Eager to lace up your hiking shoes, paddle through the ocean’s waves, or sleep under the stars? Then Virginia Beach may just be the outdoor adventure you never knew you needed in your life! While our coastal paradise has long beckoned sunbathers and sandcastle-builders, Virginia Beach is also a wonderland for sports enthusiasts and nature lovers. From water sports and hiking to wildlife watching and ziplining through the trees, there’s no shortage of ways to experience the great outdoors in Virginia Beach. Check out this three-day itinerary for some seriously fun outdoor travel ideas.

Day One: Camp Right on the Beach


False Cape Camping

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Kick off your long weekend at False Cape State Park, which offers six miles of gloriously unspoiled coastline, more than 16 miles of hiking and biking trails and – for the truly adventurous – primitive camp sites and even beach camping. False Cape is one of our favorite spots to explore for a unique glimpse into our coastal landscape. With sand dunes, woodlands, fields and salt marshes, the scenery across this state park is unmatched. Birdwatchers, brace yourselves. This landscape is also home to more than 300 species of nesting and migratory songbirds, as well as snow geese, river otters, white-tailed deer, red foxes, loggerhead turtles and bald eagles.

To camp at False Cape State Park, you need to make a reservation in advance by calling 800-933-PARK. There are four primitive campgrounds, including two on the ocean side and two on the bay side. Unfortunately, you can’t book camp sites online or make same-day reservations. Park at Little Island Park in Sandbridge. From here, you’ll need to hike or pedal between six and nine miles to reach the camp sites. Pack light, friends!  

The park has 40 tent sites. All four campgrounds have a potable water spigot, as well as privies. All sites also have a picnic table and a lantern post, but no fire ring (campfires are not allowed at False Cape State Park). At the ocean campground sites, set up your tent on a designated tent pad under a canopy of live oaks or walk out to the dunes to set up your tent on the sand, just steps from the ocean. The choice is yours!


Once you’ve set up your tent, spend the rest of the afternoon getting to know this beautiful park. With more than 20 hiking and biking trails, which vary in length and range from easy to difficult, there are so many ways to explore one of the last remaining undeveloped areas on the East Coast.

The Sand Ridge Trail runs 6.2 miles along the spine of False Cape State Park. As you walk or pedal along this scenic trail, branch off onto short trails to reach quiet coves and overlooks with views across the Atlantic Ocean and Back Bay. A bike is the best bet to reach the Wash Woods historic site and enjoy the diversity of park views, including dunes, maritime forests, wooded swamps, and marshes.  


As the sun sets, fire up your portable stove (cooking stoves are allowed) and enjoy the serenity that comes from spending the evening in a wild place. As night falls, gaze up at constellations and ponder the galaxies, then tuck in early to be lulled to sleep by the sound of waves gently rolling in. While these camp sites may lack modern conveniences and amenities, they offer something far more special – unencumbered beauty, salty ocean breezes, rhythmic waves, starlit skies and endless stretches of sandy beach.


Day Two: Relax and Unwind


Neptune Sunrise

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Get an early start to your day by unzipping your tent for a breathtaking sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean. Soak up the warm morning glow before you pack up and bid farewell to your False Cape adventure. It’s a long hike or pedal back to the car (6 to 9 miles), so you’ll get your exercise in early.

Once you’ve loaded up your car, seek comfort in modern amenities, like a cozy brunch on the boardwalk. A favorite is Katie’s 33rd Street Café on the Virginia Beach Oceanfront. Not only can you caffeinate with a hot cup of joe, but you can fuel up after your night under the stars with an omelet or an eggs benedict, with great views of the Atlantic Ocean. We say that’s a win-win.

From here, it’s an easy five-block walk north on the iconic Virginia Beach Boardwalk to 31st Street for a can’t-miss photo-op with King Neptune. This welcoming 34-foot-tall statue is a fan favorite among visitors eager to snap a selfie with one of the city’s most iconic seaside landmarks.

First Landing State Park

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At three miles in length, the Virginia Beach Boardwalk was built with cyclists in mind, so gear up for a two-wheeled adventure. Since we know it’s not always practical to bring a bike with you on vacay, Cherie’s Bicycle & Blade Rentals has 14 locations up and down the oceanfront Boardwalk, all ready to serve you when you’re ready to explore. As a bonus, a lane made just for bicycles runs parallel to the Boardwalk’s pedestrian footpath.

