December 22nd, 2014 by Sherry Friel
Editor’s note; Oh, yes! It’s beginning to feel a lot like ________! You fill in the blank; I pick”brrrrr!” Whatever your choice, there’s no doubt it’s the perfect time to bundle up and go out to enjoy some very unique holiday experiences at the Virginia Beach oceanfront.
Today is the first day of winter break so we thought we’d combine two awesome posts by local mom and blogger Sherry Friel as she gives a first hand account of two of these exciting Oceanfront adventures, along with some of her awesome photos.
Readers, your mission, if you should choose to accept it (and why wouldn’t you??!!):
Read on and then go have some fun – and DON’T forget to share your pics with us on Facebook!!
Perfect Family Night Out! Visit Holiday Lights at the Beach for an Extra Special Treat!
So there I was, half my body hanging out of my husband’s moon roof, taking in the McDonald’s Holiday Lights at the Beach as we inched along the Virginia Beach Boardwalk in our car. I’m sure it was a sight to behold-me excitedly focusing my camera and capturing each of the fabulous displays, with my patient husband at the wheel pausing just long enough for me to photograph my favorites.
Driving through this popular light show has become an annual holiday tradition for my family, and we’ve found it really gets us excited about the seasonal events ahead. For example, we were able to preview the new Oceanfront Ice Park at Rudee Loop (3rd & Atlantic) in anticipation of our upcoming family ice-skating adventure. While I had initially planned to ice skate and view the boardwalk lights in the same evening, I realized we might need more time for ice skating so we are planning that for another day. (See later in this post for more on this!)
The is the only time we find these creatures entertaining!
Recently, we started the light show at 5:30 p.m. and completed it just in time for dinner at one of our favorite restaurants. Presented by Liberty Tax, the drive-through light show continues nightly through Jan. 3. Here are a few important things to remember before hitting the road:
5:30 to 10 p.m. Sun.-Thurs. and 5:30-11 p.m. Fri-Sat.
What to bring
Admission is cash only. Cost is $15 per car Monday-Sunday, $25 for Limousines, $45 for motor coaches, and $25 for mini buses. On Military Mondays presented by Liberty Tax Service, admission is $7 with military identification. Military Mondays kick off Dec. 1.
Don’t forget to set your radio dial to 103.5 for a musical program designed for your listening pleasure as you move through the displays. While I didn’t hear the music with my head sticking out of the moon roof, my husband and son have informed me that it is wonderful. They were humming holiday tunes for hours after we exited the light exhibits.
What you’ll see
This show truly has something to please every family member. My son’s favorite display was the “Surfing Santa,” while my husband and I loved the elaborate depiction of the “12 Days of Christmas.” I don’t want to spoil any surprises, so just be prepared for a fantastic light show at the water’s edge featuring everything from dinosaurs to a special sighting of Santa Claus and his reindeer! Some of the displays are between 20 and 30-feet high, and one of the show’s gems is a 40-feet-tall Christmas tree on the beach.
Rules of the Boardwalk
I’m not so sure how appropriate it was for me to stick my head out of the moon roof to get photographs, but my questionable behavior did enable me to get some nice ones! It was cold though, and I wouldn’t advise it. My hands, face, and ears took an hour or more to completely thaw out. Visitors to the boardwalk are asked to definitely stay in their cars and keep moving…no stopping. This explains why my husband wouldn’t pause for too long for me to get pictures. He was following the rules! It’s also a good idea to turn off your headlights during the show, but please remember to turn them on before entering the roadway. Also watch the space between you and the car in front of you. Just take your time and enjoy the ride.
A few tips to make it extra nice
In hindsight, I wish we had packed a few goodies to enjoy while driving though the show. Some hot cocoa or apple cider in our thermos bottles would have been a wonderful warm treat to enjoy along the way.
Holiday Lights at the Beach is a fantastic way to entertain family and visiting guests during the holiday season. It’s been named in the Southeast Tourism Society’s Top 20 November Events and the American Bus Association’s “Top 100 Events in North America for 2011.” Each year, the display gets larger and changes so it’s never the same show twice. Just one more way to live the life in beautiful Virginia Beach!
Unique Virginia Beach Ice Park = Fun for the Whole Family!
- Sarah & Nathaniel, friends since preschool, enjoying the ice
Looking for one of the happiest destinations for families in Virginia Beach? Then your holiday plans absolutely must include a visit to the Oceanfront Ice Park at Rudee Loop.
My husband and I headed out there Saturday with our 11-year-old son, Nathaniel. We did not know what to expect, as when we visited McDonald’s Holiday Lights at the Beach last week the ice park had not opened yet.
