Friday, May 04, 2012

Virginia Beach Family Vacation Ideas: There's more to do than just the beach! #momsloveabeach


Last summer, my husband and I got the rare opportunity to spend some couple time alone.  My in-laws drove down and took over caring for our children so that we could make a quick getaway to Virginia Beach.  Talk about the best anniversary present ever!  I'd been there once as a child and longed to go back to the Atlantic Ocean.  Since it's only about 3 hours away from my home, we decided that Virginia Beach would be the perfect getaway spot for us.

Beach view - take a look at the size of those waves!
Of course, we had to do a little research to plan our trip.  I'm pretty fair-skinned, so I knew I'd want to visit the beach, but not spend all day basking in the sun and swimming in the surf.  Fortunately, the Virginia Beach Convention and Visitor's Bureau has a handy website that lists things to do while you're in Virginia Beach.  I wasn't quite up for parasailing, so we opted to explore the Boardwalk for a few hours, taking our time wandering from store to store to look at merchandise.

There's even live entertainment to enjoy!  Beach Street USA's website keeps a calendar that you can consult while making your plans to visit the beach.  We definitely plan to stay at a hotel that's close to the water this time around.  Though much pricier, the view and convenience will be worth it to be near the attractions and entertainment.  You can sort the list by stage to see who is playing where and enjoy music in the open air, with the water and its salty scent not far away.  We didn't stay for bands, instead opting to explore the area more.  One day at the beach, and we knew we wanted to bring our kids next time and stay for more than just a day or two.   In fact, our kids' school held a silent auction this spring and had several tickets to Virginia Beach attractions that we bid on.  We won four of those auctions to secure admission tickets very cheaply and can't wait to explore the area with kids in tow this summer.



A perfect day for a bike ride on the Boardwalk.
Here's a view of a biker on the Boardwalk, with amusements in the background.  We'd love to take a bike ride with the kids along the Boardwalk.  We saw some tandem bikes that would be perfect for our family -- giving us a little exercise and a great view of the beach, ocean, and ships/boats on the horizon.

So, besides the beach, what else would we want to do as a family while in the Virginia Beach area?

Nauticus is a Naval Museum in the Virginia Beach area.
Nauticus!  Who doesn't want to go there and visit a battleship?  This naval museum isn't too far from Virginia Beach and is definitely on our to-do list.  I'm hoping the grand tour will give our kids a great history lesson, not to mention an appreciation for what our soldiers and sailors do every day, and have done in the past, to keep America safe.

Mount Trashmore - can you make the climb?
This is Mount Trashmore!  Not too far off a busy highway, you'll find this re-purposed landfill.  Those steps were a hike, but the view at the top is worth the exercise you'll get climbing up all those steps.  It's a monument to how we can reclaim land and make something beautiful.  The kids would love to roll down this hill, I'd bet!

Busch Gardens is a short drive away, as is Colonial Williamsburg.  Both are on our short-list for inclusion in our trip itinerary.  We're also eying a visit to First Landing State Park and the Aquarium.  We know we won't be able to do everything we want to do, so I'm sure we'll be planning our next visit while we're enjoying the sights this summer.  For us, a family vacation to Virginia Beach offers us a fun destination that's just a few hours away -- a staycation!  We'll be able to balance pure fun with a little bit of a history and science education thrown in the mix.

A few quick tips!

1.  If you wear glasses, buy a strap for them.  I know... you don't want to look dorky, but the surf can get pretty rough and you don't want to lose your glasses in the ocean.  Or worse, have to go into the water without glasses and miss the view.

2.  Parking can be pretty tight on a hot, summer day.  Get the best spots by hitting the beach early on during the day.  This is a good idea for many reasons since hot days usually mean a long line of traffic pointed toward the beach, so you'll avoid some gridlock by being an early arrival.  Secondly, it's a good idea to avoid long exposure to the sun during the most brutal hours of the day.  Finally, the earlier you go, the less people that are on the beach.  Enjoy a few more quiet moments by being one of the first to arrive.

3.  There's an admission fee to use the Fishing Pier (15th Street), but you don't need a fishing license. 

Don't you just love Virginia Beach and want to visit?  Like them on Facebook to stay in the know of upcoming events and other visitor information.



I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Virginia Beach blogging program. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

Photos of attractions above were taken on a visit to Virginia Beach in August, 2011 by blog author.  Photos taken by blog author are copyrighted.


Looking for Virginia Beach Resources?  Try these links to help you plan your Virginia Beach family vacation.

More info. on Virgina Beach:
http://www.beachstreetusa.com/
Virgina Beach on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/VirginiaBeachVA
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