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.

Ready for a break?

We’ve got the welcome mat out.

Download our 2015 virtual vacation guide and book your Virginia Beach getaway today!

All photo credits: Sherry Friel

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March Madness in the Salt

March 3rd, 2015 by Mike Halperin

citation graphicThe 2015 Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament, now in its 58th year, promises to be a great one. Several species enjoyed impressive numbers of citation awards last year while others offered additional angling challenges adding variety to this popular tournament. This free tournament, sponsored by the state of Virginia through the Marine Resources Commission, is open to fishermen of all ages.  It includes a special Junior Angler Awards Program for anglers 15 years of age and younger.

The Junior Angler Awards Program is provided to encourage catch-and-release by youngsters while offering unique rewards. Youth anglers who catch and release 6 different species (during a year) earn an award certificate, baseball hat and decal.  In addition to no minimum fish size limits, almost all saltwater fish qualify.  Participants need only obtain a Junior Angler Card, complete the program requirements, and return the card to the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament.  For more information or to obtain a Junior Angler Card, go to the download page or contact:

Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament
Virginia Gamefish Tagging Program
Attn: Lewis Gillingham
2600 Washington Ave, 3rd Floor
Newport News, VA 23606
(757) 491 – 5160

Offshore success with blueline tilefish + a 21 lb. citation bluefish
Offshore success with blueline tilefish + a 21 lb. citation bluefish

Last year’s tournament ended with over 3000 citations for speckled trout, white marlin, red drum, and striped bass. Those four species combined to account for the majority of awards. Blueline tilefish, cobia, and sheepshead also made respectable showings.  Anglers seeking citation awards in 2015 should already be planning fishing trips to Virginia  Beach to target favorite species during peak seasons. Top months for stripers are November through December with the white marlin bite typically running August through September.  Red drum offer a robust fishery spring and fall with speckled trout typically best in the fall. Charter trips are readily available for pursuing all four species.   “Hot” locations to try for an award-worthy catch include Norfolk Canyon, lower Chesapeake Bay, Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, and Rudee Inlet.

What some species such as bluefish, tautog, flounder, spot, and wahoo did not provide in numbers of citations, they more than made up for in numbers of available fish. Wahoo as large as 77 lbs., tuna to 278 lbs., flounder up to 10 lb. 3 oz., and a tautog weighing 22 lb. 8 oz. were landed.  Many happy anglers hefted coolers filled with spot following a day at Rudee Inlet.

Swordfish by Duane Raver
Swordfish by Duane Raver

Available yet more challenging-to-catch species were tarpon, swordfish,  pompano, jack crevalle, and false albacore. Amberjack, black drum, blue marlin, king mackerel, and sailfish rounded out additional species willing to test angling skills. Other fish for the taking were sea bass, gray triggerfish, snowy grouper, spearfish, black bellied rosefish and tilefish.  To the delight of deep-drop fishermen, golden tilefish have been added  as a new citation-eligible category for 2015.

While predicting seasonal fishing success is not exactly a science, well-respected local angler Beth Synowiec always has a sense of what’s hot and what’s not. As the first recreational woman on the Virginia Marine Resource Finfish Management Advisory Committee, Beth also holds Virginia  Expert Saltwater Angler and Master Angler Level I certifications and is an active tagger. Here are her predictions for 2015:

Expect a great year for red drum and speckled trout both in size and numbers. Cold weather has kept the trout relatively safe through the winter while striped bass will hopefully show a steady increase in numbers and size.”

Flounder appear to be making a comeback which could mean a fantastic year for keeper flatfish as well as more citations. Amberjack fishing will be fair to moderate, but large jacks may be harder to find.  Due to heavy fishing pressure for big fish, larger cobia may become harder to locate unless that fishery receives further limitations.” 

Beth with a beautiful citation sheeeepshead
Beth with a beautiful citation sheepshead

Expect another strong year for sheepshead with the largest fish holding right on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel pilings. A strong spot run of 10- to 12- ounce size fish last year should mean plenty of eating-size spot as well as some potential 1 lb. and over citation fish.”

Question: Why should visitors plan a fishing vacation to Va. Beach?

Beth: “We have so many species to target that can appeal to all skill levels.  With deep-drop, ocean, bay, and surf fishing there are many world-class trophy opportunities.”

Question: Why would you encourage parents to choose recreational fishing as a Virginia Beach family-centered activity?

Beth: Teaching kids to fish is a life-long skill and positive peer activity.  They will learn kindness, compassion and respect for the marine environment, not to mention all the inherent fun.”

Thank you, Beth, for sharing your insights and predictions.   If all anglers will respect our marine resources, future generations will be able to benefit from the same sport fishing enjoyment.

Early Season Hot Spot: Continental Shelf
Best Bite: Tilefish

See you on the water. Tight lines and hard strikes to all!
Capt. Mike

Beth's 15 lb. 11 oz. tautog 2015 - courtesy of Wes Blow

Beth & a 15 lb, 11 oz tautog 2015 - photo courtesy of Wes Blow

Beth's bluefish citation release 2014
Beth’s bluefish citation release 2014

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Last Call for Virginia Beach Winter Wildlife Boat Adventures

February 27th, 2015 by Teresa Diaz

It’s been an amazing season for whales sightings in Virginia Beach. If you haven’t had the chance to take a Virginia Beach winter wildlife boat excursion yet, the window of opportunity is quickly closing. We’ll soon offer the always fun dolphin tours but if it’s whales you seek, don’t delay, book today!

