Virginia Beach

A view of the Virginia Beach boardwalk

Virginia Beach is one of the best summer vacation spots on the East coast. In addition to almost 30 miles of beautiful public beaches, Virginia Beach is also home to several top notch attractions such as the Virginia Aquarium, a number of  gorgeous state parks and wildlife refuges, and the famous Virginia Beach boardwalk.

The Virginia Beach boardwalk is one of the most beautiful and active: clean, well-maintained, and bustling with entertainment during the summer months. Be sure to take your picture by the famous bronze Neptune statue.

Neptune Statue on the Virgina Beach boardwalk

The gorgeous boardwalk is one of the few that is conveniently separated into a separate pedestrian and bike path. This is a great idea as it allows cyclists a smooth ride without the distraction of zigzagging between walkers and runners. Surrey and bike rentals are available by the hour if you do not have your own. As an added bonus, the boardwalk is lit up at night, allowing you to take a safe leisurely night stroll.

Virginia Beach boardwalk lit up at night

3 miles of gorgeous views of the Atlantic coast! It doesn’t get much better than this! Along the way, you have the opportunity to stop and take a break at one of the handful of waterfront restaurants. Take a relaxing break on one of the outdoor patios and enjoy the views. You will find a number of quality seafood restaurants such as Waterman’s Surfside Grille and Catch 31 Fishhouse.

Shoreline Grill, located inside the Best Western Plus Oceanfront, offers affordable dining in an attractive setting. Great views from either the inside dining room or the outdoor patio.

On-going summer boardwalk events include concerts, fireworks, art shows, and much more! You will never run out of things to do during the prime summer season.

While in town, also be sure to check out the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center. This is a fantastic mid-size aquarium with less crowds than the bigger city aquariums. Great exhibits including a beautiful fish tunnel, shark tanks, interesting IMAX shows, and beautiful on-site nature trails will keep you occupied for at least a few hours.

Shark tank at Virginia Aquarium

Nature walk at the Virginia Aquarium

Other fun events in the Virginia Beach area include: kayaking with the dolphins, Ocean Breeze Water Park, surfing and stand up paddle-board lessons, and cruises.

Where to stay: There are plenty of resorts (both moderate and pricey) located directly on the boardwalk. Best Western Plus Oceanfront offers affordable lodging with great amenities, including: individual terraces with great views of the coast and boardwalk, an on-site waterfront restaurant, and convenient access to the beach.

Clearwater Beach

Sunset at Clearwater Beach - Florida

Clearwater, one of the most popular beaches on Florida’s Gulf Coast, is well known for its’ beautiful white sand and clear waters. In 2013, Clearwater won “Best Beach Town in Florida,” (USA Today). Clearwater offers 3 miles of beautiful sandy beaches. In addition, Clearwater’s beaches are much wider than other choices in the area.

The sand here is very smooth with barely any shells or trash lying around.

Smooth, white sand at Clearwater Beach - Florida

The waters are clear and warm. Swimming here is great any time of the year.

Swimming at Clearwater Beach - Florida Gulf Coast

Clearwater is well known for being a great beach for sunset photography. The pier is a great spot to capture amazing photographs.

Sunset at Clearwater Beach - from Pier 60

This lively beach is best suited for those looking for an active beach trip. Weekend nights are almost always packed with the popular year-round Sunsets at the Pier festival. Here, you will be treated to live entertainment, live music, movies on the beach, and vendors lining the pier.

Pier 60 at Clearwater Beach - Florida

A handful of waterfront restaurant, including pubs, seafood restaurants, Cuban food, and beachy themed cafes are available. Columbia is an excellent option with delicious authentic Spanish food in an attractive waterfront setting.

Additional things to do…

There are numerous cruises offered in the area. Here, you will find everything from a pirate themed adventure to a lunch buffet aboard a luxury yacht. Tropics Boat Tours offers dolphin, sunset, and party cruises. These cruises are a great opportunity to get an overview of the area, while enjoying magnificent views that you could only otherwise experience with your own boat. The sunset cruise is a great time – fun music, entertaining staff, great views, and an on-board bar.

Sunset cruise in Clearwater Florida - Tropics Boat Tours

The Pinellas Trail, rated one of the best rail trails in the country, can be accessed in Clearwater. This 37 mile recreational path is a great way to visit a lot of areas on Florida’s Gulf coast in a short period of time. This diverse path crosses through many cities and landscapes, including both urban and rural areas. Along the way, there are many detours to access parks and beaches, including the highly rated Honeymoon Island State Beach in Dunedin.

A stormy day on Florida's Pinellas Trail

Other fun activities in Clearwater include: The Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Beach Walk ( a paved path along the beach), volleyball on the beach, para-sailing, jet ski rentals, and much more!

Where to stay: There are no shortage of resorts in the area, with many spectacular waterfront options lining the beach. A stay at one of these resorts is a major plus for the direct access to the beach alone (especially in an area where parking is extremely hard to find). The Sandpearl is one of the highly regarded resorts in the area, although options for every budget exist.