- Beth Kulas with daughters Sara and Sophia Schreiber enjoying a day at the Ice Park
So we made a plan to meet my friend Beth and her two daughters Sarah and Sophia for an absolutely fun family outing. Having grown up in Massachusetts, Beth is no stranger to ice skating and took to it immediately. My surfer son, on the other hand, found it difficult to stay balanced at first. He took many spills in the beginning, but within an hour he was gliding past me as if he had been skating his whole life. I think I can safely say he now has added a new, fun activity to his growing list of outdoor sports. And in Virginia Beach!
- Sarah & Nathaniel quickly got the hang of it!
I still can’t believe I am sitting here writing about our ice skating adventure with my windows open and 72-degree temperatures outside. Where else in the world can you enjoy the beach by day along with outdoor ice skating at night? It’s definitely a unique corner of the city tailored to families and built for pure fun. Here are just a few things I learned about this special park during our first trip (of course we will be heading back again and again):
Admission is $12 per person, and $45 for families of five. Time at the park is unlimited, so if you want to skate all day and into the evening, you can! Skate rental is included in the admission price.
Fun for non-skaters
Not everyone feels comfortable on the ice, but spectators are certainly not disappointed. As an observer, I got to enjoy a warm fire, hot cocoa, and take as many fun photos as I wanted. Photographers will appreciate some of the best morning light conditions ever. I was able to get crisp action shots of the kids-something that is often difficult in direct sunlight. I believe the magic was a combination of sunlight and blue skies reflecting off of the slick ice. Plus, if you are not skating, you do not need to pay admission. There is absolutely no charge for parents who just want to watch their kids skate.
Want to skate but unsure of your ability? For just $35 per hour, private lessons are available upon request from the Tidewater Figure Skating Club. I think I may need to look into this before I go next time. While it was completely thrilling watching my son ice skate with his friends, something about seeing Beth hand-in-hand with her daughter Sarah made me want to experience it with my son too. When I mentioned to him that I may try to skate next time, he was excited. “Mom, that would be even more fun!” he said.
- Sarah’s face = joy!
I was delighted to see the option to book the entire rink for up to 50 people during available non-public hours. The possibilities are endless. Can you imagine attending your company’s holiday office party at the skating rink rather than a typical hotel ballroom? Rental of the rink is just $125 per hour. Often we have family coming in town for the weekend and I cannot think of a more unique way to entertain everyone than scheduling a private gathering at the ice park.
Be sure to check the varying hours the park will be open, as they have scheduled special operating times when schools are on vacation. I was delighted to see that not only is the park open Christmas Eve until 5 p.m., but also Christmas Day until 11 p.m. In addition, the park opens New Year’s Eve until 12:30 a.m. as well as New Year’s Day from noon to 11 p.m.
What a cool way to ring in the New Year! Hope to see you on the ice soon.
December 16th, 2014 by Mike Halperin
Striped bass fishing should peak over the next several weeks with the Chesapeake Bay season running through the last day of 2014. School-size 18- to 28-inch fish are feeding in lower bay waters with numerous schools of 16- to 18-inch bass revealed by flocks of diving sea birds. Larger trophy fish are present along northern portions of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and along Virginia’s “Eastern Shore” side of the bay.
Corey Wolfe & his 74 lb. Virginia state record striped bass
Bigger rockfish, to 30 or more inches, are available around the 3rd and 4th islands of the CBBT with the best chance for finding a trophy fish in the area from Plantation Light southeast to the CBBT High Rise Bridge area. Fifty pounders have already been taken including a recent 58 lb. 5 oz. striped bass. Fish like that create dreams of landing the next monster bass that will best Corey Wolfe’s state record 74-lb. striper. Soft plastics, lures, bucktails, cut bait and wirelining have all been productive. Live eels, however, not only offer exciting hits but also the absolute best chance for a real trophy catch!
Tautog by Duane Raver
Tautog continue to put smiles on the faces of anglers with many boats returning with limit catches of fish averaging around 3 lbs. but some as heavy as 10 lbs. Togging has heated up on the Triangle Wrecks and other wrecks up to thirty miles offshore. Tried and true clam baits as well as available crab species are all getting good results. Don’t skimp on tackle as stout rods and terminal hook-rigs are needed to crank these powerful fish up from their structure homes of rubble, wrecks and pilings.
Rudee Inlet speckled trout citation earns a smile!
