Famed for its scenic sandy shores, acres of lush parkland, and cultural charm, Virginia Beach is a multi-faceted year-round retreat. While a summer stay might be the first thing that comes to mind (it does have Beach in the name, after all), fall is, in fact, one of the best times to visit. Whether you’re looking for some thrills at 10,000 feet, a sojourn under the stars, or a chance to put your sleuthing skills to the test, this Southern locale offers tons of activities that break the weekend-away mold. Here are six off-the-beaten-path pursuits to ensure you won’t leave with FOMO.
Camping on the Beach
If you’ve ever dreamed of falling asleep to the sound of the rolling tide under a starry sky, False Cape State Park affords a sandy stretch of beachfront on which to stake your claim – and your tent. Situated in southern Virginia Beach, the area is a remote mile-wide parcel between Back Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, where you can camp right on the beach with no one else around. Vehicles are not permitted, so you’ll need to hike, bike, boat, or hop on the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge beach transport or tram service to get there. Twelve campsites are available, as well as plenty of surrounding trails to trek or bike through dunes, woodlands, farm fields, and salt marshes.
History buffs will appreciate The Military Aviation Museum’s vast collection of classic military planes from World War I and World War II on view, but nothing beats the rush of actually taking flight in one. The museum makes it possible to test your wings (with a veteran pilot at the wheel) aboard an authentic aircraft like a Boeing Stearman Model 75 from 1941. On this open-cockpit, 15- or 30-minute ride, you’ll want to have your camera at the ready as you soar above the Virginia Beach countryside, the Intracoastal Waterway, and the sand dunes of the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
For the Love of Oysters
It’s one thing to sample and slurp legendary Lynnhaven Oysters, that have made a home within the waters of the Lynnhaven River since the 1600s, but it’s an entirely different experience to shuck them straight from the sea. The Pleasure House Oyster Farm takes mollusk-enthused visitors on a boat tour down the Lynnhaven River to see how the oysters are farmed—and, of course, allows for generous sampling of these salty-zingy treasures along the way. The four-hour Waterman Tour is the most hands-on excursion offered, where true aficionados can slip on some gear and get knee-deep in the water to gather bunches of bi-valves from the depths themselves.
Who doesn’t love a good whodunit now and then? Even better if you actually get to be a part of the story by helping to solve the mystery. At the Get a Clue Murder Mystery Dinner Theater, someone is killed and everyone is a suspect. Maybe it was the underpaid and overworked sister, the shady business partner, or a disgruntled audience member. Here, over a buffet dinner, guests can get in on all the action by interrogating suspects and examining the evidence to help detectives crack the case and figure out Who Killed the Boss. Performances are every Saturday night through Dec. 21.
Best in Brews
Autumn is the ideal time to get crafty by hitting up Virginia Beach’s bigtime craft beer scene. The best way to get a taste of every flavor is by following the Virginia Beach Beer Trail: From the Chesapeake Bay District to the Oceanfront District, more than 25 local taprooms and breweries are overflowing with suds to sample. Try some tasty fall blends like the MAHI Vanilla Milk Stout, a roasted malt and chocolate mix with notes of vanilla and coffee at Reaver Beach Brewing Co. or the seasonal favorite Witch of Pungo Pumpkin Beer, brewed using local pumpkins at Back Bay Brewing Co.
All the Adventure
Exploring the great outdoors in Virginia Beach doesn’t have to be by foot or bike—in fact, you don’t even need to be on the ground at all. Thanks to two renowned zip-line parks, you can fly above the verdant tree line and trails below, scoping the scenery as you go. The Adventure Park at Virginia Aquarium not only features multiple zip lines up to 150 feet up, but aerial ropes courses of various levels from beginner to expert. Nearby is AdventureWorks at Virginia Beach, which offers nine zip lines, up to 1,000 feet in length, including a tandem experience, all set amid 60 acres of maritime forests.
Offering stunning encounters with nature, autumnal views and cozy brews, Virginia Beach is a beautiful spot to break with the routine this fall. Click here to book an anything-but-ordinary getaway.