As temperatures climb heading into spring, chances are, you’ll be hankering to get outdoors—and Virginia Beach is the perfect place to do so. The vibrant coastal city is home to multiple state parks, plus dozens of miles of pristine coastline. Here, four of its best al-fresco excursions.
Hike in First Landing State Park
What better way is there to bond with family or friends than on a scenic hike? Located about 15 minutes from Resort Beach and nestled along Chesapeake Bay, First Landing State Park (which was the site of the English settlers’ first landing in 1607) spans 2,888 acres and boasts more than 19 miles of trails ideal for a picnic or stroll. Visitors can also opt to stay overnight in one of the park’s 20 rustic-chic cabins: each has two bedrooms, heat, a fireplace, a screened-in porch, and an outdoor grill.
Explore Back Bay Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park
Located just south of Sandbridge Beach (and about 30 minutes south of the Resort Beach), the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge boasts over 9,000 acres of beach, dunes, woodlands, fields, and freshwater marshes. The best way to explore the scenery? Surf & Adventure Co. offers guided kayak excursions and standup paddle board (SUP) tours through the Refuge’s small wooded channels (the former also ventures into open water), where you can try your hand at spotting local birds and other creatures. The outfitter also offers bike tours and retreats in the nearby False Cape State Park: Nestled between Back Bay and the Atlantic Ocean (and only publicly accessible by foot, bike, boat, or tram through the Refuge), False Cape boasts more than six miles of pristine Atlantic Ocean beach, plus 15 miles of trails (including the Barbour Hill self-guided interpretive trail) that all are available for hiking and biking. So grab your helmets and get out there!
Scout Dolphins, and More on the Atlantic
On the Virginia Aquarium’s Dolphin Discoveries Sea Adventures Boat Trips, get up close and personal with the city’s diverse array of maritime animals. On this 2.5-hour excursion, commonly observed species include bottlenose dolphins, harbor porpoises, and harbor seals, plus a variety of seabirds and waterfowl (the winter tours focus on migrating humpback whales, fin whales and minke whales). The trip is educational, too: on each outing, Aquarium staff (or volunteers trained by Aquarium experts) share the Aquarium’s own research and conservation efforts, plus collect data related to dolphin. Rudee Tours also offers dolphin-watching boat tours, and a variety of local outfitters offer excursions where you can kayak with dolphins.
New York-based journalist Avery Stone is exploring Virginia Beach all season for Coastal Living. Follow her adventures here, and catch up on her previous discoveries, below!