Top 12 Free Things to do in Virginia Beach

Last Updated on February 6, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Known for its beautiful beaches and lively boardwalk, Virginia Beach overflows with fun activities to enjoy without spending a dime.

ActivityDescription
Relax at Chesapeake Bay BeachEnjoy the beach with lifeguard patrols and accessible amenities.
Hike First Landing State ParkExplore trails through diverse ecosystems and historical sites.
See the Old Coast Guard StationVisit the museum showcasing maritime history and rescues.
Attend Free Concerts at 31st Street StageEnjoy live music and entertainment on the beach boardwalk.
Tour the Historic Cavalier HotelExplore the grandeur of this restored historic hotel.
Stroll the Virginia Beach BoardwalkExperience street performers, shops, and free events.
Explore Mount Trashmore ParkVisit the park made from a converted landfill with many amenities.
Edgar Cayce Association for Research and EnlightenmentLearn about holistic health and the works of Edgar Cayce.
Watch Planes at Military Aviation MuseumView historic aircraft and watch restoration projects.
Attend Free Yoga Classes on the Beach BoardwalkJoin yoga sessions with ocean views.
Visit the Lynnhaven House MuseumDiscover Colonial life in one of Virginia’s oldest homes.
See the Cape Henry LighthouseVisit the historic lighthouse with guided tours.
Enjoy Free Fridays at the Chrysler Museum of ArtAccess the art museum’s extensive collection without charge.

Museums, parks, hiking trails and wildlife viewing areas offer plenty to fill your itinerary. Take advantage of free festivals, outdoor concerts and explorations of maritime heritage.

Relax at Chesapeake Bay Beach

Name and Location: Chesapeake Bay Beach is located in Virginia Beach, VA stretching along the southern shore of the Chesapeake Bay. It offers over 5 miles of sandy beachfront for swimming, sunbathing, and relaxation.

History and Significance: Previously undeveloped tidal marshlands, Chesapeake Bay Beach has become a popular summertime destination for Virginia Beach residents and visitors seeking a peaceful, scenic waterside beach getaway close to home.

What to Expect: Visitors can expect fairly calm waves and water conditions given the beach’s sheltered location along the Chesapeake Bay rather than directly on the Atlantic Ocean. Lifeguards are on duty daily throughout summer.

Visitor Information: The beach has free entry and parking available in designated lots. Restrooms and concessions are seasonally available. Leashed dogs allowed before 10 am and after 6 pm during summer.

Stretching for three miles parallel to the lively boardwalk, Chesapeake Bay Beach provides plenty of space to stake out your own area along free public access points. Build sandcastles, soak up the sun or take a refreshing dip in the ocean along this clean sandy beach. You can pack a lunch, use free grills for cooking or grab an affordable bite from concessions stands along the boardwalk. Lifeguards on duty from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day make this a family-friendly spot.

Hike First Landing State Park

Name and Location: First Landing State Park occupies over 2,900 acres along the Chesapeake Bay shoreline in coastal Virginia Beach, Virginia. It offers multiple hiking trails through marsh, forest, and beach ecosystems.

History and Significance: Originally called Cape Henry, the site is notable as the first landing place of the 1607 Jamestown colonists. Recreational facilities were added starting in the 1930s, creating the park which now hosts over a million annual visitors.

What to Expect: 19 miles of scenic hiking trails traverse diverse coastal habitats, including Cypress Swamp Trail, Osmanthus Trail, and more, offering opportunities to observe wildlife and explore nature. Some trails access beach and bay areas for water recreation.

Visitor Information: The park is open year-round with a $5-10 per vehicle parking fee depending on season. Amenities include trails, campgrounds, cabin rentals, kayak launches, visitor center with gift shop.

Immerse yourself in nature and early Colonial history while exploring 19 miles of woodland trails at First Landing State Park. Located at the site of the first English colonists’ arrival in 1607, this park contains sandy Chesapeake Bay beaches, lagoons, forested wetlands and pine woodlands teeming with wildlife to observe. Follow self-guided nature trails to scenic overlooks, historic landmarks and even rare plants unique to this ecosystem. Pack a picnic or have lunch at the park’s outdoor cafe after working up an appetite on the trails which are open year-round.

See the Old Coast Guard Station

Name and Location: The Old Coast Guard Station at 24th Street in Virginia Beach, VA, is a National Historic site and active training facility on the Chesapeake Bayfront walkway.

