Yes, it's summer, and that means family vacations and romantic getaways to the beach. I can't think of a better family vacation--or more romantic surprise--than spending a long weekend (or more!) by the roaring ocean, cool saltwater breezes, boardwalk nightlife, saltwater taffy, and mid-day dips in the sun-warmed ocean water.
There are a lot of great places to visit if you want to go to the beach. But some have more to offer than others. The reason why Virginia Beach hits the top of my best-places-to-visit list is because of all the amazing attractions they have in addition to the wonderful, clean ocean waters.
So without further ado, here are my 10 reasons why I want to visit Virginia Beach:
1. The Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center.
Just listen to some of these exhibits you'll find at the Virginia Aquarium: Coastal desert and Mediterranean Sea! Malaysian Peat Swamp! Indonesian Volcanic Island! You can see their amazing loggerhead turtles and spotted eagle rays! Did you know that loggerhead turtles can live as long as 67 years? Amazing! You can visit their website here.
2. Old Cape Henry Lighthouse.
Nothing is as classic as a scene of the ocean with a lighthouse. Just the sight of one makes me think of old novels and tales of fishermen. This lighthouse has 191 steps to the top, so you'll get a workout to help you fit into that bikini you brought to the beach! Did you know that this lighthouse was the first official lighthouse authorized by the U.S. Congress? It dates all the way back to 1791! Wow! You can learn more about the lighthouse through Preservation Virginia's website here.
3. The Jamestown Colonist's First Landing Site.
Now this is something you really can't get anywhere else: part of history of the first English settlement in the new world! And right on the north side of Virginia Beach, at Cape Henry, there is a memorial to commemorate this amazing event. What a great way to teach some history to the kids! There is a state park there that also offers camping, boating, hiking, and lots of other activities~ You can visit the park website http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/state_parks/fir.shtml.
4. Yoga on the Beach
I don't know about you, but sometimes vacations can stress me out when they are supposed to make me relax. This is a great idea: yoga on the beach! Virginia Beach's first ever yoga studio on the ocean offers drop-in classes for only $15! You should check out their website here. Can you imagine how awesome yoga on the beach must be?
5. Symphony by the Sea.
Speaking of doing cool and unusual things by the water, check this out! The Virginia Symphony Orchestra and Tidewater Winds offer concerts multiple times throughout the summer right on the ocean at Neptune's Park! You can get a little culture and never even leave the coast! Check them out here.
6. The Boardwalk.
This is not your ordinary boardwalk. The Virginia Beach boardwalk was called one of America's favorite boardwalks by the Discovery Channel. And I'm pretty sure they would know. The boardwalk dates back to 1888! So you can enjoy your ice cream and watch the rollerbladers pass you by while taking in some history too! Check out more here.
7. The Sandler Center for the Performing Arts.
If music and yoga on the beach aren't enough for you, check out the amazing acts booked at Virginia Beach's Sandler Center! The offerings range from Fiddler on the Roof to ABBA! In Concert to the Moscow Ballet-- whoa! Plus they have a free summer concert series on Wednesdays. Can't beat that cost! Check out the lineup here.
8. Ocean Breeze Waterpark.
Yes, it's about 2 miles south of Virginia Beach, but it still counts. When you've had enough of saltwater, try out the waterpark at Ocean Breeze for more fun! With 16 waterslides, a HUGE wave pool, and a water playground, nobody has any reason to be bored! Check out their reasonable ticket prices here.
9. Mahi Mah's Restaurant
Fresh seafood and sushi, local bands on the patio, cocktails with names like "Going Coco Nuts" and "Cape Fizz"--sounds like date night to me! This is the place the locals love, and they don't want you to know about it! You should check out their menu online here.
10. The Shops at Hilltop.
Last but not least--- shopping! The shops at Hilltop are THE spot for one-of-a-kind gifts and boutique finds that will make you wish you packed another suitcase! With over 120 shops, restaurants, and services, you will find anything you need (and some things you just really, really WANT) at the Shops at Hilltop. They have been voted "best of the beach" for 15 years in a row! How can you go wrong? Read more about all their cool stores here.
Whew! That's a lot of reasons to go to Virginia Beach! And I still haven't even mentioned Mount Trashmore (what?!?!?) or the Virginia Beach Farmer's Market or the adorable Barclay Cottage Bed and Breakfast. I could go on, but you get the idea. Who's got the sunblock?
I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Virginia Beach Tourism blogging program, for a gift card worth $40. For more information on how you can participate, click here. http://visitvirginiabeach.socialmoms.com/about