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USATourist News
Magazine by Elizabeth Blair
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USATourist News Magazine

January 2012 - Virginia Beach, Virginia

In this issue:

Happy New Year! Welcome to the first issue of USATourist News Magazine in 2012. This month we're visiting a lovely destination in Virginia, an eastern state that offers spectacular scenery, plenty of history, and easy access to some of the country's most visited destinations including Washington DC.

There are plenty of nice beaches along the Eastern Seaboard and Virginia, but today we're going to focus on one town specifically and that's Virginia Beach. This thriving community slows down in the winter, which means you can get great bargains on hotels. But during the summer months, the weather is perfect for enjoying the beautiful beaches and all the town has to offer.

Downtown Sunset

Spanning 17 city blocks, Town Center of Virginia Beach is an eclectic mix of shopping, dining, nightlife and entertainment venues.
© Virginia Beach CVB

Virginia Beach Perks

As you will find in some of the eastern states, there is a fee for visiting some beaches, but not in Virginia Beach. Access is free and lifeguards are on duty from mid-May through mid-September. In addition, you may rent beach equipment such as umbrellas, boogie boards and sling-back chairs from beachside vendors.

More than Surf and Sand

For the days when you want to take a break from the surf and sand, Virginia Beach Ocean Breeze Waterpark offers non-stop fun with 16 waterslides, a 1 million-gallon Runaway Bay wave pool, the Buccaneer Bay Water Playground and private poolside cabanas. The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center has 800,000 gallons of one of the best aquariums and live animal habitats in the country. You'll be intrigued by the hundreds of hands-on exhibits, an outdoor aviary, a nature trail, and marshlands. Also onsite is a 3D IMAX Theater.

Visit the Boardwalk

The Virginia Beach Boardwalk is a destination in itself with a variety of hotels and restaurants along the three mile long attraction. The Boardwalk Art Show & Festival and Sandstock: A Blast from the Past are popular events. The boardwalk is also a fun place to explore on wheels. There are several small businesses that offer rental bikes and roller blades.

Statue of King Neptune

The 31st Street Park is where you'll find a legend of a different kind. This statue of King Neptune overlooks the park and is the largest cast bronze figure erected in the U.S. since the U.S. Marine Corps (Iwo Jima) Memorial in D.C.
© Mark Atkinson. / Virginia Beach CVB

For the thrill seeker in you, the nearby Virginia Beach Amusement Park, located in the resort area on Atlantic Avenue, provides a fun way to spend a day. One of the top attractions is the Skyscraper extreme thrill ride - one of only seven in the world. Admission to the park is free and ride tickets range from 70 cents to $1. Rides can require up to as many as six tickets.

The Free Virginia Legends Walk

At the oceanfront 13th Street Park, the Virginia Legends Walk honors famous Virginians, who made significant contributions to the nation and the world. Featured people include Edgar Allen Poe, Arthur Ashe, Ella Fitzgerald, Patsy Cline, Thomas Jefferson and Captain John Smith.

Historic Homes

Virginia is one of the most historic states and is teeming with traces of the past. It can be seen through the many historic homes found throughout the city. For example, the still-standing Adam Thoroughgood House (circa 1680) is located on land that was part of an original land grant. Other historic homes still standing were constructed in the colonial period and include Lynnhaven House (1725), the Ferry Plantation House (1740) and the Francis Land House (late 1700s). These homes are open to the public for tours. There is nominal admission for each tour.

Shopping and Dining

The Town Center of Virginia Beach is an upscale destination with a vibrant collection of shops, restaurants, entertainment, homes, and hotels covering 17 city blocks. The Sandler Center for the Performing Arts is here and often free live entertainment and festivals are held in the plazas. When you visit you will notice one tall building in this area. It is the Westin Virginia Beach Town Center, a 38 story high rise hotel and living residence, and the tallest building in all of Virginia. Keep an eye out for the miniature version of King Neptune.

Sand Sculpture

The Fish Sand Sculpture rocked the crowd as one of the many sand scuplures presented during Virginia Beach's 2006 Neptune Festival North American Sand Sculpting Championship.
© Virginia Beach CVB

The Wild Side

Animal lovers will appreciate the beautiful 8,000-acre Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge located south of Sandbridge at the southern end of Sandpiper Road. Various habitats consist of beach, dunes, woodland, farm fields and marsh. During the peak fall migration you will see thousands of snow geese and ducks. The refuge also has threatened and endangered species such as loggerhead sea turtles, piping plovers, peregrine falcons, and bald eagles. Visitors can stroll along scenic trails. Stop by the visitor contact station and partake in fishing, hunting, bicycling and hiking.

The Festival of the Year

The annual Virginia Beach Neptune Festival is one of the town's highlights of the year. Be prepared for massive crowds, but it's worth it. This event features hundreds of craft booths, surfing and volleyball competitions, free musical entertainment, fireworks, the Grand Parade and the most popular event: a sand sculptors contest.

Military Aviation Museum

Aviation enthusiasts will especially want to take a trip to the Military Aviation Museum which is located at the Virginia Beach Airport, a private-use airfield. What started with one man's passion for WWII era aircraft and a single Curtiss P40 salvaged from the tundra in Siberia, Russia, has transformed into a living history museum consisting of three museum hangars and a maintenance hangar filled with tributes to that era.

Norfolk Fun

Fifteen miles west of Virginia Beach is the Navy town of Norfolk which has the 8-mile Ocean View Beach that lines the Chesapeake Bay. This is a very family-friendly area since the beaches are wide with gentle surf, lifeguards in the summer, picnic pavilions, and best of all, there is free parking. Due to the fact that Norfolk has a military presence, it is home to a number of museums including the Nauticus - the National Maritime Center. Be sure to look for the docked USS Wisconsin and the Hampton Roads Naval Museum.

The Bay is a great place for water sports such as paddle boating, kayaking, sail boating, and jet skiing. The annual June Harborfest takes place in Norfolk's Town Point Park.

Air travel: Norfolk International Airport (ORF) is the largest airport in the area with many direct flights from major cities.

Thank you for reading USATourist News Magazine this month!

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Written by: Elizabeth L. Blair

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