Locals Share: Top 13 Things to Do in Virginia Beach

Discover the excitement of Virginia Beach with its myriad of activities, perfect for visitors and locals alike. From sun-soaked beaches to thrilling water sports, Virginia Beach offers something for everyone, whether you’re a long-term homeowner or just moved into a Virginia Beach apartment. Explore the best things to do in Virginia Beach across its diverse neighborhoods in this Redfin article, carefully curated to unveil hidden gems and provide local perspectives on the city’s vibrant attractions.

Virginia Beach lighthouse at sunset

1. First Landing State Park

Bryant Digital, Virginia Beach’s top SEO company specializing in web design, apps, social media, and branding, suggests, “Whether you’re into hiking, picnicking, or just soaking up local nature, First Landing State Park offers a diverse range of acts. Plus, you can turn your day trip into a memorable overnight adventure with a camp store, cabins, yurts, and campsites.

For a quieter day, we love to visit the secluded beach along the bay inlet. This is where you can find a stretch of sand that feels like it’s been reserved just for you. It’s a peaceful enclave away from the busier sands of Virginia Beach, offering a chance to bask in the gentle lapping of the Chesapeake Bay waves against the shore. With a good book or simply your thoughts for company, the quiet beach is a soothing retreat where time seems to slow down. First Landing State Park offers the rare chance to disconnect and be present with nature and history.”

2. Paddle boarding

Paddle boarding is a popular choice at Virginia Beach, offering a fun way to explore the coastline and enjoy the ocean scenery. “One of my favorite things to do in Virginia Beach is to go stand-up paddleboarding on the Chesapeake Bay near Chick’s Beach,” says Mary Eleanor, also known as Mary Eleanor Photography, a Virginia Beach family photographer. “The water is typically nice and smooth and you can see all kinds of local wildlife from dolphins to sandpipers and the occasional pelican. It’s also one of my favorite areas for beach photography sessions. After paddling or photographing a session I love to go out to eat at one of my favorite local restaurants on the water, The Porch on Long Creek, Buoy 44 or Chick’s Oyster Bar.” 

Mary Eleanor Photography

Courtesy of Mary Eleanor Photography

3. Watching the sunset

Watching the sunset at Virginia Beach is a must-do activity, offering breathtaking views as the sun dips below the horizon, painting the sky with vibrant colors. “I love beautiful scenery as a photographer, and there’s no better place to be than the North End beaches at sunset,” suggests Ali Williamson, a.k.a Alisandra Photography, a local lifestyle photographer. “It’s even better if you pick up a poke bowl from Aloha Snacks on the way – that way you can stay as long as you want.”

4. Surfing

Surfing is a thrilling experience at Virginia Beach, where you can catch waves and ride the Atlantic swells, surrounded by the energizing atmosphere of this coastal paradise. “My favorite activity in Virginia Beach is surfing. I often go early and bring my camera too. I will shoot some sunrise images and then head out into the surf,” shares Mike O’Shell, Mike O’Shell Photography, who specializes in landscape photography.

Mike O'Shell Photography

Courtesy of Mike O’Shell Photography

5. Mom-and-pop shops

“What I love most about Virginia Beach is the unlimited amount of mom-and-pop shops,” shares Josh Boone, a local wedding photographer known as Josh Boone Photography. “Specifically, the coffee shop, 17 Hands is one of my favorite locations to visit. If you want a great caramel macchiato or anything really, this is the place to go. If I’m not at a local eatery, I’m shuffling through vinyls at Thanks for Listening Record Shop. Virginia is the birthplace of so many legends I’ve learned so much about who comes from this area from this activity.”

6. Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center

Home to thousands of animals representing over 300 species, the Virginia Aquarium offers fascinating exhibits on marine life, including sharks, sea turtles, and otters,” mentions Stephen Kinstler, a local photographer known as Kinstler Photography. “Visitors can also catch live animal presentations and explore outdoor habitats like the Marsh Pavilion and the Aviary. If your plans get washed out by the rain, then the aquarium is a great way to bring on the fun.

7. Military Aviation Museum

Stephen also recommends, “Aviation enthusiasts will appreciate this extensive collection of vintage military aircraft from World War I and World War II eras at the Military Aviation Museum. The museum features meticulously restored planes displayed in a historic hangar setting, along with informative exhibits detailing the history of military aviation.”

8. Town Center

Ben from Take More Adventures, an online adventure blog and travel guide, shares, “A perfect evening for me in Virginia Beach starts with a walk around the lively Town Center. I love the energy and all the fun things to do. When the sun starts to go down, I head over to Mangia Qui Italian Bistro. It’s a cozy place with the most delicious Italian food. On Wednesdays, they have an amazing special for just $37 – a big pizza, two salads, and a whole bottle of wine! It’s a great value, and everyone in Virginia Beach loves going there for a taste of Italy.”

9. Beach photography sessions

Will Hawkins, a commercial portrait photographer, also known as Will Hawkins Photography, says, “I find endless inspiration in the vibrant tapestry of this city, with its myriad of distinctive locales. Working closely with clients in the dynamic settings of Virginia Beach Oceanfront and Town Center is an absolute joy for me. Capturing the essence of individuals through headshot and marketing photography is where my heart truly lies in Virginia Beach.” He continues: “In my downtime, you’ll often find me indulging in the culinary delights of local gems such as Zoe’s and Chops. These establishments are renowned for their exquisite cuisines and curated wine selections, providing a perfect sanctuary for relaxation after a demanding week of creative endeavors.”

10. Thrifting

11. Ocean View Beach

“Ocean View Beach is located approximately 19 miles away from the bustling tourist destination of the Virginia Beach Oceanfront,” suggests author, podcaster, and local blogger Shaunda Necole. “It’s a beach in the neighboring city of Norfolk, situated on the Chesapeake Bay. I’m a Virginia Beach local, and although we have at least five beaches in the area to explore, this beach is one of my favorites! The water here is calmer, and the crowds are generally less dense. One of the highlights of this beach is the iconic Ocean View Fishing Pier, which extends over 7 miles of coastline, providing breathtaking views and one of the East Coast’s most bountiful fishing grounds. Another of the advantages of Ocean View Beach is that it offers ample parking space for visitors.”

12. Biking

“My favorite activity in Virginia Beach is biking along the ocean front,” mentions Alexis Ashton Opal from Beauty Within the Hills. “If I am looking for a quick break I stop in the VIBE district to grab a coffee and brunch from Java Surf Cafe. Getting to spend my days along the waterfront is one of the many reasons I love Virginia Beach.”

13. Munden Point Park

“When I am looking for something to do in Virginia Beach, my go-to is Munden Point Park in Pungo,” shares Kat Stegeman, Co-Owner of Escape2Win. “It is situated on a peaceful lake and has a variety of activities for all ages including playgrounds, picnic tables, a disc golf course, fishing, basketball hoops and much more. And with plenty of trees for shade, it is a great place to visit year round.”

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