|Virginia: Virginia Beach, Family Vacation Ideas - Live Beach Music, Trolley Rides, and Dolphin Watching. Imagine a beach with soft clean sand, a traditional boardwalk, ice cream, Italian ice, pizza by the slice, air conditioned shops and no tight schedules. Head to Virginia Beach and make this your family vacation reality.
Not only is it the home of the world’s longest pleasure beach, but it also features a bountiful list of activities and attractions well-suited for families with school age children and the desire to travel together.
Do a little or do a lot – the beach is waiting. From festivals that honor the "King of Rock and Roll" to natural adventure opportunities for families, Virginia Beach offers the “Classic American Beach Vacation” deemed the world’s longest pleasure beach by the Guinness Book of World Records.
A “Big Beach” project extended the shore’s width to more than 300 feet with the addition of 3.2 million cubic yards of sand. The result is more beach blanket space with more room for games on the sand.
Bike the boardwalk. Granted it’s no longer made of boards, Virginia Beach’s 2.6-mile boardwalk can’t be beat for walking, biking, and roller skating. Rent a surrey bike for some family pedaling, or create a caravan and get everyone their own pair of skates with Cherie's Bike and Blade Rentals, which has 7 rental locations up and down the boardwalk, covering the entire oceanfront. Bonus points: No need to bring your own wheels, rent surreys, bikes and roller blades at stands along the Boardwalk.
Take a crabbing class. Kids and adults can scamper along the shoreline during a First Landing State Park crabbing class. Grab clothes that can get wet, some old shoes and scurry along the shoreline in classes led by park rangers. Bonus points: The Park also offers night hikes, stargazing and nature hikes. The park itself is the most-visited state park in Virginia and was the landing site of the first permanent English settlers in 1607 before they colonized Jamestown.
Watch for dolphins. Virginia Beach is also the home of the mid-Atlantic’s largest population of bottlenose dolphins. Each year, dolphins make Virginia Beach their summer residence and visitors can get up-close to them on dolphin watching boat excursions sponsored by the Virginia Marine Science Museum, aboard the Rudee Flipper. Visitors observe the dolphins as they feed, dive, and leap from the water in acrobatic displays. Bonus points: Check out kayaking tours along the Atlantic shoreline or Chesapeake Bay waters.
Pet a ray. Families will get a front row seat at the one of the best aquariums the in the country. Its blockbuster attractions include more than 800,000 gallons of aquariums, an outdoor aviary, and river otter and seal habitats. It is also home to the six story-high IMAX® theater, one of the nation’s first and the only one in the state. Bonus points: The touch tanks make any visit awesome. Docents provide both encouragement and explanations about touch tank creatures making the activity truly memorable. Visitors may touch a sea star's bumpy limbs; feel a stingray's wet and slick body; hold a hermit crab's claw or brush a horseshoe crab's legs.
Being on vacation is a breeze. Virginia Beach's second wind comes from Ocean Breeze Water Park and Motor World. It’s the place with water slides, go-carts, and helicopter rides. What more is there? Four fun vacation options meet the needs of all family members. From the Wild Water Rapids, a water theme park with water flumes & speed slides to Shipwreck Golf, 36 holes of miniature golf it’s all for fun. Bonus points: Add practice at the Strike Zone, a spot with batting cages for all levels.
Take a wild ride. When beach boredom takes over Virginia Beach Amusement Park has the solution. The friendly facility located on the oceanfront at 15th & Atlantic Avenue offers families a thrill-a-minute. From the Skyscraper, a thrill ride soaring 165 feet at 65 mph to the wild-and-wet log flume, it’s a blast. They offer a variety of rides and games and a cure for boredom. Bonus points: Discounted day passes are available and regular day passes may be purchased at the park.
Location on the planet. Anchored in the southeastern corner of the state where Virginia meets the sea, Virginia Beach is four hours southeast of Washington, D.C. by car, and within a day’s drive or less from one-third of the U.S. population.
Make it happen. Log on to the website and order a free vacation catalog or go paper-free with the online trip planner. To ask a question call toll-free 1- 800-822-3224), head over to their Facebook page, catch them on Twitter (@VaBeachCVB) or checkout the big picture at www.visitvirginiabeach.com
Family Vacation Planning Details
Cherie's Bike and Blade Rentals. Rentals locations can be found at 2nd, 8th, 19th, 20th, 22nd, 24th, 25th, 31st and 34th Streets.
Ocean Breeze Water Park and Motor World. 849 General Booth Blvd. 23451. (757) 422-0718, 422-4444 or toll-free 1-800-678-WILD or www.oceanbreezewaterpark.com
Virginia Beach Amusement Park. 15th & Atlantic Ave. 23451. www.virginiabeach.com Updated content and images by Family Travel Files staff. Copyright 2013.