History and Significance: Built in 1903, the station trained surfmen in lifesaving techniques along the Atlantic coast. The Queen Anne-style main building now serves as a maritime museum.

What to Expect: Visitors can take self-guided tours of the museum during open hours to view exhibits/materials showcasing the history of the life saving service, surfmen, and the station. Interpretive signage located on exterior grounds.

Visitor Information: Museum open Tuesday-Saturday, 10am-4pm. Entry is free but donations accepted. Active military ID provides access to adjacent training center by coordination.

Built in 1903, the Seatack Old Coast Guard Station now serves as the Virginia Beach Surf and Rescue Museum following extensive renovations. This National Historic Landmark contains artifacts from the Coast Guard’s past, galleries of vintage surfboards, and exhibits on daring ocean rescues off the Virginia shore. Visitors can also explore boating safety through family-friendly interactive displays. The museum lies adjacent to scenic Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, perfect for spotting myriad migratory birds along the bay.

Attend a Free Concert on 31st Street Stage

Name and Location: The 31st Street Stage is an outdoor concert venue located at the northern end of the Virginia Beach Oceanfront Boardwalk at 31st Street, next to Neptune’s Park.

History and Significance: The stage has provided free live music and entertainment for Virginia Beach visitors and residents along the boardwalk for over 30 years. Over 200 bands from around the country perform each year.

What to Expect: Music genres ranging from rock, country, blues, reggae and more are hosted nearly nightly from May through September, along with festivals like the American Music Festival. Folding chairs and snacks allowed.

Visitor Information: The outdoor stage has open seating on a first come, first served basis with room for 800 on the plaza. Show schedules are available online. Beach street parking available nearby.

For great live music and entertainment options without the ticket price, check out events at the 31st Street Stage located on the beach boardwalk. This covered outdoor venue hosts free concerts throughout the summer featuring local bands and tribute acts spanning rock, funk, country and soul genres. Audiences can groove to tunes while kids dance and play. Nearby Neptune’s Park also provides lawn seating for larger free concert festival events supported by corporate sponsors.

Tour the Historic Cavalier Hotel

Name and Location: The Historic Cavalier Hotel is located at 4200 Atlantic Avenue along Virginia Beach’s scenic Atlantic Ocean shore drive.

History and Significance: Constructed in 1927, the luxury hotel hosted notable guests like Judy Garland and seven U.S. Presidents before falling into disrepair and reopening in 2021 after extensive renovation and restoration.

What to Expect: The rebuilt Cavalier features 85 restored historic rooms alongside modern additions like an grand ballroom, restaurant, bourbon distillery, and oceanfront suites. Public spaces display artifacts/images showcasing the iconic property’s history.

Visitor Information: 2023 room rates start around $300 per night with seasonal variations. On-site restaurants, distillery, spa and indoor pool are also open to visitors by reservation. Valet parking offered.

First opened in 1927, the iconic Cavalier Hotel hosted celebrities, royalty and seven US Presidents during its heyday. Take a free tour to explore the grand restored lobby with marble fountain along with the still-glamorous guest rooms and restaurants. Ornate fireplaces, carved oak paneling, painted ceilings and period furniture provide a glimpse back in time. Guests can also visit the lively Hunt Room bar, named for the multitude of taxidermy trophies lining the walls harkening back to early 20th Century high society.

Stroll the Virginia Beach Boardwalk

Name and Location: The Virginia Beach Boardwalk is a 3-mile oceanfront walkway located along Atlantic Avenue in the Resort Area district of the city.

History and Significance: Originally built in 1888, the iconic boardwalk has offered seaside promenading, entertainment, amusements and dining for over 130 years as a landmark Virginia Beach attraction.

What to Expect: Visitors can walk, jog or bike along the paved boardwalk with views of the sandy beach and Atlantic Ocean. The path features eateries, gift shops, fishing piers, amusement park rides and various street performers.

Visitor Information: The boardwalk is free and open 24/7 year-round. Summer has peak activity with more attractions open, but many bars, restaurants and rides operate in the off-season as well.

No trip here is complete without a stroll along the three-mile oceanfront boardwalk. Watch street performers as you explore lively shops, amusement rides and restaurants. The boardwalk comes alive on summer weekends with free concerts, dance lessons, art shows and fitness events perfect for people-watching. Benches and grassy areas offer front-row views of the beach and passing boats. At the 24th Street Park main hub, check event calendars for free festivals and movie nights under the stars.

