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Visitor Checklist!

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Virginia Beach Oceanfront and Boardwalk


If you're visiting Virginia Beach, be sure to take some time to visit the oceanfront resort area!  In the summertime, the tourist beach along Atlantic Avenue draws huge crowds, which is fun if you like to mingle and people-watch.  But there's a lot more to enjoy than just the beautiful sandy beach and sunshine. The famous Virginia Beach Oceanfront Boardwalk stretches three miles along the oceanfront from Rudee Inlet to 40th Street. It is 28-feet wide, with an adjacent bike path and during the spring and summer months rental stands are open, offering beach cruisers, tandems and family-capacity, four-wheel cycles. Amidst the assortment of restaurants and pubs, there is a place for every taste: burger joints, family friendly diners, pizza parlors and fine dining.

In addition to the many restaurants and oceanfront hotels that line the Boardwalk is a variety of shops and boutiques, museums and historic sites, live outdoor entertainment venues, an amusement park and the popular Virginia Beach fishing pier.  If you're looking for a fun photo op, the King Neptune statue by sculptor Paul DiPasquale is a must see. Guarding the boardwalk in his Bronze glory near the Hilton Hotel at 31st Street,  King Neptune  stands an impressive 34-feet tall to the height of his trident and weighs 12.5 tons.

Nearly each month of the year features a different festival or special feature, from September's Neptune Festival to Holiday Lights at the Beach to wine festivals, art shows and firework displays during the summer months - and so much more!

An current list of events at the boardwalk and oceanfront can be found here.

Virginia Beach Fishing Pier

The Virginia Beach oceanfront Fishing Pier is situated off the boardwalk between 14th and 15th streets, along the oceanfront.  Enjoy fishing?  Then you'll definitely want to take some time here!  You'll find croakers, pompano, kingfish, pigfish, trout, bluefish, red drum, Spanish mackerel, king mackerel and rays among a variety of others.  But that's not the only reason to take a trip down to the Fishing Pier.  The casual Pier Restaurant overlooking the ocean serves up delicious seafood and a view that's hard to beat, and at the adjoining gift shop you can search for the perfect Virginia Beach souvenir. The viewing binoculars at the end of the pier offer a fantastic view of the boardwalk from the sea - you can see the boardwalk in its entirety, including all of the hotels, stores, restaurants and beautiful sandy beach.  The cost to walk the Pier is $2, or $8 to fish.  It's o pen 24 hours from April through October.  For more information, call 757-428-2333.

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center
 is one of the country's best aquariums and live animal habitats, with hundreds of hands-on exhibits, an outdoor aviary, nature trail and marshlands to explore. The 3D IMAX Theater boasts a screen six stories tall and eight stories wide, and with a state-of-the-art sound system,  it's an experience you won't want to miss!  The Virginia Aquarium is located at 717 General Booth Boulevard, Virginia Beach.  757-385-3474.

Winter Whale Watching

Did you know that Virginia Beach is a prime winter whale watching destination?  The Virginia Beach Aquarium and Marine Science Centeroffers education-based whale watching boat excursions for a chance to see these magnificent, fascinating marine mammals their natural habitat.  Directed by marine educators, the outing includes  educational discussions, activities featuring whale artifacts and an opportunity to ask your own questions. The excursions last about two and one-half hours, and although whale sightings are not guaranteed, the thrill of the search is sure to make for a unique and memorable adventure, which might  include some of the following sites and activities:

A dramatic nature "air show": brown pelicans, northern gannets, double-crested cormorants and other sea birds as they feed on schools of fish

Local landmarks such as the historic Cape Henry Lighthouse, DeWitt Cottage and the Old Coast Guard Station

International shipping traffic and U.S. Navy maneuversVirginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center Whale Watching Excursions

Call (757) 385-FISH for more information.  Boat trips leave from the Virginia Beach Fishing Center at Rudee Inlet, located at 200 Winston Salem Ave, Virginia Beach.

