Explore Virginia Beach: Beach, Bay and Beyond
The Oceanfront, Sandbridge Beach and Chesapeake Bay Beach: Virginia Beach has Something for Everyone
Newcomers to Virginia Beach automatically assume that out city is just our signature boardwalk lined with hotels, shops and restaurants. Although we love our bustling boardwalk that runs three-miles long and connects oceanfront shopping, great food, plenty of entertainment and miles of beach, that’s not all that makes up this unforgettable beach destination. In fact, the Oceanfront area of Virginia Beach is just one of three beaches to choose from while vacationing here. When you prefer to be near all the action, stick to the Oceanfront. Relaxation and nature are yours to explore at Sandbridge Beach. Or keep it calm while enjoying outdoor family fun at Chesapeake Bay Beach.
Located in the heart of Virginia Beach, at the exciting Oceanfront, is the iconic boardwalk, home to a variety of hotels, restaurants, shops and live entertainment for all ages. Along the boardwalk, you will find fun and exciting activities for every family member to enjoy. As the soul of the city, the oceanfront is home to some of the most popular destinations in the area and is known for its endless entertainment—especially in the summertime. Bike along the boardwalk path and catch the sunset on the beach, pack a blanket and sit in front of the 31st Street Stage where live music and performances play all night long, or dine on an outdoor patio and indulge in fresh seafood that came straight from the Atlantic.
With 28 miles of beach to roam at the Oceanfront, there are plenty of activities to do both on and off the water with the whole family. If you would like to experience the Oceanfront in its truest form, try one of the many adventurous activities available! Rent a surfboard and catch some waves, go jet skiing in the Atlantic or catch an aerial view of Virginia Beach while parasailing. But that’s not all there is to do here. You can go on a kayak tour through the open waters, climb aboard a ship and go exploring for dolphins, or discover the serene waters of Virginia Beach as you paddle through, taking part in a scenic water tour. These fun and exciting activities are just some of the outdoor opportunities available for those who are looking to spice up their vacation.
The Oceanfront can be just as relaxing as it is adventurous. Spend an evening at one of the many restaurants along the boardwalk and listen to music while enjoying a delicious appetizer, or simply grab a drink or two and then walk down the beach to catch the sunset. There are a diverse variety of restaurants, and with eateries ranging from fine dining to casual, you’re sure to find something in your price point. You can also cast a line at the Virginia Beach Fishing Pier on 15th street, where you will find some of the best fishing in the area.
If you are looking for the latest beach attire or would like to take a part of Virginia Beach home with you, browse through the many shops all along Pacific and Atlantic Avenues for some great beachside shopping. From candy stores to surf shops and everything in between. Get beach toys for the kids and a new colorful cover-up for you—don’t leave the boardwalk without a special treat for everyone in your crew.
There are numerous monuments and sculptures where you will want to stop and snap a photo, such as the 34-foot cast bronze statue of King Neptune on 31st Street. Other monuments off the boardwalk honor our brave military (who have quite a presence in Virginia Beach) as well as our local police force. The historic Norwegian Lady on 25th Street tells a sorrowful tale of a shipwreck that took place off our coast in 1891.
Hear more tales of shipwrecks and the brave heroes who rescued so many off our shores at the Virginia Beach Surf & Rescue Museum on 24th Street and Pacific Avenue. Visit the museum and explore a new exhibit each summer, or take part in an October Ghost Tour where you will take a stroll along the boardwalk while listening to stories of tragic shipwrecks, pirates who plundered the coast and other eerie tales. These and other museums let you take a break from the sun and learn more about the amazing history, nature and people in and around Virginia Beach.
The nightlife at the Oceanfront brings some of the best entertainment around. Take a ride on some of the craziest roller coasters and rides at a local amusement park. Live! On Atlantic features incredibly talented street performers, from bluesy musicians to hilarious jugglers and more. Attempt to win a big prize at the arcade or just try out the latest video games. You will find everything you need for a night of amusements without ever needing to leave the boardwalk. Exciting live concert events headline throughout the summer right on the beach, such as the American Music Festival, Virginia Beach Patriotic Festival and Sandstock.
For the 21 and over crowd, there are plenty of bars and pubs you can visit, ranging from laid back, sports-themed and even high-class. Dance the night away at a high-energy dance club, with electrifying music and friendly locals.
The Oceanfront features jam-packed excitement and fun, but located just 15 miles south is the secluded beach hideaway known as Sandbridge Beach. This quiet area is the perfect retreat if you are simply looking for miles of pristine beach and rolling sand dunes. The area contains a plethora of beach houses, many of which are available to rent during the summer and off-season months, so this may be where you want to plant your family during your stay in Virginia Beach.
