Atlantic Coast

From the toll plaza at the southern end of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, US-60 heads east along Atlantic Avenue, passing through the woodland waterfront of First Landing State Park before winding up at the ocean and Virginia Beach (pop. 437,994), the state’s most populous city and its one and only beach resort. Hotels line the main drag, Atlantic Avenue, which is plastered with large signs banning cars from “cruising” the mile-long array of funfairs, surf shops, and nightclubs.

Unlike many coastal towns, Virginia Beach also boasts a significant history. Virginia’s first colonists landed at Virginia Beach on April 26, 1607, before settling upriver at Jamestown; the site is marked by a stone cross at Cape Henry, at the southern lip of Chesapeake Bay. Five miles south, the excellent Virginia Aquarium (717 General Booth Blvd., 757/385-3474, daily, $25 adults, $30 combo ticket for admission and movie) holds nearly a million gallons with sharks, sting rays, seals, and sea turtles, plus an IMAX theater ($8).

Along with the beaches and the aquarium, one of the big attractions in Virginia Beach is breakfast, thanks to the fantastic range of places up and down Atlantic Avenue, like the awesome Pocahontas Pancakes (3420 Atlantic Ave., at 35th St., 757/428-6352).