Virginia Beach is the largest city in Virginia and the world’s longest pleasure beach, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Blessed with 35 miles of sparkling coastline, the city is traditionally recognized as a summertime hotspot, but its temperate climate makes it an alluring playground for year-round family fun. From sandy shores to colorful urban districts and diverse culinary experiences, there’s no shortage of incredible activities to enjoy. Here are the best things for families to do in Virginia Beach.

Attractions in Virginia Beach

Oceanfront Fun

Virginia Beach Boardwalk
Photo Credit: Sam Dean, @sdeanphotos

While the beach is undoubtedly the city’s star attraction, strolling along the iconic Virginia Beach Boardwalk is a must for any beachgoer. Spanning three miles from 2nd Street to 40th Street, this bustling boardwalk has an array of exciting activities and attractions, from delectable seafood restaurants to JT’s Grommet Island Park, an accessible playground overlooking the beach.

The most exciting way to explore the boardwalk is to cruise down its dedicated bike lanes. You can rent bicycles from companies like Cherie's Bicycle & Blade Rentals, including the ever-popular tandem bikes. Along the way, stop for a photo op at the imposing 34-foot-tall King Neptune statue at Neptune's Park, the heart of the boardwalk.

Two boys sit on surfboards in the ocean
Photo Credit: Mark Atkinson, @markedwardatkinson

For a deeper connection to the beach's history, visit the Virginia Beach Surf & Rescue Museum, which recounts the city's origins as a hub for lifesaving and East Coast surfing. Adventurous families can even take surf lessons with companies like VB Surf Sessions or the Seth Broudy School of Surf.

Art, Museums, Parks, & Historic Attractions

Virginia Aquarium in Virginia Beach

Beyond the beach, families can spend a day at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, admiring aquatic animals and learning about marine conservation. The adjacent Adventure Park at Virginia Beach provides an adrenaline-pumping aerial obstacle course with more than 250 platforms, 17 treetop trails, and 33 ziplines.

Go for a hike at Virginia Beach’s tallest peak, Mount Trashmore Park. Once a landfill, this 165-acre park now boasts two man-made mountains, tranquil lakes, and a skate park. The park also houses the Kid’s Cove playground, which contains three distinct play areas for slides, swings, and climbing.

Mural in Vibe District

The ViBe Creative District is the place to experience the city’s thriving arts scene. This trendy district, known for its colorful murals, local boutiques, and farm-to-table dining, hosts the annual ViBe Mural Festival, where artists transform the streets into a dynamic canvas. The district is also home to the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, which offers free admission.

First Landing State Park

Virginia Beach has a wealth of historical attractions to explore, such as First Landing State Park, where the first English colonists arrived in 1607. This state park not only holds a significant place in American history but also has a network of trails where families can go for a scenic hike or bike ride. Just across Shore Drive stands the Cape Henry Lighthouse, a marvel of engineering during its time and the first project commissioned by the new United States government in 1792. Climb to the top of this magnificent structure for panoramic views of the coastline. Note: Cape Henry Lighthouse is located within the Fort Story military base, so visitors 16 years and older are required to present a valid I.D. card for entry. Check full rules and regulations before visiting.

Family-Friendly Restaurants in Virginia Beach

Waterman’s Surfside Grill

Given its seaside location, it’s no surprise that seafood dominates Virginia Beach’s culinary scene. One of the city’s most beloved seafood spots is Waterman's Surfside Grille, famous for the she-crab soup and Orange Crush cocktails, including a special kid-friendly version of the cocktail crafted with orange juice and Sprite. Chix on the Beach and Rockafeller's are other top spots that serve sustainable seafood and irresistible dishes like blackened tuna bites, shrimp hushpuppies, and char-crust mahi.

Commune Restaurant

Head to May's Parlor or The Rustic Spoon for a delightful breakfast. For lunch, dine at Shorebreak, a casual spot for pizza, burgers, and milkshakes; Taste Unlimited, which serves delicious soups, salads, and sandwiches; or Tulu Seaside Bar & Grill, a breezy bistro with an all-American menu. For those looking for a farm-to-table experience, Commune is the city’s first farmer-owned restaurant, presenting a modern take on classic dishes using the freshest local ingredients.

Families can indulge their sweet tooth at Sugar Plum Bakery, Twisted Sisters Cupcakes, and Flour Child Bakery. There are also several delicious ice cream shops, including Lolly’s Creamery, The Sweet Spot, and Gerald's Ice Cream, which churns out artisanal flavors like guava and blueberry crunch.

Where to Stay in Virginia Beach

Take your pick from the abundance of family-friendly hotel options along the Virginia Beach Oceanfront, starting with the Hilton Vacation Club Oceanaire. This 189-room hotel offers an array of spacious rooms ranging from cozy studios to luxurious three-bedroom suites. Families can cool off in one of the four pools (two indoors and two outdoors) entertain themselves in the game room, and take advantage of convenient on-site laundry.

Marriott Virginia Beach Oceanfront & Embassy Suites

Experience beachfront luxury at the Marriott Virginia Beach Oceanfront or the Embassy Suites by Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront Resort, two of the three hotels that are part of the expansive Cavalier Resort property. These upscale hotels provide generously sized rooms, delectable dining options, and dedicated beach space with comfortable sun loungers.

One of the most enticing features of the Hyatt House Virginia Beach Oceanfront is its collection of fully oceanfront studios and one-bedroom kitchen suites, perfect for families seeking to prepare their meals. At the Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront, families will love lounging around at the hotel’s indoor and outdoor pools, including a stunning rooftop infinity pool overlooking the ocean.

For a quirky and playful stay, book a room at the Moxy Virginia Beach Oceanfront, where you can swim in the outdoor pool, battle it out in a round of shuffleboard or foosball, relax on the outdoor terrace, or skip the stairs and opt for the two-story slide to the lobby.

Sandbridge
Photo Credit: Sam Dean, @sdeanphotos

For a true home-away-from-home experience, families can escape the hustle and bustle of the tourist scene and retreat to Sandbridge, just 15 miles south of Virginia Beach. With companies like Sandbridge Blue and Siebert Realty, families can rent a vacation house and bask in the comfort of full kitchens, multiple bedrooms, spacious living areas, and private pools in a tranquil and secluded community.