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(ARA) - For a classic American beach getaway that's close to home, Virginia Beach has activities and attractions that will appeal to every visitor, from exciting museum excursions to serene parks and soothing beaches.

As a year-round destination, Virginia Beach beckons travelers looking to escape hectic routines and enjoy quality time with family and loved ones. Centrally located on the East Coast, Virginia Beach is within a day's drive of one-third of the U.S. population and easily accessible to an additional one-third via major interstate highways. Less time in the car means more time in Virginia Beach!

Top 10 reasons for families to visit Virginia Beach:

1. Virginia Beach is the "World's Largest Pleasure Beach," according to the "Guinness Book of World Records." It boasts more than 35 miles of ocean and bay beaches stretching from the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay to Virginia's southern border.

2. The beach was widened to the length of a football field in 2001. The "Big Beach" project expanded the shore's width to more than 300 feet using 3.2 million cubic yards of sand -- enough to fill 15,000 residential swimming pools.

3. The Virginia Beach Boardwalk is nearly three miles long, complete with a separate bike path. Originally built in 1888, today's concrete thoroughfare stretches from Rudee Inlet to 40th Street, and is a perfect place for biking, jogging, rollerblading, strolling or people-watching.

4. Virginia Beach has more than 18,000 acres of state parks and wildlife refuges, and 121 navigable miles of waterways perfect for boating, kayaking or canoeing.

5. The city's nationally renowned Virginia Marine Science Museum is one of the top 10 most-visited aquariums in the country, contains 800,000 gallons of water and more than 350 hands-on exhibits, and is home to the only 3D IMAX(R) theater in Virginia.

6. The mid-Atlantic's largest population of bottlenose dolphins makes its summer residence in Virginia Beach.

7. Virginia Beach was the landing site of Capt. John Smith in 1607 before he continued north to Jamestown. Pay homage at the First Landing Cross commemorating this significant event or climb the Cape Henry Lighthouse, the oldest government-built lighthouse in America, to overlook the spot.

8. Enjoy free daily tours and lectures, extra-sensory perception (ESP) demonstrations or spa services at the Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E.). The late psychic Edgar Cayce selected Virginia Beach as the headquarters for his research because he believed it to be a safe haven from storms.

9. Quaint museums dot the oceanfront including The Old Coast Guard Station, a former U.S. Life Saving Station that dates to 1903, and the Atlantic Wildfowl Heritage Museum, dedicated to decoy-carving and preserving and promoting wildfowl of the Atlantic Flyway.

10. Exciting annual events splash the calendar, such as the Polar Plunge, Pungo Strawberry Festival, Viva Elvis Festival, Boardwalk Art Show, East Coast Surfing Championships, American Music Festival, Neptune Festival and Holiday Lights at the Beach.

Courtesy of ARA Content

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