Virginia Beach continually ranks among the country’s best beach destinations. But this city offers much more than sandy shores. It is home to seven eclectic districts, each with its own distinct personality. Stop by the historic hotel that inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald to write The Great Gatsby; explore the 8,000-acre Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, or troll local waters for Lynnhaven oysters and Chesapeake Bay blue crabs. Flip the page to continue your journey through this city by the sea!
ARTS & CULTURE
SOMETHING IN THE WATER
Pharrell Williams commented on the origins of the Something in the Water festival stating, “I made a promise to God that if I was able to see the world, I would bring the best of what I saw back to Virginia Beach. The festival was created to shine a light on the best of Virginia Beach, while bringing the best of what I have encountered from around the world back to the city.” The inaugural multi-day Something in the Water Festival took place in April of 2019 and was an overarching success. The event included performances by Missy Elliott, Pusha T, Travis Scott, Snoop, and Jay-Z, among others. This year, the Festival will extend several additional days and will include performances by Beck, Chance the Rapper, Post Malone, Usher, Foo Fighters, and more. Pharrell has invited the brightest minds from the culinary world, technology, environmental sustainability, health and wellness, media, and more, to participate in presentations and activations during the week.
MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art)
The leading contemporary art institution in Virginia and offers regularly changing exhibitions in a variety of media.
Boardwalk Art Show
The annual show features over 300 artists selling original works along the boardwalk overlooking the Atlantic ocean.
ViBe Creative District
Located near the Oceanfront, ViBe is a hub for a variety of artists and makers. Here you will find farm-to-table restaurants, a distillery, shops, galleries, and much more.
Sandler Center for Performing Arts
This is one of the top cultural venues in the state and is located at Town Center.
Zeider’s American Dream Theater
The newest professional not-for-profit theater in the region, “The Z” houses an intimate, interactive 300-seat theater and studio theater.
The flea market takes place every third Saturday, spring through fall, in the “The Alley,” which is located directly behind Three Ships Coffee Roasters and Wave Riding Vehicles on 19th Street at the Oceanfront.
This 34-foot bronze statue sculpted by Paul DiPasquale is located at the entrance of Neptune’s Park on the boardwalk and was built in honor of the Neptune Festival, which is held each September.
There are handy digital maps available to help direct visitors on a self-guided tour of over 100 works of art and murals in the ViBe district. They can be found at visitvirginiabeach.com.
CULINARY & BEVERAGE
Once coveted by the English aristocracy for its size and salinity, the famous Lynnhaven Oyster is a local legend visitors can’t get enough of. Captain John Smith himself described the bounty of the area, saying, “Oysters lay as thick as stones,” with the Chesapeake Bay and connecting rivers containing more sturgeon “than could be devoured by dog or man.” Today, Lynnhaven Oysters can be found on restaurant menus throughout the region and are enjoyed on the half shell, fried, steamed, and in soups and bisques!
The Pungo district is home to 16 pick-your-own-farms. Take a
short drive from the Sandbridge Beach, where you can pick your
own bushel of strawberries, produce, wildflowers, and more.
A regional specialty, She-Crab soup is a rich bisque made
with Atlantic blue crab, cream, crab or fish stock and a small
amount of dry sherry.
Tarnished Truth Distilling Company
Visit the only distillery located within a hotel (the Cavalier Hotel) in the country. Be sure to try one of its specialty drinks—a smoked old fashioned.
Back Bay’s Farmhouse Brewing Company
Originally an old Virginia farmhouse, it is now a brewery where you can tour their 1.5-acre farm and see the 15-barrel high-gravity brew system.
Maha Kombucha Company
This kombucha is produced using organic and wildcrafted ingredients. Try the Sassy Root Brew or Ginger Cinnamon Sunrise!
This Virginia Beach original is made of freshly-squeezed orange juice, vodka, triple sec, and Sprite.
A crispy, soft shell crab sandwich is a must during your visit. Their briny flavor and crunchy, juicy texture can’t be beat!
Cape Henry Lighthouse
Climb to the top of this historic lighthouse, which was the first project construction commissioned by George Washington after gaining independence from England.
Virginia Beach Surf & Rescue Museum
Built in 1903, this museum is housed in a former U.S. Life-Saving Service location on the boardwalk.
Virginia Military Aviation Museum
This museum is home to one of the world’s largest collections of warbirds in flying condition.
Atlantic Wildfowl Heritage Museum
Visitors can learn about the evolution of the art of decoy carving at the museum located in the de Witt Cottage, which was built in 1895.
Ferry Plantation House
A historic brick home built in the early 1800s, the site dates back to 1642 where a ferry service was started to carry passengers on the Lynnhaven River. “ParaCon,” a convention for the paranormal, takes place here annually, and rumor has it that a few spirits still linger the hallways.
Edgar Cayce’s A.R.E. (Association of Research and Enlightenment)
Cayce was a self-professed clairvoyant and has been called the “father of holistic medicine.” Explore the world headquarters where you’ll find an extensive library; a large, 11-circuit labyrinth; and a meditation garden.
Virginia Legends Walk
From Thomas Jefferson and Captain John Smith to Ella Fitzgerald and Patsy Cline, Virginia has been home to many of history’s giants.
East Coast She-Crab Soup Classic
She-crab soup is one of the region’s most loved seafood delicacies and has been a staple of area menus for decades.
Atlantic Coast Kite Festival
This is a popular event for all levels of kite aficionados. Watch as beautifully-colored kites of all shapes and sizes float in the wind against the blue backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean.
International Sand Sculpting Championship
Billed as one of the largest sand sculpting competitions in the world, artists from all over gather at the annual Neptune Festival to create beautiful objects out of sand and to compete for prizes.
FunkFest Beach Party
Turn up the beat and enjoy some funkadelic tunes that take you all the way back to the 1960s.
Pungo Strawberry Festival
This festival highlights the strawberry farms in the area. Enjoy a pie eating contest, carnival rides, music, delicious food, and a variety of other attractions.
This military celebration honors armed forces personnel and their families. Enjoy three days of concerts, military expos, and displays.
Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge
Explore trails through dunes, woodlands, marshes, and beaches. The Refuge is a haven for loggerhead sea turtles, peregrine falcons, bald eagles, and more.
First Landing State Park
Hike through seven distinct ecosystems at this historical landmark. It was here where the first settlers came ashore in 1607!
Winter Wildlife Cruises
Tour boats travels along the Atlantic coast where you’ll have the chance to see several species of migrating whales.
Sign up for surfing lessons, paddle board tours, and more!
Virginia Beach and its neighboring waters are home to a variety of freshwater, brackish, and saltwater fish.
Zip Lining Courses
Spend a morning or afternoon in the tree tops by navigating multi-line courses.
Virginia Beach has over 200 miles of bikeways and trails, not counting trails in the city’s 230-plus parks and natural areas.