Virginia Beach is a city that is situated in Virginia’s Hampton Roads metropolitan area. It is located on the Atlantic Ocean at the opening of Chesapeake Bay. The city covers an area of almost five hundred square miles and has a population of approximately four hundred and thirty thousand residents. Virginia Beach is known throughout the world as a resort city and contains hundreds of motels, restaurants and hotels. It also contains miles of beautiful beaches which attracts sun worshipers from all over. Virginia Beach is also known for the East Coast Surfing Championships and the North American Sand Soccer Championship.
The area on which Virginia Beach was founded, was originally home to a Native American tribe known as the Chesepians. This tribe occupied the area around not only Virginia Beach but also the cities of Chesapeake, Portsmouth and Norfolk. The first Europeans to visit the area came at the beginning of the sixteenth century. This is when Captain Christopher Newport and his crew landed at the mouth of Chesapeake Bay. Upon landfall, they named it Cape Henry after the Prince of Wales, Henry Frederick. Newport didn’t stay in the area, however. He was ordered to establish a site further inland. Newport left and founded the Jamestown settlement. The first European to establish a permanent settlement was Englishman Adam Thoroughgood. When he turned eighteen he traveled to the area as an indentured servant in 1622. He would work his debt off and became a prominent citizen of the area. Today, Virginia Beach is a city whose economy is based upon agriculture, the defense industry and tourism. Agribusiness in the city produces over eighty million dollars a year for its economy. There are over one hundred and fifty farms that exist in Virginia Beach. The city has several military installations which include the United States Army’s Fort Story, FTC Dam Neck and the Navy’s NAS Oceana. Tourism produces a large percentage of the city’s economy. Over eight hundred and fifty million dollars are spent by two and a half million tourists here and produces over fifteen thousand jobs for the city. Tourist related activites raise over seventy-three million dollars for the city government, as well.
First Landing State Park is a popular attraction among visitors to Virginia Beach. This state park is close to the original land site of Christopher Newport before he left to found Jamestown. First Landing State Park has fishing and swimming areas, cabins, campgrounds and places to fish. It also contains almost twenty miles of trails that are perfect for biking and hiking. This park receives over a million visitors every year, making it the most popular state park in the state of Virginia. It was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression and covers an area of twenty-eight hundred acres. Its original name was Seashore State Park, but was changed in 1997 to honor the heritage of the area where Christopher Newport made landfall. Old Cape Henry Lighthouse is another prominent attraction in the city. This lighthouse was the first one to ever be authorized by the government of the United States. It was built in 1792 and was the first federally funded construction project under the newly ratified constitution of the United States. It cost nineteen thousand dollars to build at that time. The lighthouse is ninety feet high and its base is larger then its top. Its base is twenty-six feet in diameter and its top is sixteen feet in diameter. During the nineteenth century, there were concerns raised about the safety of the lighthouse and a new one was constructed in 1881 and called the New Cape Henry Lighthouse. This lighthouse stands three hundred and fifty feet to the southwest of the original and is still in use today. The Old Cape Henry Lighthouse has since been renovated and was made a National Historic Landmark in 1964. False Cape State Park is another prominent attraction in the city. The park adjoins Virginia’s border with North Carolina. Visitors can partake in biking, boating and hiking in the park. The park also has beach crawlers and trams that are available for visitors. There are also campgrounds located throughout the park.
Another popular attraction in Virginia Beach is the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center. This museum, originally known as the Virginia Marine Science Museum, is a marine science museum and an aquarium. It features exhibits that are located in seven hundred gallons of salt water and fresh water displays. It has two buildings which are the Marsh Pavilion and the Bay & Ocean Pavilion. These buildings are connected by a half mile outdoor trail that runs along Owls Creek Salt Marsh. The Marsh Pavilion has snakes, sea horses and sea otters in a marsh like environment. The Bay & Ocean Pavilion contains the Norfolk Canyon Aquarium. The Norfolk Canyon Aquarium showcases a reasonable simile of the underwater environment of Virginia’s coast. It contains a variety of fish, sting rays and sharks. The aquarium also contains a program resposible for rescuing injured marine mammals such as whales, dolphins and seals. Other key features of the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is the Osprey Cafe and a IMAX Theater.
Other attractions at Virginia Beach include the Hunt Club Farm, Reilly School of Massage, Fort Story Jetty Beach, Virginia Beach Boardwalk, Rudee Flipper, Cypress Point Country Club, Motor World, Sandbridge Beach, Edgar Cayce’s Association for Research and Enlightenment, The Best Body Company, Captain Mickey’s Rudee Inlet Parasail, Top Gun Mini Golf & Arcade, Lynnhaven House, Francis Land House, Ocean Breeze Waterpark, Chicks Beach, Hell’s Point Golf Club, Croatan Beach, Waterman Sportfishing Charters, Mystery Dinner Playhouse, Owl Creek, Reed Manning Spa & Salon, Surf & Adventure Company, TPC of Virginia Beach Golf Course, Virginia Aquarium Creek Cruise, Great White Water Sports, Virginia Beach Convention Center, Old Coast Guard Station, Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Atlantic Wildfowl Heritage Museum, Adam Thoroughgood House and the Military Aviation Museum. Virginia Beach also has a number of popular restaurants, cafes and bars. These include Tautogs Restaurant, The Lighthouse, Croc’s Restaurant, The Black Angus, Jewish Mother Restaurant and the Rockafeller’s Restaurant. Prominent hotels that are based in the city include the Doubletree Hotel Virginia Beach, The Hilton, The Cavalier Hotel, Sheraton Oceanfront Hotel, Quality Inn & Suites, Oceanfront Hotel and the Boardwalk Resort Hotel and Villas.