Luxe Lodgings: Though Virginia Beach is brimming with hotels, selecting an oceanview hotel was a no-brainer. The Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront hotel is one of the city’s most sought after properties. It’s located beachside, adjacent to the infamous King Neptune (a bronzed statue of the God of the Sea, looming 36-feet tall) and next to Neptune’s Park (31st Street Stage Park) which offers a sizzling menu of free entertainment all summer long. You owe it to yourself to book an Empyrean Club Room, the Hilton’s ultra-luxury accommodations, reserved for a select few who occupy the top three floors. During my stay, I pranced up to the 21st floor to toast my vacation at the Sky Bar, followed by a dip in the rooftop infinity pool. Next, we dashed to the bottom floor of the Hilton, where I indulged in Pistachio Crusted Mahi at Salacia, Virginia’s premier AAA 4-diamond steakhouse.
The Power Palette: Catch31 (also on the Hilton’s Bottom floor) offers an inventive menu of tantalizing seafood — and is a top spot for dining on the outdoor terrace, overlooking the excitement of the Boardwalk and Neptune Park. (www.catch31.com/home.aspx) At Soya Bar & Bistro (an upscale sushi bar also located in the Hilton) I sampled the Spicy Tuna Martin — a libation that Soya’s is famed for. Then, I devoured succulent sushi until the cows came home. You’ll be able to experience every inventive sushi-creation made by man at Soya. (www.soyasushi.com) An off-the charts charmer that you’ve also got to try is Margie & Ray’s. You’ll head out to the far-flung south end of the beaches to Sandbridge — a trek that you won’t regret. The eatery was once a small general store and tackle shop, revamped to yield a quaint little seafood restaurant that’s become a popular joint in Virginia Beach. The legendary Hurricane Margie (fried portions of all of the eatery’s seafood to feed two) had us crawling back to the Hilton with a food-hangover. We vegetated in front of a mega-42-inch screen, and slept ‘til noon.
VIP Treatment: There’s no better cure for food-hangovers and beach sluggishness than a revitalizing massage at The Flowering Almond Spa, the highly rated pamper facility within Founders Inn. The stately country inn is situated conveniently to downtown Norfolk (8 miles), Virginia Beach boardwalk (16 miles), and Williamsburg (50 miles). Frankly, you won’t know or care where you are when your muscles are being manipulated in a deep tissue massage. The Lavender Body Scrub is also particularly rejuvenating after a day in the sun. www.foundersinn.com
Footloose & Fancy Free:
When in Virginia Beach, you’ve got to save time in the schedule to explore the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center and its hands-on exhibits. The gigantic seal tank upfront greets you before you even enter the aquarium. The friendly harbor seals prompted me to take a seal splash class. During 20 minutes of the 90-minute program, I was able to don a rubber vest and wade amongst the seals. The panoramic undersea world and its colorful creatures tempted me to return home and shop for a giant aquarium. But, I imagine that my aquarium will pale in comparison to the 800,000 gallons of aquariums at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center. The Aquarium has been ranked among the Top 10 marine science and aquarium facilities in the United States.
Thanks to our friends at the Virginia Beach Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (www.visitvirginiabeach.com) for adding to the facts and figures