Speckled trout enthusiasts are catching plenty of quality fish with many keeper-size trout exceeding 20 inches. Trout approaching the 30-inch mark have also made an appearance as the winter run is now in full swing. Wade fishermen, shore fishermen and small boat anglers are all enjoying a strong run including exciting action inside Rudee Inlet. Live bait, cut bait, soft swim baits and jigs, and MirrOlures are all producing with live minnows always a sure bet. Chartreuse is a hot color for soft plastics while MirrOlures tend to attract “gator” trout.
Puppy drum are still inside Rudee Inlet. Falling water temperatures have slowed the bite considerably, but keeper-size fish remain available for patient anglers. Finger mullet, shrimp and cut menhaden are all good baits. Although not as appealing as fresh bait, soft plastics also work on these mini-red drum.
Ocean anglers holding secret wreck GPS numbers should expect a mixed bag of large black seabass, flounder and triggerfish. Finding a lightly fished or unknown wreck can quickly turn into a bonanza for tasty species at this time of year. Squid and cut bait strips quickly let you know who is home at the wreck.
Virginia Beach long-range head boats have been returning with banner catches from deep-drop Continental Shelf trips. Species caught include golden and blueline tilefish, large seabass, grouper, black bellied rosefish, and wreckfish. Large 10 lb. class bluefish with some as large as 18 lbs. offer a true bonus on the Shelf trips. Be sure to bring a BIG cooler! Blueline tiles offer a great opportunity to earn a handsome citation award from the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament.
Big bluefish brings big smiles to Capt. Skip Feller & Dr. Julie Ball
False albacore are now making runs through our offshore waters, often close to wreck sites. Although not a favored catch for the dinner table, “albies” provide maximum fun and sport, particularly on a fly rod. A sporadic yellowfin tuna bite has been within southbound charter boat range and bluefin tuna have been spotted swimming beyond the 30-mile break.
Hot Spot: Chesapeake Bay Buoy 42 – drift live eels for stripers
Inlets & Surf: Speckled trout
Chesapeake Bay: Striped bass and tautog
Offshore Wrecks: Tautog and black Seabass
Continental Shelf: Blueline tilefish
Noteworthy Catches: 7 lb. 14 oz. speckled trout, 12 lb. 6 oz. blueline tilefish, 58 lb. 5 oz. striped bass
12th Annual Rockfish Shootout
December 28-29, 2014
For more info: Call 757.319.5146 or visit:
See you on the water ~ tight lines and hard strikes to all!
December 12th, 2014 by Guest Blogger
This week in The Beach Report, J&A Racing Communication Director Brittany Vajda guest blogs about a fun December event that offers a new twist: The J&A Surf-n-Santa 5 Miler.
Close your eyes and envision a nautical holiday wonderland of more than a million bright lights twinkling against the Atlantic as you’re lacing up for a run on the Virginia Beach boardwalk. Now open your eyes and imagine no more! Local race management company J&A Racing has made that vision a reality with the debut of the first twilight Surf-n-Santa 5 Miler on December 20, 2014 presented by Bon Secours In Motion.
J&A is known for their themed, festive races. Participants are encouraged to have fun, be creative and often times, even dress the part. This year, the Surf-n-Santa will be held at twilight along the boardwalk so runners can enjoy the “McDonald’s Holiday Lights at the Beach” display, named by USA Today as one of the top ten best holiday light displays in the country!
All participants will receive awesome swag including a unique medal, a commemorative shirt, a finisher’s item and more. Best of all, all racers are invited to the post-race party inside the Virginia Beach Convention Center featuring live music by Audio Sauce, brew from Samuel Adams and other goodies. Prizes will be awarded for the best naughty and nice holiday costumes. As always, parking at the convention center is free.
Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and join in the fun for an evening of joy and wonder at the Surf-n-Santa 5 Miler. Registration is open until midnight on 12/18. Click here to register!
December 5th, 2014 by Katherine Jackson
Nature Trail is an Outdoor Classroom
People visit the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center for a variety of reasons: to see the fish and animals, such as the sea turtles and river otters; to attend special programs, such as the stingray feedings and the harbor seal training; to watch 3D movies in the six-story theater; to entertain their children on a cool and cloudy day. I went to the Aquarium specifically to take a walk on the Nature Trail. Measuring a third of a mile long, the Nature Trail traverses the Owls Creek Salt Marsh Preserve, a broad area of wetlands and woodlands which stretch between the Aquarium’s two large exhibition halls. The best feature of this walk is that signboards on the trail describe the birds, animals, fish and plants that inhabit the woods and the marsh. That makes it easy to learn about the natural environment while strolling through the woods and along the banks of the creek. It’s like an outdoor classroom for the self-motivated learner. For example, one area is preserved as a wildflower meadow, and signage describes the flowers that thrive in the sun. At this time of year, most flowers have finished blooming, but the Tall Coreopsis and the Goldenrod refuse to give up. Their yellow flowers are bright spots in the waning landscape.