Explore Mount Trashmore Park

Name and Location: Mount Trashmore Park is a 165 acre city park in Virginia Beach between Independence Blvd and Edwin Dr, featuring recreational facilities centered around a former landfill site.

History and Significance: Opened in 1974 after layers of waste reached over 60 ft high, the former landfill was converted to a park with surrounding grounds added through the 1980s to create Mount Trashmore as it presently exists.

What to Expect: In addition to views from the 60 ft tall Mount Trashmore mound, the park has walking trails, playgrounds, athletic fields, skate park, basketball courts, BMX track, wave pool, waterslides and more.

Visitor Information: Park open daily, 7am to dusk. Grounds are free but fees for waterpark, sports facility rentals. Various parking lots provide access to different park sections.

Towering 165 feet over Virginia Beach, Mount Trashmore resulted from the innovative idea to convert landfill waste into a beautiful park space. After opening in 1974, 60 acres became home to fragrant gardens, picnic grounds, playgrounds and an elevated walking loop with panoramic city views. Mount Trashmore also features a skate park, sports fields, winter tubing hill and large off-leash dog park. An Earth Day celebration, summer concert series and food truck events happen annually.

See the Edgar Cayce Association for Research and Enlightenment

Name and Location: Located in Virginia Beach, the non-profit Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E.) was founded in 1931 to facilitate research into the psychic readings of Edgar Cayce and provide educational resources.

History and Significance: Edgar Cayce (1877-1945) was a psychic who gave “readings” to thousands while in a trance state. The A.R.E. aims to encourage research into intuition, dream interpretation, spirituality, personal transformation, and extended human capacities.

What to Expect: Visitors can explore the grounds including a meditation garden, labyrinth, and pyramid structure. The on-site library and conference center provides consciousness research resources. Lectures, workshops, retreats and online events offered.

Visitor Information: Free tours weekdays. Memberships available. Conferences, retreats, counselings can be scheduled.

Called the “Sleeping Prophet,” Edgar Cayce garnered fame for intuitively accessing medical cures, ancient civilizations and future events while in a trance state. Visitors can learn about his storied life along with theory on holistic healing and the Akashic records at the non-profit Association for Research and Enlightenment Cayce founded in Virginia Beach during the 1930s. Explore the meditative Prayer Room, health center, dream interpretation resources, healing therapies and a metaphysical library open to the public.

Watch Planes at Military Aviation Museum

Name and Location: The Military Aviation Museum near the Norfolk Airport displays one of the world’s largest private collections of WWI and WWII military aircraft, aviation artifacts and memorabilia.

History and Significance: Founded in 1999, the non-profit museum’s goal is to educate people on technological advances and sacrifices of 20th century military aviation history through restored vintage planes and exhibitions.

What to Expect: Display highlights include 50+ rare aircraft, engines, uniforms, photographs and models related to early military flights. Aircraft ride experiences, educational programs and facility rentals offered.

Visitor Information: Open daily except major holidays, 9am-5pm. General admission $18 adults. Website provides visitor tips and directions. Active military and age discounts available, along with group/senior rates.

Just south of Virginia Beach, the Military Aviation Museum provides a living history of military air power with over 60 meticulously restored aircraft from WWI to present day. Visitors can view these aviation artifacts up-close and even climb aboard certain planes while exploring detailed provenance exhibits. Watch volunteers restore vintage aircraft or see engines tested on select days. Guests will appreciate this aviation museum started by a retired Navy pilot which continues expanding through ever-growing restoration projects funded by donations.

Attend Free Yoga Classes on the Beach Boardwalk

Name and Location: Free weekly yoga classes are offered along the Virginia Beach Boardwalk Resort Area at 5th Street Stage during summer, overlooking the beach.

History and Significance: The Virginia Beach Department of Parks and Recreation has sponsored these free beachfront yoga sessions for several years to promote health, wellness and community along the scenic boardwalk.

What to Expect: Classes take place weekly June through August with two sessions per day, morning and evening. All levels are welcome. Participants should bring own mat and water. Class size is first come, first served.

Visitor Information: Updated yoga class schedules are posted on VBgov.com Parks and Rec site. No registration needed. Located at 5th Street Stage near Neptune statue on boardwalk just north of 4th street.

