The Beach Report – March 27, 2015

March 27th, 2015 by Sherry Friel

Kite headerThis week in The Beach Report, Sherry Friel takes us to a happy place – it’s spring festival time in VB!!!

I’m thinking it’s high time our family got out for some festival fun to celebrate these blissful spring temperatures. Specifically, I’ve got this image of Nathaniel, Skip and I strolling the upscale shops at Town Center, taking in some home-grown goodness at Virginia Beach Farmer’s Market, and enjoying some fun in the sun at the oceanfront. Fortunately, the city has us covered! Virginia Beach offers endless opportunities for family-friendly entertainment at a variety of destinations throughout the city. And the best part? The most interesting and engaging events are either free or nearly free.

spring flingTown Center’s Spring Fling
Where: Fountain Plaza at Town Center
When: noon-2 p.m. Saturday, March 21
Cost: FREE

What: Egg hunt, crafts, store discounts, special giveaways, live entertainment and more

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Seven Sites Where Virginia Beach History Comes to Life

March 26th, 2015 by Katherine Jackson

First Landing Cross

When exploring a new city, I like to learn about its history – the people and events that shaped its present form. For example, when I visited Zermatt, Switzerland, I roamed through antique shops for clues about the past. In Virginia Beach, the city’s rich maritime history is brought to life in museums, historic houses and memorials. Here are seven not-to-be-missed places that tell the story of Virginia Beach.

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Flowers and The Signature of All Things

March 25th, 2015 by Sherry Friel


Georgia O’Keefe painted them. Emily Dickinson curated species and wrote about them. Countless naturalists have studied and photographed flowers from every conceivable angle. Recently I learned about another kindred spirit through time: Anna Atkins. I cannot believe I didn’t know of her! Born in 1799, Atkins was a botanist and a photographer. She is believed to be the first person to publish a book illustrated with photographic images, and is also celebrated by some as the first woman to create a photograph. Indeed, botanicals have held a spiritual and scientific significance for many, myself included.

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Get Your Walk On: 7 of VB’s most-scenic walks

March 13th, 2015 by Guest Blogger

Photo credit: Katherine Jackson

This week in The Beach Report, blogger Megan Shearin shares seven ways to get your “walk on” in Virginia Beach. Enjoy!

Since we’re lucky enough to wear bathing suits almost eight months out of the year, healthy living and outdoor adventure are part of the Virginia Beach culture.  So the next time you’re visiting Virginia Beach, live like a local and check out these seven most-scenic walks.  Happy trails!

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7 Locals’ Secrets – Why I Feel Lucky to Live the Resort Life

March 11th, 2015 by Katherine Jackson

2 BeachcombingThose of us who live near the Virginia Beach oceanfront joke that when we’re looking for a place to dine or socialize, we don’t like to go “out of our zip code.” We have plenty of reasons for that, but here are seven secrets that make living near the Virginia Beach resort so satisfying. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Beach Report – March 6, 2015

March 6th, 2015 by Katherine Jackson

This week, Katherine Jackson shares her all-time three favorite beach walks. Sunday’s weather looks like the perfect day to choose one of these amazing way to experience Virginia Beach!

Three Best Beach Walks

False CapeWith thirty-five miles of beaches to choose from, it’s challenging to pick the best beach walks in Virginia Beach. That being said, I’m going to share three of my top favorites, and interestingly, I picked each of them for a different reason: solitude, people-watching and sheer cool.

Solitude: False Cape

When I need a long and solitary beach walk, I head for the south end of Virginia Beach to the stretch of coast that extends from the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge through False Cape State Park to the state line. Depending on the season and the weather, it’s possible to walk this eight-mile stretch and see only a handful of people. It’s incredibly peaceful, and almost impossible to believe that beaches this remote can still be found on the East Coast. In fact, False Cape is so remote that you can’t get there by car – you have to walk, bike, boat, or take one of the people-movers that transport people from Back Bay. You won’t see a lot of people at False Cape, but you will see a lot of wildlife: piping plovers, peregrine falcons and pelicans; and during the migratory season, ducks, snow geese and tundra swans. You might even catch sight of a bald eagle. Pods of dolphin typically swim and feed near the shore. For solitary beach walks, False Cape is one of the best places in Virginia Beach and on the entire East Coast.

BoardwalkPeople-Watching: The Boardwalk

On the other end of the spectrum, nothing beats the Virginia Beach Boardwalk for people watching. In fact, I put it on par with South Beach and Santa Monica. No matter the season on the Boardwalk, walkers, joggers, bicyclists, roller bladders and baby-buggies move up and down the three-mile promenade. You’ll see surfers and paddleboarders, along with people flying kits, playing catch, strumming guitars, and snapping selfies in front of the King Neptune sculpture. Events featuring everything from music to art to sports bring out all kinds of folks. In summer, they’re wearing tank tops and floppy hats, strolling along while showing off their tans and floral tattoos. In winter, they’re decked out in walking shoes and fashionable boots, layered up and moving at a brisk clip. In addition to people-watching, the beach and the Atlantic Ocean are picturesque and photo-worthy.

