The white sands of Virginia Beach attract active, hip travelers now just as they did in the 17th century when plucky young British men and women sailed rough seas to seek new lives in an unknown country. This is where John Smith came ashore in 1607 before sailing north to found Jamestown.
Not far from the glitzy Virginia Beach "strip" are countless battlefields, old mills, historic mansions, native American sites and Colonial Williamsburg, the capital of the United States when it was a British colony. Whether you come for the beach scene, for nature watching or a pilgrimage to historic sites, Virginia Beach has it all.
Start with the Atlantic oceanfront with its white combers, wide beach and a three-mile-long boardwalk for strolling or pedaling. Along the way see a colorful amusement park and a playground that is handicap accessible. The Atlantic Wildfowl Heritage Museum is for birders, wildfowl hunters and visitors who want to see what Virginia Beach life was like in early times. The museum is housed in the only "beach cottage" remaining from what was once a chic, oceanside colony.
Also on the shore is the Old Coast Guard Museum, which began as a life saving station in days when men rowed into the teeth of the storm in open boats to rescue shipwreck survivors. The original 1903 building is filled with displays and artifacts to delight all ages. Between high-rise hotels are public beach access areas, many of them also parks and "stages" where blockbuster events and concerts are held.
On the opposite side of Atlantic Avenue visitors find restaurants, boutiques and galleries. Traffic on the avenue is snail-paced, so leave the car behind and take the trolley for only $1 adults, children 50 cents and free for kids under 38 inches. It runs the length of the boardwalk. After that, buses connect to additional points of interest
The Virginia Aquarium and Science Center is a showplace of marine life in and out of the water. Indoors are displays and live programs. Off-site, the museum hosts field trips and ocean cruises with marine scientists. Virginia Beach is also the home of the Edgar Cayce Association for Research and Enlightenment. Based on the teachings of the late author and seer, it offers many wellness programs including spa treatments for visitors. Not far from the city, scenic farms grow grapes for local wineries and fresh product for lively farmers' markets. Don't miss the wine tastings and hoedowns that welcome visitors to participate in the area's rural life.
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