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

    Adam 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.

    Learn More

    Atlantic Wildfowl Heritage Museum

    Wildfowl

    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.

    Learn More

    Cape Henry Lighhouses

    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.

    Learn More

    Church and Religion

    Religion

    1607 

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

     

    1662 

    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. 

     

    1872 

    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. 

     

    1890 

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

     

    1960 

    Pat Robertson establishes the Christian Broadcasting Network in Virginia Beach.

    Cultural Life

    1888 

    Virginia Beach constructs its first wooden boardwalk.

     

    1926

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

     

    1929 

    The Cavalier Beach Club opened.

     

    1933 

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

     

    1942 

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

     

    1956 

    The first Boardwalk Art Show was held. 

     

    1962

    The East Coast Surfing Championship was established. 

     

    1971 

    Mount Trashmore opened as a city park. 

     

    1996 

    The Virginia Beach Amphitheater was opened.

     

    2001 

    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.

    Learn More

    Military

    Military

    1607 

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

     

    1781

    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. 

     

    1807

    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. 

     

    1914

    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. 

     

    1942 

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

     

    1943

    The Naval Auxiliary Air Station Oceana was commissioned. 

     

    1944 

    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. 

     

    1981

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

     

    1988

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

     

    2006

    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.

    Learn More

    Natural Environment

    Natural

    1850 

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


    1936 

    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. 

     

    1938 

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

     

    1962

    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. 

     

    1968

    The Rudee Inlet Authority opened Rudee Inlet to boating. 

     

    1982

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

     

    1991

    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. 

     

    1995 

    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.

    Learn More

    Old Coast Guard Station

    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.

    Learn More

    People

    People

    1585 

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

     

    1607 

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

     

    1718 

    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. 

     

    1912 

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

     

    1925 

    Edgar Cayce moved to Virginia Beach. 

     

    1960 

    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. 

     

    2000 

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

    Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art

    MOCA

    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.

    Learn More
Current Weather
79°F / 26°C
  • Near Me
  • Dining
  • Events
  • Attractions
  • Where To Stay