Virginia Beach, Virginia is a wonderful place to spend time with the family. Locals know they don’t even need to leave the area for a fun and inexpensive vacation. It’s not all about romping in the surf. Sure, there’s that but you can also can ride horses in Pungo, stroll the boardwalk at the oceanfront, touch rays at the aquarium or do a myriad of other things in and around the area.
Located on the southeastern coast of Virginia, Virginia Beach has a lot to offer kids (and adults) of all ages. We’ve been back to many of our favorite spots this summer, exploring and taking photos. And we’re always finding a new beach, park or event, so we’ve put together a list of our favorites to help visitors to our hometown.
Things to do in Virginia Beach with Kids:
Confused about how to start your visit to Virginia Beach? You can’t go wrong with a day at the beach. Interestingly, the city has the longest pleasure beach in the world and is even listed in the Guinness Book of Records. The city of Virginia Beach is home to countless sandy spots where you can relax and take a dip in the Atlantic Ocean or the Chesapeake Bay.
You can visit the bustling Virginia Beach Oceanfront for a day of building sandcastles and swimming. Browse the shops, fish from the pier at 15th Street or gather for festivities around Neptune Park. The 31st Street playground is next to King Neptune’s Statue, so let the kids play in the sand on a playground for free fun!
Kids can also visit JT’s Grommet Island Beach Park and Playground between 1st and 2nd street to play at the large playground near the sand. This is also a great spot to watch surfers try to ride the waves.
The boardwalk offers FREE events on the weekends such as car shows, concerts and chalk drawings. Make sure to checkout Beach Street USA for a list of all the events. Be advised that you will likely need to pay for parking.
Get away from the crowds by visiting Sandbridge Beach. While at Sandbridge, visit Little Island Park to swim and play volleyball, basketball, tennis or romp at the playground.
The Chesapeake Bay & Chicks Beach on Shore Drive is a favorite of my family. These areas will get you away from the busy Oceanfront and allow you to relax with the locals for a day in the sun. Bay beaches are generally less turbulent than the Oceanfront and a little better suited for the small fries.In the area, the Brock Environmental Center is one of the most environmentally smart buildings in the world. We enjoy walking around the sandy public park learning about the animals that make their home in and along the Chesapeake Bay.
Looking for more fun in the sand? Click to read our picks for the best beaches in Virginia.
So pack your lunch, sunscreen and plenty of water for fun-in-the-sun!
Keep the kids outdoors with a visit to First Landing State Park where they can explore, hike or bike ride along trails or lay around the sandy Chesapeake Bay beach. There is a $5-$9 per vehicle fee when entering the park. You can also camp here for an inexpensive weekend in the woods and by the beach. You’ll get the best of both worlds here!
Mount Trashmore Park is another free place to visit. Find playground areas, picnic shelters, volleyball courts, outdoor fitness stations, horseshoe pits plus an extensive street course Skate Park.
Take a trip to Red Wing Park to visit the 3 playgrounds, gardens and hiking trails. Head to the park office with a drivers license to check out badminton equipment, basketballs, baseball bats, corn hole boards and bags, frisbees, horseshoes and more!
If you’re looking for a bit of history, visit the Cape Henry Lighthouse. It is one of the first federally funded lighthouses and one of the oldest surviving lighthouses in the United States!
Please note that the lighthouse is on the Fort Story military base, so you will need identification, proof of car insurance and car registration to enter. Also, you must be 42″ tall and pay a fee if you plan to climb to the top.
The Virginia Aquarium is a great place for kids of all ages to visit. You will see harbor seals, rays, otters and many more animals as you visit the 2 buildings connected by a nature trail. My kids love to run the nature trail that connects the Bay & Ocean Pavilion and the Marsh Pavilion. They look out over Owl Creek, climb the tower and eat a snack. Coupons can often be found in the Norfolk/Virginia Beach Entertainment Book.
The Adventure Park at the Virginia Aquarium is the perfect spot for adventurous kids and adults. K recently spent the day here with my brother and they had an absolute blast. Courses are available for kids ages 5 – adults with 13 different color-coded aerial trails ranging from beginner to expert. It’s a bit pricey but kids will love being about to “zip” through the trees and test their skills navigating bridges and platforms.
For more history, the Adam Thoroughgood House will take you back in time with the story of Adam Thorowgood, one of Virginia’s first colonists. Visitors can tour and learn about the 1719 home that Argall and Susannah Thorowgood built. Currently, a new education center is in the final stages of construction on the property.
Young kids will love the Dinosaurs at the Aviation Museum in Pungo. Not only will you see metal dinosaurs a-plenty around the entrance, but visit the Aviation Museum to look at WWII Army and Navy planes. There isn’t a charge for Jurassic Park, but a fee is charged to enter the aviation museum.
Horse lovers can also spend time at the Easy Does It Ranch in Pungo. This equine rescue and rehab ranch offers lessons and trail rides. Reservations are required.
A trip to the Virginia Center of Contemporary Arts (MOCA) is also an idea for an education day. Their regularly changing exhibitions feature painting, sculpture, and photography, just to name a few. The art lab designed for kids changes with each new exhibit. The price is also reasonable at just $7.70 for adults and $5.50 for kids.
Another attraction that kid won’t want to miss is Ocean Breeze Waterpark. Spend the day at the waterpark and enjoy water rides, a wave pool, kiddie lagoon and more. Outside food isn’t allowed in the park, so you could pack your lunch and eat at the picnic area located near the parking lot.
Motor World is next to Ocean Breeze if you’re in the mood for a bit of racing fun. K did this for one of his birthday’s and had a blast!
Virginia Beach is a city in coastal Virginia that is just waiting to be explored. The city is conveniently located at the southern end of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, which is the longest bridge-tunnel complex in the world. If you’re coming from the Northern states, you’ll likely pass right by, so include a trip to Virginia Beach on your itinerary. Take a swim, build a sandcastle, zip through the treetops or climb a lighthouse. You can do it all in Virginia Beach!
Natalie Wirth says
This article captures many of the fun things I grew up doing as a kid that I now share with my kids. Thank you for some new ideas, too. Great reading. 😊
Kelsey Nagel says
So many cool icons. I’d love to check this out someday and get some great photographs. Looks like Virginia Beach is a blast!
What a great guide to Virginia Beach! We have never been, but we’re always looking for new places to visit, that we can drive to along the east coast. Beautiful pictures with the GS8! #client