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Arts and Culture in Virginia Beach - Museums to Historic Homes

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The first English settlers landed in Virginia Beach on their way to Jamestown, so it’s no surprise that much the city’s arts and culture scene is devoted to exploring the past. However, Virginia Beach also makes sure its colonial days are not its sole cultural focal point. From modern art exhibits to landmarks on the coastline, the city's cultural attractions offer several options for indulging in a little sophistication.

Modern art appreciation


The epicentre of Virginia Beach’s arts scene is the boardwalk. This area is home to most of the city’s 30 works of public art, including the impressive King Neptune statue, and a developing arts district. If you need a break from the beach, you’ll find a more traditional outlet for modern art at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, located a few blocks inland.


Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art


This museum has over 6,300 square feet of rotating exhibits devoted to the works of living artists. During your visit, you should also be sure to stroll past the works in their outdoor sculpture garden, open year round.


2200 Parks Avenue, Virginia Beach 23451Tel: +1 757 425 0000


Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art website


King Neptune Statue


This imposing, 34-foot cast bronze sculpture is the city's most popular piece of public art. While he dutifully keeps watch over the Virginia Beach Boardwalk, King Neptune doesn’t mind getting his picture taken with tourists.


Virginia Beach Boardwalk, Virginia Beach, VA. King Neptune Statue website

Fine arts


Virginia Beach’s fine arts scene is anchored by its burgeoning downtown area, providing the neighbourhood with the kind of chic sophistication that an urban centre should possess. The types of performances you can enjoy throughout the year run the gamut from live theatre and Broadway musicals to classic opera and ballet.


Sandler centre for the Performing Arts


This 1,200-seat venue in Town centre is home to the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Ballet Virginia International, and several other resident companies. Big-name musicians and comedians also occasionally perform here on tour.


201 Market Street, Virginia Beach 23462. Tel: +1 757 385 2787


Sandler centre for the Performing Arts website


Maritime heritage


The ocean has played a pivotal role in shaping Virginia Beach. The city has several museums, like the Old Coast Guard Station Museum, that shine the spotlight on its influence. Most of these museums and attractions can be found along the shoreline, but others are tucked between the boardwalk’s high-rise hotels and boutique shops.


Atlantic Waterfowl Heritage Museum


This converted oceanfront cottage features artwork and artifacts devoted to the history of Virginia Beach’s Back Bay habitat. You may even get a chance to talk to wood carvers while they make duck decoys.


1113 Atlantic Avenue, Virginia Beach 23451. Tel: +1 757 437 8432


Atlantic Waterfowl Heritage Museum website


Old Coast Guard Station Museum


More than 1,000 photos and 1,800 artifacts tell the history of the U.S. Coast Guard at this museum. If you dare, you can also arrange for a costumed docent to tell you legends of shipwrecks, ghosts, and pirates.


2401 Atlantic Avenue, Virginia Beach 23451. Tel: +1 757 422 1587


Old Coast Guard Station Museum website


Virginia’s colonial past


Although the city’s colonial-era buildings draw a lot of visitors, most of them are not near the main tourist areas. Some of these structures are government property and are open for tours on most days. Others are private homes and are not open to the public, but you'll still be able to walk or drive by them.


Cape Henry Lighthouse


This lighthouse was commissioned by George Washington to mark the approximate spot where the Jamestown settlers landed. You can climb to the top of the stone and brick structure to take in views of the Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay.


583 Atlantic Avenue, Fort Story 23459. Tel: +1 757 422 9421


Cape Henry Lighthouse website


Adam Thoroughgood House


The home of one of Virginia’s first colonists is carefully kept up to showcase life during the country’s pre-Revolution days. Tours of the home are available hourly on the half hour.


1636 Parish Road, Virginia Beach 23455. Tel: +1 757 460 7588


Adam Thoroughgood House website