Virginia Beach with Tweens: A Perfect Family Day

Virginia Beach with Tweens: A Family Vacation

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Finding a more perfect beach than Virginia Beach for tweens would be pretty hard to do. Family friendly but not sleepy, and lively but not crazy, Virginia Beach has things to do that entertain and keep tweens active. For starters, there is a three-mile-long, 28-foot-wide boardwalk that is perfect for bike riding and rollerblading. Right up the street from the boardwalk, on Atlantic Street, are scores of souvenir shops selling beachy gifts and cute t-shirts. There is even an old-fashioned funhouse and a house of mirrors nestled among the shops and eateries. Here's my list of must-do in Virginia Beach with tweens.


Kick off your Virginia Beach day with your tweens by eating a filling breakfast. Many of the hotels along the boardwalk offer free breakfasts to their guests, so if yours does, make sure you take advantage of it. If not, try the pancakes and waffles at Pocahontas Pancakes, which has been serving breakfast since 1974. It is located on Atlantic Avenue and 35th Street, and is open from 7AM to 1PM, seven days a week; 757-428-6352.

Of course, any family vacation in Virginia Beach with tweens starts at the beach. You and your tweens can spend time bobbing in the surf or digging in the wet tidal zone for tiny, colorful Coquina clams or ugly sand crabs, and then watch the little creatures quickly scurry back into the sand. If your tweens make friends easily, there is a good chance they will soon be body surfing or boogie boarding with new buddies who they've met while splashing in the surf.

Have your tweens expressed an interest in learning how to surf while visiting Virginia Beach? Hook them up with a two-hour lesson. There are a couple of local surf shops that specialize in teaching young tourists the basics of surfing and will rent surfboards to those who get bit by the surfing bug. VB Surf Sessions offers lessons year-round. A two-hour lesson ranges from $45 to $60, depending on the size of the group. Call 757-653-5330 for more information.

When your tweens get bored with hanging out on the sand, take them rollerblading or bike riding on the boardwalk. If you didn't bring your wheels, there are quite a few shops that rent them to visitors. Check out the various rental shops on and near the boardwalk to make sure you get the best price, and don't forget to check the local freebie newspapers and magazines for coupons, as well. During your ride or glide down the boardwalk, make sure to stop at one or all of the four stages on the Virginia Beach boardwalk to enjoy free entertainment. You can check the website for the schedule of events offered at the stages on the boardwalk, or you can call 757-491-SUNN for updates on oceanfront events.


After spending the morning and early afternoon at the beach, grab a burger or hot dog at one of the many fast food places that line the boardwalk before heading off to Rudee Inlet for something a little bit different. The Rudee Rocket, a 70-foot ski boat, is a really fun way to see the Virginia Beach coastline from the ocean, and, if you and your tweens are lucky, you may even get to see some dolphins during the ride. The Rocket takes you from Rudee Inlet out to Cape Henry Lighthouse before turning back. If the conditions are right, the captain of the Rocket may rev up the action a bit and give you a taste of the speedboat's 2000-horsepower engine. Be forewarned, however, that when this happens, you can get pretty wet if you're sitting in the wrong seats. Book in advance as the boat's seats fill up rather quickly. Rates for adults are $21 and kids age 8-11 are $15. Kids must be at least 39 inches tall to ride. Call 757-425-3400 in advance to confirm the schedule.

If speedboats aren't your thing, Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach has other things to do for an afternoon of fun. For your best family vacation yet, you can rent jet skis or kayaks or even go parasailing. For the less adventurous, the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center offers several marine excursions that leave from Rudee Inlet. In the summer, the museum not only offers dolphin tours but also offers an ocean collection cruise with the aquarium's staff. They bring sea life up from the ocean bottom for guests to observe. During the winter, you can take one of the museum's whale watching cruises to try and locate humpback whales. Be prepared though for cold weather and choppy waters. The Virginia Aquarium and Educational Center is great when you want a rainy day destination. It is located on General Booth Boulevard, just one mile south of the city's resort area. Prices for the various cruises range from $14 to $28; dates and times vary. You can also call 757-385-FISH for more information.


If you're hungry while you're still at Rudee Inlet, hit Rockafeller's Restaurant. This is a seafood place that leans a bit to the causal side, and if you dine between 3:00PM and 5:30PM, your family can take advantage of the early bird deals. Rockafeller's is located at 308 Mediterranean Avenue, Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach, 757-422-5654.

After dinner, you can walk off your dinner with a stroll along Atlantic Street. Don't miss the kitschy and old-fashioned Mirror Maze Funhouse. Be careful to move slowly in the mirror maze, as it can be very confusing. Young children will probably need to hold an older child's or a parent's hand while negotiating the maze. The funhouse is located at 1916 Atlantic Avenue, Virginia Beach, 757-425-5233.

At some point during your stroll, your tweens may want to stop and take a mini golf break. There are several courses near or on Atlantic Street. Pick your favorite theme, be it pirates, jungle or an underwater theme, and enjoy a couple of rounds of low-key fun. You might want to end your day of family adventure in Virginia Beach with an hour or so of the party-like atmosphere that exists along Atlantic Street at night, as street performers and musicians entertain crowds of people milling about the sidewalks and the nearby boardwalk.
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