Virginia Beach is known mostly for its sandy shoreline, making it a particularly popular destination during spring break and the summer season. While top attractions in this area include this oceanfront stretch of beach, a handful of parks, and several historic sites, the relatively unknown points of interest are well-worth the visit. While staying at your Virginia Beach vacation rental, visit these unforgettable secret spots.

1. Tautog’s

Tautog’s, a restaurant located in the heart of the downtown area, is considered one of the best local secret spots there is in Virginia Beach. Not only is it close to the beach, but it serves fresh seafood in a beach house boasting a homey, friendly environment, amazing crab dip, and an easy walk to live entertainment at 24th Street Park. The restaurant has an extensive bar and selection of drinks, the perfect place to hang out before grabbing a table (and if you have a choice, opt for patio sitting).

2. Atlantic Wildfowl Heritage Museum

While the majority of tourists are heading to the Virginia Aquarium for a look at local wildlife, which is a good choice, head to the lesser known Atlantic Wildfowl Heritage Museum. Like Tautog’s, it’s also housed in a quaint beach cottage, this one on the Virginia Beach Boardwalk greenway which leads to the beach. You can easily visit while you stroll down the boardwalk from your vacation home or during a break in your beach fun. The museum explores the long, interesting history of wildfowling through exhibits, artwork, and displays as well as focusing on the native wildfowl such as the Atlantic flyway.

3. False Cape State Park

While this park isn’t necessarily a hidden gem, it is definitely off the beaten path with its location in south Virginia Beach, good stretch of road from the First Landing State Park in the downtown area where most people congregate. Plus, it’s not easy to reach; only hardcore visitors who are willing to brave undeveloped land and willing to reach it only on foot, bicycle, or boat (and possibly tram) end up enjoying the beauty. And there’s a lot of beauty to enjoy with empty beaches, migratory bird populations, walking paths, and even seals. Definitely rent a kayak and take a tour along the 6 miles of coastline.

4. Old Beach Farmers Market

The Old Beach Farmers Market is the center of local life from May through October featuring fresh produce, locally made food, baked goods, and seafood gracing the stalls at Croc’s once a week. It even opens up once a month during the rest of the year so you have access to unique, delicious seasonal treasures. With it’s location a few blocks from the ocean and access to other attractions, it’s the perfect place to take in the local color and fill up the refrigerator of your rental for quick snacks and easy meals.

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5. Ferry Plantation House

If you want a little history along with a few chills, head to the Ferry Plantation House and Witch of Pungo Statue, which are 5 miles apart about midway between Virginia Beach and Norfolk. The plantation house is a three-story federal-style house built in the mid-1800s. The plot of land it now stands on also happens to be where the Anne County Courthouse stood, which convicted Grace Sherwood of being a witch in 1706. Tour the house, and then stop by the Witch of Pungo Statue to read about the infamous Grace Sherwood.

6. The Route 58 Delicatessen

The Route 58 Delicatessen is a fairly recent establishment, opening in 2004, but the locals have already accepted it as a fundamental part of their eating culture. Tucked away in the far reaches of western Virginia Beach, only the lucky and the locals stumble across it. Its thick, meaty sandwiches are all the rage with the reuben collection (there are about 12 types of reuben sandwiches) being the clear favorites. The mighty reuben and reuben fries are two of the best dishes along with the hot corned beef sandwich and potato knish.

7. Gringo’s Taqueria

Gringo’s Taqueria, an authentic Mexican restaurant, might seem slightly out of place at Virginia Beach, but the rich flavors and fresh ingredients make it a local favorite. Also, the fish tacos add the best of a New England fishing town with South of the border pizzazz. The tiny eatery is located several blocks west of the beach, making it less crowded, close to several vacation rentals, and super-accessible (as in fish tacos for all meals). Add in a brightly colored interior, and the restaurant becomes an amusement park for the senses.

8. Chic’s Beach

Chic’s Beach, located on the Chesapeake side of Virginia Beach is the play-place for locals. While tourists head to the Atlantic-side beach, Chic’s Beach is free for those in the know to get a little solitary beach time. Park on the street for free, or, better yet, get a nearby vacation rental within walking distance of the soothing sands. Stop at HK on the Bay nearby for lunch so that you can spend all day soaking up the sun.

9. Lynnhaven House

Lynnhaven House, which lies on Wolfsnare Creek in the more rural area of western Virginia Beach, is full of interesting history. It was built in the early 1700s and boasts unique Virginia vernacular architecture. Opt for a guided tour of the house and grounds, and then hop over to the much more popular Thoroughgood House that dates back to the same era. With Lynnhaven Beach close by, another area where mostly locals head to escape the crowds, spend the entire day in the area, or even get a vacation rental within the neighborhood.

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