If being one with nature is your kind of thing, Virginia Beach has more than a few options for you. From protected parks to camping grounds, there’s something for everyone to get away from the city life and the beach-going crowds and experience the natural beauty of the South.
First Landing State Park
A registered Natural Landmark, First Landing Park is 2,888 acres and has more than 19 miles of hiking trails through protected salt marshes, freshwater ponds, beach, dunes, forest, tidal marsh and cypress swamp. Home to one of the most endangered habitat types in the world, the maritime forest community, First Landing hosts largely untouched plant and animal life. Preserving the habitat is essential to protecting the shoreline, as the maritime forest acts as a climax community (or a barrier) between the shore. It’s also stunning to look at – from the beach to the swamp, there’s nothing but rich, natural Southern charm, unspoiled by industrialism. It’s the perfect place to spend some time with nature.
Back Bay Wildlife Refuge
Made up of 9,108 acres of barrier islands, dunes, beach woodland, freshwater marshes, maritime forests, ponds and ocean beaches, the refuge sits on a strip of coastline along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, mostly contained within the waters of Back Bay. If you’re bringing along kids, the Back Bay Refuge is the place not only for group educational activities, some geared specifically toward children, but also learning experiences about threatened and endangered species and what we all can do to protect them. Home to loggerhead sea turtles, piping plovers, peregrine falcons, and bald eagles, the site has scenic trails and a visitor contact station and is open to the public year-round, and filled to bursting with something for every nature lover.
False Cape State Park
If you’re looking for unspoiled beaches and a more natural take on the shoreline, False Cape is the best place to be. It features six miles of beaches in an ocean-to-freshwater bay habitat, but also includes dunes, woodland, farm fields, salt marsh, and maritime forest and wooded swamps. From April through October, visitors may travel through the heart of the park on a tram and then explore by foot with the hope of catching any number of the animals that make it their home, including more than 300 species of nesting and migratory songbirds, shorebirds, and ducks, otters, white-tailed deer, red fox, loggerhead turtles, American bald eagles, feral pigs, wild horses, and a host of reptiles.
But these are just some of the few places to see natural wonders at Virginia Beach and the area surrounding it, rich with wildlife and protected parks. Wherever you look, there’s something to spot, especially with increasing populations of sea turtles. What’s your favorite spot, and will you be taking a long walk on the beach?