Virginia Beach is known as one of the best family-oriented locations within the United States. While the physical beach itself is only 300 feet long, a concrete boardwalk that stretches for an additional three miles provides a host of attractions to enjoy. From hiking adventures to watching for dolphins or simply spending a lazy day underneath the sun (in a rather warm climate), Virginia Beach is an understandably popular tourist destination.
The Best Time to Visit Virginia Beach
As this location is found within the mid-Atlantic region of the United States, the winters here can be a bit harsh. So, many visitors will choose to arrive between the months of May and September. The weather is quite mild (if not downright balmy) and the skies are generally clear. However, it is important to keep in mind that the sheer number of tourists can be considerable. Booking any reservations in advance is highly recommended.
Virginia Beach is primarily served by Norfolk International Airport (ORF). It is found within a short distance from the main attractions. Thankfully, the flight times from New York City to Virginia Beach are quite agreeable; only 1 hour and 30 minutes in most cases (this is due to the fact that nearly all flights are direct). Primary carriers include Delta, Jet Blue, American Airways and US Airways. Southwest Airlines is another popular choice.
As this is an extremely popular tourist destination, there is no problem in finding very specific accommodations. Larger chains such as Best Western, Hilton and Sheraton are all found within an agreeable distance from downtown as well as the major transportation hubs. Also, this area is quite well known to offer some truly original boutique choices for those who wish to enjoy a bit more privacy. Rental cottages are likewise found close to the beaches. Arising from the fact that many students will travel here for their spring break each year, countless hostels abound. There are well suited for those who may be on a somewhat limited budget.
Things to do in Virginia Beach
Obviously, the beaches themselves should first be mentioned. 35 miles of waterfront property allow any visitor to take excursions either up or down the coast and observe the majesty of Chesapeake Bay. A few of the most popular beaches are Sandbridge Beach, Chesapeak Bay Beach, First Landing State Park and False Cape State Park. While the waves here are generally not large enough to surf (as the coastline lies within a bay), the waters are excellent for smaller children who may not yet be ready for heavier surf. Fishing is also very popular here and this location is known to offer a wide variety of fish to catch. These include bluefish, sea bass, striped bass and flounder.
When mentioning the nearby waters here, we should also note that Virginia Beach is a well-known location for whale watchers from around the world. This arises from the food-rich inlet that separates the bay itself from the Atlantic Ocean. Fin whales and humpback whales are often spotted between December and March. There are many excursions that can be taken through such companies as the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center. For those who have always wanted to get a close-up view of bottlenose dolphins, Virginia Beach is also very promising. Along with annual whale migrations, dolphins are frequently able to be seen. In fact, kayaks can be rented and it is not uncommon for dolphins to frolic only a few feet from their human visitor.
No trip to Virginia Beach would be complete without experiencing the massive retail outlets here. The two largest venues are the Lynnhaven Mall and the Hilltop Shopping Center. In addition, there is a newly constructed downtown district simply known as Town Center. There are numerous brand-name stores here as well as boutique outlets. From specialty items to well-known manufacturers, there are a wealth of items to choose from. Also, many are priced quite more agreeably than they would be in larger cities such as New York or Los Angeles.