Virginia Beach rolls it out for motorcoaches

Group tour venues offer more than enough to see and do

By David Hubbard

Virginia Beach is a motorcoach kind of town that goes to great lengths to appeal to group tours. In fact, the Virginia Beach CVB lays claim to attracting the first group tour ever to travel to America, noting that the first permanent English settlers landed at Cape Henry, before moving on to settle Jamestown.

The Virginia Beach community continues to pride itself in its ability to attract groups through its diverse menu of activities that capitalize on the geography and culture in the area of the state. The aim is to deliver innovative travel experiences throughout the year which satisfy a variety of interests.

The choices include strolls on the beach and boardwalk along the Atlantic Coast, swimming, sunning and myriad dining and shopping options.

The Visitor Information Center says it is ready and willing to help charter coach tours get all they can out of an excursion to Virginia Beach, inviting tour operators to check in upon arrival to the resort area. During regular business hours, a staff member is available to board the coach and welcome the group with a complementary souvenir of Virginia Beach. The center suggests operators call beforehand to schedule a special welcome.

There are some ground rules

Virginia Beach has a strict bus ordinance that prohibits parking or stopping buses on public streets in resort area to pick up or drop off passengers.

Buses and motorcoaches may safely load and unload passengers in the designated 15-minute parking zone at 19th Street and Arctic Avenue. Charter buses may now load and unload passengers and park at 4th Street and Atlantic Avenue.

The Bus Ordinance permits parking on private properties such as hotels and restaurants, as well as additional designated motorcoach spaces on a first-come, first-serve basis at the 4th Street municipal parking lot at Rudee Loop. Parking fees apply. Through September 30, the rates are $15 daily and $25 overnight.

By city ordinance, the lot closes from midnight to 8:00 am, seven days a week.  Operators wishing to depart during these hours must notify a cashier or the resort management office. Contact the Virginia Beach CVB for a copy of the bus ordinance.

Let the fun begin

Down on the boardwalk, the 12-ton King Neptune Statue rises 34 feet with an 11-foot sea turtle and two 15-foot dolphins by his side, and is easily the most popular photo op. The Rockfish on the boardwalk is home to the world’s greatest collection of authentic Beatles memorabilia.

A climb to the top of the old and new Cape Henry Lighthouses would personally commemorate the nation’s first federally funded lighthouse began serving faithfully in 1792.

The Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center features over 350 hands-on exhibits and the spectacular IMAX® 3D Theater, while the nearby Chesapeake Bay Center extols the nature unique to this area.

Charter boats operations offer opportunities for fishing as well as dolphin and whale watching excursions. Several of the local restaurants will prepare the daily catch. An alternative to open sea boating might be a kayak float down quiet waterways to out of the way restaurants; or tour the inland waters on the Virginia’s Jewel to view natural features and spectacular homes along the shore.

The Navy Air Station Oceana is home to more than 250 jets that F/A-18 Hornets and welcomes visitors. Meanwhile Warbirds Over the Beach offers hops in WWII aircraft for interested aviation buffs.

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Town Center in the heart of Virginia Beach offers myriad fine dining choices that include Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and Sonoma Wine, as well as the Funny Bone Comedy Club & Restaurant.

Edgar Cayce’s Association for Research and Enlightenment addresses mysteries of the ancient world, health and wellness principles and dream interpretations.

The Schakolad Chocolate Factory offers private tours and the Adam Thoroughgood House gives history lessons in chocolate. The chocolate theme continues with a visit to The Royal Chocolate at Town Center before coach departs.