Things To Do In Virginia Beach Beyond the Boardwalk

Find these out-of-the-box attractions where the Chesapeake Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean.

virginia beach
Photo: Virginia Beach CVB

You might know this beachside city for its classic boardwalk, a three-mile long stretch complete with outdoor dining, surfboard and kayak-rental kiosks, and even an island park playground for the kids. But don't be fooled by the quaint seaside breeze: Virginia Beach, Virginia, is much more than its oceanside attractions. With a variety of local businesses and a thriving arts scene, this family getaway has so much to explore.

Walk the Boardwalk

Virginia Beach's oceanside promenade promises a lovely sunrise or evening stroll. The Oceanfront District offers plenty of options for shopping, dining, and family-friendly entertainment. During the summer, you'll find live music and boardwalk entertainment on one of the promenade's four open-air stages. Snap a photo with the 24-foot-tall King Neptune statue, which sits on the boardwalk at the entrance of Neptune Park.

Here, you'll also find the city's famed oceanfront resorts and a pristine stretch of sand. Be sure to spend a day relaxing by the water. To avoid the crowds, check out Sandbridge Beach, an equally beautiful, less-trafficked, duned shoreline located just south of the Oceanfront District.

Explore the ViBe Creative District

Catch a vibe in the ViBe Creative District. "The ViBe Creative District, encompassing 13 blocks between the Convention Center and the boardwalk, is a non-profit initiative designed to foster creativity and community in Virginia Beach," writes Brianna Simmons for Southern Living. Walk around to see the murals and street art, tour the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, and check out a few local businesses. Some highlights include the crepes at farm-to-table café Commune, the hand-painted signs and pinstriping at Igor's Custom, the craft beers at cool bistro Esoteric, and the infused spirits at Chesapeake Bay Distillery.

Get Outdoors

Catch a wave or bike along the shoreline—Virginia Beach is made for outdoor adventure. The coastal city has plenty of trails for running, walking, and biking: It's possible to go completely car-free in this city. Hike or bike the Sand Ridge Trail in False Cape State Park and the Cape Henry Trail in First Landing State Park—of the latter, Simmons writes, "Home to a unique maritime forest ecosystem, with miles of trails winding past bald cypress and salt marsh—it's no wonder this is Virginia's most visited state park." For more outdoor adventure recommendations (including some spots that are family-friendly), Visit Virginia Beach has all the information you need.

Eat Local

Start your morning at Three Ships Coffee, a local coffee roaster with locations in the ViBe District and the Shops at Hilltop. Then prepare to be utterly charmed by The Bee and the Biscuit, a first-come, first-serve cottage restaurant known for its buttermilk biscuit benedicts and freshly-baked cinnamon rolls (which the daytime joint also offers to-go). Pair your all-day breakfast with a specialty latte in unique flavors like Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Honey Lavender, and Lucky Charms. Pro tip: Arrive early to snag a seat in the quaint garden for brunch.

For a special occasion, indulge in the picnic of your dreams with VB Picnic Co. The local business curates stunning, stylish pop-up picnics at your location of choice. For a laid-back vibe, check out Zeke's Beans and Bowls, a local spot for coffee, acai bowls, and Hawaiian poke. You can never go wrong with the Cali-style Mexican food at Pelon's Baja Grill—be sure to scope out the happy hour deals. For a classy evening, dine at Orion's Rooftop, which boasts an unbeatable ocean view and a refined Asian-fusion menu.

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