As you drive down to Sandbridge, take advantage of the many farm stands you will find along the way. These rustic locations offer a variety of items—fresh seafood, in-season garden vegetables, fruits, breads and cakes, fresh cut flowers and much more. The Sandbridge area also features unique dining. Although the options are not as broad as the Oceanfront, they have a local charm you won’t want to miss. The unique pit stops and seaside markets located here are great places to get refreshed before hitting the beach, whether you need a few groceries or a nice cup of coffee.
The local surf shops in Sandbridge have great deals on beachy items you might have forgotten. Or get some new beach essentials like apparel, footwear, accessories and more. Many locations offer lessons and surf camps, kayak tours and surfboards, stand-up paddleboards and bike rentals.
A great place to spend your beach day is at Little Island Park. With a 2,000-foot swimming beach, you are sure to find lots of room for you and your family to have fun in the surf. This area contains a playground for the little ones and picnic shelters if you don’t feel like getting sand in your packed lunch. The adventure-lovers will enjoy using the 775-foot beach reserved for surfers. Canoe and kayak launches allow you to set off for adventure into the Back Bay. There are also courts for tennis, basketball and volleyball.
Little Island Park also offers a 400-foot fishing pier giving you the perfect opportunity to catch a bite or take in incredible views of the Atlantic. There’s also a brackish lake along the park’s western border where you can do some fishing or crabbing.
Sandbridge contains some of the most beautiful parks and seaside refuges in Virginia. Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge is over 9,250 acres of protected land, specifically designated to provide feeding and rest for migratory birds. The region is a critical segment in the Atlantic Flyway for a large variety of waterfowl. A little farther south is False Cape State Park, one of the last undeveloped areas along the East Coast and the perfect place to experience nature in its primal glory. Take a primitive camping trip, go hiking or biking through miles of untouched beauty, walk the pristine beaches or glide through the many waterway on a guided kayak trip.
Sandbridge Beach is the perfect place to truly relax and unwind while on your beach vacation. The water is always open for activities and the sandy beach is great for corn hole, digging for sand crabs or just soaking up the sun.
Chesapeake Bay Beach
Located at the northern end of Virginia Beach just off Shore Drive is the Chesapeake Bay Beach area, also known as Chic’s Beach. The waves are calmer, making this the perfect place for little swimmers. Fun outdoor activities abound—from swimming and sand castle building to hiking and kayaking through wooded marshes dripping with Spanish moss. There are plenty of exciting activities to do, historical attractions to see and beautiful scenery to witness in this secluded area. Take advantage of the smooth water while paddleboarding, join a boat tour searching for dolphins or visit a state park.
Located in this area is historic Fort Story. Although operated by the United States Navy as a joint expeditionary base, it is also a popular Virginia Beach attraction. See where the first permanent English settlers landed in 1607 and the First Landing Cross which marks this historic moment. This was also the location of a pivotal sea battle which took place during the American Revolutionary War. Visit Cape Henry Lighthouse, built in 1792 where you can climb up to the lantern room and see miles of beautiful Virginia Beach coast, take a walking tour on seasonal days or simply capture a few beautiful photos of the lighthouse at sunset.
The most popular park in Virginia Beach is First Landing State Park. This beautiful area is home to more than 19 miles of hiking trails, guided kayak ecological tours, marshes and bays to explore, wildlife, rare plants and a visitor center with special exhibits. Fishing and crabbing are also popular activities you can enjoy, especially at The Narrows located between Broad Bay and Linkhorn Bay. If you are looking for a fun, educational activity with a touch of nature, First Landing State Park also offers self-guided and guided programs that cover a range of historical, cultural and environmental opportunities. If you want to camp here, be sure to get your reservation in early as space fills up quick.
On top of all the bayside and beach activities you can do in the Chesapeake Bay Beach area, there are many dining destinations to choose from that will satisfy everyone’s taste buds. From freshly caught seafood to several locally-owned eateries, you will find a mix of dining options in one-of-a-kind atmospheres. Many restaurants also offer live entertainment during the evening and special events throughout the year.
After indulging in a delicious dish, treat yourself to some shopping! Shore Drive truly is a delight for shoppers with its name brand stores, funky retail shops and chic boutiques. There are three major shopping centers in the region full of a variety of upscale and casual retail stores. You are certain to find something you love! Choose which beach suits you best and start your unforgettable vacation today!