A Beach for All Seasons: Our Guide to Virginia Beach in Winter

When you think of Virginia Beach, you probably think of fun in the sun: swimming, sunbathing, and, most of all, summer. And it’s true. Virginia Beach is a fantastic destination for the summer months. But don’t be so quick to discount what the city has to offer in the other seasons. You can even have a great beach vacation in the winter. As a bonus, if you visit in winter, you can take advantage of less expensive off-season rates on travel and accommodations. Discover what this coastal city has to offer with our guide to Virginia Beach in winter.

Outdoor Activities

Think you can’t enjoy the beauty of nature on land and sea while it’s cold out? Think again! Virginia beach offers many opportunities to venture outside for a bit of winter adventuring. Any season is a good time to take a walk along the beach and appreciate the changing faces of the Atlantic Ocean. You may find a very different ocean than the one you see in the summer months. If you’re up for a bit more than a stroll, try one of the many outdoor activities available to you during the winter months.

whale watching

Whale Watching

Yearly migration patterns bring several species of whales to the waters of the mid-Atlantic. Head out on a winter wildlife boat tour and try to catch a glimpse of Earth’s largest mammals, as well as dolphins and other marine wildlife. Some of the species you might see include humpback whales, fin whales, minke whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals, and more. You can choose one of two tours offered in Virginia Beach.

  • The Whales and Wildlife Sea Adventures Boat Trip is operated by the Virginia Aquarium, and staffed by professional educators who will help you spot and identify marine wildlife. The tour lasts two and a half hours and is offered Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through March 6, 2016.
  • The Winter Wildlife Tour is run by Rudee Tours. The tour is two hours long, and the boat offers a snack bar and heated indoor cabin – in case you’re feeling chilly – among other amenities. Tours run Wednesday through Sunday until March 13, 2016.

Horseback Riding

Virginia Beach Horseback offers a beach horseback ride, only available September through May. Ride right along the coastline, kicking up sand and playing in the surf. This is a special view of the beach you won’t see during the crowded summer months. Tours are guided and no horseback riding experience is required. Rides are available Thursday through Monday.


For something a bit off the beaten path, you can try a winter kayak tour. Several companies offer tours year round, including Adventure Kayak Tours and Kayak Nature Tours. You can explore many miles of rivers and marshes connected to the Chesapeake Bay by kayak. If you really want to spend some time on the water despite the temperature, this is a great option.

Polar Plunge

You can even enjoy a bit of swimming during the winter if you’re up for a thrill. The annual Polar Plunge event takes place February 5-6, 2016. In addition to the traditional icy dip, this year’s event features 4-mile and 1-mile run-walk events – no plunging required. The Polar Plunge raises money for Special Olympics Virginia. Participants are supported by sponsors and can raise funds individually or as a team.

Indoor Activities

When you’ve had enough of that icy ocean breeze, you’ll find plenty of indoor activities in Virginia Beach as well. Your whole family will be delighted by the many options in this exciting and vibrant city.

Virginia Aquarium

Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center

The Virginia Aquarium offers so much more than just the whale watching tours mentioned above. The aquarium is home to over 300 species of fish and marine animals including sharks, rays, seals, turtles, otters, and many more. Appreciate the beauty and variety of sea life up close.

The aquarium is also home to the National Geographic 3D Theater. This newly renovated six-story theater offers a variety of educational programs with fantastic graphics that bring the animal kingdom to life for kids and adults alike. The theater also hosts Big Screen Saturdays when it plays popular films, both new and old.

Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art

The gallery exhibitions at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art showcase art that reflects our time or the recent past. Their changing exhibitions feature mostly living artists working in all types of media. The museum also offers studio art classes and educational outreach programs.

Escape Room

If you’re looking for a unique outing, you won’t be disappointed with Escape Room. This interactive group experience combines mystery, problem solving, teamwork, and a time limit. You and your team must solve the puzzle to escape from the room within an hour – or else. This innovative brainteaser is great for families, friends, and teams, or anyone who likes a good puzzle.

Visit a Spa

If you want to wind down and relax, visit one of the city’s many serene spas. Indulge in a massage, facial, or body wrap, or choose a simple manicure. Whatever your preference, Virginia Beach has plenty of choices to pamper yourself. Top rated spas include Green Leaf & Pebble Tea Spa, Knuckles-N-Knots Day Massage, and Elite Therapy and Wellness Center.


If you’re ready for a little retail therapy, you’ll find just the thing in Virginia Beach. Whether you’re looking for your favorite department store, chic boutiques, or charming antique shops, there are myriad options to explore.

Town Center

Lynnhaven Mall has over 100 of your favorite stores, including Macy’s, Dillard’s, Sephora, Dick’s Sporting Goods, H&M, Yankee Candle – the list goes on. You’ll also find plenty of dining options as well as a movie theater in one of the nation’s largest malls.

The Town Center district in downtown Virginia Beach offers a wealth of shopping and dining options in an inviting and fashionable urban atmosphere. Town Center is also home to the Sadler Center for the Performing Arts, which draws world-class performers to the city year round.

For something a bit different, you can visit the fascinating variety of shops along the boardwalk or discover one of the city’s many antique stores. There really is something for everyone.


After a day of adventuring, you’re sure to be hungry. Enjoy a meal in one of Virginia Beach’s multitude of wonderful restaurants. It goes without saying that you’ll find excellent, fresh seafood in Virginia Beach at any time of the year. Some local favorites include Doc Taylor’s Restaurant, Tautog’s Restaurant, Blue Seafood & Spirits, Abbey Road Pub & Restaurant, and Mannino’s Italian Bistro. And this is just a small sampling of the dining options Virginia Beach has to offer.

Don’t forget to share with friends and family!

Photos: jerrymartinez57, US Fish and Wildlife Service, brandonink2001, Mackenzie Brunson




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