Here’s a list of 24 can’t-miss things to do in Virginia Beach

Here’s a list of 24 can’t-miss things to do in Virginia Beach

Simon Willms/Getty Images

By Dogwood Staff

June 12, 2024

Virginia Beach is a bustling coastal city that offers a range of activities and experiences for visitors of all ages and interests. Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventures, cultural and historical exploration, or vibrant dining and entertainment options, Virginia Beach has something to offer everyone. Check out these 24 things to do in Virginia Beach.

Get Excited About These Outdoor Activities in Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach is a hub for outdoor activities and experiences. Between its beaches, lush parks, and a slew of water activities, you can find yourself a hobby or a new activity to enjoy. Whether you’re looking to relax on the sand, explore nature trails, or test out an adventure sport, Virginia Beach has plenty to keep you busy. 

1. Virginia Beach Boardwalk 

Stretching three miles along the oceanfront, the Virginia Beach Boardwalk is full of action. This well-maintained path is perfect for strolling, biking, or rollerblading. Along the way, you’ll find plenty of shops, restaurants, and entertainment options. Don’t miss the Neptune Statue, a massive bronze sculpture that’s become an iconic symbol of the city.

2. First Landing State Park 

You can enjoy hiking, biking, and beach access in this historical park where English settlers first landed in 1607. First Landing State Park is where Native Americans and Colonial settlers navigated waterways, and as legend has it, Blackbeard supposedly hid in the interior waterways of the park. Known as one of the most visited state parks in Virginia, First Landing State Park is home to 20 miles of trails and 1.5 miles of beach access.  

3. Sandbridge Beach 

This quieter, family-friendly alternative to the main beach is perfect for a relaxing day. Sandbridge Beach, a little further south, offers a quieter, more relaxed vibe, perfect for families or those looking to escape the hustle and bustle. This secluded little beach hideaway is one of Virginia’s cleanest beaches, with pristine sand dunes and crystal blue waters. 

4. Mount Trashmore Park 

This unique park provides places for skateboarding, picnicking, and playgrounds, created from a former landfill. The park encompasses 165 acres and it comprises two man-made mountains, two lakes, two playgrounds, and various skate parks and multi-use paths. The main mountain, Mount Trashmore, is 60 feet high and 800 feet long. It was created by compacting layers of solid waste and clean soil. Be sure to check out this environmental wonder, Mount Trashmore Park.

5. Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge 

If you’re in Virginia Beach and want to enjoy a day near the ocean without all the commotion that comes with the Boardwalk, the Back Bay National Wildlife Preserve should be at the top of your list. The 9,108-acre park, situated on a thin strip of coastline typical of barrier islands, has plenty of secluded beaches. After enjoying the beaches, go for a hike or bicycle ride on one of the park’s many winding trails. You’ll likely spot one of the many animals that live there, including bobcats, foxes, deer, rabbits, and loggerhead sea turtles. Turtles also nest on the beach during the summer.

6. False Cape State Park

Accessible only by foot, bike, or boat, False Cape State Park offers a remote and pristine beach experience. With six miles of unspoiled coast, False Cape State Park includes dunes, woodland, farm fields, and salt marshes. Located in the far southeast corner of Virginia Beach, you can access False Cape State Park by entering through Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge via hiking, biking, or boating. 

7. Neptune’s Park 

You can attend live music and events at this popular beachfront venue. This outdoor venue, Neptune’s Park, features nightly entertainment throughout the summer, and it’s on the Virginia Beach oceanfront—right at 31st street. You can check out the Free Summer Concert Series, and afterwards, take in the sights of the 31 Ocean Corridor. 

8. Red Wing Park 

Visit the Japanese garden and enjoy sports facilities and picnic areas at Red Wing Park. This 97-acre park is known for its beautiful gardens and annual Cherry Blossom Festival. The property was acquired in 1879, when it was formerly called “Old City Poor Form.” In 1966, it was developed into a park, and Red Wing Park now features a variety of gardens and recreational areas to enjoy.  

9. Hiking the Cape Henry Trail

The Cape Henry Trail offers a great 7.5-mile trek for both hikers and bicyclists who want to explore First Landing State Park. The trail runs parallel to Shore Drive, past the beaches of the secluded Narrows, and connects at the northern tip of the Virginia Beach Boardwalk. “The flat trail, shaded in places by pine and live oak trees, is perfect for avid bird watchers as you’ll see ospreys and egrets, and maybe even an elusive eagle,” the Virginia Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau’s website states. Be sure to use this map of the park.

10. Rudee Tours

Rudee Tours at Rudee Inlet offers several options for those looking to observe wildlife in their native habitat, including “Dolphin Watching,” “Rudee Rocket Dolphin Trip,” “22-Hour Pelagic Wildlife Exploration,” “13-Hour Pelagic Wildlife Exploration” and “Sea Turtle Safari.” Its dolphin and whale-watching boats have multi-level decks, climate-controlled cabins, and 360-degree views even when inside. Our pick: a romantic sunset cruise.

