If you live in the mid-Atlantic region of North America and have wanted to visit an Atlantic Ocean beach other than on the New Jersey or Maryland shore, you might want to check out Virginia Beach. Travelers not only arrive from Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania and the Carolinas (as well as Virginia), they also come from as far away as New York and Canada. Virginia Beach is located on the south eastern tip of the state, and the average travel time for most visitors is about 6-8 hours by car. If arriving by plane, Norfolk Airport is approximately 45 minutes away from the resort area.
A few aspects of Virginia Beach differentiate it from many beaches. First is its user-friendliness. With the majority of its tourist spots along a 32 block stretch, a visitor can park their car and never have need to move it during their entire vacation; everything is right there. Deli’s, drug stores, churches, shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues are in walking distance or accessible by one of the trolleys or buses that run the length of Atlantic Ave., the main street. Individual or two person bikes, adult tricycles for two riders, and different sized surreys can all be rented, along with rollerblades and scooters as other methods to get around. (Virginia Beach, unlike many beaches, provides a concrete “boardwalk” in between the sand and the ocean front hotel lawns. This wide expanse is divided into a walkers’ path and a lane for all other means of transportation, so folks who are leisurely strolling don’t have to worry about those trying to get from 2nd street to 30th street in record time.)
Also unlike many beach resorts, all businesses are on the other, far side of the oceanfront hotels, on Atlantic Ave. This means that, except for the amusement park across from the pier at 15th street, the boardwalk is free of commercialism, signs and neon. There are a few hotels with outdoor cafes playing music, but, for the most part, the only sounds are surf, wind, voices and laughter for 2 miles of boardwalk. Many visitors like to switch between walking up and down the boardwalk at night, or sitting on its benches, people-watching, and strolling Atlantic Ave. The latter equally draws families, young singles, and baby boomers-plus the weekend surge of Norfolk sailors and occasional hot-rodding teens.
Another reason Va. Beach is so popular is that it truly does offer something for everyone. With a range of accommodations covering modest motels 3 blocks from the beach, to luxury resorts boasting gourmet restaurants, one never need experience a sense of personal discomfort. There are as many high end options when it comes to shopping and dining as there are discount coupons for budget activities, pizza shops and fast food.
Another fun part about visiting Va. Beach during the summer tourist season is that the tourist bureau offers various forms of free entertainment along a stretch of Atlantic Ave. There are magicians, musicians, and singers, as well as larger acts which put nightly shows in the pavilion park at 24th street. Fireworks are also shot off the pier at least once a week-even a 3 night visit won’t allow a visitor to take in all of the performances.
Virginia Beach also has a historical coast guard station, the Old Cape Henry Lighthouse (it can be climbed right to the top), the Edgar Cayce Center, the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, and the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center (allow 4-5 hours to visit). Guests to this wonderful area can also enjoy short cruises focused on sightseeing, dolphin/whale watching, dining or deep sea fishing. For the adventurous types, parasailing and jet skiing beckon, while kids can enjoy miniature golf or game arcades. Plus, there are many family type activities, like walking tours of haunted places, murder mystery theaters and pirate adventures…all usually within walking distance or a short trolley ride from their lodgings.
Should a visitor decide to take a day trip, they can head to Norfolk, Williamsburg, or Bush Gardens for other exciting opportunities. But it’s the variety, attitude and pristine environment of Va. Beach that will make visiting a yearly tradition. Any guest can easily see why Va. Beach was recently named as the American city with the least stress-free living!
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