Situated where the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean meet, Virginia Beach is a coastal city in southeastern Virginia that’s known for great shopping, dining, attractions, and beaches. With a bustling boardwalk and plenty of historic sites, there’s something for everyone to enjoy at this oceanfront resort. Discover the best things to see and do, where to stay, and how to get to Virginia Beach to enjoy everything the area has to offer.

Early Morning: Fuel up for a Big Day

You’ll be doing plenty of exploring during your trip to Virginia Beach, so you want to make sure you start your day with a full breakfast. For some of the best pancakes on the beach, you must stop by Pocahontas Pancakes. Situated just one block from the boardwalk, this bright restaurant features murals depicting the Powhatan and early Jamestown settlers. However, what people stand in line for are the fluffy pancakes. You can go for the classic buttermilk pancake, or you can opt for the pecan-topped pancakes, which were featured on Food Network’s “Best Of” series.

Another option for a hearty breakfast is at one of the two Virginia Beach Citrus locations. Citrus strives to source all produce from local farmers so you can enjoy a fresh meal. Stop by for breakfast and you’ll find classics like steak and eggs, biscuits and gravy, French toast, omelets, and pancakes. The citrus-style pancakes come with pineapple, banana, and orange glaze that will help get your day started right.

At Sunnyside Café and Restaurant, you can enjoy your breakfast out on the patio. Get a healthy start with a selection of fresh fruit or go for something classic like the French toast, omelets, pancakes, waffles, or a breakfast sampler. There are also unique choices like the breakfast pizza, breakfast wrap, or a breakfast sandwich.

Cape Henry Lighthouse
Cape Henry Lighthouse in Virginia Beach.

Midmorning: Explore the History

Virginia Beach offers plenty of historic sites where you can learn more about the area and the people who once lived here. First Landing State Park commemorates where colonists from England made landfall in 1607. The group eventually traveled farther west to form Jamestown, which was the first permanent English settlement in North America. First Landing State Park has another unique distinction: It’s the northernmost point on the East Coast where you can find subtropical and temperate plants growing together.

This 2,888-acre park offers a wide range of activities, including hiking, biking, swimming, boating, and fishing. Walk along the trails and you’ll find a number of Native American replica structures. Explore these structures and discover how these tribes lived. You can also check out the Chesapeake Bay Center and learn more about the local environment and the cultures of the people who ended up sharing the land.

Another great historic site to tour is the Cape Henry Lighthouse. Situated at the southern entrance to the Chesapeake Bay, the Cape Henry Lighthouse was built in 1792 to help guide vessels entering and leaving the bay. It also has a very rich history; George Washington authorized construction of the lighthouse, and it’s one of the oldest surviving lighthouses in the country.

It was actively used for almost a century before a cast-iron lighthouse was built nearby to replace it. Since the new lighthouse is still in service today, it’s not open to the public. However, the original Cape Henry Lighthouse is open for tours, and there’s also a museum and gift shop where you can learn more about the history of these structures.

Noon: Take a Break for Lunch

When you’re done exploring the historical sites around Virginia Beach, it’s time to take a break and enjoy some lunch. Head to Waterman’s Surfside Grille and have a beachfront lunch with a menu offering some of your classic favorites. If you’re in the mood for a burger, the Waterman’s burger comes with a half-pound of certified Angus beef topped with a lump crab cake and melted cheddar cheese, which is served on a fresh-baked roll.

If you want something a little lighter, try the Chicken Avocado Jetty Wrap with seasoned chicken, house-made guacamole, bacon, cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, and cheddar-jack cheese, all folded into a sun-dried tomato tortilla and served with ranch dressing.

Another great place to grab lunch in Virginia Beach is Doc Taylor’s. If you’ve worked up an appetite, consider the 36th Street club that comes with ham, turkey, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and Swiss and American cheese. Or you can go for the OBX, which is a North Carolina barbecue sandwich served with homemade coleslaw. You’ll also find soups, salads, burgers, and wraps. While you’re there, don’t miss the opportunity to try the Doctor’s World Famous Bloody Mary. This drink has a lot of fans, and it’s a great beverage to savor while you enjoy your lunch.

Virginia Beach Boardwalk
Virginia Beach Boardwalk in Virginia Beach.

Afternoon: Stroll the Boardwalk

Since no trip to Virginia Beach is complete without a stop at the actual beach, take some time in the afternoon to stick your toes in the sand. While you’re at the beach, make sure you also explore the boardwalk. Stretching 28 feet wide and 3 miles long, you’ll find plenty of exciting activities to keep you busy.

