The Baltimore Sun

A $200 million convention center opened two years ago, and there's talk of a new hotel and new entertainment, but the broad beaches and bustling boardwalk remain the most popular attractions for Virginia Beach visitors.

The city has become Virginia's largest, with almost 430,000 residents and nearly 3 million visitors a year.

For those seeking a break from the resort's crowds, check out the north end above 47th Street. Parking can be dicey, but the payoff is a quieter, more relaxing beach experience.


Residence Inn by Marriott, 3217 Atlantic Ave., 757-425-1141. Opened early last year, the 72-suite hotel has private balconies overlooking the ocean, full kitchens, direct beach and boardwalk access, a fitness center and wi-fi. Minimum stay of three nights may be required. Summer rates: $169-$329.

Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront, 3001 Atlantic Ave., 757-213-3000. Opened in March 2005, this is one of the largest and most luxurious hotels along the oceanfront. It features flat-screen TVs, five-jet showers, wi-fi access, a rooftop pool and Sky Bar. Call for summer rates.

The Cavalier Hotels, 4201 Atlantic Ave., 757-425-8555 or 800-446-8199; The grand old hotel was built in 1927 and it towers above the hillside. The complex has indoor and outdoor pools, five restaurants, tennis courts and a health club. It also boasts the only private ocean beach in Virginia. Summer rates: $139-$499.


Beach Bully BBQ, 601 19th St., 757-422-4222; For authentic North Carolina barbecue, the Beach Bully, located just a few blocks from the beach, is tough to beat. Prices range from $4 for a sandwich to $14 for the ribs.

Catch 31, 3001 Atlantic Ave., 757-213-3001. Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Catch 31 is part of the new Hilton at the Oceanfront. The restaurant features fresh seafood, chicken, steak, pizza and pasta. There's also a buffet breakfast. Entrees range from $20-$30.

The Jewish Mother, 3108 Pacific Ave., 757-422-5430; jewishmother .com. Featuring original sandwich creations and great omelets, the deli also serves as a live-music lounge after dinner. Entrees range from $9.95-$17.95.

Bubba's Crab House, 3323 Shore Drive, 757-481-3513. Enjoy sunsets and a steady stream of working watercraft delivering the day's catch to this waterside restaurant. After a long day at the beach, wash down a basket of steamed crabs ($16.95) with a cold pitcher of beer.


The Abyss, 1065 19th St., 757-671-8100. For chest-thumping bass, bright lights and a huge dance floor, the Abyss is the place to go.

Croc's 19th Street Bistro, 620 19th St., 757-428-5444; crocsrestau When there's not a live band, a DJ spins tunes for those who come to eat early and dance late.

Peabody's, 209 21st St., 757-422-6212; peabodysvirginia With claims to the "biggest dance floor in Virginia Beach," Peabody's is known for its massive Thursday-night ladies' night and the occasional dodge ball match.

Sweet Caroline's Bar and Restaurant, 1910 Atlantic Ave., 757-333-6175. Dueling pianos, live music and billiards make the scene most nights at Sweet Caroline's.


First Landing State Park, 2500 Shore Drive, 757-412-2300. Visitors can explore 19 miles of hiking trails, quiet lagoons rimmed by looming cypress trees and rare plant life. Guided kayak tours take paddlers into otherwise inaccessible marshes and bays.

Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center, 717 General Booth Blvd., 757-425-3474; virgin Virginia's largest aquarium has a variety of species from the Atlantic Ocean and nearby Chesapeake Bay, including sharks, rays, sea turtles and harbor seals.

Motor World, 700 S. Birdneck Road, 757-422-6419. With go-carts, mini-golf, paintball and something called "The Skycoaster" that whizzes at up to 70 mph, there's something for everybody at Motor World.

Ocean Breeze Waterpark, 849 General Booth Blvd., 757-422-4444. The waterpark has waterslides, wave pools and a whirling thrill ride called "The Hurricane." For young buccaneers, there's even a pirate ship to explore.


Lynnhaven Mall, 701 Lynnhaven Parkway, 757-340-9340; Just southwest of the main resort, Lynnhaven is the area's largest shopping mall. Among its 180 stores are anchors Hecht's, Dillard's and JC Penney, as well as Abercrombie & Fitch, Brookstone, Gap, Barnes & Noble, H&M; and Old Navy.

Town Center, Virginia Beach and Independence boulevards, 757-965-5452; towncenterofvirgi Just a short drive inland from the beach lies the city's new Town Center development, featuring several restaurants and shops -- Ann Taylor Loft, Brooks Brothers, Dick's Sporting Goods, Stanley Adams stationers -- surrounding a central courtyard and fountain.

31 Ocean, Laskin Road and 31st Street. Boutique stores, housewares, collectibles, clothing and a gourmet candy shop are just some of the offerings at this new shopping area, which is connected to the new Hilton hotel at the Oceanfront.



Redskins Beach Blitz Football Challenge -- Virginia Beach Convention Center, 1000 19th St. / 800-955-5566 or redskinsbeach May 18-20. Test your football skills with passing-accuracy, dummy-tackling, ball-catching and throwing-ability games. $15 per day for adults, $10 for children 3-12, free for children 2 and younger.


Latin Festival -- Beachstreet Seaside Palladium at 24th Street / June 8-9. Enjoy mambo, salsa, merengue and bachata from local, regional and national Latin bands. Check out vendors' wares and eat traditional Latin food. Free.

Boardwalk Art Show and Festival -- On the boardwalk, between 17th and 32nd streets / 757-425-0000. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. June 14, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. June 15-16 and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. June 17. See works by more than 300 artists and enjoy live music. Free.

Viva Elvis and Legends of Rock 'n' Roll -- the parks at 17th and 24th streets / 800-822-3224. June 21-23. Dozens of Elvis tribute artists and national-level bands will perform the King's repertoire. Also, boardwalk parade, trivia game and karaoke contest. Free.


Stars and Stripes Explosion -- 17th, the parks at 24th and 31st streets, and 20th Street and Oceanfront / 757-425-3111. July 4. Day-long concerts by the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, rock bands and the Doorway Singers vocal ensemble. Fireworks start at 9:30 p.m. Free.

Mid-Atlantic Hermit Crab Challenge -- On the beach at 29th Street / 800-322-3224. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. July 14. This annual event features a hermit crab beauty pageant, and the Crustacean 500 hermit crab race. Free.

Chalk the Walk ARTsplosion -- On the boardwalk at 24th Street / 800-322-3224. Registration starts at 10 a.m. and drawing starts at 1 p.m. July 28. Amateur and professional artists will compete by chalking pictures on the boardwalk for prizes. A theme will be selected by committee beforehand. The awards ceremony is at 4:30 p.m. Free. Chalk is provided.

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