Seeping with deep history and beautiful coastal surroundings, Virginia Beach is the perfect destination to experience historic and environment-focused tours.
Historic Group Tours
When looking at history-centric tours in Virginia Beach, historic sites alone can fill several days, and a number of them are waterfront, including the Cape Henry Lighthouses, at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. The older of the two, built-in 1792, was the nation’s first federally funded public works project (approved by George Washington and overseen by Alexander Hamilton).
Climb its 191 steps and be rewarded with breathtaking 360-degree views of the Atlantic. If wanting to get the most out of your visit, take a guided tour and learn all about what makes this lighthouse such a unique aspect of Virginia Beach.
Despite the lighthouses along the Atlantic seaboard, shipwrecks were unfortunately a common occurrence, so “surf men” were stationed up and down the coast to save lives. Their important work is celebrated at the Virginia Beach Surf & Rescue Museum just off the Virginia Beach Boardwalk. The museum is housed in one of the cottages where surfmen lived and worked. Surrounded by modern hotels and shops, the museum seems small, but its collection — like the men who did this difficult work — is mighty and fascinating.
Group tours take “flight” at the Military Aviation Museum, one of the world’s largest collections of flyable World War I and II aircraft, featuring more than 60 vintage planes. Prearrange a tour led by a military veteran or opt for dinner and a private air show in a hangar with entertainment by the Doorway Singers, known for their USO tribute shows. Tour operators can also buy a flight aboard a World War II plane and award the flight to a tour guest.
Take in Virginia Beach’s Coastal Surrounding
When exploring environmental group tours, a great place to start is at First Landing State Park, which preserves the spot where English colonists first landed in 1607. With a mile and a half of sandy beach along the Chesapeake Bay and 20 miles of trails through swamps and hardwood forests, it’s no wonder First Landing is Virginia’s most popular state park. On guided hikes, groups can learn about the native people, pirates and Civil War soldiers who once trod there, or hear about its native plants and varied wildlife and the swamp’s role in balancing the environment. Active groups can take a kayak tour arranged through a local outfitter.
The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is a deep dive into aquatic life. In its aquariums, sharks, crocodiles and various species of fish glide through 800,000 gallons of water. Thousands of animals represent 300 species, including the crowd favorites, harbor seals and river otters. Early this year, the aquarium’s South Building reopened after an expansion and renovation with plenty of unique hands-on exhibits, including one where visitors can safely touch moon jellyfish.
The aquarium is also a home base for dolphin and whale watching tours. Spring through fall, boat tours follow friendly schools of bottlenose dolphins. In the winter, the search is on for whales. While whales aren’t as plentiful as dolphins, spotting one of these majestic creatures is a breathtaking moment one won’t soon forget in Virginia Beach.