ABOVE PHOTO: Virginia Delta Hotel view (Photos: Renée S. Gordon)
“The six and twentieth of Aprill, about foure a clocke in the morning, we descried the Land of Virginia: the same day wee entred into the Bay of Chesupioc” — Honorable Gentleman, Master George Percy
On April 26, 1607, three English ships docked in Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay and placed a wooden cross on the beach. They named the site of the first landing Cape Henry in honor of Prince Henry of Wales. Approximately 18,000 indigenous Native Americans — the Chesepians, who had inhabited the region for thousands of years — greeted the settlers.
Fourteen days later, the settlers relocated upstream to the more easily defended Jamestown Island and established the first permanent English settlement. Based on this early history, Virginia Beach can lay claim to being the first tourist destination in the country. (www.visitvirginiabeach.com)
Virginia Beach is a year-round destination that offers activities from history to adventure and is suitable for everyone from solo travelers to families. The resort boasts a three-mile boardwalk, originally constructed of wood in 1888, that is wheelchair accessible and 35-miles of oceanfront and bay beaches.
The boardwalk is filled with restaurants, accommodations, attractions, art and unique museums all with great views. Grommet Island Beach Park and Playground, the country’s first beach playground created for all ages and physical abilities, is situated on the south end of the boardwalk. (@visitvabeach)
Individual cottage accommodations gave way to the first of the luxury hotels in 1893. In 2021, the newest of the deluxe properties, Delta Hotels by Marriott Virginia Beach Bayfront Suites, made its debut. The hotel is designed to be a destination in itself and provide an ideal location from which to launch daytrips and area explorations. Its artfully decorated public and private spaces, in blues, tans and golds, are reminiscent of the sun, the sky and the Chesapeake.
As the only beachfront hotel on the Chesapeake Bay, the Delta Hotels by Marriott Virginia Beach Bayfront Suites offers 295 suites located on its own private beach. Additional amenities include a 24-7 state-of-the-art fitness center, exterior pool, kayak and bike rentals, and parking.
The Tin Cup Kitchen + Oyster Bar, the property’s iconic eatery, offers a prodigious daily menu of fresh oysters from all the regions of Virginia. The food here and the signature cocktail, the Tin Cup Smash, are highlights of your stay and are not to be missed.
Near the hotel is the 2,888-acre First Landing/ Seashore State Park, the most visited state park in Virginia. Ironically, the park was constructed by an all-African American unit of the Civilian Conservation Corps, but African Americans were refused entrance to the park. Visitors can avail themselves of the 1.25 beachfront, cypress swamp, dunes, salt marsh and 19-mile interpretive trail.
Virginia Beach has more than 200-miles of trails and many of those trails include new ways to experience beer. The larger Virginia Beach Beer Trail encompasses three self-guided trails, Bike, Brew and Arts, Brew and History Trail and Family Fun Trail. Each trail has distinctive, downloadable guides.
One of the most awesome things about Virginia Beach is the ability to go whale watching in the winter months during their annual breeding migration. The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center and Rudee Tours offer boat tours that promise wildlife sightings. (www.rudeetours.com / www.virginiaaquarium.com)
Virginia Beach is poised to become a center for historic research on — and the collection and dissemination of — resources on regional African American culture. Situated in a historically rich area the city serves as a springboard to explore the colonial history of settlers, Native Americans and African Americans. Dr. Amelia Ross-Hammond, as founder and chairman of the Virginia African American Cultural Center (VAACC) is tasked with crafting and implementing a vision for the transmission of those stories, transcending race, that formed Virginia Beach specifically and Virginia in general. (www.vaaccvb.org)
The VAACC will be erected on a 4.8-acre parcel in the center of seven historically significant African American neighborhoods. The current design is for a multi-purpose structure that includes exhibition areas, a rotunda, artist studios, meeting, research and classrooms. Ongoing programs will showcase performances, exhibitions, trails and special events.
In March 2021, the VAACC inaugurated a 13-site Self-Guided Tour of African American History in Virginia Beach. The tour highlights sites across 14 historic African American neighborhoods within Virginia Beach. A brochure is available.
Superlative sunrises and sunsets are woven into the fabric of VA Beach. You can begin or end your trip with one of these awesome sights. Little Island Park is a great place to enjoy the sunrise (www.vbgov.com/government/departments/parks-recreation/parks-trails/city-parks/Pages/little-island-park.aspx), or you can settle down on Chesapeake Bay Beach for a life-altering sunset.