Stop by the 24-foot tall, 12-ton King Neptune bronze statue for a unique photo opportunity. There are four oceanfront stages at 7th Street, 17th Street, 24th Street, and 31st Street where you can catch live music performances. You’ll also find a variety of restaurants, great shopping, and sidewalk entertainers.

Additionally, the boardwalk is where you’ll find Atlantic Fun Park. This small amusement park offers thrill rides, family rides, kiddie rides, and a go-kart track. Hop on the Ferris wheel, which is the biggest in Virginia Beach, and take in the beautiful views from the top. Stop by the Midway to test your skills and win great prizes at classic games like Balloon Pop, Long Range Basketball, Frog Bog, Pick a Duck, and several others.

To learn more about the coastal rescue missions and shipwrecks that have happened off the coast of Virginia Beach, stop by the Old Coast Guard Station on the boardwalk. See how crew members at the life-saving stations at Virginia Beach would patrol the waters for ships in distress, signal for help if they saw a ship in trouble, and learn what equipment they would use to help victims of shipwrecks. You’ll also learn how these life-saving stations transitioned to the U.S. Coast Guard we know today.

Late Afternoon: Learn Something New

When you’re done at the boardwalk, head out to learn even more about the area. The Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center is situated just south of Rudee Inlet. The aquarium has over 800,000 gallons of fresh and saltwater displays where you can learn about aquatic wildlife of the region. At the Chesapeake Bay Aquarium, you’ll find a touch pool with starfish, horseshoe crabs, and whelk.

The Chesapeake Light Tower Aquarium shows you what it looks like about 15 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach. Here you can watch sea turtles, Goliath grouper, lookdown fish, cobia, permits, and more swim around. There’s also a marsh pavilion where you can see river otters, snakes, and other marsh creatures, as well as an aviary that’s home to 70 birds, including a great horned owl, brown pelicans, and great blue herons.

At the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, you’ll enjoy rotating exhibitions featuring work from regional, national, and international artists. Since the museum showcases contemporary art, most of what you’ll see includes products and reflections of our culture today by living artists. Exhibits can include sculptures, paintings, glass, photography, video, and other visual media. The museum also offers a studio school where adults and children alike can sign up for classes and explore painting, drawing, digital photography, ceramics, fine crafts, mixed media, and more.

Virginia Beach Night
Virginia Beach at Night

Dinnertime: Enjoy Dinner With a View

After all your exploring, you’ve likely worked up an appetite. With so many great dining options around Virginia Beach, you’ll have your pick of where to go for dinner.

If you’re interested in fine dining, head to One Fish Two Fish in the Long Bay Pointe boat marina. You’ll enjoy beautiful views of the water as you savor dishes made fresh with local and organic produce. When you stop by for dinner, consider starting with the seared scallops. For the main course, a few of the delectable menu choices include sesame seared ahi tuna, a 10-ounce rib eye steak, sautéed jumbo lump crab cakes, or grilled salmon. If you saved some room for dessert, you can’t go wrong with the pecan pie, Ghirardelli chocolate brownie, or olive oil and sea salt lemon bar.

Another great oceanfront restaurant is eat : an american bistro. This stylish and modern café offers New American fare where everyone can find something they like. Start your meal with a unique dish like grilled octopus. Or you can go with something more traditional, such as meatballs with mozzarella. If you want to try a palate-cleanser between meals, opt for the artisan cheese. For your main course, you have options that include crab cake, scallops and roasted corn grits, vegetable lasagna, and iron-seared filet mignon.

Head to Rockafeller’s Restaurant and you can sit out on the covered decks while taking in the views of the water with your meal. Start your dinner with a tasty appetizer, such as barbecue shrimp wrapped in bacon or crab and shrimp hushpuppies. Dinner specialties include the barbecue shrimp and crab cake, char-crust mahi, ultimate seafood platter, and Mr. B’s famous baby back ribs.

Make sure you save some room for one of the homemade desserts. The chocolate éclair pie and chocolate mousse are smooth and creamy, and the Jamaican rum cake and key lime pie bring the tropics to Virginia Beach.

King Neptune Statue
King Neptune Statue in Virginia Beach.

Late Night: Great Music and Shopping

Once you finish dinner, head back to the King Neptune statue and see what type of entertainment is happening at Neptune’s Park. This picturesque outdoor amphitheater offers a free summer concert series with diverse and talented national recording artists performing live every night. You’ll also enjoy performances from cover bands and local talent. Right nextdoor at 31Ocean sits Sky Bar, the only rooftop bar on the oceanfront. Here you’ll find good drinks, great music, and a lovely view of Virginia Beach.

