With warm hospitality, leisurely atmosphere and endless recreational activities, it's no wonder that Virginia Beach plays host to approximately 2.5 million visitors each year. A destination of distinction with a lengthy list of accolades to prove it, Virginia Beach has been one of the Top 10 Best Beach Destinations in Southern Living's Readers' Choice Awards, while Trip Advisor ranked the city number 12 on its listing of Best Family Friendly Vacations. But although it invites visitors to "Live the Beach Life," this coastal destination can certainly still get down to business with the meeting professional and "Bring it to the Beach."
Completed in 2007, the $202.5 million sustainable Virginia Beach Convention Center takes center stage for meetings, events, tradeshows and even weddings. Located on prime real estate in the heart of the city's resort area, the center is a sight to behold with its soaring 147-foot glass tower. Offering charming sea vistas, the tower itself is a one-of-a-kind setting for intimate events, and overall, the convention center offers more than 516,000 square feet of space. Over 150,000 square feet of column-free exhibition space, a 31,000-square-foot ballroom and over 28,000 square feet of additional meeting space make this convention center a versatile venue for events of all kinds. As an added bonus, this facility is within a 2.5-mile radius of 3,000 committable rooms and offers the meeting professional a union-free facility with over 2,230 free parking spaces.
When it comes to meeting planning, ease of access is just part of the reason Virginia Beach is one of the nation's premier year-round meeting destinations. Centrally located on the East Coast, this resort city is just a short flight or drive from two-thirds of the U.S. population. Visitors traveling by air will find Norfolk International Airport to be a convenient gateway to the city, located just 20 minutes from the oceanfront and offering over 200 flights in/out daily. However, nearly 95 percent of visitors to the city arrive by car, as it's only four hours away from Washington, DC and two hours from Virginia's capital city Richmond.
If getting to Virginia Beach is easy, getting around is even easier thanks to ample public parking throughout the city. The oceanfront area alone offers more than 1,500 off-street municipal parking spaces and 786 on-street metered spaces. In addition, Virginia Beach also features the affordable and convenient Hampton Roads Transit system. With the HRT system, visitors can hop aboard a hybrid trolley car and arrive at various key attractions including the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Center, the Virginia Beach Amphitheater and, of course, the city's new convention center.
For a unique taste of Virginia Beach, planners can also look to one of many alternative venues dotted throughout the city. From historic homes to modern attractions to fine dining establishments, this picturesque resort town offers endless ways to enjoy the city's laidback and fun-loving attitude. Take your guests out on the water with a luxury dining cruise aboard Virginia's Jewel. Or, enjoy the aquatic beauty back on land at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Center. Here, exhibit galleries, classrooms, theaters and more cater to groups spanning in size from 25 to 2,500 people. The Contemporary Art Center of Virginia, Francis Land House and 67th Street Beach & Cabana Club are among the other popular meeting venues.
Virginia Beach's economy relies heavily on its tourism industry. However, several major companies are headquartered in the city including Lifenet and Stihl. The city is also home to Regent University, Virginia Wesleyan College, Christopher Newport University, Old Dominion University and Norfolk State University, among others.