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As part of a new series, Travel + Leisure is exploring America one three-day weekend at a time. Next up: what to do on a short trip to Virginia Beach.

August 25, 2016

Although it may seem like the only thing to do in Virginia Beach is, well, the beach, the largest city in the commonwealth actually has a lot more to offer than just its sandy shores. If you’re looking for a quick and easy beach vacation, skip the crowded shorelines and expensive hotels and consider a trip to coastal Virginia Beach instead. It may not be the Bahamas, but with friendly locals and one of America’s Best Beach Boardwalks, Virginia Beach is perfect for a three-day vacation.

Unsure of what VB has to offer? Read on for our favorite attractions:

Day One

Skip the hotel altogether and live like a local for a few days in an oceanfront beach house rental. If that’s not really your thing, there are plenty of hotels on the oceanfront that offer rooms a short walk from the water.

After checking in, head straight for the boardwalk. Virginia Beach is known for this three-mile stretch lined with restaurants, bars, the occasional festival, and an amusement park complete with a spinning skyscraper ride. Hop on a surrey bike (they can accommodate up to eight people!) a fun way to sight see. Make a pit stop at Calypso Bar & Grill for a beachfront happy hour that can’t be missed.

After, settle in for dinner at Waterman’s Surfside Grille nestled on 5th Street and Atlantic—right on the beach. Enjoy the “Just Seafood” dinner, complete with jumbo shrimp, sea scallops, and lump crab in a white wine sauce. Wash it down with a famous Orange Crush (fresh-squeezed juice, orange vodka, triple sec, and Sprite) and oceanfront views.

If you’re looking for some fun after dinner, “The Block”, the strip of Atlantic Avenue that goes from 21st to 22nd Streets, is lined with bars that offer cheap drinks.

For something more chill, get away from the craze of the oceanfront and take a cab to The Funny Bone in Town Center. This popular comedy club has someone performing almost every weekend.

Day Two

Get up early and head straight to Pocahontas Pancakes, where the breakfast sampler will satisfy even the hungriest (or most hung-over) visitor. There’s almost always a wait, and the pancake house closes at 1 p.m., so the earlier you get there, the better.

If it’s summer, pack snacks and sunscreen for a day relaxing on the beach. Waves here are great for surfing and boogie boarding. Don’t forget to take a walk over to the fishing pier, where you can catch crabs, bluefish, spade fish, clams, and more.  Didn’t bring your fishing gear? Rentals are available.

If it's winter, or you’re just looking for some indoor fun, head to the Virginia Beach Aquarium and Marine Science Center. This place has over 800,000 gallons of ocean-life exhibits, including sharks, stingrays, and sea turtles. You can also go to The Adventure Park, which offers obstacle courses, forest climbs, and zip-lining for all ages.

For a late lunch or early dinner, Big Sam’s Raw Bar is a must-try. Two words: Crab Balls. You wont be disappointed.

While you’re there, head downstairs for some more adventure. Beyond good food, you’ll get reasonably priced kayak and Jet Ski rentals in Rudee Inlet right behind the restaurant. You might even get lucky and spot a dolphin or two.

Day Three

If it’s one thing V.B. does right, it's seafood at brunch.

You can’t go wrong Sunday brunching at the family-owned Citrus restaurant, which offers soft-shell crab benedict and sweet potato biscuits. Or try Bay Local Eatery, which serves chicken and waffles that are to die for. Bonus: the mimosas have real sorbet in them. There's even a "super jumbo" mimosa made with one and a half bottles of champagne.  

After brunch, check out some V.B. history at the Old Coast Guard Station or spend another long afternoon at the beach. At nightfall, head to Mahi Mah’s for dinner; it's a town favorite, where fresh seafood straight from local docs is served daily.  For a nightcap, make your way to the Hilton Hotel Sky Bar, an upscale joint with an amazing view of the Atlantic.

For more long-weekend itineraries in America's best vacation destinations, click here.

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