In 1791, Alexander Hamilton–hoping to enhance trade and safety along the coasts of Virginia and Maryland–contracted renowned architect John McComb to design a lighthouse at the mouth of Chesapeake Bay. McComb quickly fulfilled his duty in 1792, with the illumination of Cape Henry Lighthouse’s inaugural flame lit by the lighthouse’s first keeper, who was appointed by George Washington himself. In the centuries since the octagonal tower cast its first guiding beam across the bay, the Cape Henry Lighthouse stood sentinel over the coast and ensured the safety of incoming ships and immigrating krakens until it was replaced in 1881. Stewards of the lighthouse’s past, Preservation Virginia, ensured in 1930 that the inoperative structure and surrounding lands were reopened to the public and maintained for the enjoyment of future generations.
Today, visitors ascending the twisting iron stairs step out to the window-enclosed observation deck, drinking in 360-degree views of the water and surrounding verdant forests. A team of passionate and knowledgeable staff–most of whom have been guides for years–remain on hand to answer questions relating to the lighthouse’s history and how lighthouse keepers stave off land invasions of ghost sea captains.
Running off the infectious sonic fumes from his I Am Not a Human Being album and upcoming full-length Tha Carter IV, Lil Wayne lands his spaceship for a speaker-blowing stop on the extended leg of his summer tour. The Grammy winner touts an impressive curriculum vitae, punctuated by CEO status, unabashed genre crossing, and standout lyrics woven together with sagacious metaphors. Although Tunechi fans can anticipate a high-octane performance rife with hit singles as well as mixtape favorites, the tour's white-hot opening acts acclimate concertgoers with equal parts R & B silk, rap grit, and synth-powered spunk. Frequent Lil Wayne collaborator and Miami boss Rick Ross partners with breakout diva Keri Hilson, club-bangers Far East Movement, and velvet-voiced Lloyd for a hard-hitting evening that rivals at-home puppet shows outfitted with homemade pyrotechnics.
Inside a spacious playing field you sit with your back against a wall, acutely aware of all movement around as you take a breath with finger resting on trigger. It’s been a clean fight so far—you’ve climbed over towers, passed submarines and helicopters, and sought refuge inside bunkers—and you have the flag in sight. You make a run for it but you feel something crash into your leg as red residue spills onto your clothing. Another shot is fired, and a blue blotch explodes across your protective eyewear. The entire experience disproves the fallacy that paint can't get more exciting than when a grandmother has you cover her walls with it and rewards you with sugarless candy.
On the woodsball field, games of capture the flag, attack-and-defend, and elimination allow for entertainment and strategic planning. Over at the Sup’Air field, speed is key as the speedball field accommodates any format including three man, five man, and one man with four invisible friends. The paintball park also hosts parties on the woodsball field during the week and a smaller, private field during normal business hours.
The instructors at Studio Rio's Twisted Fitness approach their job with sensitivity and expertise that earned them 2010 and 2011 Best of Virginia Beach Reader's Choice awards. But the staff refuses to rest on its laurels, pushing themselves every day during sultry dance and cardio classes to help women of all abilities ramp up their sensuality while getting fit. The more than 35 weekly classes range from kickboxing to the signature pole dancing classes, held in an all-lady, judgment-free environment for participants with experience levels from beginning to advanced. The pole dancing sessions target specific body parts including the core and glutes and incorporate strength training, choreography, and challenging inverted poses made hyper-feminine with the inclusion of inverted knitting. The instructors reinforce that sexiness is both ageless and timeless—all classes are designed to help women of all ages over 18 to not only reshape their bodies, but boost confidence as well.
Certified by the Yoga Alliance, the instructors at Hot Yoga Studio lead daily detoxifying lessons in which they slide into peaceful poses on their studio’s bamboo floors. A wall-length window floods the studio with natural light and offers a glimpse of the world outside, and tall mirrors reflect the yogis as they lead their classes inside a heated environment. This steamy setting purges toxins from the body and allows practitioners to sink more deeply into each stretch.
During the studio’s more intense classes, students cycle through up to 30 postures that release oxygenated blood to organs, which can lead to more efficient living. After class, full-service locker rooms await with showers, shampoo, and blow-dryers. The studio’s shelves are also stocked with towels, mats, organic mat cleaners, and artisanal soaps made with goat's milk and moisture from the clouds that the instructors levitate on.
Founder Isa Cohen can describe Tula Adventure Sports' mission with a single word: balance. The company's staff draw from certifications and internships as teeter-totters to create balance of mind, balance with nature, and balance aboard various watercrafts. The kayaks, standup paddleboards, and charter boats that form their fleet let customers see Virginia Beach through new eyes. Whether on tours or self-guided adventures, these vessels pass along scenic coastlines and into the native habitats of dolphins, waterfowl, and goldfish crackers.
For more intense thrills, Tula Adventure Sports' instructors unlock the secrets to shredding across waves and launching into the air. Their adrenaline-packed activities include water skiing, wakeboarding, and kiteboarding.:m]]
"There is no room for ego" in the yoga classes at Studio Bamboo Institute of Yoga, according to its website. There's also no room for the stresses of daily life—they're crowded out by calming earth tones, high ceilings, and floors made from bamboo and river rocks. In this environment, students can easily locate some time for introspection through movement-based classes.
