Renowned for its golden-sand coastline, dolphin colonies and culinary scene, Virginia Beach is Virginia’s largest city.
It is undoubtedly one of the most popular American seaside resorts for French-speaking travellers. It even holds the record for the longest recreational beach in the world according to the Guinness World Records and its 56 kilometers of coastline facing the ocean offer a wide variety of landscapes and experiences. Obviously, a lot of activities or discoveries revolve around water, but Virginia Beach is not just about its beach or its seaside atmosphere. It is a dynamic, cultural, artistic, sporting and culinary city where the friendly inhabitants mingle willingly with holidaymakers. A winning combination that suggests stays as we like them: fun, gourmet and rich in discoveries!
Throughout the year, Virginia Beach hosts many events for residents and travelers alike. Its dynamism attracts curious people of all ages and backgrounds. Whether you are traveling alone, as a couple, with family or friends, whether you are athletic, art lover, foodie or simply eager for new discoveries, the city necessarily has a point of interest that will please you. It charms first by its geographical location. Between the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, the beauty and the environment of Virginia Beach are astonishing. Forget the hotel waterfront and discover the city by water, whether along the ocean coast or through the multitude of inland waterways. For this, the kayak is ideal. It allows you to approach the largest community of dolphins on the East Coast of the United States, which has made its home here. Intelligent and particularly playful, the dolphin seems to have a natural affinity with humans and it is always incredible and fascinating to meet them. Chesapean Outdoors or Kayak Nature Tours organize guided kayak trips on the coast or in the ocean to observe dolphins in their natural habitat. The experience is unforgettable and, at sunset, the moment simply magical!
Water is everywhere in Virginia Beach, which is also famous for its culinary scene. Why not mix the two and appropriate the pleasures? Fish, shellfish and crustaceans are the pride of the inhabitants. The oyster in particular, because Virginia is one of the most important producers in the country. The famous Virginia Oyster Trail or literally “oyster trail” allows visitors to follow a route and meet local oyster farmers, who share their passion, thanks to the many oyster farms established around Virginia Beach. It is also possible to visit it, both instructive and epicurean. Captain Chis Ludford, a strong advocate for water protection and the preservation of local marine species, owns Pleasure House Oysters at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. Aboard his boat sailing along the Lynnhaven River, the captain makes stops to tell you the secrets of Virginia oysters, before tasting them, ultra fresh with your feet in the water! The must is to visit at the end of the day during the “golden hour” followed by an oyster dinner at sunset, in a rustic-bohemian setting set up for the occasion right on the water. An authentic and unforgettable experience.
On Back Bay’s inland waterways, canoes and kayaks allow travelers to experience its flora and fauna. Navigating between cypress trees and Spanish moss, the ride heads towards the local neighborhood of Pungo, a district where many of Virginia Beach’s local producers and restaurants are located. At the end of the walk, the visitor docks in a kayak at the Blue Pete’s restaurant, a local institution where you can enjoy fish, seafood and crab. An essential walk for outdoor enthusiasts and foodies! For more down-to-earth travelers, head to Repeal Bourbon & Burger, for a real American moment. As the name suggests, it’s a feast for burgers and bourbons, the locals are fans of the place and reservations are recommended, especially on weekends. The spirits menu is impressive, including quite rare whiskeys… Enough to turn heads, watch out for the tastings! If you are looking for a mix of local and international cuisine, where you can choose between fish and meat, head to the Bay Local Eatery. From brunch to dinner, the plates are hearty and delicious. Try the eggs Benedict the local way: with crab of course!
Let’s stay in the inner districts to discover other atmospheres. A few blocks from Oceanfront is the ViBe Creative District, Virginia Beach’s arty enclave. Cultural and artistic epicenter, ViBe is also the place where all the local and artisanal disciplines are expressed, from music, to painting, leather work, wood and there are even roasters and cooking workshops! Any traveler recognizes the neighborhood by its unique visual identity. Indeed, ViBe is renowned for its dozens of murals. Made by local and international artists, they give the district its special character and color the streets of the district. There is also a digital map that allows you to find your way around and admire the most beautiful frescoes during a one-mile walking tour, which any visitor can do at their own pace. After the walk, trendy coffee-shops, homemade pastries, ice cream parlors, addresses with healthy menus, wood-fired pizzas, artisan burgers, local breweries and distilleries, everyone has their own break! ViBe Creative District’s array of colors and flavors will delight any traveler.
