Sunday, May 21, 2017

25 must-try experiences in Virginia Beach for your summer bucket list

I am really enjoying the geographical bucket lists that Pilot Online reporters are doing this summer! Here is the first part of Robin Sidersky's Virginia Beach list.

What have I already accomplished here, in my time in Hampton Roads?

25 must-try experiences in Virginia Beach for your summer bucket list 

Summer is one of the best times of the year to live in Virginia Beach. There are so many things going on that you won’t have time to be bored. Here are 25 ideas to get you started. Next week, we'll have 25 more ideas. (But feel free to send us yours via the comment section below!)

1. Check out the circus at the Oceanfront. Every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday there are three free shows at 17th Street. The shows are at 7:30, 8:30 and 9:30 p.m.
2. Walk the trails at First Landing State Park. There are nine of them, and they cover at least 19 miles, collectively. I haven't walked all the trails out there, but I have some walking out there. It's very pretty out there.
3. Swing through the trees at The Adventure Park at Virginia Aquarium. Try out the park’s newest Black Diamond course, Black Hawk.
4. Pick up locally-grown produce at the Shore Drive Farm Market. It’s every Saturday from 9 a.m until noon at 2947 Shore Drive. I did check this out on July 30, 2016. Like the Art Market listed below, this too was a mismatch of farmers and other small businesses, set up in a strip mall parking lot. But it was less crowded and I did buy one thing: cheese grits, from a seafood seller.
5. Ynot Wednesdays are back in Town Center every Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Bands play live all four hours, there’s a little farmers market, plus food and drink vendors.
6. Watch a movie on the beach. The big screen will go up for a few Thursdays in August at 26th Street, and it’s free.
7. Grab breakfast at the original Citrus on Shore Drive. The restaurant has an old-school beach vibe that can’t be replicated.
8. Check out the growing craft beer scene. You have so many options now, just within the Beach: Young Veterans Brewing, Home Republic, Reaver Beach, Commonwealth, Back Bay, Pleasure House, Wasserhund and Gordon Biersch.
9. Why just get ice cream when you can get a scoop between two cookies or Rice Krispy Treats? Creamwiched, on Atlantic Avenue, has sweet treats off the beaten path.
10. Spend the day at Sandbridge’s beaches. They’re away from the tourist crowds and just as beautiful.
11. Take a boat trip from the aquarium. Dolphin sightseeing trips are offered multiple times per day in the summer. Keep an eye out for special trips. Done! :) I used to be a whale and dolphin watching trip volunteer with the Aquarium, way back in 2000-2001. I've seen humpback whales, and they are truly breathtaking! The dolphins were harder to see, and I never got around to seeing them until I was on a family trip out of Rudee Inlet in 2012. Such cute babies! They were swimming along side the fishing boat!
12. Check out the new fitness park at 36th Street. Swing across rows of rings or traverse the parallel bars.
13. Make the trip to Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The more than 9,100 acres of land have more than 300 species of birds, plus reptiles, amphibians and other animals. Two boardwalk trails lead to the beach. You can also go fishing, cycling, hunting or even volunteer.
14. Sip on orange crushes at Waterman’s. If orange isn’t your jam, try some of the other flavors the popular restaurant offers, like grapefruit.
15. Want to get out on the water but don’t have a boat? Not a problem. Take a half-day trip on Rudee Tours, leaving from Rudee’s Inlet. We've actually got our own boats now...well, okay...technically, we have kayaks, but I've kayaked on the Chesapeake Bay now. And I did take a fishing trip out of Rudee Inlet, and got really pretty seasick that day. As my nephew pointed out, I made my own chum that day. :)
16. If you can climb out of bed early, take a free fitness class at Mount Trashmore. All you need is a good attitude.
17. Take a “shipwrecks and ghost lore” tour at the Old Coast Guard Station. The tours are given at 7 p.m. on Thursday and Friday nights.
18. Open your mind at the Edgar Cayce Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E.). The center offers free workshops, lectures, and gives guided tours daily. When I was working with the hospice, I had a class of their Reiki students want to take hospice training, so I went out there to them every week. It's pretty interesting over there.
19. Wander around the Old Beach Art Market at 620 19th Street. It’s open from 8 a.m. to noon every Saturday, June through September and from 9 a.m. to noon every third Saturday October through May. I TRIED to do this on July 30, 2016, but when I got down there and circled the block, twice, I realized this was actually the Old Beach Farmers Market. I was a little pissed off about this because I was thinking, since it was named as such in the Pilot, it was going to be an ART market, not an overcrowding of tents and small businesses that I can easily find online. The foot traffic moved like being in a Wal-Mart during Christmas shopping and I kept getting stuck behind couples who just stopped, not even at a tent, and just messing with the flow of foot traffic. I wasn't impressed.
20. Landstown Commons Shopping Center will have a free children’s festival on July 16. You’ll find bounce houses, costumed characters, face painting, and other kids’ activities. It’s from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
21. Check out free music at two Hardee’s locations. Country bands perform at the restaurants at 6:30 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays at the one at 6075 Indian River Road and 7 pm. Thursdays 701 Independence Blvd. 6075 Indian River Road and 701 Independence Blvd.
22. Artist talks at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art are held throughout the summer, usually in the evenings. Hear Q&As with visiting artists.
23. Run in a 5k every week on the Boardwalk. The races start at 31st and are every Wednesday through August.
24. Step into your boots and head over to the Virginia Beach Farmers Market every Friday night for a hoedown. They last from 7 to 10 p.m. at 3640 Dam Neck Road.
25. Can you solve puzzles and piece together clues to solve a mystery? Try your hand at Escape Room Virginia Beach. It's at 408 Investors Place #107.

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