Meet Virginia at the beach
From beach bums to foodies, the possibilities are nearly endless in Virginia Beach
This resort city of nearly 438,000 people is a laid-back East Coast destination about a five-hour drive from Baltimore.
Catch a wave while surfing in the Atlantic Ocean. Glimpse dolphins frolicking near the coast. Kayak through a national wildlife refuge. Or listen to a symphony perform on the beach as the sun sets.
"We have several free concerts this summer," says Wendy Young, executive director of Symphonicity, the city's volunteer symphony orchestra. "We always draw big crowds."
That's just one activity among a dizzying array of happenings this summer in Virginia Beach.
"'Something for everybody' is the mantra," says Bobby Melatti, director of Beach Events, which facilitates concerts, festivals, and other entertainment presented by the city. "And most of it's free."
Here are five itineraries for the perfect day in Virginia Beach. None requires a boarding pass, and one is bound to fit your style:
The list of family pleasures is a long one in Virginia Beach. Expect a bevy of roaming magicians, jugglers, musicians and bands in the park, and costumed characters near the boardwalk. "We have something for the whole family — all ages, all backgrounds," says Melatti. "We want everyone to feel comfortable, and be entertained."
Glide along the Boardwalk At Cherie's Bike & Blade Rentals, you can rent a bike, in-line skates or a four-person surrey that's perfect for families. Take a breather along 31st Street and snap a photo in front of King Neptune, a 34-foot-high bronze statue. Cherie's has multiple oceanfront locations. (757-437-8888)
Play at Grommet Island Beach Have a ball at this new beach playground, billed as the first in the country specifically designed for children and adults of all physical capabilities. The views are pretty cool, too. (100 2nd Street, grommetisland.org)
Lunch at Margie & Ray's This casual, down-home restaurant has a rep for super-fresh seafood. Check out the daily specials. (1240 Sandbridge Road, 757-426-2397, margieandrays.com)
Splash at Ocean Breeze Water Park This 19-acre water park just received a major face-lift and is under new ownership. Two new rides will be in place when the park opens May 21. (849 General Booth Blvd., 757-422-4444, oceanbreezewaterpark.com)
Go to the beach at night Free family-friendly shows are offered nightly on the 31st Street Stage at Neptune Park. Later, stroll the boardwalk and grab a bite: you'll find popcorn, cotton candy, pizza and other treats. (31st Street and the boardwalk, 31ocean.com, beachstreetusa.com)
Virginia Beach was the first destination in the state certified as Virginia Green, a program that promotes eco-friendly practices in the state's tourism industry. It offers wildlife, parks and miles of nature trails.
Breakfast at Big Sam's Inlet Cafe and Raw Bar This casual, smoke-free restaurant is on Rudee Inlet next to the Virginia Beach Fishing Center. Stop by before 9 a.m. for hearty breakfast fare, and later for happy hour. (300 Winston-Salem Ave., 757-428-4858, bigsamsrawbar.com)
Cast a line Experience the thrill of fishing in the "Striped Bass Capital of the World." Anglers can also haul in tuna, flounder, amberjack, wahoo, mackerel and red drum, among others. Choose from half-day or full-day charters. Four local fishing piers offer tackle rental and bait.