60 Epic Ways to Explore Virginia Beach In Winter

When you think of a winter beach vacation, Virginia Beach in winter may not be the first place you think of, but it has plenty to keep you busy throughout the winter months. Even though you most likely won’t spend time lying on the beach, the boardwalk is still a great place to walk.

During the winter, tourists can enjoy the beautiful coastal views, and the magnificent humpback whales begin to spout off the Virginia Beach coast.

Things to do in Virginia Beach

Take the three-and-a-half-hour drive from Northern Virginia and the Washington, D.C. area for a long weekend getaway along the Virginia Beach coast.

A winter vacation is a perfect time to grab an oceanfront hotel room at a low off-season price, enjoy some of the best seafood at top-notch local restaurants without the lines. If you are fortunate, you might even have beautifully mild weather to explore the coastal city.

Things to do in Virginia Beach

Table of Contents

Winter Weather

Throughout the winter, Virginia Beach’s average temperature is in the 50s and usually only has a few winter days that are below freezing.

Throughout the winter, Virginia Beach does get a handful of days where it will flurry. Accumulated snowfall does occasionally happen throughout the winter and can cause significant business shutdowns for days. But if you are in at the oceanfront, how cool would that snowman on the beach picture be?

Things to do in Virginia Beach Boardwalk

Where to Stay

Since the winter months are Virginia Beach’s off-season for tourists, you will often find deeply cut hotel rates to attract those who wish to explore the city on a brisk winter day.

The cuts are a perfect opportunity to stay at a more expensive hotel and not break your budget.

Cavalier Hotel and Beach Club

Along Atlantic Avenue, you will find the recently refurbished 100-year-old Cavalier Hotel. The Cavalier is known for its long list of honored guests, including 10 U.S. presidents, Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland. The long list of luxury amenities includes their indoor splash pool and the onsite Chesapeake Bay Distillery.

Comfort Suites Beachfront

The Comfort Suites Beachfront at 23rd Street and Atlantic Avenue is almost in the middle of the 40 block boardwalk. This casual all-suite hotel is perfect for families that need a bit of extra room to spread out. Enjoy the sunrise from your balcony, or step outside and stroll down the boardwalk. The hotel offers complimentary breakfast, a gym, a game room, and fire pits on the sundeck.

Hilton Virginia Beach

Conveniently located across the boardwalk from King Neptune’s statue, the 21-story upscale Hilton Virginia Beach is just south of Neptune Park.

The Sky Bar, which turns into a nightclub in the evenings with DJs, live music, and themed parties, is the perfect spot to enjoy the evening.

Almost all of the 289 rooms have a balcony and offer a beach view, perfect for watching the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean.

Virginia Beach Whale Watching

Outdoor Winter Fun

Go Whale Watching

Throughout the summer, tourists crowd the Virginia Beach oceanfront while enjoying the sun, sand, and passing dolphins. 

When the chillier winter weather visits between December and March, many of those tourists disappear. 

However, there is still much to see and do along the Virginia Beach shores. Annual winter visitors like the humpback and other whales pass through the region while migrating from Canada and New England to the warmer Atlantic Ocean waters.

Take a whale-watching trip and watch the humpback whales breach, slap their flipper or tail as they play, and eat along the coast. 

Rudee’s Tours

Rudee’s Tours provides a convenient location near the south end of the Virginia Beach Oceanfront at the Virginia Beach Fishing Center at Rudee’s Inlet.

This convenient ocean water location has you searching for whales within minutes of leaving the dock.

The captain and crew will take you on a two-hour educational tour through the Atlantic Ocean waters off the Virginia Beach coastline as they search out the migrating whales as well as seals, dolphins, and large waterfowl.

Virginia Aquarium Winter Wildlife Boat Trips

Let the ocean come to you and board the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center’s Atlantic Explorer for 2½ hours as you explore the sea. You will accompany some of the best local marine educators and researchers. They will share their expert knowledge and spot a variety of fascinating winter wildlife along your journey.

Shortly after leaving the dock, you will be scanning the waters for not only those energetic humpback whales jumping in the air and blowing their spouts but bottlenose dolphins, harbor seals, and harbor porpoises.

