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Love The Moment in Virginia Beach!


Our family moved here to Virginia Beach, Virginia, just over 10 years ago, when we were at the end of my twin pregnancy. We were shipped over in an emergency evacuation from Guam in order to help save the twins' lives, and I had major reservations. As it's right next to Norfolk, which is a major military town (well, now they all are here, including Virginia Beach) and from which my husband had shipped out on several overseas deployments during his Naval career, he didn't much care for the area before we got here. I was excited about the idea of living back in the States, but having no idea what to expect, it was definitely going to be the beginning of a new adventure for Team Odette.

Virginia Beach has turned out to be a fabulous location for many fun experiences for our family. As my husband nears his retirement from the Navy after 20 years of service next year, and we are debating about where to live, the possibility exists that even after 11 years, this family full of wanderlust may remain right here in this area. That's saying quite a lot, for us!

Now, you can go to the Virginia Beach Visitors and Convention Center site and do lots of looking around - and, hopefully, planning - to see what there is to do in our adopted hometown, but I'd love to share some of the things we have done over the years and some more that - yes! we still have left to do. Obviously, since we arrived with a 17-month-old and have had a few children since then (most of you will know already that only one of our twins survived after birth, so we now have three living children aged 10 and under), this will be pretty kid-centric. Rest assured, if you're sans children, there is still plenty to do - or not do - in this beautiful city, the largest in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Click here to start your exploration!


Obviously, no post about Virginia Beach would be complete without a thorough mention of our miles and miles of beautiful Atlantic oceanfront. With a husband in the Navy, a wife who was a marine biologist pre-marriage, and three water-lovin' babies, the Oceanfront is a big draw for us. The beach is gorgeous, and the water temperatures are comfortable for the traditional swimming months of the year, with manageable waves for the little ones most of the time. (And there are plenty of lifeguards and notifications for hazardous conditions to keep us all safe.) The area boasts a long boardwalk, complete with all the kitschy shops, skyscraping hotels, and local seafood restaurants you would expect to find in a beach town.

No swearing

These "no swearing" signs are a common sight near the beach, in an effort to keep our town family-friendly. I get a big kick out of them!

There's a long pier for fishing and crabbing - unbelievably, we still haven't done that, but it's on this year's "must do" list - and stores aplenty for anything you might have forgotten. If you get tired of the beach (you nut, you!), there are other things to do along the beach and nearby streets, like several miniature golf courses, a small rides-and-games miniature amusement park, and whole-family bike rentals scattered around the coast. If I've left anything off this list that you would want to do, drop me a comment and I'll be sure to let you know whether that's available, too. I know there's a great nightlife scene down there as well, but with three children, it's not a huge priority for us at this stage in the game, so I can't attest to the latest and greatest venues. One fun (and free!) favorite, though: during the warmer months, the city brings in a menagerie of entertainment acts from musicians to comedians to buskers of all kinds and positions them along Atlantic Avenue for everyone's pleasure. Oh, my gosh, I'm thinking of about 57 more fun things about the Oceanfront and could make this entire post about just that, it's so fun-filled. But there is so, sooo much more to this city, that it wouldn't be doing it justice if I didn't move on. And so I shall.


Another favorite area of ours is in the southern portion of the city, Pungo. It's where farmer upon farmer grows u-pick strawberry fields and the home of the annual Strawberry Festival, where the sweet fruit is made into every dessert, drink and concoction you can imagine. There are rides, games, and plenty of other fun things to do during the festival, too, but if you miss it, Pungo boasts a great pizza-and-ice cream joint, aptly named Pungo Pizza, that's a great place to stop when you're hot and tired from grabbing bucketsful of red, juicy berries!

Farmers market

One of my favorite destinations is at the corner of Dam Neck and Princess Anne Roads: the Virginia Beach Farmer's Market. There are plenty of local farmers with booths there, so if you're environmentally conscious and are trying to eat locally-grown, often organic food, this is your go-to place to shop. Virginia Garden is even an all-organic grocery store at the Market, and the owner, Michelle, could not be more helpful and informative if you're newly embarking on your organic journey. Her shop boasts food from Virginia's own Polyface Farms, which you may or may not know as the farm of Joel Salatin, the highly articulate farmer featured in the must-see documentary, Food, Inc. (And that $10 glass jug of apple cider at the store is totally worth it, by the by.) Love seafood? Visit Uncle Chuck's stand - all the fish, shellfish and more is freshly caught and is procured by Uncle Chuck himself. Take it from me - do NOT miss getting a 4-pack or two of his made-by-hand crabcakes. They are absolutely the best, and believe me, I have tried a heckuva lot of them in my 35 years on this planet! (Plus he's just a really awesome guy, so visit him even if you're not a seafood person. I love the dude.) The Farmer's Market has bakeries, butcheries, gardening shops, a sweets shoppe, and even live music on (I think) Friday nights. I love the place and would go every week if I could!


