Hotspots in Virginia Beach, VA
Looking for a little high-speed action for the adventurist on your trip? Even if you do not have a real “need for speed” but are into go-karts or car racing, Motor World is the place for you to visit. There are 11 different tracks to pick from, depending on your age and driving experience, and 16 different types of karts. For the drivers who have their licenses, check out the Adult Speed Track with karts that approach speeds of 40mph, where you'll receive printouts of your actual lap times and speeds. Kiddie City is on the other end of the experience spectrum where children as young as three can drive their own kart or take a spin on one of the 10 other rides designed just for them. When you’re done racing, check out the rest of what Motor World has to offer including paintball courses, bumper boats, and the popular Skycoaster.
Reminiscent of the inside of a library, this book store offers tens of thousands of products, most at 50% off the original retail price or better. While books are the namesake, the store also carries cds, dvds, audiobooks, e-readers, and even vinyl LPs! What makes AFK Books unique, though, is the buy-back service offered to customers. At AFK, customers can sell their gently used products to the store for cash, an appealing offer that keeps customers coming in and inventory constantly changing.
This massive space is a sports-lover’s paradise in Virginia Beach. With all facilities indoors, the Field House is home to 6 turf fields, 8 volleyball courts, and 4 basketball courts. Children can utilize the state-of-the art facilities by participating in a league or camp in one of several sports including soccer, baseball, basketball, field hockey, lacrosse, flag football, dodgeball, and many others. Parents will be excited to know that several beers are on tap and available for purchase while you watch your child, or you can even sign up for one of the adult leagues offered in many of the same sports as the children’s choices (and even some more adult-friendly options like corn hole). If organized sports aren’t your thing, be sure to head to the Field House to take advantage of the Funzone, a 3-level play space that will entice any child (54 inches or shorter only!).
Nestled in a cozy cottage, this 20 seat gem provides a more quaint lunch experience than most other choices in Virginia Beach. Offering sandwiches, soups, salads, all of the ingredients used at the Leaping Lizard are fresh and locally-grown. In fact, many come from a produce stand just up the road. Leaping Lizard tries hard to reflect the personality and food tastes of coastal Virginia, so fresh seafood specials are often featured. In warm weather, a seat outside on the patio surrounded by trees makes for a peaceful lunch retreat. And if you have time, be sure to check out the attached gift store which is equally as charming.
If your family needs a break from the sun, head to the Children’s Museum of Virginia. Located in Portsmouth, the museum is about a 20 minute drive from the oceanfront, but worth every minute! Children of every age will enjoy exploring (and shhhh…don’t tell, learning) through the 15 hands-on exhibits. Some popular features include the Bubbles exhibit where children can create life-sized bubbles around themselves, the Farm to Foodmart exhibit where children can “shop” at their own grocery store, and the Sounds Around exhibit where children can make their own music on things such as trashcans, hubcaps, and wrenches. The museum also features a Tot Yard where youngsters under 3 have their own special, safe place to explore. When you’re done with the museum, enjoy walking around downtown Portsmouth or take the ferry over to downtown Norfolk (fares run just $1.50).
Back Bay Gourmet is Virginia Beach’s upscale answer to the coffee shop. Back Bay houses about a dozen tables inside plus seasonal patio seating in a sophisticated, intimate setting. The coffee bar serves several traditional and specialty espresso treats. But Back Bay’s unique appeal is the other goodies you can find in the same location: A gourmet food shop, an expansive menu of bistro style meals, a wine bar, and irresistible cupcakes and cookies. Live music is featured regularly, making Back Bay Gourmet a great destination coffee shop morning, noon, or night.
Virginia Beach locals and tourists alike who are used to strolling down the Boardwalk in the summer will surely delight in seeing the familiar strip of concrete transformed into a holiday light showcase for the holiday season. Spanning from Second Street to 34th Street, the only way to see the show is by car (a novelty for a place usually strictly reserved for pedestrians and beach cruisers). When you arrive at the Holiday Lights, you are given a CD to set the mood in your vehicle. Along the path, you will see surfing Santas, dancing dolphins and other nautical and holiday-themed displays. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the giant 12 Days of Christmas displays (although honestly, they are pretty hard to miss).
Virginia Beach may not have any actual mountains to scale, but the Rock Gym helps feed anyone’s craving for a climb. This indoor facility offers several realistically textured climbing surfaces. Each section includes color-coded routes, ranging from beginner to extremely advanced. With the beginner routes, children as young as 3 will enjoy getting in on the action! On Friday nights, the Rock Gym offers a special “open gym” just for children where parents can sit back and watch while certified staff members assist the children in climbing no matter what their experience level is. Helmets and harnesses are available for rent at all times, but are included in the price of the children’s “open gym.”
Offering easy access to the Chesapeake Bay and its fine beaches, camping, and 20 miles of biking and hiking trails, First Landing is Virginia’s most visited state park. Families can choose different options to utilize all the park has to offer—a day trip will set you back $5 for a parking pass, or you can stay overnight in a tent, or even for an entire week in one of the rentable cabins (prices vary by season and type, so check the park’s website for more details). Visitors rave about the clean bathrooms and the playground that is tucked in the woods next to the Visitors Center. If you're looking to visit the Virginia Beach area but want to avoid the tourist scene, First Landing is the place for you.
Want to learn a little bit about all that life that has been swimming around under you during your vacation? Aquariums are always a big family hit and the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center is no exception. In addition to typical aquarium attractions, the center also has several premium experiences sure to entice all family members. Sign up for a Behind the Scenes tour (cost varies depending on the tour you choose), take advantage of the boat excursions including the popular dolphin watching tour, or even splash around with some harbor seals (the Virginia Aquarium is the only place in the United States that you can get in the water with these animals!). If that’s not enough, the aquarium also has an IMAX theatre, which shows both topical documentaries (some in 3D!) and popular new release movies.