistoma, spittle eagle rays, hedgehogs and so much more.
The great blue is calling you to go deep sea fishing in Virginia Beach, the "Striped Bass Capital of the World." The resort city's unique location on the Eastern Seaboard by the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay allows anglers to haul in the mightiest of tuna, flounder, amberjack, wahoo, mackerel, red drum, tautog and much more. With two inlets, Rudee and Lynnhaven, visitors can embark on half-day and full-day inshore and offshore charters to chase everything from marlin to mahi. Virginia Beach also is home to four fishing piers offering tackle rental and bait. With warm Atlantic waters, there is no off-season in Virginia Beach for sport fishing.
After a day full of activity, it's time to reward yourself with an amazing meal. Coastal cuisine is our forte - a rich culinary style with fresh seafood from the ocean and the bay mixed with homegrown, organic produce straight from Virginia Beach farms. Which means the city's nearly 300 restaurants, many locally-owned and operated, serve fresh ingredients indigenous to our region. Some of the region's specialties and local favorites include crab cakes, grilled mahi-mahi, yellowfin tuna, she-crab soup and striped bass (better known as "rockfish"). Virginia Beach also is famous for its Lynnhaven oysters. Holding historical significance, Lynnhaven oysters fed America's earliest settlers and once were coveted around the world, served to presidents and royalty for their size, saltiness and gentle zing. Today, striped bass and Lynnhaven oysters are considered to be a local delicacy and are served in some of Virginia Beach's most coveted dining establishments by some of the resort city's finest chefs. For a chance to visit a local aquafarm famous for its oysters and clams followed by a sampling of the region's finest cuisine (including oysters!), visit www.coastalfoodtours.com.
A few new restaurants are making their debut in the resort city this spring. Braise, a New American cuisine restaurant, will open in early spring. Owner and Executive Chef Bobby Huber, famous for his previous namesake Bobbywood and stints at One Fish Two Fish and Steinhilber's, will put his own twist on old favorites and make everything in-house – including buns for his hamburgers and hot dogs and his very own mustard, ketchup and mayonnaise. Salt at the Point, opening in mid-March, will feature upscale seafood, steak and regional ingredients. Executive Chef Justin Kealiinohomoku, formerly from Virginia Beach local favorite Eurasia, will use techniques from around the world in his dishes. Wharfside Bar & Grill recently debuted and is located on scenic Rudee Inlet. Diners can stop in for lunch, dinner or weekend brunch and choose from a wide variety of traditional southern staples, fresh seafood and international entrees primarily inspired from Italy and the Far East. Fun dish names dot the menu including "Win Sum Dim Sum," "Mussels Evaldi" and "Can't Be Beet."
Virginia Beach's coastal atmosphere inspires a natural commitment to preserving and enjoying Mother Nature. Visitors can explore a number of eco-friendly activities and attractions. Enjoy strawberry picking in the farming community of Pungo or peruse one of many farmers' road-side stands for fresh fruits and vegetables. For a one-stop shop, try the Virginia Beach Farmers Market, a country-style, open-air, year-round market that features locally grown produce, dairy products, organic groceries, a meat market, home and garden gifts, jams and a restaurant. The Old Beach Farmers Market, open from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Weekend as well as September 22, October 20, November 17 and December 15, is located at the oceanfront just a quick bike ride from the boardwalk and offers a variety of produce alongside fresh herbs, wines and other locally made products. Both markets are free to enter and host special events each month.
Throughout the year, Virginia Beach comes alive with action-packed events, cultural celebrations, live musical performances and diverse festivals, bringing the sights, sounds and flavors of the world to the oceanfront. Explore art from over 40 area artisans and sip vintages from Virginia wineries during The Town Center Art & Wine Festival. Test your endurance as you pound the pavement in the Rock ‘n' Roll Half Marathon or watch hundreds of professional and amateur surfers compete in the East Coast Surfing Championships – North America's oldest running surfing competition and the second oldest continuously-run surfing contest in the world.
