Know before you go
Virginia Beach is a big family destination, but it also has its fair share of bars on the main strip. The city doesn’t get loud until the sun goes down, so you can avoid exposing your kids to drunken behavior pretty easily. Walk down the boardwalk if you want to avoid the bar hoppers after dark altogether. People are still out after the sun goes down, but you won’t have to deal with the bars and clubs.
- UV shirts
- Shorts, tank tops and t-shirts (hot weather clothes)
- water shoes and flip flops
- By Air: The nearest airport is in Norfolk, VA (airport code: ORF) about 20 miles away from Virginia Beach.
- By Car: Driving to Virginia Beach is easy from I-95 (major highway that runs down the east coast). Traffic may slow you down after you turn off and start heading towards the ocean, so keep an eye on traffic reports and try to avoid driving in and out of town on the weekends when the vacation renters enter and exit the city.
Comfort Inn & Suites Oceanfront, 2015 Atlantic Avenue. This ocean front property is smack dab in the middle of the action in Virginia Beach. The one-bedroom suite is perfect for families looking to spread out a little, enjoy some ocean views, and have a pool to cool off in when the sun is at its peek in the sky.
- Don’t miss: The complimentary breakfast buffet is a must, especially if you have kids. There is a decent cereal selection, Belgian waffle makers, hot entrees like eggs and bacon, coffee, juice, fruit, pastries and yogurt.
Things to do
- Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center, 717 General Booth Blvd. A must on a sunny or rainy day at the beach. Get there first thing in the morning when the aquarium opens to avoid the crowds. Don’t miss the shark tank and mini sub where your kids can flip switches and move the underwater video camera all by themselves. Touch a ray or watch the seals do a few tricks as the turtles swim lazily through their tank.
- Dolphin Watching Boat Trip on the Rudee Flipper, Virginia Beach Fishing Center, 200 Winston Salem Avenue. Hop on board this steady moving boat as it heads out onto the open seas in search of dolphins. Babies on up to grandma are welcome. The dolphins may or may not put on a good show, but you are guaranteed to see a little fin.
- King Neptune statue, 31st street and the boardwalk. This iconic statue is the perfect backdrop for that family photo you’ve been trying to get all year. Even if the kids can’t sit still, have them poke around the statue (no climbing please!) to see what sea creatures they can find and how many baby octopuses are hanging around.
- Beach Street USA, throughout the city along Atlantic Avenue. Street performers, not out for your spare change, set up shop to show off their skills. Park yourself in front of break dancers, a jazz quartet or head to one of the many concert venues where if you are lucky, you will see bands like Toad the Wet Sprocket, or a great cover band to dance along with all night. Check dates and times to confirm concert schedule.
- Cherie’s Bike Rentals, several locations along the beach. You can’t miss the surreys and bikes zipping down the boardwalk of Virginia Beach. Parents be warned: it is not easy to pedal a surrey with kids, especially if you are the only adult. Give it a test before you commit.
- Khor Brother’s Frozen Yogurt, four locations along Atlantic Avenue. This cool frozen treat is very much like soft serve ice cream, but instead of just chocolate and vanilla, they have peanut butter, mint, strawberry and more. Try one, or two swirled together. Don’t forget to ask for chocolate jimmies on top!
- Pi-ZZERIA, 3316 Atlantic Avenue. The look of this bustling restaurant on Atlantic Avenue is deceiving. You see the sign on a window, but where do you walk in? Well have no fear, Pi-ZZERIA is actually one of three Italian restaurants all rolled into one spot (and menu for that matter.) The food is tasty and kid friendly.
- Waterman’s Beachwood Grill, 5th Street and Atlantic Avenue. The beach views are the main draw of this spot. Most of the menu is so-so along with the service, but the flounder tacos are worth the trip. Finish off with a slice of key lime pie and you will be good to go.
- Beach Bully, 610 19th Street. Saunter up to this counter joint to order some decent BBQ with a side of vinegary coleslaw. High chairs and outdoor seating are available, or you can cool off inside when the sun heats up the town.