Although there aren’t many flowering plants right now, the woods are alive with the colors of fall. On one loop of the trail, signs identify white oak, holly, beech, loblolly pine and other trees, and provide information about their function in the ecosystem. At one exhibit, I learned that butterflies enjoy the daytime while moths prefer the nighttime. And according to one sign, marshes are a source of food and shelter for a large percentage of marine fish and shellfish. One of the most interesting exhibits is a man-made osprey nest. I see osprey nests all the time in the tops of trees and on poles around Virginia Beach, but I was surprised to see how large these nests are. Osprey return to the same nest each year and continue to expand and improve the roost with sticks, grass, and feathers.
Nearby, I climbed the thirty-foot Treetop Tower for an osprey’s-eye view of Owls Creek. Placards on the staircase landings identify the birds and animals that live in the vicinity. Like many of the exhibits inside the Aquarium, the exhibits on the trail are not just static signboards. For instance, in one area the signs have illustrations of animal or bird tracks and give clues so visitors can guess which they are. One sign says, “My tracks show four long toes…I build big nests…and I am a fan of the daytime.” Open a panel to find the answer: Great Blue Heron. Speaking of which, look over there: a Great Blue Heron is wading through the marsh.
In addition to stopping on benches along the way to listen to the songbirds and enjoy a few minutes of quiet contemplation, I strolled through the indoor exhibits as well. A Komodo Dragon roamed around its exhibit case, stingrays glided along the bottom of their pool, and Lookdown fish floated in their habitat. The humans seemed content in their environment as well, ambling along with smiles on their faces. Indeed, people go to the Virginia Aquarium for any number of reasons — a walk on the Nature Trail followed by a cup of hot chocolate in the café is among the best.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF KATHERINE JACKSON
The Virginia Aquarium is just one of the many exciting ways to experience Virginia Beach. To learn more, check out the official website for the Virginia Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau: www.VisitVirginiaBeach.com.
December 1st, 2014 by Mike Halperin
Phil Fowler poses with his 41 lb. winning striped bass
Striped bass in ever-increasing sizes are schooling in Virginia Beach waters and drawing anglers like a magnet! Rockfish currently range from slot-sized, 18- to 28-inches, up to large linesiders approaching 40 or more inches. Catches are verified to 45 pounds with reports circulating that a few “stealth” catches in the 60-lb. class may have been made. Bass locations center around bridge pilings, tunnel tubes, light lines, and inshore wrecks with top lure choices including plugs, flies, bucktails, plastic swim baits, and live baits, especially live eels.
Eels and live fish typically account for the largest stripers. As a rule, the faster the current, the better the bite! Some better fishing locations have been the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel tunnel tubes as well as the CBBT High Rise Bridge at the tunnel’s north end. Trailer boaters will gain fast access to these hot spots by launching at Lynnhaven or Little Creek Inlets. It is clearly time to fish Virginia Beach, also known as the Striped Bass Capital of the World!
Captain’s Tip: We are in prime season for schools of feeding stripers to announce their presence through flocks of diving seabirds. Bring binoculars to locate bird activity signaling a bass bonanza. Knowledgeable anglers deem it best to slowly approach these schools to ensure continued action without interruption.
Tautog fishermen are returning with more limits including fish up to 8 lbs. Find underwater structure and you’ll find these mollusk eaters. Crab baits worked next to bridge pilings, rock rubble and wrecks are getting top results with blue and green crabs leading all bait offerings. With bay water temperature now in the low 50’s, there is no more need to run to offshore wrecks to catch a nice batch of tautog.
Dr. Ken Neill & his 24.22 lb. state record tautog
In addition to tautog, anglers working near-shore and offshore wrecks have been finding ample numbers of black seabass and triggerfish. With these three tasty species as well as hungry bluefish hitting, what better time to fill the freezer with delicious fillets for the winter!
While puppy drum have been harder to come by, they are still present in all three Southside (Little Creek, Lynnhaven, and Rudee) inlets. Aromatic baits such as mullet or shrimp, offered on a warm sunny day, should ring the dinner bell. While speckled trout anglers are having to cull through many shorts, increasing numbers of 14-inch keeper fish are showing along with the occasional 5 lb. Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament citation. For numbers of specks – fish jig/soft plastic swim baits. For heaviest trout – fish MirrOlures. Absent excessive water temperature drops, both fisheries should last several more weeks with Rudee Inlet providing the best action.
