Virginia Beach is a city that grows and changes everyday. Situated right on the water, this coastal community is simultaneously laid-back and completely full of energy. You can escape to the beach, meet local artisans, taste farm-fresh cuisine, or explore their history and culture.
My dad actually grew up near Virginia Beach, my cousin lived here for a short time, and I have passed through the city on a flight that got cancelled. Yet, I’ve never actually gotten to spend anytime exploring what it has to offer. As a result, I was so excited to travel to this city for an instameet. This time, my mind was set on truly discovering Virginia Beach.
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VIBE CREATIVE DISTRICT
In the heart of the arts district, the Vibe Creative District is a place where I felt right at home. Located just three blocks from the beach, this area is full of artisans making handcrafted work and delicious restaurants. Plus there are insta-worthy murals and colorful walls around every corner. The district combines the amazing art and cuisine you would find in the artsy areas of major cities with the laid back and communal vibe of Virginia Beach. In fact, the area actually functions as a nonprofit to support local artists, and it encourages support and collaboration between all the artists.
To see an amazing artist at work, head to Igor’s custom signs. Igor actually got into painting and lettering when he was young by watching his grandfather carve tombstones. As he got older, he began to do some work for various storefronts until he actually got into pinstriping and sign making. Now, he creates fun, creative signs completely by hand for various businesses or individuals.
North End Bag Company is a small workshop making beautiful handcrafted bags. Their motto is “For everyday use — like hands, like hearts.” Each bag is well constructed out of sustainably-tanned leather and come in a lovely array of simple designs and both neutral and rich colors. And if their bags weren’t good enough, the company puts its customers first and is super friendly!
FOOD + DRINK
They have everything at this local cafe, from cold brew to steaming hot coffee. I tried the pungo latte – with milk from a local grass-fed creamery and local strawberries from the same farm we went strawberry picking at – Cullipher Farm. This unique latte is a must try!
The stockpot specializes in making beautiful bone broth and delicious (and healthy) wholesome comfort food. I ate lunch here and ordered the Breakfast Fried Rice. They also make Ramen every Monday night!
This is an awesome little spot featuring amazing food and drinks (try the spring G +T) in a cool space. The building itself is from the 1920’s era – the interiors are all sustainably sourced or made with repurposed materials. Walls in their event space are covered with murals work by local artists. In addition, the owners are dedicated to sustainability and grow much of their own produce in their on-location green space. We actually got to have a lovely and tasty dinner outside on the patio among all the greenery and fresh flowers!
At this distillery, you will find unique booze crafted right in Virginia Beach. They offer tasting flights of their products as well as factory tours. They use local ingredients and are committed to providing amazing drinks to their community without hefty prices.
We went to Commune for Sunday brunch. I think our table actually tried most of the menu. I LOVED the cornbread waffles. And all of the pastries were delicious. They also have a bunch of unique mimosas to try – like ginger with blackberry sugar rim. Everything is sourced locally, meaning their menu is depending on whatever is in season and actually changes day to day. In fact, in addition to their backyard garden, they actually own their own all-natural 21-acre farm in Virginia Beach named New Earth Farm. You can definitely taste their commitment to fresh ingredients in every bite.
Taste is a unique spot offering both a cafe setting for a quick bite and an expansive specialty foods market. They focus on using local ingredients while also promoting local businesses–whether it be Virginia-made cheese, wine, etc. This is the perfect place to stop by for grab and go sandwiches, wine, and snacks for the beach or a great place to hang outside on the patio. Sometimes they even have live music. I loved the crab sandwich. It’s definitely a must try. Also, they have several locations, but sadly they are only available in Virginia – if you’re in the state make sure to try one out!
You can’t think of the Virginia Beach area without thinking about strawberries. You will find them all over this area, and lucky for me, this time of year is prime for picking. Growing up, my grandma + grandpa Kellogg grew all kinds of berries in their backyard. My grandma and I would pick them together as she told me stories while eating some fresh berries along the way. Then, we’d freeze the rest that she’d occasionally bring over to our house or let us take home from hers to enjoy throughout the rest of the year. I had so much fun being out in the fields and getting to remincise on all these fun times from my childhood.
Strawberry picking isn’t just for kids. We visited Cullipher Farm to pick our own strawberries, and I think I ate half of mine out in the fields. Strawberries are one of the 30 varieties of organically grown fruits you can find on this farm. Plus, the farm focuses on using innovative farming tricks to help conserve water and soil. Basically, all of their efforts result in the most delicious strawberries I’d ever tasted.
After we finished picking strawberries we went a few miles down the road to The Bee and The Biscuit for lunch. I loved their mimosa sampler and cereal coffees – lucky charms and cinnamon toast crunch lattes – and the biscuits and gravy were worth coming back for a second time around.
We were told by a local this is more of a locals beach near Chesapeake Bay Bridge just on the other side. I really enjoyed spending the afternoon here with my sister who happened to be in town for a wedding. There is plenty of street parking and it is a very short walk down the wooden fenced path to get to the beach.
Drive South and you’ll find less people and maybe even some dolphins at Sandbridge Beach. This beach is a truly relaxing hideaway that we all need every once and awhile. Plus, the drive itself allows for some cool views of little shops and farm stands. I had a lot of fun checking out the beach from above with my drone.
Broad Bay is a beautiful area that you can access just through Seashore State Park. It was one of the most peaceful places when we visited during dusk one evening. The water is calm, the trees are beautiful, and some are even wicked looking on the drive through the state park. It’s a great place to take a long walk along the shoreline.
MILITARY AVIATION MUSEUM
Home to one of the largest collection of planes from WW1 and WW2, visiting the Military Aviation Museum brought back some fond memories I shared with my grandfather. My dad actually lived in Fairfax, Virginia growing up because my grandfather was a pilot in the military.
It was especially nostalgic at the Military Aviation when we went out back to check out the planes. There was a grass landing strip for the planes to take off from – just like my grandfather and his entire street of neighbors had since they all owned planes.
Also, there were some planes in the Military Aviation Museum that were more well traveled – planes that had been all around the world and back and were still in working condition. The oldest plane in the hangar was a peashooter from 1936. In May, June, and October they have air shows that the public can come watch.
The most exciting thing I did all weekend was taking my first bi-plane flight ride. What an exciting experience! A bi-plane is open-air on the top so you can really feel the wind in your hair. My plane was a bright yellow one meant for one person in front and the pilot in the back. We flew for fifteen minutes, and it was smooth sailing up in the air with a birds eye view looking down on the beautiful landscapes below. They call this area tidewater Virginia, and you can certainly see why from above.
When visiting Virginia Beach, you’ll fly into Norfolk and drive about 20 minutes until you reach Virginia Beach.
Pleasure House Brewing is a great, no frills stop before you fly out, since it’s not so far from the airport. I had one of the sour beers. They have tons of activities like darts and foosball. Also, they hold charity events here all the time for various organizations – you can stop by to enjoy a beer with friends while helping out a great cause.
A big thank you to Virginia Beach Tourism and Travel Mindset for hosting us for the weekend. As always all thoughts and opinions are my own.