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The miles of coastline are full of fun and adventure. Waterfront destinations like the Eastern Shore, Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Hampton and the Chesapeake Bay, present exciting vacation options for families looking to live life to the fullest.
Virginia's Eastern Shore is a unique destination for families seeking fun in the sun.
Kiptopeke State Park is a perfect place for families who love beaches, nature and camping. Kiptopeke's beachfront hugs nearly half a mile of the Chesapeake Bay and the park offers four miles of hiking trails. A sleepover the kids will enjoy is that in a yurt - a cross between a tent and a cabin. It has a spectacular view of the Chesapeake Bay, a large wooden deck, picnic table and fire ring. Too rough? Families will also love the park's five 6-bedroom lodges with gas fireplaces.
Cape Charles Beach is unique for its shallow Bay waters and lack of waves. It's ideal for families with small children. Cape Charles is the Eastern Shore's southern-most town and the quintessential Virginia small town, with B&Bs, restaurants and shops lining the main street. It's also home to the 1200-acre Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge, one of the premier birding and wildlife sites on the Eastern Shore.
Visit the Shore's sister islands of Chincoteague and Assateague. The National Wildlife Refuge in Chincoteague includes more than 14,000 acres of beaches and dunes. The unspoiled scenery of Assateague is the perfect backdrop for gazing upon the island's majestic wildlife. In addition to an expansive, pristine beach, Assateague operates two visitor centers and miles of hiking trails. Visit in July for the annual Pony Swim and Auction, where saltwater cowboys round up the ponies and swim them across to Chincoteague. Broaden the experience by enjoying the charm of delightful B&B's, restaurants, shops, craft galleries and one-of-a-kind museums. Camping, crabbing, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, hiking and bicycling add to the family bonding.
Families seeking a thrilling beach experience will find it at Virginia Beach. The longest pleasure beach in the United States, it's perfect for building sand castles, collecting sea shells or lounging under an umbrella.
Along the three-mile oceanfront boardwalk families can bike, roller blade or rent a tandem bike. Fishermen love the piers and surf-fishing. Concerts and festivals are just some of the free, family-oriented events that take place along the boardwalk. There is also Beach Street USA - free entertainment along Atlantic Avenue - that adds to the excitement of Virginia Beach.
Not every VB activity is fast paced. See wildlife at the 800-acre Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and at First Landing State Park. Enjoy the outstanding hiking and biking trails - perfect for families with a passion for nature!
Your trip to isn't complete without visiting the state's largest aquarium, the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center. With 700,000 gallons of water, live animal habitats, three touch tanks, more than 300 hands-on exhibits, an outdoor aviary, 10 acres of marsh habitat and a three-mile nature trail, boredom is simply not an option! Children will love the sharks, sea turtles, harbor seals, river otters, stingrays and other aquarium inhabitants. The Center also has 3D IMAX® Theater with a screen six stories high!
Got a little sailor? Norfolk is your destination! Kids and grown-ups alike will marvel at the sea life and nautical treasures at Nauticus, an interactive science center that features more than 150 exhibits, including computer and video, giant screen films, exotic aquaria and touch pools. The USS Wisconsin, one of the last and largest battleships built by the U.S. Navy, is adjacent to Nauticus and open for main deck tours.
Norfolk's Ocean View Beach stretches continuously along eight miles of the Chesapeake Bay. The beaches are wide with gentle surf, lifeguards in the summer, picnic pavilions and free parking. Norfolk's Town Point Park overlooks the harbor and is the site for many events, such as the annual Harborfest every June, featuring a fine array of tall ships.
Hampton is the birthplace of America's space program and home to NASA Langley and Langley Air Force Base. The Virginia Air & Space Center in Hampton is the visitor center for both sites, so families can mix fun and learning. Take a virtual voyage to Mars, fly a full size DC-9 aircraft, and launch a rocket. They can see a moon rock, a Mars meteorite and the Apollo 12 Command Module, plus enjoy 3D IMAX® films on a five-story screen.
What about the water? Hampton has 12 deep-water marinas as well as Buckroe Beach, which offers eight acres of beach, a playground, picnic shelters, a walking and bike path, a pet-friendly Bark Park and concert bandstand. In the summer months visitors can swing to the sounds of the Sunday night Groovin' by the Bay concerts, or view an outdoor movie at the Tuesday night POMOCO Family Movie Series. Beach chair, umbrella, kayak and paddlecraft rentals are available and parking is plentiful, making a visit to Buckroe convenient and enjoyable.
So what are you waiting for? Plan your beach-bound summer vacation to Virginia now!
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