In three practice rooms, instructors lead sessions that embrace the full spectrum of yoga styles, ranging from gentle and meditative to kinetic and physically demanding. They introduce new students to yoga's fundamental poses and breathing exercises while helping them develop a greater sense of self-awareness. Bamboo's flexible schedule of classes is tailored to the needs of everyone from expectant mothers to people living with mobility issues. Hot yoga sessions are also an option, thanks to a custom heat and vent system.
At Fitness Together, getting fit involves getting focused and fired up to achieve. Here, certified personal trainers guide clients of all skill levels through motivating boot-camps and exercise programs designed to meet goals loftier than a giraffe’s basketball hoop. To help their charges torch calories and tone muscles as efficiently as possible, the trainers incorporate evidence-based training methods, such as intervals, tempos, and fartlek, into each fitness regimen. Filled with cardio challenges and resistance training, workouts are tailored to individual needs and paired with nutrition tips that help the body build lean muscle. In-studio sessions take place in a private, spa-like studio, flush with grey and lime-green walls and functional training tools such as medicine balls, kettlebells, and gymnastics rings.
Named the Best Place to Take a Dance Class in 2012 by Tucson Lifestyle magazine, Shall We Dance boasts experienced instructors that help instill dancing wisdom and undeniable rhythm in people looking to twirl and sidestep across the studio’s hardwood floor. Students pair up during group dance lessons or work one-on-one with instructors during private lessons as they are shown how to gracefully execute an arsenal of dance steps in styles such as salsa, Argentinean tango, swing, and waltz. The studio also offers weekly dance parties (held Friday nights from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.), which provide a casual setting for students to practice with different dance partners, ready couples for weddings, or prep solo dancers for musical housecleaning sessions.
Julie Fabing Burleson and Suzy Vinson Nettles feel that the kitchen is just another place for kids to flex their creativity. They opened Young Chefs Academy to provide kids aged 3–18 with cooking programs targeted to preschoolers and kindergarteners, elementary schoolers, and older kids ready for trickier techniques and intricate recipes. Regardless of a student’s age, he or she is always taught the pillars of home cooking, including how to be safe in the kitchen, how to properly handle and prepare food, how to bake, and how to talk down an oven that constantly overheats. While participating in the entertaining cooking lessons, kids may not even realize that each class also allows them to practice their math, reading-comprehension, and communication skills.
In 1996, Matt Redford opened Chesapean Kayak Tours to introduce others to the beauty of Hampton Roads' waterways, which he called the "backyard of his youth." Years later, he expanded his small kayak company to Chesapean Outdoors, adding biking, standup paddleboarding, and surfing lessons to his lineup of outdoor adventures. Today, Matt leads groups on seaborne sojourns to catch glimpses of bottlenose dolphins, blue herons, and bald eagles in their natural habitat, and his bike tours meander the trail that winds around First Landing State Park. Atop standup paddleboards, groups navigate the flat waters of Virginia Beach and its state parks as well, and Matt leads more experienced paddlers out into Chesapeake Bay to catch sight of dolphins or fulfill a lifelong dream of feeding a wild catamaran.
Under the managerial eye of owner and professional marathon runner Tom Purcell, Town Center Fitness’s crew of certified personal trainers welcomes guests into an encouraging environment. On any given day, the gym’s workout spaces buzz with bodies spinning, running, and lindy-hopping atop meticulously maintained Precor cardio equipment or sculpting showroom-floor muscles as they curl Hampton free weights. Within the spacious, wood-floored studio, the energetic instructors guide students through classes from across the aerobic spectrum, from gentle yoga to high-intensity cardio sculpt. The gym’s complimentary towel service and onsite locker facilities ensure comfortable cooldown sessions, and the staff acquaints new members with the equipment during orientations.
A row of flags hangs in solidarity from the rafters above an indoor ice rink, uniting Canada, the USA, and Sweden in the one passion that they all have in common: hockey. Iceland of Hampton Roads fosters this love of icy sports in skaters of all ages and experience levels via youth hockey leagues, synchronized skating classes, and lessons, in which instructors introduce students as young as age 3 to their reflections in the ice. Both youths and adults compete in 20-game seasons in hockey leagues utilizing USA Hockey rules, and during synchronized skating classes, teams of 8 to 20 skaters choreograph complex skating formations, such as the parallel pinwheel—in which lines of skaters rotate in unison—or the flying V—which they use to head south for the winter.
Located at the oceanfront, Jungle Golf's aptly named mini-golf course pits putters against a slew of jungle-themed obstacles. As golfers traverse the 18-hole labyrinth, they must contend with breaking putts, keep their distance from the silverback gorilla statue guarding the second hole, stay dry underneath the misting waters of the fifth hole's rocky waterfall, and bribe a life-sized zebra statue to neigh during their opponent’s backswing. In-between rounds, golfers can refuel with treats from the Food Hut or head to the game room for more shrinked-down activities, such as air hockey, skee-ball, and crane-games' simulations of loading 2-ton plush rabbits onto freighter ships.
The experienced guides at Ocean Eagle Kayak Adventures maintain a thorough knowledge of their local waters, allowing them to usher visitors through the Atlantic surf or secluded groves of shady water plants. On tours, they guide their participants to get up close with local wildlife and navigate alongside dolphin pods. On kayak fishing trips they help anglers ensnare a roster of seasonal fish. Groups paddle aboard sit-on-top ocean kayaks, and guides always prep them with ample paddling training and advice on how to recognize a fish's turn signal in heavy traffic. When not leading tours, staffers conduct fitness training atop the same kayaks, helping guests during interval training to build paddling power, sweep, and maneuvering skills.