It is also here that lovers of contemporary art will find their museum. The Virginia Museum Of Contemporary Art (Virginia MOCA) showcases ever-changing works by regional, national, and international artists. Permanent or temporary, the exhibitions highlight the work of contemporary artists, with strong or committed messages. This is how from next April 21 until September 4, the museum will host the work of American designer and sculptor Maya Lin, known for having won the national design competition in 1981 for the memorial project for former Vietnam fighters in Washington, DC and whose artistic journey has since been exhibited in the world’s leading contemporary art museums and international galleries. Here at Virginia MOCA, the artist will present “Ways of Water”, an installation of sculptures and unpublished prints relating to the environmental concern specific to the region. It will invite visitors to reconsider their relationship with nature at a critical moment in our time.
To conclude this indoor discovery of Virginia Beach, let’s go for a little fun in the direction of The Adventure Park at Virginia Aquarium! Lovers of sensations, walking, nature and tree climbing, this course is made for you! Accessible to all levels, from beginner to advanced, to almost all ages (children from 5 years old), with family or friends, it is a moment of adventure and fun that awaits the participants. For everyone’s well-being, climbers wear safety harnesses that use “double clip” technology, permanently connected to a safety cable throughout the course in the trees. Above the forest paths of the Aquarium and the waters of Owl Creek, adventurers glide from platform to platform through the treetops. The walkways are established on different levels so that everyone benefits. The more adventurous will try the zip line above Owl Creek for a thrilling crossing, in the heart of nature!
Preparing for your summer in Virginia Beach obviously means attending or taking part in the various events that take place on the famous oceanfront promenade and on the beach. Starting with the free concerts organized throughout the summer, from June to August. The “Oceanfront Concert Series” takes place every Wednesday and welcomes artists from all over the country. Whatever the style, all American music is represented throughout the summer and holidaymakers may even be surprised to see some stars of the moment and headliners. Whether you dine on the terrace on the promenade or attend these concerts facing the stage, the atmosphere is guaranteed all summer long!
Do you prefer a little more peace? Never mind. Prepare your blanket, a packed picnic or your favorite ice cream and head to the beach at 29th Street to see an outdoor movie with your feet in the sand! On sunny days, from June 23 to August 25 exactly, Virginia Beach organizes the “Beach Blanket Movie Series”. Every Thursday at 8:30 p.m., films, Hollywood super-productions or family classics are screened to the delight of young and old! Everything is in English, however we recommend the experience to French-speaking travelers because, beyond the screening, it is a relaxed and authentic way to spend an American-style evening and immerse yourself in a very local atmosphere. !
Finally, it is impossible to spend a summer here without mentioning surfing. Discipline has been running through the veins of Virginia Beach since 1912. That year, James M. Jordan Jr. received from his uncle, who was on a trip to Hawaii, an unexpected and astonishing package: an impressive surfboard in redwood. When the young Virginia Beach resident slid his board over the waves of the Atlantic Ocean, East Coast surfing was born. Naturally, the creation of competitions followed and it is now here that the famous championship East Coast Surfing Championships takes place. The oldest surfing competition in the world, it returns this year from August 21 to 28 and will see more than 200 of the best male and female professional surfers on the planet compete, as well as around 300 amateur surfers. In addition to the competition, visitors can enjoy a pleasant atmosphere on the beach, food-trucks and live music. Around the championship, other disciplines are present: beach volleyball, a 5-kilometre race on the promenade and skateboarding competitions and trick competitions on ramps. A sporty and festive ensemble at the same time!
And if admiring the champions evolving on their boards in the waves awakened a vocation in you? A favorite local pastime, it’s easy to learn to surf in Virginia Beach. A wide selection of surf shops is available. In fact, local surfing legends Pete Smith and Bob Holland Jr. opened Smith and Holland Surf Shop on 19th Street, which is the first surf shop in the state of Virginia. A few years later, another local star, Bob White, opened Wave Riding Vehicles (WRV), which remains one of the leading board manufacturers on the East Coast. In addition to famous brands, local spots like Pungo Board House, Surf & Adventure Co. and VB Surf Sessions offer everything the recreational visitor might need, from equipment rentals to surf lessons, or how to learn how to stay up and in the water in no time! Finally, for enthusiasts, it is even possible to make your own board. At “Make and Ride Surf Exchange”, you will take part in a workshop and, thanks to the expert advice of an experienced shaper, you will shape your own board. From the mold to the sanding to the choice of materials and colors, what prettier memory of a trip than the one you make yourself… It’s precious, unique and it’s in Virginia Beach!