Uncover Virginia Beach’s History
While Virginia Beach is known for the surf and sand, the city also holds centuries of history that can be uncovered through a number of local historic attractions.
Here are some historic sites and attractions in Virginia Beach that you won’t want to miss. Find even more historic sites and attractions outside of Virginia Beach in nearby Hampton, Williamsburg and Yorktown.
Cape Henry Lighthouse
Second to the Neptune Statue on the Virginia Beach Boardwalk, the Cape Henry Lighthouse is one of Virginia Beach’s most notable landmarks. The lighthouse is the first federally funded public works projects in the country.
Guests can climb the tower, for panoramic views of the Chesapeake Bay, through Preservation Virginia.
Cape Henry Memorial Cross
In 1935, the Cape Henry Memorial Cross was erected as a national landmark. The cross memorializes the site where the first permanent English settlers arrived at the New World on April 26, 1607. A few weeks later, those colonists made their way to Jamestown to establish the first permanent English settlement in America.
Military Aviation Museum
Driving in southern Virginia Beach, in the Pungo area, you may hear and see biplanes overhead. These planes are housed at the Military Aviation Museum, home to one of the largest private collections of World War I- and World War II-era military aircrafts in the world.
Tour the museum and browse the assortment of historic planes. The Military Aviation Museum even flies the planes in demonstrations and also allows visitors to hop in and go for a ride.
Atlantic Wildfowl Heritage Museum
The Atlantic Wildfowl Heritage Museum showcases exhibits and artifacts from Virginia Beach’s wildfowl history, as well as wildfowl decoys and decorative carvings. Just off the Virginia Beach Boardwalk, the museum itself is located in a historic building. The DeWitt Cottage was built in 1895.
Virginia Beach Surf & Rescue Museum
Operating out of a former U.S. Life Saving Station, built in 1903, the Virginia Beach Surf & Rescue Museum is also located off the boardwalk. The purpose of the museum is to preserve and educate about Virginia Beach’s maritime history through exhibits about shipwrecks, local lifeguards, storms and more.
One of the oldest surviving colonial homes in Virginia Beach, the Thoroughgood House is a National Historic Landmark. The house was built in 1719 by Argall Thorowgood, great grandson of Adam Thorowgood, a leader in the Virginia colony who helped establish Princess Anne County.
Visit the Thoroughgood House Education Center to learn more about the history of Princess Anne County, the impact of the Thorowgood Family and the overall history of the area.
Princess Anne County Training School/Union Kempsville High School Museum
In the 1930s, Princess Anne County, now known as Virginia Beach, built its first school for African American children. The Princess Anne County Training School was built on four acres of land on Witchduck Road. In 1962, the school was renamed the Union Kempsville High School.
See the legacy of this school at the museum that tells the stories of the students, community and the importance of education. The museum is located within Virginia Beach City Public Schools’ Renaissance Academy.