If this past year has you craving some type of relaxing vacation or even just a fun, long-weekend-style escape from reality, you should look no further than a hotspot in our very own state: Virginia Beach.
But don’t assume that a beach vacation limits you to the sun and the sand.
You could enjoy the water during the day and then head downtown at night, or split your time between the beach and the city. There are probably a million ways to do it.
In Virginia Beach, when we reference “the city experience,” we’re talking about the cosmopolitan Town Center district. It’s less than 10 miles from the shoreline, and it offers upscale and premium shopping, seemingly unlimited culinary options, and a cultural hub chock-full of arts and entertainment options.
Make no mistake: Virginia Beach Town Center belongs on your Virginia Beach itinerary. There’s truly something for everyone.
For example, if you feel more comfortable with nationally known and adored restaurants, the district has some favorites, such as Ruth’s Chris Steak House and The Cheesecake Factory. Same goes for shopping: Anthropologie, anyone? But if you’d rather seek out the gems that can only be found locally, the downtown district boasts plenty of those, as well. Without further ado, we’ll share some recommendations.
While Town Center is a shopaholic’s dream, with stores like Lululemon Athletica, Monkee’s, Paper Source, Free People, Pottery Barn and Williams Sonoma, there are some local shops that rise to the top, as well. Here’s a handy directory to peruse.
When you stop in at places like Eclectic Design Florist & Gift, a must-visit for lovers of plants, we think you’ll see what we mean about those one-of-a-kind shops.
Two words: Come hungry!
The local food options are plentiful. From sunup to sundown, there’s always something delicious cooking. Start your day with a nitro brew coffee or juice and a smoothie bowl at Town Center Cold Pressed, whose locally sourced menu is as tasty as it is good for you.
With other fun food options like Saffron Indian Bistro, Zushi Japanese Bistro, Taste Unlimited, Quirks beer, burger, and burrito bar, and Keagan’s Irish Pub, you’ll be eating well for many days to come.
Town Center also isn’t lacking in local options to wash it all down, either. The drink venues boast some really cool, unique options.
For wine lovers and craft cocktail connoisseurs, Quirks has a truly impressive menu. While deciding which wines to try may be difficult, drinking them certainly isn’t.
Twist Martini & Associates is the place to be if you’re looking to end your evening with a couple of cocktails. Pro tip: Try the Happy Martini. You’ll see how it got its name.
If you’re in search of something a little sweeter, you have some fantastic options here, too.
Candy enthusiasts can’t leave before scoping out The Royal Chocolate. It should almost be considered a requirement to visit. With their melt-in-your-mouth chocolates made right in the shop, this place is worth a visit for the aromas alone.
For a delicious dessert with a decidedly French twist, Lamia’s Crepes showcases tasty crepes made in the true French tradition, created on traditional crepe pans right before your eyes.
One of the newest additions to the Town Center is Macaron Tart. With all-natural, made-from-scratch French macarons and tarts, recreational cooking classes, kids cooking camps, light brunch and High Tea any time, this shop is a true must-try.
Related: Must-try bakeries in Virginia Beach
Arts and Entertainment
Town Center is home to live productions featuring everything from local artists and regional symphonies to legends of the stage.
Every Wednesday evening in the summer, don’t miss the dancing and dishes at the “YNot Wednesdays?” concert series in the Sandler Center Plaza, with musical acts of all genres and generations.
The Sandler Center for the Performing Arts -- a 1,200-seat hall that’s a masterpiece of acoustical engineering, opened in 2007 -- brings in acts from across the world, including national recording artists, world-renowned symphonies and orchestras, and theatrical masterpieces.
For a cozier experience that can only be found in Virginia Beach, Zeiders American Dream Theater is a professional nonprofit theater that gives local writers, performers, and artists the perfect platform to inspire artistic expression of all varieties.
For fans of the visual arts, don’t miss the nationally acclaimed Jones Art Gallery, featuring original paintings from three generations of the Jones Family. Collectively, the family’s artwork has graced the covers of nine New York Times Best Sellers, including works by John Grisham and Ian McEwan, and has received artwork credits in more than 100 million books to date.
There’s always something to do at Town Center. The district has a year-round events schedule featuring outdoor concerts, restaurant week, wine and beer festivals and more.
So, what do you say -- ready to pack for that next trip?