Take in refreshing ocean views and breezes while improving flexibility at the Beach Street free yoga classes. Located at 24th street near the main Chesapeake Bay Beach entrance, visitors can join these daily one-hour vinyasa flow sessions suitable for all levels. Taught by experienced instructors, the classes incorporate breathing technique and balance while building core strength. Arrive early to secure a spot. Mats are provided, though regulars often bring their own. Unwind afterwards while watching the sunset over the bay.

Visit the Lynnhaven House Museum

Name and Location: Lynnhaven House Museum is a historic 18th-century plantation home located at 4405 Wishart Road in Virginia Beach showcasing colonial-era regional history.

History and Significance: Built circa 1725, Lynnhaven House is one of the oldest homes in Virginia Beach. The former residence of farmer and community leader Thomas Wishart II is now operated as a hands-on living history museum.

What to Expect: Guided tours allow visitors to explore the c.1725 house, reconstructed kitchen and period gardens. Seasonal events like teas, exhibits and 18th century games educates on colonial Virginia lifestyles and culture.

Visitor Information: The museum is open Wednesday-Sunday, 10am-4pm with last tour at 3pm. Admission charged. Group tours require reservations. Picnicking permitted on grounds.

Journey back in time to 1725 at Lynnhaven House, one of the oldest homes in Virginia. This brick home built by an early English colonist allows visitors to imagine Colonial life in Princess Anne County before development. Museum exhibits feature archaeological artifacts found on-site along with antique furnishings and reproduction items depicting living conditions from the 1700s period. Guests can also explore the herb and kitchen gardens. The museum lies adjacent to tranquil Lynnhaven River perfect for paddlers and anglers.

See the Cape Henry Lighthouse

Name and Location: The Cape Henry Lighthouse, located at Fort Story on the Cape Henry peninsula at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia Beach, VA, stands 88 feet tall as the oldest lighthouse still in use in the state.

History and Significance: Completed in 1792, it guided ships entering the bay for over 200 years. Its site near the historic First Landing spot where English colonists first came ashore gives it additional historical importance.

What to Expect: Guests can take guided tours showcasing panoramic views from the top. An on-site museum highlights Cape Henry’s maritime history. Nearby beach, trails and picnic areas also provide recreational opportunities.

Visitor Information: Lighthouse tours must be scheduled online or through the gift shop in advance. Government ID required for base access. Ticket prices start at $10 for adults with discounts available.

Standing tall near the point where the Chesapeake Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean, this historic lighthouse has guided mariners along the Virginia shore for over 250 years. Completed in 1792, the Cape Henry Lighthouse still actively warns ships with an automated beacon. Guests can access the distinctive red and white tower’s exterior grounds year-round and climb to the top on special open house days held throughout warmer months. A small on-site museum covers the vital role this iconic tower plays in navigation.

Enjoy Free Fridays at the Chrysler Museum of Art

Name and Location: Chrysler Museum of Art located in downtown Norfolk features an extensive collection spanning over 30,000 works of art from ancient to modern housed within a grand building situated along the picturesque Hague inlet.

History and Significance: Established in 1933 by donation from automobile pioneer Walter Chrysler Jr., the Chrysler holds important collections including Renaissance, Victorian, American, and glassworks pieces.

What to Expect: Every Friday admission is free all day to view galleries of paintings, sculpture, photography, and special rotating exhibits. Other days offer free entry after noon. Family art workshops and events occur regularly.

Visitor Information: Normally closed Mondays and major holidays. Parking garages located nearby. Museum store, glassworking demos and cafe are also on site. Check website for schedule/offerings.

Boasting an impressive 30,000 piece collection spanning 5,000 years of world history, the Chrysler Museum of Art allows free entry every Friday. Visitors can explore galleries filled with European master painters, intricate glasswork displays including 10,000 Venetian and American pieces, ancient Egyptian relics and more. As the principal visual arts forum in the Hampton Roads region, the Chrysler hosts dynamic rotating exhibits ranging from Renaissance sculpture to Pop art alongside creative family programs offered free-of-charge on Fridays.

Offering natural scenery alongside historical and cultural attractions, Virginia Beach overflows with entertaining free activities to fill any itinerary. Outdoor recreation, museums, music and sweeping Atlantic vistas provide memorable moments without straining your vacation budget.

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