History + Museums

  • Heritage By The Sea

    The establishment of Virginia Beach began as early as John Smith's brave voyage from England to the New World.

    Virginia Beach Parks

    Virginia Beach offers something for everyone with over 4,000 acres in parks and national refuges. Get back to the elements and discover a new way to see Mother Nature - by foot, bike, kayak or segway!

    King Neptune Statue

    Proudly welcoming local residents and visitors alike, a 34-foot, cast bronze Neptune statue stands at the gateway to Neptune Park  and the threshold of the sea.

    Dive into "The Daily Life" for an up-close-and-personal glimpse into our culture and see how we live the life year-round.

  • Celebrating the Sand Prints of Yesteryear

    Since the first American settlers stepped foot on our hallowed shores, Virginia Beach has been a historic meeting place for remarkable events. Look up to the celebrated lighthouses at Cape Henry, retrace the footsteps of our forefathers at First Landing State Park, or call the notable Adam Thoroughgood House home for the day, it’s all here and historic, in Virginia Beach.

  • Plan Your Adventure

    Atlantic Wildfowl Heritage Museum


    This unique museum is located in the last remaining Virginia Beach Boardwalk cottage, de Witt Cottage, which was built in 1895. There is an array of wildfowl artifacts and art as well as representations of the early history of the Virginia Beach. Admission is free.

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    Cape Henry Lighthouses

    Cape Henry

    The lighthouses at Cape Henry silently guard the entryway into the Chesapeake Bay. The octagonal stone structure was completed in 1792 and is the oldest government-built lighthouse in America. The "new" lighthouse was built in 1881 and is the tallest cast iron lighthouse in the country. Both are located at Fort Story, north of the resort area.

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    Church and Religion



    A cross commemorating the "first landing" was erected at Cape Henry. 



    Quakers (Society of Friends) were considered to be on the extreme left of church reformers and were therefore persecuted. In 1662 and 1663, twenty people were fined for attending meetings. Richard Russell was fined for holding meetings in his home. Quakers later built a meeting house and school on present-day Laskin Road. 



    Former slaves broke away from old Nimmo Church and met in homes. By 1873 they met in a tiny log cabin known as Mt.Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church. 



    Wood from the 1889 wreck of the Agnes Barton was used to build Eastern Shore Chapel Mission by the Sea near Dam Neck. 



    Pat Robertson establishes the Christian Broadcasting Network in Virginia Beach.

    Cultural Life


    Virginia Beach constructs its first wooden boardwalk.



    Members of the London Bridge Baptist Church formed the Purity Squad to help track down bootleggers. 



    The Cavalier Beach Club opened.



    Ocean Breeze Beach opened for African Americans on Lake Joyce just off present day Shore Drive, north of Bayville Park. 



    The Dunes Club was in operation as a night club and gambling casino. It closed in 1953. 



    The first Boardwalk Art Show was held. 



    The East Coast Surfing Championship was established. 



    Mount Trashmore opened as a city park. 



    The Virginia Beach Amphitheater was opened.



    Virginia Beach was ranked #2 out of 100 cities as one of "The 10 Best Cities for Families" by Child magazine.

    Francis Land House

    Francis Land

    A 200 year old plantation home features period rooms furnished with antiques and reproductions that are representative of the gentry class lifestyle of the 18th and early 19th centuries.

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    Captain Christopher Newport's party was attacked by natives near Cape Henry. 



    The Battle off the Capes, a major naval engagement between the British and the French fought off Cape Charles and Cape Henry marked the turning point of the American Revolution. 



    A battle between the U. S. frigate Chesapeake and the English vessel Leopard took place off Lynnhaven Inlet. The incident was part of the events that led to the outbreak of the War of 1812. 



    Fort Story, named for John P. Story, and artillery expert, was opened. Called the "American Gibraltar", it was the first military base in Virginia Beach. 



    The tanker Tiger was torpedoed by a German submarine and sank off the coast of the Dam Neck Training Center.



