It’s day 2 on our itinerary on our minication to Virginia Beach. I have to say this place has some stunning morning views! I really enjoyed eating breakfast in our hotel right on the water. We were fortunate enough to see a group of dolphins playing in the surf. Such a great way to start the day! After breakfast, we were headed out to the boardwalk area for a stroll to burn off some of our waffles. Does anyone else love hotel waffles as much as I do? The Virginia Beach boardwalk runs from 1st street to 40th street and is about 3 miles long right along side the water. I noticed there were a few places that had surrey bike rentals. If the weather was warmer this would have been a must do! The boardwalk takes you past lots of the oceanfront hotels, the pier, the Old Coast Guard Museum, lots of statues and picture spots, a playground and all the way down to King Neptune. King Neptune is a 34 foot tall statue. The statue honors the Neptune Festival which is held in Virginia Beach every year in September. It’s also a great picture and lunch spot on a nice sunny day.
It was a beautiful but chilly day so we decided to hop in the car and head off to see the lighthouse. Where we live, there are a lot of lighthouses and we love them so this was a must do for us. The Cape Henry Lighthouse is located on an active military base, which I was aware of. Unfortunately, I did not have the proper paper work and we were denied access to the base which meant no lighthouse. Learn this lesson from me and not the hard way, to see the Cape Henry Lighthouse you need a valid drivers license, your vehicle registration and a copy of your car insurance policy. I, for the life of me, could not find a copy of our car insurance policy and couldn’t figure out the login to the online version of it. Even with my quick wit and charm it was a no go for us. So take it from me, be prepared.
After feeling a little sorry for myself and mostly for letting Addie down after I had gotten her all excited, we dusted ourselves off and decided to go to the Old Coast Guard Station Museum which was right next to our hotel. The museum itself is in a preserved 1903 former U.S. Life Saving Station. The station is the last standing one in Virginia Beach, back in the day there were 5 just in Virginia Beach. Inside of the museum, on any given day, you can find retired Coast Guard servicemen swapping stories from their time in the military. There are also guides who show you around the bottom floor of the museum. We had the sweetest gentleman who took a lot of time explaining every piece of equipment in the museum and how it was used back in the day to Addie. He kept asking her questions along the way which kept her super engaged and she even asked some questions back. That always makes me proud, that she is comfortable enough in herself to ask questions and get some knowledge. There were a lot of shipwrecks off of the Virginia Beach coast which meant there had to be a lot of lifesaving going on. Upstairs, we saw treasure that was found many years later that would have been on these boats. I particularity loved the book that was titled, “How To Abandon Ship”. Pretty ironic, I thought. The museum is small and quaint, we toured the downstairs and the upstairs in about an hour and a half with the guided tour. If you didn’t want someone showing you around, you could do the museum in much less time. The cost is also very affordable, Addie and I spent just $6 to enter and had a lot of fun. I would recommend this to anyone who loves history, shipwrecks and the beach.
Lunchtime was quickly approaching and after a quick google search, we settled on a locally-owned, fast-casual restaurant, Taste Unlimited. If you know me at all, you know I love a good trendy lunch spot and this was it. There are actually several locations in Virginia Beach so you wont have to drive far to find one. When we pulled up, I got very excited. The building is just beautiful and looked exactly like my kind of spot. Inside, it’s not only a counter service restaurant but there are lots of shelves stocked with locally-soured foods and products from small family farms. The restaurant had lots to choose from like soups, salads and crafted sandwiches. On the winter menu, there was so much I wanted to try like the ham and pimento cheese with apple chutney sandwich and the winter citrus salad but I ultimately settled on the chicken cobb salad. This beauty had house roasted chicken breast, hardwood smoked bacon, avocado, hard boiled egg, tomato, crumbled blue cheese, croutons on romaine with buttermilk boursin served with a bread end. It was fresh, the bacon was crispy and the dressing was very flavorful. I loved it. My picky eater decided on the kids bento box. The bento box comes with either ham, turkey or chicken salad and she picked ham. Also included in the box was mild cheddar cheese, crackers and fruit. The ham was thick cut which I really appreciated because otherwise it wouldn’t have filled her up. She was able to make “sandwiches” out of the ingredience and she loved it! It’s fun for kids to have finger food for lunch. She also got a glass bottle of orange soda, who doesn’t love that? The restaurant was quite busy but we didn’t have a problem finding seating upstairs. The service was friendly and the food came out fairly quickly. We liked Taste Unlimited so much, my daughter begged to go back for lunch the following day before her gymnastics meet. We went to a different location and the bento box had the same meat choices but the crackers and fruit were different. I had the black bean soup and bread end and I really liked it too but I’d pick the salad again.
