Virginia Beach is one of the most beloved family vacation destinations on the East Coast. But even if you were planning on parking yourself in a beach chair for the entire trip, you’ll need to find a few more kid-friendly places in Virginia Beach to round-out your itinerary—places to refuel after hours in the ocean, indoor, air-conditioned spots when the sun gets to be too much for even the most aggressively waterproof SPF, and of course somewhere to rest and get ready for the next day by the shore.
Here are the best hotels, restaurants and attractions in Virginia Beach for kids that are guaranteed to make this vacation one you’ll be reminiscing about for years to come.
Kids Attractions in Virginia Beach
Only a 30-minute drive from Virginia Beach, the Virginia Zoo just welcomed a brand new baby giraffe! Beyond that bit of long-necked cuteness, the zoo boasts plenty of opportunities to see animals galore including cheetahs, lions, and even zebras. Visiting the zoo can be a real hands-on experience. In the Enrichment Playground, kids can even play on an exact replica of the playgrounds built for the zoo’s animals.
To explore the beach in a less traditional (and sunny way), you can check out Virginia Beach’s Surf and Rescue Museum’s Ghost Watch. You’ll get to know the haunted history of the coast and boardwalk, and even get to try your hand at discovering your own spirit on walking tours that run anywhere from an hour and fifteen minutes to an hour-and-a-half. Though the tour is spooky, the museum has deemed it tame enough for fans of Hotel Transylvania and Goosebumps as young as six.
If you’re looking for a spot where your kids can run around in Virginia Beach for a few hours before they become the calm zoo or tour patrons you’d like them to be, The Bounce House has enough inflatables to keep them happy and active for hours. This Virginia Beach staple is the perfect plan B to keep in your pocket for any rainy days you might have to get through on your trip—a pass for the entire week is only $15, adults get in free, and there’s free Wi-Fi, which means you can post any mid-air photos to Facebook immediately.
With over 1,000 different kinds of fish, reptiles, and mammals to visit, The Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center is a must-see. Once you’re done greeting the sea turtles and checking out what the seals are up to, you can head over to the aquarium’s adventure park, which features 16 trails, ropes to climb and a zip line line all under a beautiful canopy of trees.
You might have a bit of a flashback when you step into the Haygood Roller Skating Center. This old school roller rink in Virginia Beach is more than just a blast from the past where you can lace up and roll to the music. It’s the kind of entertainment center that can satisfy even the most divided group of potential customers—there’s also a bowling alley, arcade, pizza place and indoor playground.
Best Restaurants in Virginia Beach For Kids
Sometimes you need to skip right to dessert. You won’t find anything nutritious on the menu at Twin Tiger Ice Cream & Funnel Cake. But even balanced diets need a treat, and this spot serves up the carnival classic with an impressive collection of add ons, transforming the basic powder-sugar covered confections into Instagram-worthy treats. You can even play one of the classic arcade games while you wait. Take note to avoid disappointment—they are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
There are plenty of restaurants that boast kids eat free, but Pop’s Diner Co. makes sure the kids who eat free are happy with their meals. The kids menu offers up healthy options like fresh fruit sides and grilled chicken tenders, and adults can enjoy updated diner classics like a shrimp and crab egg-white omelet and or a BMW—bacon infused waffle topped off with a maple glaze.
If your crew has worked up an appetite that won’t be satisfied with a single entree, you might want to check out Captain George’s. The picture of waterfront kitsch (complete with a sailboat bursting out of the front), fans of this restaurant rave about the all you can eat seafood buffet. A kid’s buffet pass costs $19.99, but kids under four can sample the buffet for free.
Say it with me—breakfast all day. If you’re the kind of family that wants pancakes for lunch, check out The Bee & The Biscuit. Housed in an adorable cottage, this spot prides itself on freshness, sourcing most of its ingredients from farms in the area. Their buttermilk biscuits are legendary, but their colossal cinnamon rolls are another big draw, and made to share.
