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Virginia Beach in Virginia.
Virginia Beach is an independent city located in the Hampton Roads metropolitan area of Virginia, on the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. Although Fairfax County is the most populous jurisdiction in the state of Virginia, Virginia Beach is the most populous city and the 39th largest city in the United States, with a population of 437,994 according to the 2010 Census.
Virginia Beach is the easternmost city of Hampton Roads that make up the core of the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC MSA. This area, known as "America's First Region", also includes the independent cities of Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Suffolk, as well as other smaller cities, counties and towns of Hampton Roads.
Virginia Beach is a resort city with miles of beaches and hundreds of hotels, motels, and restaurants along its oceanfront. Every year the city hosts the East Coast Surfing Championships as well as the North American Sand Soccer Championship, a beach soccer tournament. It is also home to several state parks, several long-protected beach areas, three military bases, a number of large corporations, two universities, Edgar Cayce's A.R.E. and numerous historic sites. Near the point where the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean meet, Cape Henry was the site of the first landing of the English colonists, who eventually settled in Jamestown, on April 26, 1607.
The city is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as having the longest pleasure beach in the world. It is located at the southern end of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, the longest bridge-tunnel complex in the world.
Virginia Beach is most often associated with the larger American South. People who have grown up in the Hampton Roads area often have a unique Tidewater accent which sounds different from a stereotypical Southern accent. Vowels have a longer pronunciation than in a regular Southern accent.
The city is home to several points of interest in the historical, scientific, and performing arts areas, and has become a popular tourist destination in recent years. The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center (formerly the Virginia Marine Science Museum) is a popular aquarium near the oceanfront that features the 300,000-gallon Norfolk Canyon Aquarium, containing sand tiger, nurse and brown sharks, as well as sting rays and other large open-ocean dwellers. There is also a 70,000-gallon sea turtle aquarium, sea turtle hatchling laboratory, hands-on ocean exploration exhibits, jellyfish and octopus aquariums, and even a life-size model of a humpback whale. Other features include the Owls Creek salt marsh and a nature trail.
The Virginia Beach Amphitheater, built in 1996, features a wide variety of popular shows and concerts, ranging from Kenny Chesney to Taylor Swift to Coldplay to Ozzfest. The Sandler Center, a 1200-seat performing arts theatre, opened in the Virginia Beach Town Center in November, 2007.
Virginia Beach is home to many sites of historical importance, and has 18 sites on the National Register of Historic Places. Such sites include the Adam Thoroughgood House (one of the oldest surviving colonial homes in Virginia), the Francis Land House (a 200-year-old plantation), the Cape Henry Lights and nearby Cape Henry Light Station (a second tower), Bayville Farm, DeWitt Cottage, Ferry Farm Plantation, Dr. John Miller-Masury House, Adam Keeling House, Old Donation Church, Pembroke Manor, Pleasant Hall, Shirley Hall (Devereaux House), Thomas Murray House, U.S. Coast Guard Station (Seatack), Upper Wolfsnare, Weblin House, and Wishart Boush House, and Wolfsnare.
The Edgar Cayce Hospital for Research and Enlightenment was established in Virginia Beach in 1928 with 60 beds. Cayce was a psychic from Kentucky who claimed healing abilities and made prophesies. Cayce is known as the father of the "New Age" movement of the 1960s. Cayce resided in Virginia Beach until he died on January 3, 1945. His followers are still active in Virginia Beach. The 67th street facility features a large private library of books on psychic matters, and is open to the public. The traditional beach-architecture headquarters building features massage therapy by appointment. Atlantic University was opened by Cayce in 1930; it closed two years later but was re-opened in 1985. Atlantic University was originally intended for study of Cayce's readings and research on spiritual subjects.
The city's largest festival, the Neptune Festival, attracts 500,000 visitors to the Oceanfront and 350,000 visitors to the air show at NAS Oceana. Celebrating the city's heritage link with Norway, events are held in September in the Oceanfront and Town Center areas. Every August, the American Music Festival provides festival attendees with live music performed on stages all over the Oceanfront, including the beach on Fifth Street. The festival ends with the Rock and Roll Half Marathon.
Virginia Beach is home to 210 city parks, encompassing over 4,000 acres (1,600 ha), including neighborhood parks, community parks, district parks, and other open spaces. Each park is unique and offers something for everyone, from wide open spaces to playgrounds, picnic shelters, and ballfields.
Mount Trashmore Park is clearly visible from I-264 when traveling to the oceanfront. The park is 165 acres (67 ha). The hill is 60 ft (18 m) high and over 800 ft (240 m) long, and was created by compacting layers of solid waste and clean soil. When it opened in 1973, Mt. Trashmore was the first park in the world to be created from a waste landfill. It is the highest point in Virginia Beach. The name is a play on "Mt. Rushmore" and was coined as a nickname by city residents watching its construction. The park also features two lakes: Lake Windsor and Lake Trashmore. Lake Trashmore is stocked with fish, but is unsanitary to fish in. Residents can also take advantage of a skate park.
Another major park in the city is Great Neck Park, a 70 acres (28 ha) park located in the Lynnhaven District. Facilities include five large group shelters, mini-shelters, family picnic tables and grills, three playgrounds, horseshoe pits, volleyball courts, vending machines, walking trails, four baseball fields, as well as a gazebo located at the end of a scenic walkway overlooking the Lynnhaven River.
People enjoying a rental surrey on the Boardwalk
The Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, established in 1938, is an 8,000-acre (32 km2) fresh water refuge that borders the Atlantic Ocean on the east and Back Bay on the west. The barrier islands feature large sand dunes, maritime forests, fresh water marshes, ponds, ocean beach, and large impoundments for wintering wildfowl. It is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
First Landing State Park and False Cape State Park are both located in coastal areas within the city's corporate limits as well. Both offer camping facilities, cabins, and outdoor recreation activities in addition to nature and history tours.
Munden Point is a rural park located in the deep southern end of the city.
Additionally, the famous 3 miles (4.8 km) boardwalk at the oceanfront is often packed with fascinating entertainment, outdoor cafes, concerts and people. Made of concrete, the boardwalk links forty hotels and other attractions and has a bike path.
Naval Aviation Monument Park was formally dedicated on May 6, 2006, by the Hampton Roads Squadron of the Naval Aviation Foundation Association. Planned since 1997 in partnership with the City of Virginia Beach, the park features heroic-scale statuary and reliefs to tell the history of Naval Aviation.
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