With its expansive, white-sand beach and spectacular location next to the Atlantic Ocean, Virginia Beach is a fantastic vacation spot. In the summer, join the locals in sunbathing and partaking in exciting water sports. During the rest of the year, enjoy leisurely beach walks, or explore the nearby bays by kayak for a wildlife-watching adventure. With just a quick drive or walk from many vacation rentals in Virginia Beach, you can find a wealth of activities and attractions for visitors of all ages.

1. Stroll or Bike the Boardwalk

Get into the Virginia Beach vibe on the three-mile boardwalk. Rent a bike or a surrey from Cherie’s Bike Rental and hop on the bike path that parallels the boardwalk, or enjoy the walk. Along the way, take a photo with the iconic Neptune Statue, check out the Virginia Beach Fishing Pier, and pick up a treat from Kohr Brothers Frozen Custard.

2. Hit the Beach

During the summer, the beach teems with sun-seekers and swimmers; grab a patch of sand early in the day and join the fun. If you’re feeling adventurous, get out on the waves with a surfing lesson or board rental from VB Surf Sessions or Surf and Adventure. When the winter hits, bundle up and enjoy long, windy strolls on the sand as the surf pounds nearby.

3. Visit the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center

The Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center is one of the city’s most popular attractions, and it’s easy to see why – the facility features 10,000 animals in aquariums totaling more than 800,000 gallons. Watch sand tiger sharks and loggerhead sea turtles glide by, or get close to the animals with a behind-the-scenes tour.

4. Take a Spin at the Atlantic Fun Park

Enjoy the classic carnival atmosphere at the Atlantic Fun Park. Ride the 100-foot Ferris wheel with the family, or hop into the Gravitron for a high-speed spin. On the Sling Shot, strap into a seat and hold on as you’re flung into the air. End your evening on the midway, where the traditional games and snacks create a festive feeling.

5. Experience a Seaside Festival

Virginia Beach comes alive with numerous festivals throughout the year, including the colorful Atlantic Coast Kite Festival in May and the Holiday Parade at the Beach in December. The fall Neptune Festival is the biggest, with its regatta, enormous parade, fireworks extravaganza, and boardwalk weekend. Don’t miss October’s International Sand Sculpting Championship, when huge sculptures rise from the beach.

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6. Take a Brewery Tour at Green Flash

Learn how craft beers are made at Green Flash during an in-depth brewery tour. Follow a beer expert through the facility for a look at the massive kettles and fermenting tanks, tasting beers as you go. Both public and private tours are available; both can be booked in advance on the brewery’s website.

7. Hike First Landing State Park

Hike through the same dunes as the 1607 Jamestown colonists at First Landing State Park. As you hike 19 miles of trails through dunes and seagrass, it’s easy to imagine the colonists setting foot in the New World. See cypress swamps up close on the Bald Cypress Trail, or challenge yourself on the 6-mile Cape Henry Trail. If you prefer to ride the trail, bike rentals are available nearby at the Ocean Waves Gift Shop.

8. Kayak at Pleasure House Point Natural Area

Enjoy a peaceful paddle along the calm water trails at the Pleasure House Point Natural Area. Rent kayaks from the nearby Tula Adventure Sports, and launch from the Lynnhaven Boat Ramp and Beach Facility. From there, follow the signs to the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail and the Southeast Coast Saltwater Paddling Trail.

9. Tour the Cape Henry Lighthouse

Learn about the seafaring legends of Virginia Beach at the Cape Henry Lighthouse, which has been standing since the late 1700s. Preservation Virginia offers tours of the lighthouse, including a climb to the lantern room for fantastic views of the sea and the Chesapeake Bay. While you’re there, climb to the top of the huge sand dune and explore the beautiful lighthouse grounds.

10. Watch Dolphins and Whales

Watch the sun dip below the horizon while dolphins play nearby aboard a Rudee Tours sunset cruise, which runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day. If you’re visiting with little ones, the company also offers a daytime cruise that guarantees a dolphin sighting. During the winter months, watch whales leaping above the ocean on a Winter Wildlife Cruise.

11. Take an Oyster Farm Tour

Take your love of fresh oysters to the next level with a Pleasure House Oyster Chef’s Table tour. Enjoy a boat ride to the Pleasure House Oysters Farm with the owner; then, slip on waders, walk into the Lynnhaven River, and watch as oysters are harvested in front of your eyes. After you enjoy the fresh catch, explore the farm and learn about the operation.

12. Ride on the Beach

Ride a horse through the waves with a horseback tour. Virginia Beach Outer Banks (OBX) Horseback offers daily rides throughout the year; during the summer, don’t miss the lovely sunset tour. If you’re visiting near the winter holidays, book a magical evening ride through twinkling Christmas lights during the Festival of Lights.

13. Tour the New Earth Farm

Get your hands dirty with a tour of the New Earth Farm, which uses biological methods to grow nutritious foods and support local ecology. As you walk through rows of vegetables, a skilled farmer provides a fascinating look at crop rotations and cover crops. Afterward, stop at the market to stock your vacation rental’s kitchen with freshly harvested produce and eggs, as well as locally made cheese and milk.

14. Visit The Adventure Park at Virginia Aquarium!

Test your courage at The Adventure Park at Virginia Aquarium. Zoom through the trees on a zip line, walk across swinging logs high above the ground, and leap from dizzying platforms. With 15 different aerial trails and six difficulty levels, it’s easy to find an adventure that suits everyone in the family.

15. Check Out the Military Aviation Museum

Experience Virginia Beach’s military connections at the Military Aviation Museum. Run your hands over World War I warbirds, and examine a fascinating German Fokker Dr. 1 triplane. Many of the aircraft are flight-worthy; if you’re lucky, you can watch a local pilot take a historic plane out for a test run.

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