    The Naval Auxiliary Air Station Oceana was commissioned. 



    Camp Ashby, in the Thalia area of Virginia Beach Boulevard, was a prisoner of war camp during World War II and held 6,000 prisoners over two years. 



    Twenty-four goats were purchased to "mow" the grass in the weapons compound area aboard NAS Oceana.



    The Tidewater Veterans Memorial was built and dedicated to all United States war veterans. 



    Naval Aviation Park, a monument depicting three historic areas in the history of naval aviation opens at 25th Street and Atlantic overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

    Military Aviation Museum

    Military Aviation

    The Military Aviation Museum was born from a passion for World War II-era aircraft, and over the years, it has grown into a truly living history museum that rivals any other of its kind in the world.

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    Natural Environment



    Local lore attributed the name Sandbridge to a physical feature "a sand bridge built over a log road to the beach".  


    The Cape Henry Syndicate deeded 1,000 acres to the state forming the nucleus of Seashore State Park. An additional 2,670 acres of land was acquired to add to the park, resulting in twenty-five miles of trails cleared by the Civilian Conservation Corps [CCC]. Two years after Seashore State Park opened to the public, an additional 2,373 acres were purchased. 



    The Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge was established with 4,600 acres. 



    The "Ash Wednesday Storm" brought 20 to 30-foot waves, over seven-foot tides, and damaged 340 homes and over 1000 automobiles. It destroyed the dunes at the Fleet Combat Training Center at Dam Neck. 



    The Rudee Inlet Authority opened Rudee Inlet to boating. 



    The Coastal Primary Sand Dunes Act was passed requiring permits to balance development, protection and preservation of coastal features. 



    The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service received $3 million to start buying 6,340 acres of forested swamps, farmland and marshes for the Back Bay Wildlife Refuge and the following year Congress approved $1.8 million to expand the refuge. 



    Seashore State Park was renamed First Landing State Park.

    Naval Aviation Monument

    Aviation Monument

    At 25th Street and Atlantic, the Naval Aviation Monument depicts three historic eras in naval aviation and represents the culmination of an eight-year undertaking by NAF's Hampton Roads Squadron.

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    Chesapioc, the principal village of the Chesapean Indians, was located at Great Neck Point. 



    Cape Henry was named in honor of King James' son Henry, Prince of Wales. 



    Edward Teach is said to have used "Blackbeard's Island" in Lake Joyce (just off present day Shore Drive near Bayville Park) as a hiding place prior to his death. 



    James M. Jordan Jr. became the first man to ride a surfboard on the east coast. 



    Edgar Cayce moved to Virginia Beach. 



    Two friends, William Deal and Ammon Tharp, formed a band that would later become known as Bill Deal and the Rhondels which is know for Beach Music. 



    Local military veteran Rudy Boesch was a contestant on the television reality show Survivor.

    Princess Anne County Training School

    princess anne meus

    Princess Anne County Training School was the first high school for African Americans in Princess Anne County. The school was a result of the African American community in the 1930s working together to raise money to build a school so their children could receive a proper education.

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    Thoroughgood House

    Adam Thoroughgood

    Nestled near the bank of the Lynnhaven River, the Thoroughgood House is one of the oldest brick homes in America. Its spectacular collection of late 17th- and early 18th-century English furniture and newly-restored gardens offer visitors a view of the lifestyle of a wealthy Virginia colonist.

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    Virginia Beach Surf and Rescue Museum

    Old Coast Guard

    This museum tells the story of the men who served in the US Life-Saving Service and the US Coast Guard. Galleries provide an insight into the early days of shipwrecks along the Virginia coast and the efforts of the life-savers at the stations. Located at 24th Street and the Boardwalk.

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    Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art


    The Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art has brought the significant art of our time to Hampton Roads. Through regularly changing exhibitions by national and international artists, the Center explores contemporary culture and brings it to life through educational programming and special events. The award-winning facility is also host to many regional events, performing arts programs, and family entertainment.

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