It’s the most populous city in the state, but covering a total of almost 500 square miles Virginia Beach feels like more of a suburb than a city. Together with the nearby towns of Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News (where we visited the Mariners’ Museum), Norfolk, Portsmouth and Suffolk, the area is known as "America's First Region.”
Within Virginia Beach boundaries are First Landing State Park, Fort Story and the Cape Henry Lighthouse, and Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. However, the city may be most famous for its 3-mile boardwalk that stretches along the oceanfront and is lined with hotels, condos and boutiques. There are separate paths for inline skating and biking along the ocean, and the wide beach offers plenty of space for sunbathing and barefoot walks in the surf.
Here, where the Chesapeake Bay meets the Atlantic, it is only appropriate to find a statue of Neptune. A counterpart to the Greek god Poseidon, Neptune is the Roman god of the sea and freshwater. The bronze Neptune of Virginia Beach stands 34 feet tall at the entrance of Neptune Park on 31st Street.
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The 12-ton statue has a 12-foot tall rock base which is surrounded by octopus, fish, dolphins, lobsters, and other sea creatures. Neptune rises over visitors, a trident in one hand and a loggerhead turtle in the other. The mighty god was attracting a fair share of curious visitors, even on a windy, overcast January afternoon – I can only imagine the crowds on a sunny summer day.
The Virginia Beach boardwalk was not a planned stop on our itinerary, and so it was a short stop – only long enough to admire the god of the sea and enjoy an ocean-side walk before warming up with some hot chocolate and coffee. A real exploration will have to wait for another time, possibly during a warmer season… Any suggestions on places we ought to see?