Looking for a little nightlife? Head inland to Virginia Beach's newest downtown area, The Town Center, which boasts 17 city blocks of shopping, dining and nightlife venues. Stroll through unique boutiques then indulge with dinner at one of the chic eateries. After dinner, enjoy a show at the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, a world-class performance venue featuring musical greats such as Tony Bennett, Itzhak Perlman and Bonnie Raitt.
Virginia Beach is bustling with new developments and hotel upgrades. Large-scale oceanfront developments estimated at more than $150 million are nearly complete with the Laskin Road Gateway Plan. It includes The Shops at 31Ocean, which will add more than 130,000 square feet of Class A office space, boutique retail and upscale restaurants, as well as 178 luxury resort-lifestyle apartments. Just a mere three blocks away at 34th Street and Atlantic Avenue, Phase Three of the Ocean Beach Club & Resort, the Oceanaire Resort Hotel, quietly opened for business in mid-summer of 2012 and is ready for an exciting inaugural season. The perfect blend of luxury and ultra modern facilities, it boasts high quality finishes and goods, well-appointed spacious suites with fully furnished kitchens, resort amenities such as a 10th floor Club Lounge with a beautiful oceanfront sun deck, the Ultra martini lounge and Aqua 21 Pool & Patio. In addition to these onsite amenities, the property is part of the Ocean Beach Club resort complex, so guests can use all of its facilities as well.
Additionally, last spring, the Sheraton Virginia Beach Oceanfront Hotel completed its multi-million dollar renovation. The hotel, located at the northern end of the Virginia Beach boardwalk, added innovative features and resort-style amenities to its already long list of indulgent accommodations. The renovated guest rooms include 25 oceanfront suites - 10 studio suites and 15 one-bedroom suites - all featuring two flat-screen TVs, kitchenette and pull-out sofa bed and private balconies adjacent to every guestroom. Other enhancements include the Sheraton Fitness® Programmed by Core Performance center, guest laundry facility, new outdoor pool plaza featuring the 60-seat Cabanas Bar and Grill outdoor café, newly renovated indoor pool, Kids Splash Zone and an indoor play-area with planned activities. With direct beach access, state-of-the-art guest rooms, list of new amenities and upscale dining, the new Sheraton Virginia Beach Oceanfront Hotel is an excellent option when visiting the resort city.
With the region's mild year-round climate, Virginia Beach is a popular getaway every season of the year. The resort city is centrally located on the East Coast in the southeastern corner of Virginia, within easy fly-drive access of two-thirds of the U.S. population. It is a mere 20 minutes from Norfolk International Airport, which hosts more than 150 flights daily, and 45 minutes from Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport. For visitors driving to Virginia Beach, the resort city is 2 hours from Richmond, Va., 4 hours away from Washington, D.C. and 7 hours from New York City. It is also accessible from the world-famous Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, a 17-mile span connecting the Delmarva Peninsula with Virginia Beach.
Planning a Virginia Beach vacation is easy – you can book accommodations, attractions, and even specific packages through www.visitvirginiabeach.com. Virginia Beach is an accommodating destination, with over 12,000 hotel rooms, more than 1,800 campsites and several hundred vacation homes for rent – most with ocean or bay-front views. Getaway and vacation packages are offered throughout the year. Enjoy the Family Fun, Health and Wellness or Outdoor packages amongst many others. Or, customize packages to fit your needs and desires – traveling with children, a girls' getaway, or a romantic, relaxing escape for two. New packages are always being added; for a complete list of Virginia Beach vacation package options or to book your perfect getaway, visit www.VisitVirginiaBeach.com/visitors/accommodations/.
Once you have arrived in Virginia Beach, be sure to check out the Virginia Beach mobile website to help plan activities, check out upcoming events or to simply get contact information for various restaurants and attractions throughout the city. You can also visit Virginia Beach on Facebook or Twitter.
For a vacation that enriches the mind, body and soul, visit Virginia Beach. For more information or to plan your next Virginia Beach vacation, visit www.visitvirginiabeach.com or call 1-800-VA-BEACH.