Virginia Beach

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The wildlife reserves and state parks in and around Virginia Beach are gorgeous settings for water sports and outdoor activities like kayaking, deep sea fishing, surfing, swimming, animal observation, hiking, cycling, and camping. Take a break from the beach crowds and enjoy the natural charms of these bays, marshlands, forests, and wide open spaces.

Virginia Beach Outdoor Activities

Go Fishing on False Cape

Freshwater and saltwater fishers will delight in the untainted waters off False Cape, a gorgeous, mile-wide barrier straddling Back Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Since no cars are allowed here, the waters are unpolluted and the nine miles of hiking and bicycle trails are quiet and welcoming. Get here by a quick tram ride (a trip kids love) from Back Bay, the adjacent wildlife refuge, and bring your own equipment.

Visitor’s Center, 4001 Sandpiper Rd., VA, 757-426-7128, www.dcr.virginia.gov/state_parks/fal.shtml
Tags: family | budget | great value | outdoor activity

Hike the Seashore to Cypress Birding Trail

Spring and fall are ideal for hiking the Seashore to Cypress birding trail, a three-day course that stops at various wildlife refuges and parks, including False Cape and Back Bay. Warblers, thrushes, and waterfowl abound as visitors trek across sand dunes and through forested trails. Well-appointed campgrounds along the way ensure a comfortable journey.

Starting point: Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, VA, www.vbfun.com/visitors/downloads/seashore-cypressMap.pdf
Tags: family | hiking | budget | wildlife | outdoor activity

Kayak around Back Bay

Back Bay Refuge consists of beaches, woodlands, and marshlands occupying 9,000 acres. The tour operator and outfitter Back Bay Getaways leads small groups around the bay on kayak tours lasting from one to three hours: sunrise, sunset, half day, and dinner tours are all available. The company also rents out single and tandem kayaks and runs jet ski tours and surf lessons.

Back Bay Getaways, 3713 S. Sandpiper Rd., VA, 757-721-4484, www.backbaygetaways.com
Tags: family | moderate | outdoor activity

Learn to Surf

Tired of watching from the shore? Ocean Rentals rents boards and offers lessons to water adventurers of all ages and ability levels. Two-hour classes held on nearby Sandbridge Beach include instruction on water and weather safety, surf etiquette, and understanding tides and rip currents. The outfitter also runs kayak tours.

Ocean Rentals, 577 Sandbridge Rd., VA, 757-721-6210, www.oceanrentalsltd.com
Tags: family | moderate | smart splurge | outdoor activity

Parasail over Rudee Inlet

Sail high above the ocean (at sunrise or sunset for optimal views) with Rudee Inlet Parasail. Single, tandem, and triple options are available; free parking is available at the Virginia Beach Fishing Center on the southern end of the coast. You’ll spot the operator’s smiley-face parachutes while sunbathing or strolling on the boardwalk. It’s wise to reserve ahead on weekends in summer, but it’s also possible to show up at the office in the morning and arranging a trip for later in the day.

Rudee Inlet Parasail, 200 Winston Salem Ave., VA, 757-422-9600, www.rudeeinletparasail.com
Tags: family | expensive | smart splurge | water sports | outdoors | outdoor activity

Sleep Under the Stars at First Landing State Park

The name “First Landing” refers to the English colonials who landed here in 1607 before going on to settle Jamestown. Today, the state government runs this park on the edge of Chesapeake Bay, and maintains campsites and well-equipped cabins that guests can reserve. Visitors roast marshmallows at night and boat, canoe, or hike 19 miles of trails during the day.

2500 Shore Dr., VA, 800-933-7275, www.dcr.virginia.gov/state_parks/fir.shtml
Tags: family | hiking | budget | outdoors | camping | outdoor activity

Watch Dolphins from the Boat Deck

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center organizes dolphin-watching excursions led by a guide who teaches guests about the feeding and mating habits of these fascinating mammals. The boat rides, which are offered from April through October, are appropriate for all ages (just make sure to bring Dramamine if you suffer from seasickness). Trips depart from the Virginia Beach Fishing Center – call ahead to reserve a place.

200 Winston Salem Ave., VA, 757-385-3474, www.virginiaaquarium.com
Tags: family | outdoor activity

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