For information on planning your trip or assistance while you're here, contact the Visitor Information Center, 2100 Parks Ave., Virginia Beach, VA 23451 (tel. 800/822-3224; www.vbfun.com). A large board has phones connected to the reservations desks of major hotels and resorts. Particularly helpful are the center's annual "Vacation Guide" and a free map showing public restrooms and municipal parking lots in the resort area. The center is at the eastern end of I-264. It's open daily from 9am to 5pm, to 7pm from mid-June through Labor Day weekend.
A satellite office is in First Landing State Park's Chesapeake Bay Center, 2500 Shore Dr. (U.S. 60; tel. 757/412-2316). It's open daily from 9am to 5pm.
There are information kiosks at the beach on Atlantic Avenue at 17th and 24th streets during June, July, and August. Note: These are the only official visitor information booths at the beach; most others with "tourist information" signs are come-ons for the many timeshare sales operations here.
Racks at the visitor information center and elsewhere contain several slick give-away tourist publications packed with information and money-saving coupons.
By Plane -- Virginia Beach is served by Norfolk International Airport (ORF), about 15 miles west of the oceanfront resort area.
By Car -- Follow I-64 to I-264 East. I-264 ends near the heart of the oceanfront resort area. Also from the west, U.S. 60 becomes the scenic Shore Drive, which dead-ends at Pacific Avenue on the northern end of the ocean beach; a right turn takes you along this main north-south drag through the resort area. From the north or south, U.S. 13 and 17 will take you to I-64.
The Boardwalk and its adjacent bike/skating path run along the beach from 1st Street at Rudee Inlet north to 39th Street. Behind the beachfront hotels, Atlantic Avenue takes you north-south from Rudee Inlet all the way north to Cape Henry. A block inland, the four-lane Pacific Avenue goes from the inlet north to 42nd Street (it's a much speedier way through the resort area than Atlantic Ave.).
To the north, Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean meet at Cape Henry, home to Cape Henry Lighthouse, Fort Story, and the First Landing State Park.
At Rudee Inlet, Pacific Avenue gives way to General Booth Boulevard, which takes you southwest past the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center some 12 miles south to Sandbridge, an oceanfront enclave of cottages and two ghastly condo developments. Sandbridge is aptly named, for it constitutes a "sand bridge" connecting the Virginia mainland to North Carolina's magnificent Outer Banks chain of barrier islands, which stretch for hundreds of miles to the south of here. To the east is the Atlantic Ocean. To the west, a maze of "back bay" marshes and waterways makes this a natural jewel comparable to Assateague Island on the Eastern Shore. You can't drive from Sandbridge to the Outer Banks because of Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park, which protect the Peninsula and offer undisturbed beach and marshland for hikers, bikers, bird-watchers, and sun worshipers.
Between mid-June and Labor Day, especially on weekends, on-street parking spaces near the beach can be as scarce as hen's teeth, and you are limited to 3 hours even if you can find one. Try the municipal parking garages on Atlantic Avenue at 3rd, 9th, 19th, and 26th streets or a few private pay lots along Pacific Avenue (the visitor information center has free maps that show them).
I usually leave my car at my hotel and get around on a bus system known as VB Wave (www.vbwave.com). Route 30 runs from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, about every 20 minutes from 8am to 2am along Atlantic Avenue between Rudee Inlet and 42nd Street. You can transfer at 40th Street to the regular Route 33 bus for First Landing State Park and other points to the north.
Also during summer, the Aquarium & Campground Shuttle (Rte. 31) runs daily, about every 20 minutes from 8am to 2am between Atlantic Avenue at 40th Street and the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center on General Booth Boulevard. And the Shoppers Express (Rte. 32) goes from Atlantic Avenue to Laskin Road past the Hilltop Shopping Center to Lynnhaven Mall.
Fare on any VB Wave Trolley is $2 for adults, 50¢ for seniors and persons with disabilities, free for children shorter than 38 inches tall. It may be more economical to buy a 1-day GO Shuttle pass ($2 per adult), which permits unlimited rides. Buy them at the automated blue-and-yellow dispensing machines at the trolley stops or at the transit kiosk on Atlantic Avenue at 24th Street.
The trolleys are operated by Hampton Roads Transit (HRT; tel. 757/222-6100; www.gohrt.com), which also provides public bus service in the region. HRT's oceanfront terminal is on Pacific Avenue between 19th and 20th streets. From there, the Route 20 bus goes to downtown Norfolk (it takes up to 2 hr. each way). Regular bus fares are $1.50 for adults, $1 for children younger than 19, free for kids shorter than 38 inches tall. Exact change is required.
For a taxi, call Andy's Cab Co. (tel. 757/495-3300).