Coastal Viginia

A view of the water makes the heart grow fonder

By Malik Anderson

Not every hotel backdrop needs to be spectacular and “out of this world,” but something about a property being near a body of water makes it that much more attractive. Imagine waking up in your hotel room, opening the shades and there it is: a prime view of the sun shining on the waves below. That’s a great way to start the morning.

Local Expert Tip

“Shake things up and bring your next conference or meeting to Hampton, Virginia. We are located in the heart of Coastal Virginia between Williamsburg and Virginia Beach and within a short driving distance to hundreds of world-class attractions. Hampton is definitely for adventure and history lovers; visitors can explore the beauty of the Chesapeake Bay and visit our museums, attractions and Fort Monroe National Monument, the largest stone fort in the United States.”

–  Michelle J. Hergenrother, Director of Sales, Hampton Convention & Visitor Bureau

5 Reasons Meeting Profs Love Virginia

man kite surfing
Kite surfer

Water-based activities. Adventures in the water await in Virginia Beach and Hampton. If you’re looking for fun ways for colleagues to connect around the meetings and events, these two coastal cities offer many on-the-water experiences, such as fishing, parasailing, kayaking and standup paddleboarding, and boat tours.

Coastal grub. Hampton and Virginia Beach’s coastal placement influences its dining choices for the better. A visit to the areas could be made better by enjoying raw oysters at Fuller’s Raw Bar in Hampton, all-you-can-eat seafood at Captain George’s Seafood Restaurant and white gulf shrimp at Jumpin’ Shrimp in Virginia Beach.

Emphasis on green travel. There are several Virginia Beach-based organizations that are making the state a more sustainable place to live and visit, like the Research and Conservation Division at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, Lynnhaven River Now, Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Virginia Green, a Visit Virginia Beach partner and state program designed to encourage green practices in the tourism industry.

Read MoreYour Complete Guide to Sustainability

Car-free visitation. Virginia Beach makes getting around the city car-free easier than many major U.S. cities. Several places that are easy to get to without a car include Virginia Beach’s Town Center district, home to Hilton Garden Inn and Westin Virginia Beach Town Center, right next to shops, restaurants and theaters, and Sandbridge, a beach hideaway that includes beach bungalows and oceanside retreats.

History. As one of the original 13 colonies, Virginia is chocked full of historical museums and artifacts. In Hampton, visitors will find places like Aberdeen Gardens Historic Museum, built for and by African Americans in 1935 as part of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal to provide homes to African American workers, and Emancipation Oak, the site of President Abe Lincoln’s first reading of the Emancipation Proclamation in the South.

Untraditional Venues of Arlington

Gallery Undergroun
Gallery Underground

Arlington, Virginia, is about 2.5 hours from Hampton and three hours from Virginia Beach, just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. For event professionals who desire to take their meeting or event north of the state (or even if you’re in D.C.), there are numerous not-so-traditional off-site venues that could shake up your next visit.

The Arlington Artists Alliance, in partnership with the Crystal City Business Improvement District and real estate investment trust JBG Smith, launched Gallery Underground in 2012, an art gallery for local visual artists located in Arlington’s Crystal City Shops. Since its opening, the gallery has hosted various events, such as paint-ins, Painting Uncorked classes, and dance and musical performances. The 3,000-square-foot venue is available for buyout.

Read More: Virginia: Take Me Home Hampton Roads

The internationally known Synetic Theater is near Gallery Underground. In addition to being a venue where classic plays like Romeo and Juliet are shown, the theater also has two spaces available for private events, the theater itself, which can accommodate up to 300 attendees, and Synetic Studio, which features two spaces, the windowed 1,626-square-foot Factory and windowless Mill, which is 541 sq. ft.

A work of art in its own right, Hendry House is a 20th-century Victorian-style mansion in the 19-acre Fort C.F. Smith Park, which is also home to a partially preserved 1863 Civil War fort. This 1,600-square-foot home—equipped with three rooms on the main floor and two on the second floor—is an ideal venue for meetings of up to 100 guests.

group of people cooking together
Cookology team-building class

Cookology in Arlington’s Ballston Quarter gives attendees the chance to show their cooking skills to their colleagues. In groups from 10 to 200 (or more, per request), Cookology is a place where colleagues can team build through the art of cooking.

There are a couple of ways for groups to engage: there is the two-hour team-bonding cooking class, where everyone makes the same dish as taught by a professional chef, and the mystery basket cooking class, where you choose the main ingredient and Cookology’s chefs choose the mystery ingredient and attendees work with the chefs to create a meal.

While it isn’t based in the culinary arts, 5 Wits in Ballston Quarter Mall, presents groups with a different kind of challenge. In this attraction, attendees will be presented with games and puzzles in the form of a live-action story. Attendees have three adventures to choose from: Tomb, Espionage and Drago’s Castle. All three of the adventures, each of which can accommodate 12 people at once, can run at the same time.

This article appears in the January/February 2024 issue. You can subscribe to the magazine here.