Virginia Beach

Go here: Virginia Beach boasts three distinct beaches within the city limits: the Chesapeake Bay, which offers the lush green scenery of First Landing State Park, where settlers embarked in 1607 before pushing their way up the James River to Jamestown; the busy resort area, which features live music, street performers and outdoor cafes; and the secluded Sandbridge area on Virginia Beach's southern shore, perfect for family retreats.

Stay here: Wyndham Virginia Beach Oceanfront, 5700 Atlantic Ave., 757-428-7025. Virginia Beach's newest addition sits on a semiprivate beach and has 25 suites and 242 deluxe rooms with oceanfront balconies. An indoor/outdoor pool, kayak and surfboard rentals, open-air restaurant and free shuttles to the southern section of Virginia Beach sweeten the deal. Parents will dig the Kids Cove Children's Activity Center, with supervised activities and evening outdoor movies for the family. Summer rates: $170-$280. (Discounts available online.)

Eat here: Harpoon Larry's, 24th Street and Pacific Avenue, 757-422-6000. This restaurant is a jumping beachfront mainstay with traditional seafood platters, an extensive raw bar and house specials like Seafood Savoy (shrimp and scallops over pasta with a Marsala sauce) and beer-battered softshell crabs. Entrees: $5.50-$17.95.

Don't miss this: Motor World Family Thrill Park, 700 S. Birdneck Road, 757-422-6419. Park features more than 200 go-carts on 10 racetracks. There's also minigolf, cars for the younger set, and a Formula One Racer on the Grand Prix Raceway.

Get there: Amtrak regional service is a four-hour, 20-minute ride from Baltimore, barring delays. The train stops at Newport News, Va., where passengers traveling to Virginia Beach board a bus that reaches the beach in less than 90 minutes. Fares range from $51-$73 each way for reserved coach. Business class is $26 more. Southwest offers round-trip airfares to Norfolk International Airport starting at about $118. The beach is about a 20-minute taxi ride from the airport. If you choose to drive, Virginia Beach is off Interstate 264, about 250 miles south of Baltimore, or about a five-hour drive, depending on traffic.

For more information, contact the Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau, 800-822-3224.

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