When you’re experiencing new places, meeting new people, and otherwise getting out of your comfort zone, it can be nice to take refuge in some simple comfort food. Brother’s Pizza has an eight-page menu packed with wings, garlic knots, subs, and of course, pizza. Being a family friendly restaurant in Virginia Beach is important to the owners, who explain on their sign they guarantee “clean, courteous family friendly fun.”
Best Hotels in Virginia Beach for Kids
Ocean front rooms are the biggest (but not the only) selling point for Belvedere Beach Resort. Each room is dripping with beachy charm, from the wood-paneled walls to the ocean-themed decor. Of course, simplicity doesn’t mean you’ll have to give up creature comforts—each room has a flat screen TV complete with cable, a microwave, and refrigerator. Guests can pop down to the resort’s coffee shop and diner if they’re not in a microwaving mood.
Another on the beach option is the Courtyard Virginia Beach Oceanfront. Beyond the ease of going from your room to the beach, boardwalk, or local restaurants in a matter of minutes without having to get in the car, rooms feature their own balconies so you can enjoy the sound of the ocean and take a peek at the beach without even leaving the hotel.
The Best Western Plus Virginia Beach offers both oceanfront and non-ocean front rooms, depending on just how close you want to be to the surf at night. With all the amenities you’d expect from the chain, including a complimentary breakfast and free wi-fi, this hotel also features a heated pool housed in a beautifully designed ocean themed mural that makes for a truly unique afternoon swim.
Not every hotel needs to be on the beach for a terrific beach experience. The Founders Inn and Spa, Tapestry Collection by Hilton combines plenty of elegance with a family-friendly vibe (bonus: they’re pet friendly too). After a day at the beach you can check out one of the services at their Flowering Almond Spa, which features a princess manicure and pedicure options specially created for kids 10 and under.
Outdoor Activities/Parks in Virginia Beach for Kids
First Landing State Park, a national natural landmark, is full of history and trails to explore that history. An early stop for colonial settlers, the park has become a prime spot for biking (bike rentals are available at a camping store within the park) and picnicking, with plenty of exhibitions to duck into after long stretches in the sun.
Virginia Beach’s Boardwalk is the perfect complement to any day spent by the ocean. Rent a bike or skates to take in the sights with speed, or just enjoy the many sculptures (including the massive 34-foot-tall King Neptune) and other pieces of outdoor art as you check out the many restaurants the boardwalk has to offer.
Ocean Breeze Waterpark has everything you could want in an amusement park, plus plenty of pockets of calm if you’re not up to the bigger attractions. Lounge in the adventure river for over 1,000 feet of gentle waves, waterfalls, and the general feel that you’re ceding control for just a little while. Younger kids can have fun in the Little Buccaneers interactive water play areas, while older kids will enjoy the massive water slides including Earthshaker and Vortex, two slides that definitely live up to their names.
If you have any budding historians in your family, you’ll want to check out the country’s first public work project funded by the federal government, Cape Henry Lighthouse. Founding fathers George Washington and Alexander Hamilton both had a hand in creating this historical landmark, and now guests can climb to the top to look out on the Chesapeake Bay, take a walking tour, or explore the dunes around the lighthouse’s base.
Best Beaches in Virginia Beach
Of course, what you’ve really come to explore at Virginia Beach are the actual sandy shores. To avoid big crowds, check out local approved Chicks Beach. About 20 minutes from the boardwalk, this stretch of sand is known from its calm vibes and unique fishing spots, where fishers will be delighted by a variety of sea creatures nibbling on their bait.
If this is the trip you finally break out your surfboard, or you just want to watch some surfers and live vicariously, Croatan Beach is the place to go. Don’t let the influx of boards scare you, though, there are strict regulations to keep the thrill-seekers safely away from swimmers, especially kids, and lifeguards are stationed around the beach to make sure everyone stays safe.
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