Virginia Beach, one of the most popular East Coast tourist destinations, is an oceanfront resort city located in Virginia's southeastern region of Hampton Roads. Bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay, the Virginia Beach area offers miles of beaches, ranging from lively centers of activity and entertainment to quiet getaway areas for relaxing beach retreats. In addition, Virginia Beach, with a population exceeding 432,000 residents, is the largest city in the Commonwealth.
As always, a good place to begin your vacation is at one of the Virginia Beach Visitors Centers where maps, coupon books, vacations guides and more are available.
Virginia Beach Area Visitor Centers
- Visitor Information Center at 2100 Parks Ave, Virginia Beach, Virginia - open daily 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. with extended summer hours. Closed fall and winter holidays. Directions: I-264 ends at the Parks Avenue traffic light. Turn left at the light and left again into the center parking lot.
- Chesapeake Bay Visitor Information Center at First Landing State Park - open daily 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Closed fall and winter holidays.
- Resort Area Information Kiosks - located on the Boardwalk at 17th Street and on Atlantic Avenue at 24th Street - Open daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day and Friday to Monday in May in September.
At the center of beach activity, the three-mile oceanfront Boardwalk stretches from Rudee Inlet to 40th Street and features an array of family-friendly events and festivals each weekend from late spring until early fall. Four oceanfront stages feature live music performances and several popular annual music festivals during the summer. Hotels and restaurants line the Boardwalk, offering great ocean views and easy access to the beach. A separate bike path runs parallel to the Boardwalk, accommodating recreational bicyclers, inline skaters and rentable surreys.
Getting to Virginia Beach
Driving is, by far, the most frequent method of getting to Virginia Beach, although the area is reachable by air, train, bus and water as well:
- Approximately 94% of Virginia Beach visitors arrive by car. During popular holidays and summer weekends, traffic can be a problem so travelers should leave plenty of extra time for delays. See information about travel routes and driving distances from selected cities.
- Airport: Norfolk International Airport, located about 30 minutes from Virginia Beach, is the closest commercial airport, offering about 200 daily departures and arrivals. Visit Virginia Airports for more airport information / Compare Prices for flights to and from Norfolk International Airport.
- Train: The Amtrak Regional Route offers daily trains to nearby Newport News. Also, the unique Amtrak Auto Train travels between Virginia and Florida.
- Bus: Greyhound and Trailways Bus Lines operate in the Hampton Roads area.
- Water: Recreational boaters may travel to the Virginia Beach area via the Intracoastal Waterway.
Getting Around Virginia Beach
The street layout of the popular oceanfront area is easy to understand and navigate. Atlantic Avenue runs along the ocean with Pacific Avenue, Arctic, Baltic and other avenues parallel to it as you move away from the ocean. Numbered cross streets begin at Rudee Inlet and become higher from south to north.
For visitors who are staying along the Boardwalk area and mostly interested in enjoying the beach, it is very easy to park your car upon arrival and not use it again until you head home. Many restaurants, shops and entertainment venues are located within easy walking distance or you can take the convenient and inexpensive VB Wave Trolley to many popular attractions from May 1 until October 2, with extended routes from Memorial Day until Labor Day. Many visitors also like to bring or rent bicycles.
Accommodations and Dining
Virginia Beach hotels offer close to 12,000 guestrooms, many with ocean or bay views. Atlantic Avenue is lined with oceanfront hotels, including a mix of moderately-high priced chain hotels and moderately-low priced privately run properties. While you will not find any top-of-the-line luxury resort complexes, such as some of the Florida resorts, several of the upscale hotels provide very nice amenities and services. On the streets just a block or two away from the ocean, there are more budget hotel, motel and B & B options. Compare Prices for Virginia Beach Hotels and / or Shop Direct for Virginia Beach area B and B's.
Visitors seeking a quiet beach getaway may prefer looking into the more tranquil areas of the North End or renting a condo or house on the southern shores of Virginia Beach in the Sandbridge area, conveniently located only 20 minutes from the action of the resort area. For outdoor vacation living, the Virginia Beach area offers more than 1,800 camp sites.
Virginia Beach dining options include close to 300 restaurants, many featuring fresh local seafood or various popular international menus. Restaurants are generally casual and many offer outside seating during warmer months.
Things to Do: Attractions and Activities
Virginia Beach offers many attractions and activities to visitors who prefer active vacations or for those who simply desire a little time away from the beach and the Boardwalk. In addition to water sports galore, visitors enjoy many attractions and activities including:
- The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center
- Cape Henry Lighthouses and Cape Henry Memorial Park
- Area Parks including First Landing State Park, Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, False Cape State Park and Mount Trashmore Park
- Themed Cruises including summer dolphin and winter whale watching trips, sunset and dinner cruises and even pirate-themed boat outings
- Fishing on a sport fishing charter or from one of Virginia Beach's four piers
- Festivals including cultural, arts, holiday, sports, music and other festivals offered throughout the year
- Amusement Areas including the oceanfront Virginia Beach Amusement Park, Ocean Breeze Waterpark, Motorworld Family Thrill Park and haunted houses
- Golf Outings at one or more of the Virginia Beach area golf courses, designed by Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Freddy Couples, Curtis Strange, and others
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