Strolling along the boardwalk, passing skaters, bikers and families enjoying the beach, visitors would never know that Virginia Beach dates to the 1600s. English settlers paused at this coastal Virginia spot in 1607 before making their way to Jamestown. Today, it’s the most populated city in Hampton Roads, the region that includes Norfolk and Newport News, while attracting tourists by the thousands to its miles of Atlantic beaches.

Stay

The impressive and elegant Cavalier Hotel opened in Virginia Beach in April 1927, its goal to make Virginia Beach a top east coast destination. 

“It was a playground for the rich and famous,” explained Michael Kokolis, Cavalier’s director of sales and marketing. “It was the top place for big bands of that era.”

All the top bands played at the Cavalier, and the list of celebrities is extensive, he said.

Like most expansive historic hotels, the Cavalier didn’t age well, but it was recently renovated and reopened through Marriott. Today, the campus includes 85 rooms and suites inside the historic building, a more modern Marriott on the beach and the upcoming Embassy Suites. The connecting beach club features an oceanfront facility with pool and bar and grill. 

But it’s the original building that takes your breath away, with its onsite distillery, high tea on weekends and a lobby bar filled with eclectic artwork.

The Sleeping Giant

Edgar Cayce always possessed a psychic gift, but after numerous readings that reflected the mind-body-spirit connection derived through hypnosis, the Kentucky photographer moved to Virginia Beach in 1925 and established a hospital. Over the years, Cayce would give thousands of readings, many detailing health remedies, and these documents are housed in a vault at the non-profit Edgar Cayce Association for Research and Enlightenment.

Visitors to the Virginia Beach nonprofit can view copies of these readings by the “Sleeping Giant,” along with one of the most extensive New Age book collections in the A.R.E. Library. The organization also offers workshops, classes and conferences, plus the A.R.E. Health Center & Spa offers a variety of massage and treatments, including the Cayce signature massage, which stimulates organs and glands and stretches the body. The Health Center is also the only one of its kind in the U.S. that offers Alphasphere, a sensory experience involving color and sound that helps produce mental relaxation.

Surf’s Up!

The Coastal Edge East Coast Surfing Championship celebrates its 60th year in Virginia Beach this August with eight days of competition, plus nine blocks of live music, food and other sporting events. Part of the World Surf League international professional tour, the annual surfing event is second only to the Bells Beach contest in Australia.“This year we’re going to put on the biggest surfing event on the East Coast,” said ECSC Chairman George Alvarez.

Go Oystering

Captain Chris Ludford loves oysters. But not just any oysters. The unique oyster of the Lynnhaven River of Virginia Beach helped keep those early English settlers alive, and today, thanks to the preservation efforts of people like Ludford, they are making a big comeback.“Fifty-three percent of the Lynnhaven River is open harvest,” said Ludford, who owns Pleasure House Oysters and champions for oyster conservation. “My goal in my lifetime is to get it to 75 percent.”Ludford offers “Chef’s Table” boat tours for small groups, weather permitting, where visitors get an insider’s guide to oyster harvesting, then slurp up those special oysters right there in the water, along with lunch or dinner. In the process, visitors enjoy the unique ecosystem of the area. “It’s a gorgeous river system,” Ludford said. “You really have to get out and see it.”For more information, visit pleasurehouseoysters.com.