First Landing Charters

First Landing Charters gives you a small group option when it comes to hitting the seas to watch the whales jump, play, and feed off the Virginia Beach coast.

This trip begins in the Lynnhaven Inlet and heads out the Chesapeake Bay, passing the historic Cape Henry Lighthouse and into the Atlantic Ocean.

More Whale Watching in Virginia Beach

Virginia Lighthouses - Cape-Henry Lighthouse

Climb to the Top of a Lighthouse

At the northeast tip of Virginia Beach, where the Chesapeake Bay dumps into the Atlantic Ocean, you will find two lighthouses just 350 apart. 

The original Cape Henry Lighthouse was constructed in 1792, and the country’s 4th oldest lighthouse is open to the public. You can climb the black and white striped lighthouse circular metal staircase’s 191 steps to the top, where you can watch ships enter the harbor and take in the lantern room’s 360o view of the surrounding landscape.

The new Cape Henry Lighthouse was built in 1881 and is157-feet tall. Sadly, it is not open to the public.

The Old Cape Henry Lighthouse is open seven days a week from 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM during the winter. The cooler winter weather makes the hike up the 191 steps much more tolerable than during those high humidity summer days.

Both lighthouses are within the Fort Story Army Post. To get to the lighthouses, all adults must show ID (military, driver’s license, or passport) to enter the base gate.

Virginia Beach Virginia
Virginia Beach sunrises are worth waking up for

Watch a Sunrise and Sunset

A Virginia Beach sunrise is a beautiful thing with the lower humidity, crisper winter air. Rise early and watch the skies begin to lighten around 6:30. Winter sunrises occur around 7:00.

Any oceanfront hotel room that faces northeast will have a great view of the sunrise, and if you want to wrap yourself up and head out onto the beach.

To view the setting sun, head to First Landing State Park and find a spot on the beach, enjoy dinner at the Dockside Restaurant on Shore Drive, or climb to the top of Mount Trashmore.

Golf Year-Round in Virginia Beach

Winter in Virginia Beach doesn’t mean you have to stop playing golf. All the local golf courses are open year-round and offer a variety of challenges for every golfer.

The city of Virginia Beach has five public courses that include:

Other Public-Private Courses in Virginia Beach

Top Golf Virginia Beach

For a family outing that everyone will be sure to enjoy, head to Top Golf, where no matter your skill level, there is a game you will enjoy. After your round, enjoy lunch, dinner, or a snack of chicken and waffle sliders.

Virginia - First Landing State Park

Take a Hike

Visitors to Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge will surely want to kayak the waters, camp out along the Atlantic Ocean, and explore the sand dunes during warm weather. However, visitors will want to head out on the marsh trails by bike or on foot during the winter and see all the wintering wildfowl. Expert birders offer guided Winter Wildfowl Walks along the mile-long Bay Trail throughout the winter.

On a mild winter day, First Landing State Park has 19 miles of excellent trails to explore the seven different ecosystems the park offers.  

Things to do in Virginia Beach Boardwalk

Walk along the Boardwalk

Stroll down the three-mile Virginia Beach boardwalk, from Rudee Inlet and 2nd Street down to 40th Street. Even though it is winter, stay on the outer walkway as you skate, rollerblade, or walk, and bikers should cruise along the inner path enjoying the Atlantic Ocean views.  

When you need a break, there are plenty of great restaurants, shops, and monuments to explore.

Go Horseback Riding on the Beach

Virginia Beach / Outer Banks Horseback offers both 30-minute and 1-hour guided horseback rides along the beach from 26th to 9th Street during the offseason. See the oceanfront from a whole new perspective as you trot under the pier and through the Virginia Beach surf and sand.

Horseback Ride along the Atlantic Ocean. Rides are available most Fridays – Mondays.

Christmas lights in Virginia Beach

Christmas in Virginia Beach

Drive through the BayPort Credit Union Holiday Lights At The Beach

From the second weekend in November through the first weekend in January, take a drive along Virginia Beach’s boardwalk through lighted archways, swimming fish, and musical crabs. Be on the lookout for Santa and the 40-foot Christmas tree right on the beach too.

More Virginia Beach Christmas Events

Virginia Beach Oceanfront Surfer Mural

Take A Plunge into the Atlantic

Take part in the local Polar Plunge and help support the Special Olympics. 

