As someone who has lived in VB most of his life and is currently scoping out "better" places to live, I will try to not come across too cynical. The beach
- spend most of your time here. It is a decent beach - clean, wide, warm water, nice boardwalk (cement, actually), etc. If you like to rollerblade, the boardwalk is the place to do it. Above 40-somethingth street is the "north end" where the beach is less crowded and doesn't have a boardwalk or lifeguards; there are some cute houses in this area that are nice to bike around (be careful though, VB is not very bike friendly).
Head down towards Rudee Inlet to check out the surfers (or take surf lessons). The local surfers all have the same bumper sticker "Virginia has no waves", so don't expect much of a show, but there is some eye candy, haha.
There is a bike path to the side of the boardwalk but it is tiny and crowded with "family bikes" that take up the whole lane and go slower than most of the people that are walking on the boardwalk. If you want to bike for exercise or to get anywhere, use the trolley lanes along Atlantic.
There are plenty of places with live music along the boardwalk. Most of it is free for a good reason.
If you like touristy crap there is plenty to choose from at the oceanfront - ferris wheels, old timey photos, haunted houses, and the like. Hey, if that's what floats your boat, enjoy! First Landing State Park
- if you like the outdoors, definitely check out this park. Hiking, trail running, cycling, kayaking all through beautiful scenery (wetlands, bald cypress, hawks, fiddler crabs, spanish moss, turtles, etc.). There is an entrance on 64th street that you could probably jog or bike to from your hotel. Restaurants
– don’t exist. Okay, I’m vegetarian, so I probably won’t be too much help, but here goes: eat(or at least get drinks) at a couple of the places on the boardwalk (hey, you’re at the beach, you might as well). If you like seafood, you will probably have good luck. Some of the pricier places are Mahi Mah’s (sushi, but I haven’t tried it), Catch 31 (at the Hilton), and Tautog’s. My favorite place to get a drink and listen to a local (cover) band is Casper’s (look for the paper lanterns). Oh, get the spanakopita at the Little Feet cafe. Go to the Jewish Mother for some incredible desserts (or an adult milkshake, yummy) and listen to live music (mostly rasta). Another pricey place (not on the beach, but nearby) is Croc’s – they are a “green” restaurant (meaning they use buzzwords, haha, no really they are pretty cool and I’m told they have incredible crabcakes).
There are some restaurants at Hilltop (No Frill is one of my favorites) that are worth checking out.Shopping
– doesn’t exist. No really, it doesn’t. Sorry, VB residents and tourists buy cheap, imported, beach-themed crap (present company excluded, of course). If you are down during the Neptune Festival, you may be able to buy some good artwork or something.Bars
– don’t exist. Okay, we have a few, and the guys above noted the Garage and the Wave (both in Norfolk, nearby). Ambush is in VB. I can’t stand the smoke, so I rarely go to the gay bars (they are all very smoky). But, my recommendation for bars is the Rainbow Cactus (in VB). It has a good mix of guys and gals, different races, drag shows and dancing, and it is split in half (pop/drag on one side, country on the other).Norfolk
–has more to offer for bars, restaurants, shopping, nightlife, etc. If you are into navy stuff, check out Nauticus and some big grey boat that’s parked next to it. If you are into plants, check out the Botanical Garden. If there is a festival at Waterside, it might be worth visiting. If you like live music, check out who’s at the Norva (smoke-free!!!). If you like independent films, check out what’s playing at the Naro.