Anglers willing to fight fish from depths of 300 or more feet are being rewarded with a wide variety of fish. Species available from the Continental Shelf bottom are tilefish, barrelfish, black bellied rosefish, large seabass and grouper. It is rare for our deep-drop head boat or charter trips to return with anything less than a banner catch.
Golden tilefish from a Continental Shelf trip
Yellowfin tuna exceeding 50 lbs. have made an offshore appearance and remain a strong possibility for Norfolk Canyon and sea mount trollers. Moreover, recently reported catches also indicate wahoo action is likely not done for the season. Boats running south from Rudee Inlet have good prospects for blackfin and bigeye tuna while bluefin tuna could be the next “visitors” to Virginia waters.
Inlets & Surf: Speckled trout
Chesapeake Bay: Tautog and striped bass
Offshore: Wahoo and yellowfin tuna
Offshore Wrecks: Blueline tilefish
Hot Spot: Plantation Light to the CBBT – drift live eels for striped bass
Noteworthy Catches: 5 lb. 14 oz. speckled trout plus releases up to 27 inches, 135 lb. bigeye tuna, 5 lb. 2 oz. black sea bass, 4 lb. 8 oz. triggerfish,
17 lb. 4 oz. blueline tilefish, 43 lb. striped bass, 53 lb. grouper
Captain’s Log: At their December 10 meeting, the Virginia Saltwater Tournament Committee will give consideration to adding golden tilefish and grouper as species eligible for Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament citation awards. For more information, contact Lewis S. Gillingham, Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament Director at (757) 491-5160 or email@example.com.
See you on the water. Tight lines and hard strikes to all!
December 1st, 2014 by Mike Halperin
CATCHIN FOR KIDS
December 5 & 6, 2014
Toys for underprivileged children will be donated to the
Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program.
- Virginia Beach Angler’s Club 23rd Annual Rockfish Rodeo & Bluefish Roundup, December 12th & 13th, 2014, Information:757-472-7183 or 757-802-2075
November 28th, 2014 by Sherry Friel
Today is the perfect day to feature Sherry Friel’s post ” Treasure Hunting in Virginia Beach” ~ we’d love to see your finds.; SHARE them them with us on Facebook!
I close my eyes and visualize myself delicately placing the Victrola needle on my favorite record, listening hypnotically to warped yet crisp sounds coming from the intricately etched vinyl. Yes. I am there. It’s 1921 and….Kerchunck, Kerchunk, Kerchunk!…“Mom, how does this thing work? Where is the space bar? How do I get it to print?” My brief moment of nostalgia for a layer of life I’ve never truly experienced is interrupted by Nathaniel, my 11-year-old son. He’s just discovered a manual typewriter in one of the shops of Decoration Station, a Virginia Beach antique mall situated at the corner of Diamond Springs Rd. and Wesleyan Blvd. I am marveling over a gorgeous Victrola talking machine (or record player as most people would refer to it). Thankfully, the kind owners of the store showed him how to wind in a piece of paper and type. Voila! “Wow, that’s cool,” he said. “We need to get one of those!”
I soon learned Decoration Station is one of many destinations for treasure hunters in Virginia Beach. This particular mall features a large selection of 19th and early 20th century furniture, porcelains, crystal, linens, collectibles, jewelry and home décor. I was especially drawn to the number of vintage books throughout the space, and my son was delighted to discover and purchase a pristine copy of Julia Child’s book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
Jeanie Fuertes, the owner of Decoration Station Mall, gave me what I consider a gift-a wonderful brochure and map detailing close to 20 different stores specializing in antiques, consignments, and specialties. Titled, “2014-2015 Treasure Hunting in Virginia Beach,” the brochure can be easily found at the Virginia Beach Visitor Center at 2100 Parks Avenue near the oceanfront.
I cannot wait to visit the other stores in this wonderful compilation. Already, my son and I did some serious shopping this past weekend and brought home treasures we will cherish for a long time. My favorite purchase of the day was an Andrea Sadek porcelain magnolia, which I will display as a nod to one of my ancestors, Minnie Magnolia. I recently discovered Minnie while researching my family tree, and I believe she may be the inspiration for my passionate love of all things floral.
My next hunt will be for a near-perfect vintage manual typewriter. Unlike the circa 1921 Victrola I was admiring, the typewriter truly represents a layer of life I am well acquainted with. I learned on a manual typewriter as a teenager and was happy for this recent reminder of just how beautiful they are. No touch screen, no internet connection, nothing but kerchunk, kerchunk, kerchunk and ding! Time to get shopping. The holidays will soon be upon us and I have a feeling if Santa shops in Virginia Beach he will find everything he needs!
Photo credits: Sherry Friel