It doesn’t have to be hot and sunny to have some fun at Virginia Beach. Nature has more in store for you!
Sure, sand and snow don’t usually mix, but visiting the beach in the winter has more to offer than you think. Plan now, with the help of the Virginia Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau (visitvirginiabeach.com), and get ready to explore what nature has in store during the colder months at Virginia Beach. It’s a family vacation everyone should try!
What’s There to Do?
We all love taking a stroll along the beach during the summer, but have you ever tried to do it in the winter? You should — it’s totally different. Visiting Virginia Beach in winter was the first time I’ve ever seen snow on the beach. The kids were caught off-guard by it, too. But, we still had fun running around and collecting shells.
Get out on the water with a nature tour. At the Virginia Beach Fishing Center (757-491-8000; virginiafishing.com), you can hop on a Virginia Aquarium Winter Wildlife Boat Trip and search for the majestic humpback and fin whales. The tour lasts two hours, but the staff keeps everyone happy and gives lots of information about whales and the marine life that you should look out for. Keep in mind, there’s no guarantee you’ll see a whale. We were out on the water for some time, enduring the cold wind rushing at our faces and began heading back to the docks without seeing a thing! Yeah, we were bummed — as was everyone on the boat. Then, lo and behold! Just a few yards off shore was a humpback whale feeding! Everyone rushed to get a chance to snap that perfect photo. The feeling of seeing such a magnificent animal for the first time was truly amazing and exciting for everyone. The captain actually held the tour over a little longer because we had just seen our first whale. Don’t worry, if you get too cold, take a break from the wind and gather inside the warm seating area where you can purchase some snacks and hot chocolate. There are windows all around, too, so you can still see what’s going on outside.
If you want to enjoy some indoor family fun, visit the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center (757-385-7777; virginiaaquarium.com). View a life-sized model of a humpback whale hanging from the ceiling. There’s a lot to explore from exhibits to hands-on interaction. The kaleidoscope-style hallway is cool — kids love the effect. If you go outside, follow the path to yet another building associated with the center. Inside, you’ll find even more little critters to view and enjoy. Plus, the fresh air is wonderful and you’re walking beside a great scenic view, too.
Once you’ve gotten back to your room and settled down, it won’t be long until the kids are ready to get out and do more. So, head down the boardwalk (you might want to drive down) to Grommet Island Beach Park and Playground for Every”Body” (grommetisland.org) to play outside on a wonderfully crafted playground. It’s accessible to all children including those in wheelchairs! There’s lots to climb on and play with … and it’s right on the beach.
Get a Bite to Eat
We were told the locals love this unique spot for dining, Rockafeller’s Restaurant (757-422-5654; rockafellers.com), and they’re right! The food is spectacular, and the view from the restaurant is wonderful. It’s a casual setting with comfort and charm. The seafood is caught locally, of course, and only the best is served.
There’s also a great place that’s a little more fancy … but the food is so good … Catch 31 (757-213-3474; catch31.com). The place looks absolutely amazing and the wait staff ensures you that you’re kids are as much welcome there as you are. The seafood bar was an impressive setup, but we opted to order from the menu. Scrumptious! You should at least give it a try. When you’re done eating, step outside and see the GIGANTIC King Neptune sculpture! It’s massive and detailed to the max.
Where to Stay
When you come to the beach, you’ll want to swim, just not in the ocean! Be sure to check into a hotel like Comfort Inn & Suites Oceanfront (757-425-8200; comfortinn.com/hotel-virginia_beach-virginia-VA440). It includes an indoor pool. Just be warned, the hallways are a bit cool during the winter months, so be sure to wear more than a swim suit and towel down if you plan to take a dip. There’s also a hot tub to enjoy. In the mornings, enjoy a complimentary breakfast and gaze out over the ocean. It’s a wonderful way to start the day. We loved the make-your-own waffle station, too. Yummy! And what’s more, every room has an ocean view.
So, if you’re looking for a family vacation that’s out of the ordinary, plan for a winter beach trip to Virginia Beach. It’s not so crowded and there’s plenty of things to see and do.