Explore with the kids
Opening in Virginia Beach this June after a nearly $29 million renovation, the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center’s South Building features new animals, including a giant Pacific octopus, chocolate chip sea stars, and an array of jellyfish, plus a moon jelly touch pool. Interactive exhibits highlight why cuttlefish are the magicians of the sea, how disco clams produce light, and more. Watch veterinarians at work in the new animal care center (push a button to ask questions). Outdoors, an enormous science play area gives kids (and adults) an opportunity to learn about rivers, bays and oceans in interactive ways, including water experiments to see how rivers shape the land, and pretend play as marine scientists.
Visitors can have fun alongside North American river otters on a cleverly designed slide adjacent to a viewing window. Admission is $24.95; $22.95 for ages 62 and older; $19.95 for ages 3-11; free for children younger than 3.
After all that play, spend the night at the 305-room Marriott Virginia Beach Oceanfront. Opened in 2020, the hotel boasts two highly regarded restaurants. Orion’s Roof serves Asian-fusion cuisine and has 360-degree views of Virginia Beach and the many ships in the ocean awaiting entrance to the Chesapeake Bay. Tulu Seaside Bar & Grill serves American fare with a healthy twist, including cold-pressed juices and power smoothies. Tulu’s indoor and outdoor bars also serve handcrafted cocktails.
Part of the Cavalier Resort, the hotel is across the street from the Historic Cavalier Hotel & Beach Club and its famed Tarnished Truth distillery and SeaHill Spa. The Marriott Virginia Beach Oceanfront towers over the Atlantic’s edge, giving guests in sea-facing rooms the feeling of being on a cruise ship. The property has indoor and outdoor pools, lawns with games and relaxing seating areas, and a 24-hour fitness center. Rates begin at $269.
Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, 717 General Booth Blvd., Virginia Beach, Virginia, 757-385-3474, virginiaaquarium.com; Marriott Virginia Beach Oceanfront, 4201 Atlantic Ave., Virginia Beach, Virginia, 757-937-4200, marriott.com/en-us/hotels/orfmc-marriott-virginia-beach-oceanfront/overview
Set along the banks of a Chesapeake Bay inlet on Maryland’s historic Tilghman Island is a waterside haven where it feels like you can slow down time. At the Tilghman Island Inn, sit in one of the Adirondack chairs that dot the lawn and watch boats meander by, birds flit among the trees, and a sun-painted sky of pinks and purples in the early morning light. Reopened in 2020 after extensive renovations, the inn features 20 guest rooms offering a king bed or two queens, a “Chill Corner” with a love seat or chair, and serene views of either the water or the weeping willows amid elegant landscaping. Popular corner room 12 has a vaulted ceiling, gas fireplace and wraparound balcony that overlooks the bay and Knapps Narrows. Dog-friendly rooms are available near the lawn.
The inn’s restaurant, with indoor and outdoor seating, includes a bar that overlooks the water. Seasonal menus are created from local ingredients, including Eastern Shore produce and seafood. Try the tangy deviled eggs with applewood smoked bacon and lump crab. Complimentary morning fare in the cozy lounge features coffee, gourmet tea and a continental breakfast box with a hard-boiled egg, cured meats and cheeses, a house-smoked salmon spread, freshly baked bread, petite pastries and more. A firepit and yard games round out the relaxing vibe. Rates begin at $275.
Tilghman Island Inn, 21384 Coopertown Road, Tilghman Island, Maryland, 410-886-1170, tilghmanislandinn.com