Go for a Run

Go Ice Skating

Beer Flight

Sample Local Brews

Create your own local brewery stroll and sip your way along the Virginia Beach Craft Beer Trail. You can also find some great wineries and an iconic Virginia Beach drink or two along the trail.

The craft beer options have a wide range, from juicy IPAs, barrel-aged sours, amber lagers, as well as red and brown ales.

On the oceanfront, Waterman’s Surfside Grill is known for its famous Orange Crush made with vodka, triple sec, fresh orange juice, and a touch of soda.

In the Cavalier Hotel, you will find the Chesapeake Bay Distillery. They are known for their craft vodkas. Spend some time in the tasting room and try the Blue Ridge Vodka or the Ghost Pepper flavored vodka.

Back Bay Brewing Co. offers newly released beer and cider options each week. The brewery is a favorite local hangout for small-batch brews. Gringo’s Taqueria is next door to the brewery, and their fish taco pairs nicely with their Atlantic Ave IPA or Steel Pier Bohemian Lager.

In the former post office, find theSmartmouth Pilot House, where you can even bring Fido along and sit on the loading dock. Try their Saturday Morning IPA with marshmallows as you watch the Saturday cartoons on TV for those who want something sweet. During the evenings, visit the food trucks that sit outside for a variety of local favorites.

Off 21st Street, you will find The Bunker Brewpub. Along with the 20 local beers they have on tap, you can also enjoy the live music, trivia games or join a paint night as you enjoy the night.

Back Bay’s Farmhouse Brewing Co. offers tasting rooms, a farm market, food trucks, and pets are welcome to join you.

Reaver Beach Brewing Company offers a taproom and unique ales and sour beers. Be sure to try the Hoptopus IPA when you visit.

Commonwealth Brewing Company has great outdoor seating at the renovated former firehouse on those warmer winter afternoons. Try out their Marvolo Imperial Chocolate Stout or the Wapatoolie Tropical IPA.

For the wine lovers in the group, be sure to visit the Mermaid Winery on Shore Drive or plan your mini-getaway around the two-day Coastal Virginia Magazine Winefest that happens each February. During the festival, you can taste a variety of local Virginia wines, vintage Virginia wines, and craft beer while enjoying an array of live music.

Go to a Show

Virginia Beach has an excellent selection of entertainment venues where you can take in a Broadway show, a play, music concert, dance event, or even have dinner with detectives at the Murder Mystery Dinner Show.


Virginia Aquarium - Virginia Beach

Warm Places to Visit on a Cold Winter Day

Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center

Spend the day at the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center is a must during any season. It is the perfect place to stay cozy warm during the winter while watching the sea turtles, sharks, river otters, and jellyfish. The kids and kids at heart will be sure to learn something new as they work through the hands-on exhibits.

Throw a Tribal Axe

Have a little friendly competition at Tribal Axe, Virginia’s first recreational axe throwing range. 

Shuffleboard Anyone?

Pretend you are on that glorious cruise ship and head to Beachside Social, where you can play a game or two of shuffleboard or Bocce ball. They also have a casual cuisine menu, craft beer, and cocktails.

Try Indoor Skydiving

Have you ever wanted to try skydiving but didn’t have the heart to jump out of a plane? Then head to iFly’s wind tunnel and try your hand at skydiving indoors. It is sure to get your adrenaline going.

Virginia Beach Restaurants

Experience a Meal with Local Flavor 

Many seafood restaurants call the area home with both the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay bordering Virginia Beach. Winter is the perfect time to sample some of the delectable menu items without the summer crowds.

If you are visiting at the end of January – beginning of February, be sure to check the Virginia Beach Restaurant Week specials at some of the city’s finest restaurants.

Visit the Convention Center

The Virginia Beach Convention Center has an array of shows, festivals, and other events open to the public throughout the year. What could be better than spending a day indoors dreaming about warm spring and summer days RVing, gardening, and weddings?

  • Virginia Classic United Kennel Club – December
  • Hampton Roads International Auto Show – January
  • Tidewater RV Show – January
  • Uniquely Yours Bridal Showcase – January
  • Coastal Virginia Winefest – February
  • Mid-Atlantic Home and Garden Show – February

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