Tips from Virginia Aquarium!

Dress warmly! It will be a few degrees colder on the water.

Wear hats, gloves, heavy socks, scarves and non-skid shoes.

Binoculars and cameras are recommended.

Tickets may be purchased at either Aquarium building or at the dock. Whale sightings are not guaranteed. Trips may be cancelled due to unsafe conditions. The decision to cancel a trip is made as far in advance as possible. No cancellations due to rain. If you are prone to sea sickness, check with your doctor before booking your trip. Prices and departure times are subject to change. For group information, call 757-385-0332.

Get more information about Virginia Aquarium Whale Watching excursions!

Backbay National Wildlife Refuge

Back Bay Refuge contains over 9,000 acres, situated on and around a thin strip of coastline typical of barrier islands found along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Habitats include beach, dunes, woodland, farm fields, and marsh. The majority of refuge marshlands are on islands contained within the waters of Back Bay.

Approximately 10,000 snow geese and a large variety of ducks visit Back Bay Refuge during the peak of fall migration, usually in December. The refuge also provides habitat for a wide assortment of other wildlife, including threatened and endangered species such as loggerhead sea turtles, piping plovers, peregrine falcons, and bald eagles.

Back Bay provides scenic trails, a visitor contact station, and, with advance scheduling, group educational opportunities.

The Back Bay Refuge is located near Virginia Beach, Virginia, south of Sandbridge, Virginia at the southern end of Sandpiper Road. See a map of the refuge and driving directions.

Outdoor facilities are open daily dawn to dusk.

Visitor Contact Station hours:
8:00 am - 4:00 pm Weekdays,
9:00 am - 4:00 pm Weekends.
The Visitor Contact Station is closed Saturdays, December through March; closed holidays with the exception of Memorial Day, July 4 and Labor Day.

Download a copy of our Refuge Brochure in Adobe Acrobat format (.PDF) CLICK HERE (1.3MB)

Information taken from US Fish & Wildlife Service Web site}

First Landing Seashore State Park

Originally built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, First Landing State Park is located by the Chesapeake Bay. The park, which is Virginia’s most visited state park, is nestled in Virginia Beach. First Landing offers boating, swimming, nature and history programs, hiking, biking, picnicking, a boat launch, cabins and 20 miles of trails on 2,888 acres. It also has campsites with water and electric hook-ups and nearby access to restrooms and showers.

The park's name was changed in 1997 from Seashore State Park to First Landing State Park to reflect its heritage as the first place where members of the Virginia Company landed. They went on to settle Jamestown.

SWIMMING: Swim at your risk in Chesapeake Bay; no lifeguards. No swimming in the Narrows or at boat launch.

TRAILS: Hiking, bicycle and self-guided trails. Nine trails total about 20 miles, including bike and fitness trails. The most popular, the first section of the Bald Cypress Trail, is one-mile, crosses dunes and ponds, and is handicapped accessible. A brochure for the self-guided tour is available at the Trail Center. Trail walks are conducted by interpreters throughout the year, and trail guidebooks are available in the Trail Center. Bicycles allowed on Cape Henry trail only. The park's Bay Store rents bikes.

Visit the Explore Virginia Outdoors website for enhanced maps and video tours of First Landing's trails.

WILDLIFE: Virginia State Parks are great places to discover and reconnect with the wild world. Bring a camera and share your captures with the world. But please don't disturb or get too close to the animals. The park is, after all, their home. Here are a few recent natural encounters others have had at First Landing.

FISHING, BOATING: Fishing and crabbing are popular from the Narrows located between Broad Bay and Linkhorn Bay. A valid Virginia saltwater fishing license is required. Annual parking-launching passports are available by calling 1-800-933-PARK.

Boating: Motorboats and other small craft may be launched from the Narrows boat ramp located at the 64th Street extension in the park’s southern area. Facilities include the use of launching ramps, parking for cars and boat trailers and restrooms. No swimming in the Narrows or at boat launch.

