The Long Weekend: Offbeat Virginia Beach Attractions
Sunday, May 31, 2009
The dragons and Egyptian cobra aren't receiving visitors yet, but the cownose rays and sea turtles are pulling in the crowds at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center in Virginia Beach.
The multimillion-dollar "Restless Planet Exhibit," which opens this summer, is one of the new attractions visitors will find at the resort area this beach season.
The timing couldn't be better, with a sluggish economy that travel pros predict will keep many area residents in the region for this year's vacation fun.
Consider these 10 new or somewhat offbeat locals' favorites:
-- Kayak fishing. Sure, you can kayak or you can fish, but this craze combines both, and Virginia Beach is a center for it. There are plenty of places to discover more about it, including Wild River Outfitters (3636 Virginia Beach Blvd., 757-431-8566, http:/
-- There's something about Mary's. You're probably not going to find Mary's Restaurant (616 Virginia Beach Blvd. at 17th Street, 757-428-1355, http:/
-- Oceanfront yoga. For the first time, you can get your workout during an instructor-led yoga session by the water. Oceanfront Fitness & Yoga (3316 Atlantic Ave., 757-233-8000, http:/
-- Dine like in Paris Hilton. Of course, there's mile upon mile of restaurants in Virginia Beach, but Salacia at the Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront (3001 Atlantic Ave., 757-213-3473, http:/
-- Stylish pampering. It might seem silly to go to the ocean and then drive a few miles away to a spa, but the Flowering Almond Spa at the Founders Inn (5641 Indian River Rd., 757-424-5511, http:/
-- Soar like an eagle. When I showed trepidation about parasailing -- basically being pulled behind a boat while sitting in a jazzed-up version of a car seat attached to the sail -- the guide assured me that his 85-year-old grandmother had parasailed and loved it. Sure enough, the ride up to 1,000 feet in the air is smooth, you have a great view and people afraid of heights just simply won't be (at least I wasn't). Worried? Guides keep watch so parasailors can signal them to come down as soon as they want. There are plenty of parasail companies to choose from. I used Rudee Inlet Parasail (200 Winston Salem Ave., 757-422-9600, http:/
-- Raven-ous. Don't look for this little restaurant in glitzy guidebooks. The Raven (1200 Atlantic Ave., 757-425-1200, http:/
-- Fish stories. You may have to wait a bit to see the new $25 million "Restless Planet" exhibition that will feature 12,000 square feet of new habitats and exhibits when it opens this summer at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Center (717 General Booth Blvd., 757-385-3474, http:/
-- Trash talk. Although Mount Trashmore Park (310 Edwin Dr., 757-473-5237) isn't new, it has taken folks a while to discover it. The park was built over an old landfill, its main "mountain" measuring 60 feet high and more than 800 feet long. You often see folks flying kites on the mound, but there's also a "Water Wise" demonstration garden, volleyball areas, playgrounds, a lake for fishing and a skate park inside a seven-foot-deep bowl with a 13 1/2 -foot-tall vertical ramp.
-- History tour. No need to drive to Williamsburg for a first-rate history lesson. Guides on the Summer History Tours tell you about Native Americans and early colonists at the Historic Villages at Cape Henry and the First Landing Cross. The tours also take you past two lighthouses and two historic homes (which vary depending on the tour). The motorbus outings are available from 10 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. June 17 until Sept. 3. The cost is $10 for adults and $7 for students. For details, call the Francis Land House at 757-385-5100.