Photo courtesy of Rudee Tours

Photo courtesy of Rudee Tours

The waters surrounding Virginia Beach are not only home to a variety of exciting species, but are en route for the migration of many animals that are not usually seen in the area, including humpback whales. Also home to dolphins, harbour seals, pelicans, seagulls and much, much more, it’s a great place for nature and wildlife lovers to see and experience the variety of wildlife that will keep everyone on the lookout. The best way to see and interact with these animals is undoubtedly by seeing them how nature intended – from the sea.

Although taking to the sea’s in winter may not seem like the best time to take a boat trip, it is actually ideal for observing many species you may not otherwise see due to their migration patterns. The cooler winter months are the times when many species of whale migrate to warmer seas, and it’s not uncommon to spot the impressive humpback whale during their journey south. Taking a winter wildlife boat trip is sure to be an unforgettable ocean adventure.

Of course it is not possible to guarantee or even predict what wildlife you will see on a boat trip, however, some of the common sightings include harbour seals, pelicans, seagulls, northern gannets and ruddy ducks. You many also encounter dolphins, porpoises, humpback whales, fin whales and other water mammals. Although you cannot predict what you will see, one thing is for sure, you’ll have a great adventure!

There are two operators in Virginia Beach running winter wildlife boat trips, Rudee Tours and the Virginia Aquarium. Both are led by experienced captains and knowledgeable staff to help ensure that you see everything you can and have the best experience possible. On board you’ll find snack bars, restrooms, heated indoor cabins and open air viewing platforms.

Visit the natural habitat of some of the most astonishing animals in the sea in the most interactive way possible, by actually being out on the water withWhale 1 breachthem. With trained professionals on hand to inform and answer all your questions, a winter boat trip is an incredible way to experience Virginia Beach.

Rudee Tours has an awesome photo gallery – click here to check it out and then book your weekend getaway to Virginia Beach, highlighted by a winter wildlife boat adventure!

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The Beach Report – February 20, 2015

February 20th, 2015 by Guest Blogger

This week our “For the Love of . . .” series continues with a post from our very own canine blogger, Summer. Stay tuned; while this may be the first post from this high-spirited angel, it definitely won’t be her last!

For the Love of Coastal Pets

Meet the newest member of our blogging team, Summer

Meet the newest member of our blogging team, Summer

With a name like Summer, I guess it’s not all that surprising that I’m happiest surrounded by sand, surf and sunshine, so I’m one lucky pup to live in Virginia Beach year-round! That’s right; I said year-round, because I get to enjoy my most favorite outdoor activities, regardless of whether it’s summer or winter. If that’s not living the life, what is?

I took my first swim just a few months ago in my very own private beach (okay, so it’s known to most as First Landing State Park), but seriously, guys, it’s like my very own piece of paradise! At First Landing, I can explore different habitats and landscapes (the maritime forest is my favorite, but Spanish moss plays a close second in my book). The humans and I enjoy going on long hikes through winding areas, watch the bikers and runners go by, explore new paths and listen to the different species of birds that fly high above us, from branch to branch. Every so often, I meet up with my friend Daisy, a Sandbridge-based pup, to explore together.

Not too far away from First Landing is Chesapeake Bay Beach, which, nestled among some of my humans’ favorite places to dine and wine, is home to another of my favorite spots. There, I can frolic alongside the Chesapeake Bay’s shallow waters to my heart’s content and meet other coastal pets along the way, including Benny, a Chesapeake Bay-based pup, who also loves the water and can fetch like a champ!

Summer & Daisy rule Sandbridge on a recent afternoon

Summer & Daisy rule Sandbridge Beach on a recent sunny afternoon

This summer, I’m most looking forward to morning adventures exploring the Resort area since I’m allowed to walk with my humans on the boardwalk. In the evenings, we’ll take in all of the vibrant sights along the Atlantic Ocean. Now that I’m older and better-behaved, I also plan on joining the ‘rents at the Virginia Beach Town Center, where they like to dine outside and browse the regularly scheduled artisan fairs and live entertainment.

Retrieving is one of Summer's favorite pasttimes

Retrieving is one of Summer's favorite ways to live the Virginia Beach life!

Whether swimming, hiking, fetching or just joining for the ride, Virginia Beach really is a perfect playground for coastal pets like me – and for people like you, who love traveling and exploring with their pets (thank you for letting us come along!).

What are some of your favorite pet-friendly Virginia Beach activities? Why not grab your fur baby’s treats and gear and getaway to Virginia Beach together!

Summer is an eight-month-old Golden Retriever living in Virginia Beach with her human parents and a feisty 14-year-old cat. When she’s not exploring Virginia Beach’s great outdoors, she’s living the life napping, cuddling and eating.

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