Virginia Beach is an interesting destination in that it's recognized as an entertaining area, but can also be overlooked. People hear "Virginia Beach" and imagine a popular place with lots to do, but many don't have the same clear picture of it that they might have of other East Coast spots like Atlantic City or Miami, or even Myrtle Beach or Charleston. To help interested or curious tourists gain a clearer picture, we're using this piece to take a more overarching look at how people entertain themselves at Virginia Beach (as well as what you should not expect to find there).
Things To Do
Enjoy Local Music
One thing you can’t miss when visiting VA Beach is its vibrant music scene. With a number of large performance venues, the area has developed a habit of attracting big-name artists, particularly in recent years. During the summer months (when you’re likely to be craving some beach time), the Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater is a fantastic place to explore a terrific schedule of live music. We recommend sitting on the lawn if possible (bring a folding chair or picnic blanket if you have one) so you can be surrounded by the warm evening air of the beach. Alternatively, VA Beach also hosts the Chartway Federal Credit Union American Music Festival late in the summer. This festival is one of the largest on the East Coast and takes over all the parks along the beachfront and boardwalk, transforming the town into a can’t-miss music hotspot.
Lounge On The Beach
Maybe it goes without saying that you can lounge on the beach at a place called Virginia Beach - but then seaside cities can be tricky this way. For instance, you don't necessarily find beach access in Charleston proper, and you certainly have to pick your spots in Atlantic City. Rest assured that there are some great, sandy lounge spots at VA Beach though. Most notably, Sandbridge Beach and Chicks Beach make for excellent spots to go for a walk, have a swim, or lay out for a bit.
Enjoy Culture Out & About
You can also enjoy some cultural attractions around VA Beach, and with a decidedly outdoor flavor. That is to say, rather than ducking into museums and the like, you can enjoy everything from great art to local cuisine simply by walking around. Food and drink are a big part of the beachside scene, such that you can sometimes bump into a beer tasting at an oceanfront venue, or find a vendor selling fresh seafood in a park. As for art, you never really know what might be happening around town on any given day, but there's also an annual chalk street art event that doubles as a competition (which you might even get in on if you fancy yourself an artist!).
Things Not To Do
You Won't Go Surfing
You might imagine, and fairly so, that as a fairly popular East Coast beach destination, VA Beach has some great surfing spots. After all, the North Carolina Outer Banks aren't too far south, and they're full of surfing and watersport spots. Unfortunately though, you probably shouldn't count surfing among your ideas for entertainment on a VA Beach trip. While you will see surfers out at the 1st Street Jetty on a good day, the conditions typically aren't great, and the areas to catch worthwhile swells are limited.
There Aren't Casinos
There's some optimism up and down the East Coast about a possible spread of gambling and casino activity. According to resources for U.S. gambling news, Virginia is among the states considering betting legislation, and for all we know casino play could follow a few years later. For now though, these activities remain widely prohibited around the state. We mention this mostly because there are undoubtedly some who think of VA Beach as something along the lines of Atlantic City-in-the-South. For now though, you won't find casinos in town.
The Resorts Are Measured
This is another quick point regarding inevitable comparisons to Atlantic City. While you'll find some nice hotels and fine places to stay around VA Beach, you won't find any of the gaudy casino resorts of some other major East Coast destinations here. It's a simpler place, by and large - still comfortable, but not exactly decadent form an accommodation standpoint.
Hopefully this has given you a clearer overall picture as to what kind of entertainment and environment to expect in VA Beach. It may not have quite the array of attractions and activities some of its larger East Coast counterparts have, but it's still a fabulous place to vacation, and in some ways it feels as if it still has some growing to do.