I am enjoying living in Virginia Beach for the summer a lot more than I thought I would. It’s such an exciting, yet laid-back place, and so different from my hometown. I grew up in the suburb of Roswell, about 25 minutes north of Atlanta, Georgia. It’s a fairly large area and the influence of the city is strong. Virginia Beach is similar to Roswell in that it has lots of community events to get people involved. However, there are a lot of differences as well.
Though the City of Virginia Beach has a much larger population, the oceanfront feels like a close-knit community, much tighter than Roswell. I love the layout of the boardwalk and Atlantic Avenue. It’s amazing that you can see the whole oceanfront in one afternoon stroll. There are places to eat along the way, and fun things to see. You can really spend all day on just one road.
My hometown is pretty spread out geographically, and it’s not pedestrian friendly. You have to drive everywhere, which can be quite a hassle. A few places, like Canton Street, have tried to develop more of a small town feel. That’s a small historic block where you can walk around, eat and shop, and hang out in green space. Still, it’s surrounded by busy streets, and walking anywhere else is not feasible.
Another thing that is different about Virginia Beach is the tourists. Atlanta is a large, international city so it’s not unusual to meet people from all over the world. However, most of them are there for business or just passing through from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, since it’s the busiest airport in the world. We don’t count on or expect many tourists to visit Atlanta or its suburbs, so most businesses and attractions are set up for locals or at least Georgians.
Here at the beach, nearly everything is centered around tourism. Most of our visitors aren’t from around here, so they experience the museum differently since they don’t have much base information about this area. It’s challenging at times to go between talking to a tourist and a local since they are usually interested in different material. All in all though, this shake-up is exactly what I needed for the summer, and I think I’m going to miss Virginia Beach a lot when I go home this fall!