If you’re searching for more entertainment, head to the Town Center of Virginia Beach. Have a few good laughs at Funny Bone Comedy Club or go dancing at Twist Martini Bar. Stroll through the shops and find an impressive selection of stores and boutiques that offer clothing, books, skincare products, gifts, electronics, and more. You can even satisfy a late-night sweet tooth craving by indulging in some chocolate, ice cream, cupcakes, or candy.

Where to Stay in Virginia Beach

With so many great things to do in Virginia Beach, it’s easy to see why it’s a top destination for leisure travelers. If you’re headed to the area for vacation and need somewhere to stay, there are plenty of Virginia Beach hotels that can meet your needs.

Luxury Hotels in Virginia Beach

When you’re looking for a hotel that offers those extra touches to make your vacation complete, check out one of the luxury hotels in Virginia Beach.

Oceanaire Resort Hotel is an upscale and modern tower directly across from the boardwalk. This all-suite hotel gives you plenty of room to relax and stretch out. Every studio room comes with high-end bedding, kitchenettes with granite countertops, free wireless internet access, and flat-screen televisions with Blu-ray players. Upgrade to a larger suite and you’ll get a living room, full kitchen, and whirlpool tub. The hotel offers a a sundeck on the 10th floor, two indoor pools, two outdoor pools, a casual restaurant, martini lounge, tiki bar, and valet parking.

Situated right next to Neptune’s Park, Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront puts you near all the action. Enjoy a meal at the on-site restaurant Salacia, which is a renowned gourmet steakhouse. Or head up to the rooftop infinity pool to take in stunning views of the beach and surrounding area. The hotel also offers an indoor pool, fitness center, and business center.

Go inside your room and you’ll find contemporary decor, a flat-screen television, and wireless internet access. Some rooms also come with balconies and ocean views. Upgrade to an executive room and you’ll get access to the Executive Lounge for a complimentary breakfast and evening appetizers.

First Landing State Park
First landing State Park in Virginia Beach.

Budget-Friendly Hotels in Virginia Beach

If you’d rather spend your money on attractions, consider one of the affordable hotels in Virginia Beach. Econo Lodge Virginia Beach – On The Ocean gives you all the advantages of an oceanfront hotel without the steep prices. Just steps from the beach, the hotel offers laid-back rooms that all have balconies with ocean views. You’ll also enjoy in-room amenities such as free wireless internet access, a flat-screen television, minifridge, microwave, and coffeemaker. Hotel conveniences include an outdoor pool with sundeck, free continental breakfast, and complimentary bike rentals.

If you don’t need to be right on the beach, La Quinta Inn and Suites Virginia Beach has plenty of great amenities and is just a few blocks away. Here you’ll find relaxed rooms with a flat-screen television and HD channels, free wireless internet access, a pillow-top mattress, microwave, minifridge, and coffeemaker. The hotel also offers a fitness center, indoor and outdoor pools, free continental breakfast, and free parking.

Virginia Beach Airport Guide

There are two airports near Virginia Beach if you’re looking to fly in for your vacation. At about 20 minutes from the oceanfront, Norfolk International Airport is the closest airport to Virginia Beach. Most commercial airlines service the airport, and the terminals are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Once you arrive, you’ll find eight major rental car companies at the arrivals terminal. James River Transportation also runs a shuttle service out to Virginia Beach.

While you’re at the airport, you’ll find plenty of shopping and dining opportunities. Whether you want to get a last-minute souvenir or pick up something you forgot, the airport offers newsstands, specialty gift shops, and retail stores. When you get hungry and you’re in a hurry, you can grab a quick bite to eat at Burger King, Starbucks, or Great American Bagel. If you have some more time on your hands, enjoy a full-service meal at Back Bay Bistro or James River Grill.

The next closest airport is Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport, which is about one hour outside of Virginia Beach. American Airlines and Delta service this airport. When you arrive, you’ll find six major car rental companies that have convenient on-site desks at the baggage claim area. You’ll also find several taxicab companies that park in the holding area at the west end of the terminal. For quick snacks, the airport has vending machines in concourse B. You can also stop by Hudson News for a good selection of snacks and beverages.

When you’re ready to plan the ultimate getaway to Virginia Beach, GoDoTrip can help. You’ll find the right transportation, information on the top tours and attractions, and even the perfect place to stay.