A popular summertime tourist destination, it’s safe to say there are over 100 things to do in Virginia Beach. But for things to do in Virginia Beach during spring break, the Virginia Beach Boardwalk is home to lots of fun attractions like Nightmare Mansion and Atlantic Fun Park. Meanwhile, one of the best things to do in Virginia Beach in September is to attend the free and fun Neptune Festival Boardwalk Weekend.
Besides spending time at the beach, other things to do in Virginia Beach with kids include visiting the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center and Ocean Breeze Waterpark. Alternatively, one of the most family-friendly things to do in Virginia Beach in October is to visit Cullipher Farm’s u-pick fields and mazes. For more fun things to do in Virginia Beach, keep reading.
1. Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center
Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center is more than just an aquarium and marine science museum. Although you can get up close to 300 different marine species from worldwide coastal habitats, visitors can also walk along a nature trail with sweeping salt marsh views, watch interesting documentaries on the state’s largest screens, and go on a seasonal dolphin watching tour. Attached to the aquarium, The Adventure Park offers a self-guided tree-to-tree climbing and ziplining experience.
2. First Landing State Park
Named for the first English settlers who arrived there in the early 17th century, First Landing State Park is home to a maritime forest – one of the world’s most endangered habitats. The state’s most-visited park, recreational opportunities include visiting the beach, going on a guided kayak ecological tour, checking out the visitor center exhibits, and walking along the 19 miles of interpretive trails, which go through salt and tidal marsh habitats, dunes, and forest.
3. Cape Henry Lighthouse
Located adjacent to First Landing State Park, Cape Henry Lighthouse marks Chesapeake Bay’s southern entrance. An interesting fact is that the original Cape Henry Lighthouse was established in 1792 as the first federal construction project under the Constitution. The second (and still standing) Cape Henry Lighthouse was built in 1881. Today, both Cape Henry Lighthouses are situated on the Fort Story US Navy military base, so visitors must enter via the fort’s security gates.
4. Norfolk Botanical Garden
Norfolk Botanical Garden just so happens to be Virginia’s largest botanical garden. Spread over 175 acres, there are 60 different themed gardens to explore, as well as an arboretum, the Butterfly House, the WOW Children’s Garden – complete with splash pad and world-themed gardens, seven miles of paved and seven miles of unpaved walking trails, and sculptures dating from the 1800s. Although there are seasonal gardens, year-round gardens include the Japanese, Renaissance, and Sensory Gardens.
5. Military Aviation Museum
The city’s Military Aviation Museum is home to one of the world’s largest private collections of World War I and II military aircraft in flying condition. The family-friendly attraction has exhibits on World War I and II aviation history, offers aircraft rides, and hosts a Jurassic Park scavenger hunt. With multiple aircraft in multiple hangars, the Military Aviation Museum also hosts events throughout the year, including air shows and its popular Summer of Flight experience.
6. Virginia Beach Boardwalk
One of the top things to do in Virginia Beach every summer is to go for a stroll along its three-mile beachfront boardwalk. A haven of fun and entertainment, the boardwalk’s Live! On Atlantic hosts everything from street performers to live concerts to fireworks shows. Along with its beachfront bars and family-friendly restaurants, other attractions not to be missed include the seaside Atlantic Fun Park, JT’s Grommet Island Park, and the Virginia Beach Fishing Pier.
7. Chic’s Beach
Chic’s Beach (also known as Chesapeake Beach) is the name given to a long sandy beach and the neighborhood in which it resides. Once a war lookout point, Chic’s Beach is now a beachfront residential community that’s home to both beach shacks and high-rise condominiums. Local food and drink recommendations include Bobo’s Fine Chicken Restaurant, Green Parrot Grille, and HK on the Bay. As for the popular beach, 20-somethings tend to flock there in summer.
8. The Neptune Festival
The Neptune Festival is a non-profit organization hosting over 40 events throughout the year, with its crowning glory being the annual Neptune Festival Boardwalk Weekend. Covering 32 city blocks and attracting around 400,000 visitors, popular events over the weekend include the North American Sandsculpting Championship, the Atlantic Regatta, the Surf Classic, Neptune’s 5K Run, an art and craft show, and the Grand Parade. The free festival is usually held at the end of September.
9. Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge
Located on a peninsula, the 8000-acre Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge is a freshwater refuge and birdwatcher’s paradise bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and Back Bay. There are walking and biking trails and a boardwalk so visitors can comfortably see its diverse habitats, including freshwater marshes, large sand dunes, maritime forests, and an ocean beach. Throughout the year, the informative Blue Goose Wildlife Tram also carries passengers from Back Bay to False Cape State Park.
10. Sandler Center for the Performing Arts
Established in 2007, the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts (known locally as simply the Sandler Center) is a multi-million dollar venue that houses a 1308-seat performance hall, the Miller Studio Theatre, and the Bill and Anne Wood Founders Room with a private terrace overlooking downtown. Hosting an array of events like concerts, touring comedians, and military events, the Sandler Center also has several resident companies, include the Virginia Symphony Orchestra and Virginia Musical Theatre.
