The Virginia Beach Boardwalk offers three miles of pedestrian and bike paths along the beach. It is an ideal spot for walking, biking, rollerblading, and people-watching. There is nightly entertainment during the summer along the walk and at four oceanfront stages. Restaurants with outdoor seating and a variety of vendors can also be found along the boardwalk. A twenty-four foot bronze statue of King Neptune is the cornerstone of this tourist attraction. It stands on 31st Street at the gateway to Neptune Festival Park. The Virginia Beach boardwalk is a highly popular destination for both tourists and locals. In fact, Travel + Leisure has listed Virginia Beach Boardwalk as one of America's Best Beach Boardwalks.
The construction of a railroad system from Norfolk to the coast in 1883 established Virginia Beach as a resort destination. The luxury Princess Anne Hotel was built a few years later and offered the social elite a place to stay and enjoy the environs. The original boardwalk was built as a way to add to the luxury hotel experience. It was constructed of wood planks, measured eight feet wide, and stretched for four blocks between the Princess Anne and the Arlington Hotel. Guests and visitors were granted access to stroll and access the beach.
Efforts made by the local historical society offer current visitors a taste of the original boardwalk and important moments throughout history that have affected the area. A bronze statue depicts the tragic story of “The Norwegian Lady.” Another marker is a life-saving station from 1903 honoring the birth of the U.S. Coast Guard. Over the time of its existence, the boardwalk has bore witness to the growth of our nation. It offers visitors a glimpse into the past and plays a large role in the identity of Virginia Beach itself.
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