Canoes and kayaks are not available for rent within the park but can be rented from outfitters nearby in Virginia Beach.

PARKS CALENDAR OF EVENTS: Click here to View park events, festivals, workshops and interpretive programs.

THE TRAIL CENTER / VISITOR CENTER, GIFT SHOP: The Trail Center has a meeting room for up to 45 people. It is available for rent; call (757) 412-2320. The center features exhibits on the natural and cultural history of the park.

NATURE, HISTORY PROGRAMS: The park offers many various self-guided and guided programs that cover crabbing, junior rangers, beach walks, nature hikes and structured environmental education programs. Large clubs, school groups and community organizations can request specific historical, cultural and environmental programming related to their educational goals. The park participates in Virginia's State Parks: Your Backyard Classrooms, a 40-activity curriculum guide used by K- 12 teachers and home-school coordinators. Call the park for more detail.

The area's biggest paddle sports event of the year, PaddleFest, takes place at First Landing in mid-September. There's something for both newcomers and pros alike at this hands-on event. Associated parking and try-out fees support the park.

Special events include Clean the Bay Day, March for the Parks, International Coastal Clean-Up and the Fall Harvest Festival.

ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION CENTER: First Landing's Chesapeake Bay Center features a wet lab and educational displays that focus on the First Landing by English settlers here in 1607. The center features programs developed in cooperation with the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center. A visitor information center at the park also has information on area tours and attractions.

First Landing State Park Picnic Shelter

One shelter is available for rent. It can be rented from 8 a.m. to dusk (all day). Parking fees are not included in shelter rental.

Amenities: The shelter has six charcoal grills, electricity, picnic tables and access to restroom (restroom closed November 1 to April 1).

The shelter is in the main picnic area, which is not on the beach side of the park (on same side of Shore Drive as the Trail Center). The shelter can accommodate about 80 people under the shelter. Seating for larger groups is available around the shelter in the main picnic area. The picnic area as a whole is not reserved and the general public will be permitted to use the other tables around the shelter.

Other facilities, including a courtyard, gazebo and amphitheater, can be rented for weddings, conferences, special events and seminars.

CONCESSIONS: The Bay Store has a variety of groceries, snacks, camping supplies, firewood and outdoor recreation supplies. Concessions operate daily with the following schedule: Mid-April to Memorial Day, 9 a.m. - 9 p.m.; Memorial Day to Labor Day, 10 a.m. - 11 p.m.; hours vary from Labor Day to Mid-October. The store also rents bikes, fishing equipment and crabbing gear, and sells bait, souvenirs, cold sandwiches, hot dogs, nachos and T-shirts.

OVERNIGHT FACILITIES: For information on availability of overnight accommodations, particular park amenities or to make a reservation, you canreserve online.

Click here for a Google map.  Click here (PDF) for the park guide for the park guide. Click here (PDF) for a guide of the park's north trail system. Click here (PDF) for a guide of the park's southern trail system guide.

Contact Info: First Landing State Park, 2500 Shore Drive, Virginia Beach, VA 23451-1415; Phone: 757) 412-2300; Email:  . Learn more about park offerings by calling 1-800-933-PARK or email  . Be sure to specify the park of interest.

{Information taken from}

Nauticus / Battleship Wisconsin Museum

Nauticus, the National Maritime Center, includes the Hampton Roads Naval Museum, National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration exhibits and the historic Battleship Wisconsin docked alongside.  The 120,000 square foot complex features an aquarium, touch tanks, a shark petting lagoon, weather deck and an Aegis-class destroyer battle simulation.  You can take a self-guided tour of the Battleship Wisconsin's main deck.

Nauticus is located at 1 Waterside Drive on Norfolk's downtown waterfront, a short drive from Virginia Beach. It is adjacent to the Waterside Festival Marketplace retail and restaurant complex and Town Point Park.