Virginia Beach residents enjoy a moderate climate, a wide variety of outdoor activities, and the ever-changing beauty of the four seasons. Among its attractions are a highly acclaimed public education system, state-of-the-art health care facilities, the Virginia Marine Science Museum, a world-class 20,000 seat amphitheater and a multipurpose sportsplex—all near the city's 38 miles of shoreline and 17 miles of beaches.
The Virginia Beach City Public Schools District is the second largest school system in the state. Currently, there are 55 elementary schools, 15 middle schools and 11 high schools within this district. Like many of the city's attributes, this district has also been recognized for its excellence. USA Today recently ranked Virginia Beach Public Schools among the Top 10 districts in terms of parent satisfaction. Local institutions of higher learning include Norfolk State University, Old Dominion University, Regent University and Tidewater Community College.
The community is home to approximately 200 parks that cover more than 4,000 acres in neighborhood, community and district facilities. Each park is unique and offers a variety of amenities ranging from playgrounds, picnic shelters, ball fields and other sports facilities. South Virginia Beach parks include Seatack Community Park, Red Wing District Park and Atlantic Park. Throughout the city are opportunities for swimming, fishing, hiking, biking, boating, water sports and equestrian activities. The Virginia Beach Sportsplex, the first stadium in the nation that was built primarily for soccer, features numerous minor league soccer matches during the summer.
There are many enticing attractions in the area; aquariums, animal exhibits and a 3-D IMAX theatre is housed at the Virginia Marine Science Museum. The Atlantic Wildfowl Heritage Museum, Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, the Adam Thoroughgood House and the Francis Land House Historic Site and Gardens are other popular destinations. One of the most interesting attractions is located at the southern tip of the North End where visitors can tour historic Fort Story and visit the ancient Old Cape Henry Lighthouse.
Virginia Beach is also becoming a premier golf destination. Courses in the south include Red Wing Lake Golf Course, Aeropines Golf Course and Hell's Point Golf Course. Just a short drive away is the PGA Tournament Players Club and Bow Creek Golf Course. There are three championship golf courses in the area in addition to Cypress Point Country Club, Eagle Haven Golf Course, Cavalier Golf Club and the Heron Ridge Golf Club courses, all which are suitable from the beginning to the budding professional.
For the shopping enthusiast, Lynnhaven Mall is one of the largest malls on the East Coast and home to several large department stores, many small shops and restaurants and movie theatres. The Pembroke Shopping Area is located in what the locals call the downtown area and features the first shopping mall in Virginia Beach. Other shopping areas include the resort area, Hilltop Malls and Red Mills Commons.
The rich history of this resort town dates back nearly 400 years to the first English colonists that ventured to the New World. The early history of the area is filled with stories of settlements and even pirates like Blackbeard that raided the area. The modern history of Virginia Beach dates back to the 1880s when the railroads began transporting visitors to the beach. Many luxurious hotels lined the boardwalk and the city soon became known as the place to visit and live.