11. The Adventure Park at Virginia Aquarium

Active individuals will likely enjoy a trip to the Adventure Park at Virginia Aquarium. The park allows visitors to experience an “adventure in the trees.” It bills itself as different from traditional rope courses, given that it has a unique offering of “aerial trails. If you’re interested in taking the adventure up a notch, consider going to Glow in the Park. After the sun sets, the whole place transforms with colorful LED lights and loud music. It’s a party! No matter what time you choose, gloves are highly recommended. Don’t worry—if you don’t have your own leather-palmed gloves, you can purchase a pair at the onsite store.

Experience A World of Culture and History With These Activities

For those interested in delving into the rich history and culture of Virginia Beach, there are numerous museums, historical sites, and local events to explore. These activities offer a glimpse into the area’s past and its vibrant cultural scene.

12. Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center

If you’re interested in marine life, the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is a must-visit. It features over 800,000 gallons of aquariums and live animal habitats, including sharks, sea turtles, and otters. For an unforgettable experience, take a dolphin-watching boat tour, which offers a high chance of spotting these playful creatures in their natural habitat.

13. Military Aviation Museum 

You can discover a vast collection of World War I and II military aircraft at the Military Aviation Museum. The Military Aviation Museum provides tours and learning opportunities for those interested in knowing more about the heroes who built, flew, and maintained America’s military aircraft. The museum also includes an extensive collection of various WWI and WWII aircraft. 

14. Virginia Beach Surf & Rescue Museum

The Virginia Beach Surf & Rescue Museum exhibits the maritime heritage of the Virginia coast. The museum has exhibits on the Virginia Beach Community and extends to covering subjects connected to Virginia oceanfront and water heritage. 

15. Cape Henry Lighthouse 

Climb this historic lighthouse. The Cape Henry Lighthouse is the first federally funded project, and it was authorized by George Washington while overseen by Alexander Hamilton. The lighthouse is located near the “First Landing,” a settlement area near Jamestown. The lighthouse was built in 1881.

16. Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) 

Explore rotating exhibits of contemporary art at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art.The museum originally started as a 1952 art sale, and it quickly transformed into the museum it is today, opening what is the current museum in 1989. Visitors can check out the ever-changing exhibitions—and if you’re a resident of Virginia, it’s all for free. 

17. ViBe Creative District

You can find this enclave of culture within the oceanfront area of Virginia Beach. Check out the ViBe Creative District for a dose of local art and culture, with its colorful murals, art galleries, and trendy cafes. This area is known as the most vibrant art and cultural hub in Hampton Roads.

18. Little Theatre of Virginia Beach

If live entertainment is more your style, enjoy a show at the Little Theatre of Virginia Beach. The theater stages a range of plays and musicals each year. Conveniently located a couple of blocks from the Oceanfront, it’s easily accessible for tourists. Unlike some entertainment venues in frequent tourist destinations, the theater showcases all local talent.

Dining and Nightlife

Virginia Beach boasts a vibrant dining and nightlife scene, along with plenty of family-friendly entertainment options. From trendy restaurants and bars to fun-filled amusement parks, there’s something for everyone.

19. Dining at Town Center 

Experience a variety of restaurants, shops, and entertainment venues. The Town Center is a hub for dining, nightlife, and shopping. From tacos, to cocktails, to sushi, the Town Center has food for every palate and preference.

20. Dive Bar Hopping 

Check out local dive bars  for a unique night out:

Casey’s Pub is a classic. It’s a small, dimly lit space with a dive bar aesthetic. The walls are covered in dollar bills and other memorabilia, and the jukebox is always playing a mix of old-school rock and country music. Casey’s is a great place to go for a cheap drink and a friendly conversation.

Inland Reef is a sports bar and grill with a dive bar vibe. It has a large, open space with plenty of TVs to watch the game this fall. Inland Reef is known for strong drinks, good food, and reasonable prices.

Judy’s Pub & Eatery is a neighborhood bar and grill that’s been around for over 20 years. It’s a casual spot with a friendly atmosphere and a loyal following of regulars. Judy’s is known for its extra-long happy hour, nightly drink specials, and outgoing staff.

21. Explore Local Breweries 

Visit local craft breweries for a taste of Virginia Beach’s best brews. The VA Beach Beer Trail is a great way to sample the coastal flavors of Virginia Beach. 

22. Beach Cinema Alehouse

Looking to enjoy the latest flick? Beach Cinema Alehouse is the perfect spot to watch a film and enjoy the wide selection of food and drink options. The alehouse serves appetizers, pizza, salads, sandwiches, popcorn, beer, wine and cocktails. 

23. Atlantic Fun Park 

Here, you can enjoy classic amusement park rides and games along the beach. The Atlantic Fun Park has games, rides, and all of the carnival food you could ever crave. Get a breathtaking view of the ocean from the Ferris Wheel. 

24. Motor World

If your need for speed is reaching an all-time high this summer, Motor World is where you should head. Featuring 11 go-kart tracks with 250 karts in 16 different styles, it’s far from your average race track. There’s something for everyone, including a brand-new European-style track that’s for adults only. They give you a printout of your lap times and ranking, so come with a competitive spirit.

These activities provide a comprehensive mix of outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, and entertainment options to suit any visitor’s preferences​


Related Stories
Share This