After lunch, we were off to the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center. It’s Virginia’s largest aquarium and one of the most visited aquariums in the nation. Inside, there’s more than 300 species of animals and many of them tell a story of Virginia’s aquatic and marine environments. There is also an outdoor nature trail and aviary. The aquarium is housed in two separate buildings connected by the nature trail or you can drive over to the second building but it’s not overwhelmingly huge. I loved the layout and feel of the aquarium, we were able to take our time and enjoy each exhibit. There were several programs and feedings in the afternoon hours, we enjoyed watching the sea turtles being fed and a q&a about the sharks. The staff at the aquarium is just fantastic and are very knowledgeable about the marine life living there. Both programs were very laid back but informative and all of the kids really enjoyed it. Addie particularly loved the sea turtle exhibit. Where we live is a sea turtle preserve and it was so neat to sea full grown adult sea turtles up close especially because we get to help the babies to shore every fall. When we were there, the regular touch tank exhibit was under construction but they had a fabulous stingray touch tank in its place. At first, Addie was a little apprehensive but the stingrays are super friendly and it really seemed like they loved to be pet. She overcame her fear and had a great time getting up close and personal with these beautiful creatures. Over in critter corner, every couple of hours, the staff will bring out a local “critter” that the kids can touch. During our time at the aquarium the animal happened to be a Norwegian Rat. It was fun for Addie to see one up close and she even got to give it a little pet. Other animals at the aquarium were a couple of very large komodo dragons, lots of fish, crabs, birds, tree frogs, river otters and seals. We spent about 4 hours touring the museum and honestly, we could have spent longer. It’s so interactive and a great place to spend an afternoon. The Virginia Aquarium is a must do.
Dinnertime was quickly approaching but we did have time for a quick walk along the beach. I thought the sunrise in Virginia Beach was beautiful but the sunset was equally as gorgeous. I like to talk to locals and ask where they like to eat and I kept hearing about Chick’s Oyster Bar throughout the day. When you arrive at the restaurant, there is complimentary valet. This was such a fun treat, being a budget traveler I never splurge for valet. This place is your typical beachy dive right on the Lynnhaven Inlet that boasts the most stunning views of the sunset over the water. Entire walls are filled with windows so there isn’t a bad seat in the place. The decor has an old timey beach vibe and while famous for their oysters the menu is quite versatile. No appetizers for us this time but Addie ordered their famous chicken wings, no sauce and I ordered the grilled fish tacos. Our food came quickly and was delicious and our server was the sweetest thing. I give this restaurant a 10 out of 10.
Because we were on vacation, I wanted to splurge and treat my girl to some sugary fun. After dinner, we headed to downtown Virginia Beach to the Royal Chocolate. It’s a locally owned sweet shop that has multiple cases of gourmet apples, pretzels, candy and chocolates. In addition to all of their premade goodies, on the menu is fondue. For $20 you can choose from dark chocolate, milk chocolate or white chocolate and then 4 dippers from their menu. We selected milk chocolate with marshmallows, apples, strawberries and pretzels. This was my daughter’s first time having traditional fondue and she loved every minute of it. They set up a cute little table next to the fireplace and the window for us to enjoy and then brought our dessert out to us when it was ready. We enjoyed until we couldn’t eat anymore. The Royal Chocolate was a wonderful place to enjoy our last evening in Virginia Beach.
While our trip to Virginia Beach was short, we packed a lot of fun in to two days. We really enjoyed our time and can’t wait to return in the warmer weather season to enjoy more of what Virginia Beach has to offer. If you’re interested in our Day 1 adventures, you can check it out here.
A special thanks to the Virginia Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau, Taste Unlimited and the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center for hosting us on our second day in Virginia Beach. I received complimentary tickets and/or gift cards in exchange for a review but the opinions are that of my very own. If you are interested in traveling to Virginia Beach check out the official facebook, twitter and instagram pages for planning inspiration. The official hashtag for Virginia Beach travel is #VisitVaBeach.