Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Free things to do in Virginia Beach

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Town Center in Virginia Beach, Va., has offices, shops, bars, restaurants, and free summer performances that create an urban vibe.
Town Center in Virginia Beach, Va., has offices, shops, bars, restaurants, and free summer performances that create an urban vibe. CRAIG MCCLURE / AP
Town Center in Virginia Beach, Va., has offices, shops, bars, restaurants, and free summer performances that create an urban vibe. Gallery: Free things to do in Virginia Beach
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Virginia Beach is no generic beach town. It's the largest city in Virginia, with plenty of free things to do throughout the year.

The city caters to tourists at the oceanfront resort area, but the cost-conscious traveler can find a variety of activities without opening a wallet at the oceanfront and elsewhere in the city.

The beach

Virginia Beach is home to two distinct sets of beaches: at the oceanfront and at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. The oceanfront beaches are wide, but they become packed with tourists in summer. The bay beaches are narrow and attract locals who prefer calmer waters. Parking can be a challenge at both sets of beaches, but free spaces are available on side streets and in residential areas on the north end of the city away from the oceanfront resort area.

A 34-foot statue of King Neptune, the mythical sea god, stands watch over the oceanfront and is a popular selfie spot.

Cape Henry Memorial Park

You can visit the place where English settlers first landed in Virginia in 1607, at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. Upon landing, they erected a wooden cross and gave thanks for their safe voyage. A replica of the cross stands in a park commemorating the landing. Also on the site is the oldest government-built lighthouse in America, although climbing to the top of it requires an admission fee. Today, Cape Henry is behind the gates of a fortified military installation, but visitors can still get to Fort Story with identification and by undergoing a vehicle search.

Mount Trashmore

Virginia Beach took a former landfill and turned it into one of its most popular parks. Mount Trashmore is just off Interstate 264 and has two man-made mountains, two lakes, two playgrounds, a skate park, and multi-use paths. Mount Trashmore, 60 feet high, is a popular spot to fly kites. Badminton equipment, footballs, Frisbees, horseshoes, playground balls, soccer balls, volleyballs, and volleyball nets can all be checked out there.

Town center

Town Center is Virginia Beach's version of downtown. The city is mostly suburban in nature, but in recent years, it has created a downtown vibe in the heart of the city with a concentrated set of new offices, apartments, shops, bars, and restaurants. In summer, there are frequent outdoor musical performances at no cost. Parking in one of Town Center's garages is free.

Naval Aviation Monument Park

Virginia Beach is a proud Navy town, home to Naval Air Station Oceana, where the Navy's East Coast fighter pilots do their training. F-18s regularly fly overhead on the oceanfront, and just off the city boardwalk is a monument commemorating the history of naval aviation.
Brock Vergakis Associated Press
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