Content Produced in Partnership with Visit Virginia Beach
Boasting 35 miles of coastline and a Guinness World Record title as "the world's longest stretch of pleasure beach," it's safe to say there are few beach towns quite as large — or as interesting — as Virginia Beach, Virginia. Located at the intersection of the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, the area was first established by English settlers in 1607. Since then, Virginia Beach has blossomed as a hub for outdoor sports, year-round entertainment and local flair. Whether you want to take flight in a historic World War II aircraft or sample the finest oysters on the East Coast, there's an experience for you in Virginia Beach.
Explore First Landing State Park
This is the most visited state park in the entire commonwealth, but that's not the only reason why it's so famous. The site of the first landing of English settlers back in 1607, First Landing State Park's waterways have been explored by paddlers for centuries. You can recreate the experience by kayaking in and out of Cape Henry with one of the many tour operators in the area. Try to reserve your paddle time for the afternoon so that afterward you can sit on one of the many benches throughout the park to enjoy a brilliant sunset.
Get Behind-the-Scenes with an Oyster Tour
As a general rule of thumb, you can't visit Virginia Beach without trying a fresh oyster. The shellfish is a local delicacy and a great source of pride, so much so that the state boasts eight distinct flavor regions and a dedicated month to enjoying them all. Virginia Beach's proximity to the Lynnhaven River is of particular note. For centuries, the Lynnhaven River was considered to be the finest place to harvest the oysters. It was briefly closed to harvesters in 1960s, allowing the oysters to make a comeback. Today, the crew from Pleasure House Oysters use it as their primary farm. Visitors can get in on the action with three different types of tours, including a Chef's Table Tour that includes a specialty picnic right in the center of the riverbed. Trust us, you'll never taste oysters quite as fresh as the ones from Captain Chris's crew.
Virginia Beach is one of those rare beach towns that has a true culinary scene outside of the standard seafood shacks and beach fare you find in other parts of the country. Local restaurants boast of using local fresh produce and seafood, and chefs tout their close relationships with local farmers and fishermen. Chef Rodney from Terrapin Restaurant is one of those chefs. His relationship with Captain Chris from Pleasure House Oysters gives him exclusive access to the finest oysters their team harvests each week. Though the dinner menu changes weekly, you can always find Pleasure House Oysters noted prominently on the menu — and we highly recommend you order it when you see it
Take Flight (Literally)
Virginia Beach's Military Aviation Museum holds one of the largest private collections of World War 1 and World War 2 military aircraft in the world. Located 20 minutes away from the Resort Beach, the Military Aviation Museum's six hangars hold dozens of aircraft. Guided tours of the museum are led by volunteers, many of whom are military veterans themselves who have had personal experiences with the aircraft. Perhaps one of the best-kept secrets of the museum is that many of the biplanes are still operable, and visitors can actually take flight with them! Aircraft rides are available based on 15 minute or 30-minute timeframes for a fee and must be scheduled in advance. Once in the air, though, the skilled pilot will be sure to point out local attractions as you ride in serious style.
Horseback Ride on the Beach
Of all the beachfront areas to enjoy in Virginia Beach, the Resort Beach is probably the most popular and most photographed of the bunch. Located near the boardwalk alongside several resort hotels and iconic Neptune statue, the beach is popular for just about every summer activity. Visitors in the off season, however, can enjoy special access to the beach by horseback thanks to the folks at Virginia Beach Horseback. Guided tours are available from October through April.
Tour the First Federally-Funded Lighthouse in the US
Authorized by President George Washington and completed in 1792, Cape Henry Lighthouse is the first federally-funded light house in the United States and remains open to the public to this day. Visitors to the lighthouse can climb the nearly 200 steps to the top for incredible 360-degree views of the surrounding area, including the beach, bay and sand dunes. Note: Cape Henry Lighthouse is located on an active military installation. Visitors must present their driver's license at the front gate and apply for a visitor's pass in order to access the base.
Experience It For Yourself in 360
Press play on the video below, then use your mouse to click around and experience all seven of these experiences in full 360 video.