Virginia Beach is famous for its beautiful coastline, but the city has many more natural gifts for visitors to explore. From a vibrant farmers market selling one-of-a-kind local goods and food, an excellent art museum (with an exhibit focusing on the American South), and delicious farm-to-table restaurants, here are three ways to take advantage of the city’s home-grown gifts.
Exploration: The Old Beach Farmers Market
Operating on most Saturday mornings during spring and summer (peep the schedule, here), the Old Beach Farmers Market is located in the parking lot of Croc’s 19th Street Bistro in the ViBe Creative District. Though vendors vary slightly by week, visitors can snap up seasonal fruits and vegetables, freshly-caught seafood, coffee, eggs, handmade leather goods, soaps, jams, and more from the region’s family farms, chefs, and businesses. In fact, some of the city’s most beloved spots got their start at this farmer’s market: For example, in 2013,Three Ships Coffee (helmed by husband-and-wife team Brad and Amy Ewing) debuted their cold brew and pour-over coffee at the market; today, they have a brick-and-mortar shop across the street, where they roast and brew their own single origin blends.
Education: Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA)
The Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) is the perfect stop for a cloudy day activity, plus an essential destination for art lovers. In April, the museum turns its attention to its own home state (and greater region) with “Southern Routes,” a contemporary photography exhibition exploring the people, history, land, and culture of the American south. The photographers featured—including Tamara Reynolds, Eliot Dudik, and Kate Medley—present their own unique, evocative takes on the area. The exhibit runs until August 13; to see what else is on view this summer, check out the museum’s schedule.
Located in the ViBe Creative District (and next door to Commune), Esoteric offers a European-inspired take on farm-to-table cuisine. Helmed by husband-and-wife-team Tim (executive chef) and Kristina Chastain, this dinner spot has a sleek yet warm vibe, with rustic-chic wood-topped tables and stools made of entirely reclaimed materials by the city’s own Benevolent Design Co. (There is also a charming outdoor space out back, if the weather beckons.) The fare itself is sophisticated yet unpretentious, and features ingredients from Esoteric’s own on-site garden, which it shares with Commune. The scrumptious starters (see: the charred octopus in a chili-chocolate rub with orange ginger coulis, miso aioli, and a tamari sorghum reduction) are highlights, as is the selection of 30 craft beers and ciders on tap.