11. Cullipher Farm
Located on Pungo Ridge in southern Virginia Beach, the family-owned and operated Cullipher Farm is currently run by fourth, fifth, and sixth generation Culliphers. With strong family roots, Cullipher Farm is proud to provide the community with the highest-quality fruit and vegetables. People can visit the Cullipher Farm Market to purchase fresh produce, locally-made ice cream, and baked goods. There’s also “the Patch,” with u-pick fields, peach and apple orchards, and three mazes every fall.
12. Croatan Beach
It’s undeniable that one of the top things to do in Virginia Beach is to spend time at the beach. Just like Chic’s Beach, Croatan Beach is both a beach and a residential neighborhood. Hosting the East Coast Surfing Championships for over 40 years, Croatan Beach is the best place to go surfing in the area. With two designated surfing areas, local companies also offer lessons and surf camp initiatives every summer at Croatan Beach.
13. Doumar’s Barbecue
The founder of Doumar’s Cones and Barbecue, Abe Doumar is said to have created the world’s first ice cream cone in 1904. He went from the Virginia Beach Boardwalk to the Ocean View Amusement Park, but now the iconic diner is located in nearby Norfolk. With a menu overflowing with classic American fare, the detour is worth it. Enjoy an ice cream sundae or authentic waffle cone, North Carolina-style barbecue, or a famous limeade drink.
14. Kiptopeke State Park
Located on the state’s Eastern Shore, Kiptopeke State Park offers recreational access to the Chesapeake Bay, with a boat launch, swimming beach, and fishing pier. Kiptopeke State Park is also well-known for its camping and accommodation facilities, which include five cabins, RV and tent camping sites, a group camping lodge, and a yurt. Furthermore, the park has over four miles of hiking and biking trails and summer interpretive programs focused on birding, history, and ecology.
15. Sandbridge Beach
Located on the scenic Outer Banks, Sandbridge Beach is known for its relaxed vibe, turquoise waters, and five miles of pristine sand dunes. Backdropped by beach cottages and condominiums buildings, popular activities at the beach including surfing on its tame waves and joining a guided sea kayak tour. If you’re searching for even more outdoor adventures, head south to Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park to go hiking, kayaking, and fishing.
16. Ocean Breeze Waterpark
With over 30 rides, slides, and attractions, Ocean Breeze Waterpark is one of the city’s must-visit summertime destinations. Popular attractions include the Adventure River, Runaway Bay’s wave pool, Neptune Revenge’s four separate slides, the Activity Pool’s famous log roll, the Little Buccaneers play area for kids, and Operation Splashdown – a six-story family raft ride. Ocean Breeze Waterpark also offers cabanas and VIP seating, as well as food options so you can stay all day.
17. Lynnhaven Mall
Lynnhaven Mall is the city’s top shopping destination. With 180 stores and services, it’s also one of the largest malls along the East Coast. Its three main anchor stores are JCPenney, Macy’s, and Dillard’s. These large department stores sit alongside popular brands like Forever 21, H&M, Old Navy, Apple, and Barnes & Noble. Lynnhaven Mall also has an 18-screen AMC Theatre complex, Jump Trampoline Park, an outdoor pedestrian plaza, and dining options like Maggie Mcfly’s.
18. Hunt Club Farm
The family-owned and operated Hunt Club Farm has the city’s only petting zoo, where kids can meet friendly farm animals like chickens, goats, and ponies. Hunt Club Farm also organizes pony rides and fun seasonal events, including the Easter Egg Hunt, Harvest Fair, and Halloween Festival. Hunt Club Farm has been hosting extreme Halloween celebrations for over 30 years and is home to the city’s original haunted house attraction, plus the Village of the Dead.
19. Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art
The Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) is an award-winning contemporary art museum showcasing the best in sculpture, painting, photography, glass art, and visual media from local, national, and international artists. The museum features constantly changing exhibitions alongside adult and children art classes, family events, guided tours, and a renowned gift shop. Virginia MOCA is also the team behind the annual Boardwalk Art Show – one of the East Coast’s oldest and largest art shows.
20. IFLY Indoor Skydiving
One of the best things to do in Virginia Beach for thrill-seekers is to enjoy a different skydiving experience at iFLY Indoor Skydiving. Operating across the world, the iFLY Indoor Skydiving experience involves a vertical wind tunnel powered by four fans. The wall to wall air cushion keeps you afloat, without the need for parachutes or jumping from 10,000 feet. With no experience necessary, both children and adults can safely enjoy this adrenaline rush.
21. Nightmare Mansion
One of the city’s most beloved attractions is Nightmare Mansion, which has been operating on the beachfront boardwalk for over 30 years. Known as one of the country’s most haunted attractions, Nightmare Mansion is a walk-through haunted house featuring terrifying live actors, narrow hallways, and pitch-black corridors. The attraction also offers Escape Nightmare Mansion, which combines an escape room experience with immersive theater and ultra-dark scary moments. So, do you dare to enter Nightmare Mansion?