North EndSheer Cool: The North End

The North End of Virginia Beach has always been the ultimate in cool. The cool place to live. The cool place to go to the beach. The cool place to surf. The North End beach stretches from 40th Street to 89th Street, approximately three and a half miles. The beach here is broad and beautiful, with dunes and sea grasses and wide open skies. Of course, the North End is in its glory in the summer, when families and young folks and retirees set up camp for the day with their sun tents and beach chairs and volleyball nets. But this beach gets plenty of use throughout the year. People who live in the neighborhood walk over with their dogs, surfers paddle out when the waves are good, and kids build sandcastles year-round. The North End beach is lined by gorgeous homes, the kind that dreams are made of. It’s a cool place to be. Or as they say these days, it’s chill.

Photo credits: Katherine Jackson

As March rolls along, the weather starts to warm up and the sun sets later and later. It’s time to start getting in shape for bathing suit season. A long beach walk is good for the body and even better for the soul.

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Ode to Spring: Three Exciting Musical Events to Celebrate the Season

March 5th, 2015 by Sherry Friel
Photo credit: Sherry Friel

Photo credit: Sherry Friel

Something spectacular has taken place in my home. Something warm, exciting and bursting forth like those daffodil sprouts emerging all over Virginia Beach. It started while my husband Skip was away on a month-long trip to Japan.  On the first evening of his Dad’s absence, our 11-year-old son Nathaniel would go into his home office and shut the door. It was obvious he was sneaking in there to use Skip’s guitar, which I thought was a perfectly healthy thing to do since he was missing his Dad so much. Besides, this past year my husband noticed he was taking more interest in the instrument and prior to his trip he had been teaching him chords. They even worked out a few songs together.  Nathaniel had permission to use the guitar, a vintage Guild, provided he was careful and returned it promptly to its case afterward. So the “sneaking” was unnecessary. But why did it seem so stealthy?

Apparently, more was afoot than I realized behind that closed door. Among the guitars, sound equipment, and inherent inspiration of a musician’s workspace, Nathaniel was definitely up to something as he stole to his Dad’s room each evening after homework. He was working. More precisely, he was perfecting the music he wanted to perform for an audition to be a part of the school variety/talent show. Of course I knew nothing about the audition because he didn’t tell me. But the minute his Dad arrived home from the airport, he couldn’t wait to share with him what he had been up to. The work paid off. Not long after announcing his audition plans, he serenaded us one night at the foot of our bed with an acoustic guitar version of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. What a delight!

As Nathaniel approaches his 12th birthday, I find myself reminiscing quite a bit about his life, and pondering the experiences that have influenced and nurtured his passions. He has had, I suppose, a unique upbringing in that he is the son of a talented singer-songwriter. His immersion in the consistent creation of music has no doubt made an impression, and picking up his father’s instrument was perhaps inevitable. I also am grateful to have had the opportunity to live in a region that celebrates the arts in ways that continue to strengthen Nathaniel’s desire to make music an important part of his life.

Indeed, as my son embarks on a turning point in his musical passions, I am newly inspired to seek out some of the tried and true musical events we have enjoyed close to home over the years. Here is a sampling of dates I plan to add to our family calendar:

The Out of the Box series at the Sandler Center is family-friendly & free

The Out of the Box series at the Sandler Center is family-friendly & free

March 10

The Last Bison will perform the final show of the Out of the Box Emerging Artist Series at the Sandler Center. I attended the series last year and found it to be a warm, friendly gathering of people who are passionate about original music performed by local musicians. The event is held from 6-9 p.m. and admission is free. At previous shows, we met up with a group of friends and enjoyed a fabulous evening of good food, home-grown music and refreshing drinks.

March 19

I love the sultry sounds of the saxophone. So when I saw that the Washington Saxophone Quartet was performing at the Sandler Center, I quickly noted the details and marked my calendar accordingly. The show is part of the Tidewater Mortgage Services, Inc. Great Performance Series and starts at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $20. My plans are to arrive early in the evening and have dinner with my family at one of Town Center’s many restaurants prior to the performance.

March 31

The whole family will enjoy the mesmerizing choral performance of the African Children’s Choir. Part of the Great Performance Series at the Sandler Center, the show begins at 7:30 p.m. Advance admission to secure seating is required via donation, as proceeds benefit ACCESS the ARTS. Performance time is 7:30 p.m.

I hope you will join me as spring and summer unfolds in Virginia Beach. As I glance at the events, new festivals, and programs, it’s clear the season is going to be rich with music, art, and much inspiration for everyone.

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All photo credits: Sherry Friel

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