Katherine Jackson
Katherine Jackson
Your Walking Tour Guide
Katherine Jackson has lived in Virginia Beach since 1976 and is the author of Walking Virginia Beach, a guidebook that details 20 walks throughout Virginia Beach and surrounding cities. In the book, Katherine offers advice on restaurants, attractions, beaches, parks and other great places to walk around Virginia Beach. Katherine is a senior lecturer in the English Department at Old Dominion University where has been teaching for almost 10 years. Previously, she worked in the Public Information Office for the City of Virginia Beach, in advertising for a travel agency and handled marketing for Kitty Hawk Kites & Sports in Nags Head, NC. Katherine truly “lives the beach life” by taking full advantage of what the resort city offers every season of the year and by finding anyway possible to get outdoors. She loves living within walking distance of the boardwalk and enjoys biking, dining at outdoor cafes or simply taking friends and family to the multitude of free concerts, art shows and sporting events at the oceanfront.

Author Entries

A Shell Seekers Guide to Three Treasures in Virginia Beach

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015 by Katherine Jackson

Walking on the beach has so many benefits – it enlivens the senses, engages the body and eases the mind. As if that’s not enough, there’s a bonus: treasures to be found on the shore. Especially at low tide, and in particular after a coastal storm, a diverse selection of shells and sea life can be found on Virginia Beach. Two low tides occur daily, and tide charts are located in the newspaper and on the internet. I’ve walked thousands of miles on the beach over the years and I’ve collected lots of different kinds of shells. Here are three of my favorite beach treasures.

sand dollarSand Dollar – Sand dollars are not actually shells; they’re urchins, and they can be found in Virginia Beach by beachcombers with a sharp eye. Most often, I have found sand dollars when the tide is at its lowest ebb and the beach is flat at the water line. As a wash of water comes in and then recedes, sand dollars sometimes emerge. They’re difficult to spot because they’re usually just below the surface of the sand and their color (when not yet bleached by the sun) blends with the wet sand. The flower-like pattern on the top of the sand dollar is sometimes all that’s visible. When they’re still alive, sand dollars are covered with velvety greenish or purplish spines with which they navigate through the fine sand on the ocean bottom. I never keep sand dollars if they’re still alive, but bleached white sand dollars that are stranded on dry sand are assuredly no longer living. To survive, sand dollars suck in small animals and particles, and eat them with dental apparatus inside. The remains of this apparatus rattle when a sand dollar is shaken. When a sand dollar breaks, pieces of this apparatus, which look like little white doves, fall out. Sand dollars are fragile and need to be transported carefully. (more…)

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Marshview Park: Virginia Beach’s Hundred-Acre Woods

Friday, May 22nd, 2015 by Katherine Jackson

Photo credit: Katherine Jackson

Photo credit: Katherine Jackson

Like the fictional forest inhabited by Winnie-the-Pooh, Marshview Park is a serene, hundred-acre woods located just a stone’s throw from the oceanfront. Nestled between several neighborhoods, the park lies on the banks of Owls Creek, which connects with Lake Rudee. Until recently, the park was undeveloped, but a small parking lot and an asphalt trail have now been built. The trail is ADA accessible and affords a short, pleasant venture into the woods. A friend who lives near the park told me years ago that it was a great place to bike, but only once had I walked a short way into the woods. When I learned that the new trail was finished, I was eager to investigate, and I was impressed by what I found.


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Three Beaches, Three Outstanding Bike Trails

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015 by Katherine Jackson

CBBVirginia Beach’s three beaches – the Chesapeake Bay Beach, the Resort Beach and Sandbridge Beach – all have their unique qualities and character. However, one thing they have in common is access to outstanding bike trails. I don’t use the superlative “outstanding” lightly. I’ve done my fair share of recreational biking around the country and these three trails compare with the best.


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A Day at the Beach on the Virginia Beach Home and Garden Tour

Monday, April 13th, 2015 by Katherine Jackson

birdhouseSix iconic “beach cottages” will highlight the Virginia Beach Home and Garden Tour on Wednesday, April 22. I previewed the houses on foot, and although a shuttle will be available on the day of the event, I highly recommend the walk. Not only are the houses on the tour of interest, the lawns and public spaces along the way are ablaze with spring color. I parked at 52nd Street and headed north on Atlantic Avenue to get a peek at the homes, which are located between there and 87th Street. Four of the homes are within a block of Atlantic, some oceanside (local lingo for the blocks east of Atlantic) and some landside (west of Atlantic). Two additional homes are just a few blocks down 52nd and 53rd Street. All told, it’s about a five-mile roundtrip walk filled with daffodils, tulips, Red Buds, camellias, dogwoods, pansies, and many other bloomers, in every color imaginable.


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Seven Sites Where Virginia Beach History Comes to Life

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

Wednesday, 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. (more…)

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The Beach Report – March 6, 2015

Friday, 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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