For a longer ride, continue north on the Boardwalk until it ends at 40th Street, then hop over to Pacific Avenue and ride until you reach the 64th Street entrance of First Landing State Park. You’ll find the 6.1-mile (one-way) Cape Henry Trail, which spans the length of this state park.

The Cape Henry Trail is the longest trail in the park. Accessible to both hikers and bikers, this shaded trail guides visitors through dense groves of live oak and pine trees, as well as freshwater swamps and salt marshes. At the trailhead on the north end of the park, pick up the 0.4-mile Live Oak Trail. Cross over Shore Drive for the visitor center and a grill that sells beach food faves like hot dogs and fries. Once you feel refreshed, get back on your bike for the return ride to the Virginia Beach Boardwalk.


Chesapeake Bay Sunrise

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After an exhilarating cycling adventure, drop off your bikes then close out your day with a gorgeous sunset over the Chesapeake Bay at Chic’s Beach. But first, order up a to-go dinner from a local favorite, such as Chick’s Oyster Bar or Hot Tuna. At Chic’s Beach, grab a picnic table to enjoy your meal, then stroll along the water’s edge at sunset.

Close your eyes for the night at a hotel that’s within walking distance from Chic’s Beach, like Delta Hotels by Marriott Virgina Beach Waterfront.


Day Three: Find Your Adventure


Oceanfront Paddleboarding

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Jumpstart your day with a coffee and freshly-made donuts at the hotel’s SandBar Market, then get out on the water, whether on a kayak, a stand-up paddleboard, a surfboard, a boat or a jet ski. There are no shortage of ways to explore, whether in the Atlantic Ocean, the Chesapeake Bay, Back Bay or the Lynnhaven River. Surfers can rent gear at local surf shops. Forgot sunblock or flip-flips? No worries, our surf shops have those too. Outfitters such as VB Surf Sessions, offer surfing lessons and surf camps for those who want to go all in on the sport of surfing in Virginia Beach. Hang ten, friends!

From May through September, get up close to bottlenose dolphins, which live year-round in the nutrient-rich waters of the Chesapeake Bay, on a guided 90-minute dolphin watching boat tour with Rudee Tours. You can also book guided kayaking excursion nearly year-round to see dolphins with Chesapean Outdoors. Kayak tours set off to the confluence of the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean. It’s a favorite spot for playful dolphins to frolic. It also offers an incredible photo op and an unforgettable Virginia Beach experience!

If you plan to visit in winter, be sure to go on a whale-watching cruise. From December through early-March, humpback whales can be seen swimming in the ocean waters off the coastline, breaching out of the water and slapping their tails. Embrace the chilly thrill with an exciting winter boat tour at the Virginia Aquarium or a two-hour whale watching cruise with Rudee Tours.


The Adventure Park

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Ready for more thrills? Head up into the trees for an entirely new perspective of Virginia Beach. The Adventure Park at Virginia Aquarium is the largest of its kind in Virginia and brings all the thrills with multiple ziplines and aerial ropes challenge courses. It’s perfect for dare-devils ages five and up. Zip through the air, up to 150 feet up, through a series of courses. Look up to see platforms in the trees connected by cables, wood, and rope, that form bridges. Climb from bridge to bridge and challenge yourself with outdoor fun and self-discovery.

Located just down the road from the Adventure Park, a second sky-high treetop adventure awaits at Adventureworks, a park with super-fun ziplining experiences, including canopy zip tours and moonlight zip tours, for guests ages eight and up. Get ready to rock nine zip lines, up to 1,000 feet in length, all nestled within 60 acres of maritime forests. 


Pirate Parasail Tours

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With your feet firmly back on solid ground – for now, at least – settle in for dinner at a waterfront restaurant, like Rudee’s On the Inlet Restaurant & Cabana Bar or Big Sam’s Inlet Café & Raw Bar. Both are a stone’s throw from Rudee Inlet, the take-off point for several high-flying parasailing tours, including Pirate Parasail.

Savor an absolutely brilliant sunset while gliding 1,000 feet above the water. This free-flying adventure is the perfect storybook ending that your weekend in Virginia Beach truly deserves.