You may not have noticed, but I switched from a weekly posting schedule to a whenever-I-have-time posting schedule. August is a busy month for us and it’s also when we usually go on vacation. So I decided to try something new with this post. Since my packed schedule is cramping my ability to discover a new obsession, and I knew that four days wandering Virginia Beach would in no way make me an expert, I decided to document the trip instead. That’s right, I’m going to be that blogger. Don’t worry. I will keep it relevant and spare you a photo shoot of my oh-so-adorable family. Ready?
We checked in to our rental house early in the evening. After making a run to the grocery store it was finally time to hit the boards. It turns out that in Virginia Beach they are not boards at all. Rather, their boardwalk is a three mile long concrete promenade abutting the beach. If you grew up going down the shore in New Jersey, Virginia Beach will seem only vaguely similar. T-shirt shops, ice cream parlors, and pizza places line most New Jersey boardwalks. Virginia Beach’s boardwalk is lined with hotels, restaurants, and statues.
We ate dinner at Jumpin’ Shrimp on an outside patio overlooking the boardwalk and ocean. Their food was a moderately priced mix of southern American and seafood. The restaurant was clean and the waitstaff friendly. We took a walk after dinner, then headed back to the house to shower and relax.
I woke up early and went for a run on the northern half of the boardwalk. (The house that we rented was roughly two blocks from the center of the boardwalk.) It was a painless three point four miles thanks to an eclectic mix of people and sights. Couples strolled, runners ran, military planes flew overhead, the homeless awoke from their benches, crews tended to the landscaping. Meanwhile, I stopped acquainted myself with some of the statues as I ran.
Later in the morning we hit the beach. The clusters of trash cans dotting the beach gave me false hope about its level of cleanliness. Cigarette butts, a rogue sock, and a mystery piece of green plastic are a few of the discarded objects that we came across. Still, our neighbors were polite and friendly, the lifeguards seemed vigilant and it was a nice experience overall.
We spent the afternoon dodging rain showers on Atlantic Avenue. Atlantic is one block inland and runs parallel to the boardwalk. This is where Virginia Beach keeps their kitschy shore stores that us northerners would expect to see on the boardwalk. Ice cream parlors, t-shirt shops, and pizzerias abounded.
We ducked into the Log Cabin Pancake House for lunch. The food was tasty, well-portioned, and reasonably priced. There was a breakfast buffet that we would have been able to partake in if we had gotten there a little earlier.
After lunch we stopped by the Nightmare Mansion, a walk-through haunted house. It was worth a few screams if not the $11 fee. We headed back to the house when the rain got too heavy. We spent the evening relaxing, eating pizza and playing Taboo.
I ran the southern half of the boardwalk and then hit the beach with my son for about an hour. By the time we got back to the house and cleaned up, it was time for lunch so we headed to Abbey Road. Abbey Road is a Beatles-themed restaurant with seafood and American cuisine. The food was good and restaurant had a cozy, pub-like atmosphere.
We spent the afternoon touring the Military Aviation Museum. Though still in Virginia Beach, it is about thirteen miles from the boardwalk area, so you will need a car to get there. The museum had WWI and WWII era planes from the U.S. Army and Navy as well as the German military. They are an amazing site. The museum is worth a walk-through even if you aren’t a military enthusiast. The tour guides were friendly and knowledgeable.
After recuperating at the house for a while (the airplane hangers were a little warm and stuffy), we hit the boardwalk again. We found a Fitness Park on the beach that looked like a cross between a prison exercise yard and an American Ninja Warrior obstacle course. The kids enjoyed it. Hell, I was dying to join them, but my upper body strength is lacking so I took pictures from the boardwalk instead. We had a late dinner at King of the Sea before calling it a night.
Check-out day came fast. I almost wished that we had a few more days to explore Virginia Beach. We packed the car and headed to Norfolk for one last adventure.
In Norfolk we boarded the Victory Rover for a two hour river cruise down the Elizabeth River. We got to take in the Norfolk Naval Shipyard’s massive collection of ships. My favorites were the USS George H.W. Bush and the now-retired USS Wisconsin. On a side note, I tend to get seasick in anything larger than a canoe but was fine on the Victory Rover. They sell Dramamine in their gift/snack shop in case you are nervous.
Before heading home we had lunch in what turned out to be my favorite restaurant of the trip. Hell’s Kitchen is a short walk from the river front on Granby Street. Their menu is a mix of cuisines, but it’s all delicious.
It’s important not to forget that Virginia Beach is a shore city, not a shore town. There isn’t much about it that is quaint, but it’s plenty quirky. I had as many wtf moments here as I do walking around my hometown of Philadelphia. Oddly enough, this is probably why I liked it. It’s eclectic and busy. Check it out for yourself. It will be an interesting trip.