Hunt Club Farm is another one of my family's favorite places to go, especially in October when it's time to pick out one of these big, fat pumpkins for our front porch. If you go then, you'll also be able to visit the petting farm, let the kids loose in a gigantic pile of hay, ride some rides, eat candied apples, shop locally grown produce and gifts and - my personal favorite - take a hayride around the large property. Fall is not the only time to visit, though - my readers will know we've visited the Winter Wonderland in December, which is loads of fun; you can have a birthday party with pony rides and the whole bit, and they're now doing fun Springtime events like Easter egg hunts an' such, too. It's a great place to go!


A post about Virginia Beach would not be complete without mention of the recently (within the past five years or so) made-over Town Center, which is conveniently located just five minutes from our abode. We go there often and even did our 2011 Christmas card pictures at this very fountain! There are, I think literally, a billion different kinds of restaurants, from Ruth's Chris Steakhouse to sushi to ice cream parlors and everything in between, nestled among every other kind of shop you can think of. In fact, the only two things in Virginia Beach that we don't have (yet) that I'd like to see are Staples and Whole Foods - but they'll come in time, I know! Anyway... Town Center is fun to walk around, "see and be seen," and get your share of gustatory delights. Don't miss Confetti, an ice cream stop. Trust.



Another fun place to visit for kids from 1 to 101 is the Virginia Aquarium, on General Booth Blvd just south of the Oceanfront area. There is so much to see and do there, you'll need to make a full day of it. They have an IMAX screen, lots of exhibits, a gift shop, and the coolest walking trail between the two sections of the Aquarium. You can go from there on whale- and dolphin-watching boat tours, and that there is another on our yet-to-do list before we leave this fun town!


Right next to the Aquarium is this guy, Hugh Mongous, the giant ape who is the mascot for Ocean Breeze Waterpark. Of course we have a waterpark, right?! It's on the smaller side compared to some other venues we've been to, including Water Country USA located an hour north in Williamsburg, but it has everything you could possibly want to spend a full day in the sun and water: a kiddie area, wave pool, slides a-plenty, and so much to eat. There's an arcade, Dip'n'Dots, candy shop, gift shop, locker and tube rentals, and more. We've gone there many times, and there's still something new to do every year when we go. Don't forget the sunscreen and flip-flops!

Mt trash

Another site we're lucky to have just a few minutes from our home is Mount Trashmore Park, and yes, that's its real name (it was built on a landfill but is completely safe). Mt. Trashmore is just one of many beautiful parks in this city, but it's definitely a favorite of ours. The brandy-new Kids' Cove area, above, is not just a small reason for that. The kids could literally get lost in there for hours while you either chase them around or sit and knit, knowing they'll make it back to you when they're hungry/thirsty/doing the potty dance...! I usually do the former for about five minutes and then give up and do the latter. Anyhoo, besides the Kids' Cove, there is a skate park there, plenty of playground equipment and picnic locations, and a huge "mountain" to run around on, fly kites on, and of course - if you're a kid at heart - roll down when you're finished. My favorite thing to do there is go the annual Independence Day party, which is huge. Huge. Click here for more fun things to do in the Virginia Beach Parks & Rec system, because you'll want to visit other places like Red Wing Park, Woodstock Park, City View Park... and some of our many Rec Centers, as well. I could go on and on!


Are you a history buff? Still on our to-do list while we're here is visit the Francis Land House, above, the Adam Thoroughgood House, and the many other historical sites in town that you can read about here. I can't profess my love for these places just yet, because we still haven't been there! It's high on the priority list, too, though.


Have a thing for lighthouses? Then you'll definitely want to drive north from the Oceanfront and hit up Fort Story. Yes, it's a military base, but you can get onboard to go exploring the fully-accessible new lighthouse, above right, the beach there, and more. I hear tell that there's plenty of dolphin activity down at the waterfront, but I've yet to see that for myself. Mark that down on my to-do list!


And finally, I have to mention Chesapeake Beach, aka "Chick's Beach," a lesser-known, out-of-the-way, but totally cool "locals'" beach in town. The waves are much more mild, and it's far less populated during the summer, so it's perfect for those looking for a quieter, more chill experience at the beach. It's wonderful for kids who don't like to be knocked around by ocean swells, like my two older kiddos. There are some great local restaurants in the area, too, so it's definitely worth checking out.

There is plenty more to this great town, and also it's a wonderful jumping-off point to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, the Eastern Shore, Colonial Williamsburg, and much more. If we do end up leaving this area, you can be sure we'll be back to visit for more reasons than just the many friends we've made here. Virginia Beach. Love the Moment!

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{I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Virginia Beach blogging program. For more information on how you can participate, click here.}