Discover Virginia Beach's ViBe Creative District
By Kate Pittman, Executive Director of the ViBe Creative District
Images provided by ViBe Creative District
Go Beyond the Boardwalk. Here, YOU Create the Vibe.
Check out life beyond the beach—a little off the main drag and a lot off kilter. Located just blocks from the Virginia Beach Oceanfront, the ViBe Creative District is THE art and cultural hub in Coastal Virginia!
Nestled within the Oceanfront Area is Virginia Beach’s Own Cultural Arts Enclave—The ViBe Creative District.
A hub for artists and spirits, roasters and restaurants, workouts and wares, museums and more, the ViBe is where our creative businesses have set up shop to share their passion and inspire a sense of discovery in locals and visitors alike. Virginia Beach’s first arts district is anchored by the nationally-accredited Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) and has artisanal shops, art studios, vintage boutiques, luxury and antique furnishing specialists, a variety of culinary arts and even a local craft distillery. Whether you’re here for a few days or here for good, there’s always something new going on. Weekly and monthly events like the Old Beach Farmer's Market, VB Flea, First Fridays and Second Saturdays give a taste of the town and bring entertainment and community art projects you can be a part of. New programming this summer includes live entertainment and weekly Art of the Body Yoga in ViBe Park and monthly Sound Art & Meditation in 18th Street Parklet.
About the ViBe
The ViBe Creative District evolved over the last ten years from community-driven volunteer efforts, like the Old Beach Farmer’s Market, and statewide legislation from the Commonwealth of Virginia which allowed for local municipalities to establish arts districts. The market promoted locally-owned family farms, watermen and wineries, along with connecting local sources to chefs, restaurateurs and the public, reviving the historic Old Beach District by bringing thousands of visitors to the area on a weekly basis all summer. But most importantly, the Old Beach Farmer’s Market provided an incubator space for young entrepreneurs to test new businesses ventures, such as Three Ships Coffee and The Stockpot, both of which were born from undeniable passion, but humble means, at the weekly market before expanding to brick-and-mortar stores in the district.
In 2015, the ViBe District Virginia Beach was officially born when the City of Virginia Beach City Council established the boundary of the District and declared it “an arts and cultural district and technology zone.” Offering special tax incentives and new small business matching grants, the City of Virginia Beach is actively stimulating private business development and economic growth in the district while simultaneously investing in streetscape infrastructure like wider sidewalks and on-street parking.
The ViBe Creative District’s purpose is to serve as a vibrant center for the arts, culture and technology, and to support artists, technical and creative businesses to help them flourish and cross-pollinate. The intent is to foster creativity where artisans live and work. It also serves to provide an opportunity for a sense of discovery for visitors and residents, enhance the quality of life for citizens and stimulate economic development and real estate values.
Well established businesses like Wave Riding Vehicles and Superior Pawn have renovated building space once used for storage to provide opportunities for half a dozen new creative businesses since 2016. Other individual businesses such as French Twist Boutique welcomes local artists to share studio space. The district’s think-tank and creative launch pad, 1701 coworking space, has enabled more than 70 businesses the opportunity to network, collaborate and expand their businesses. Here, community pride is the gold standard. The ViBe Creative District is almost exclusively small business-owned and operated businesses offering visitors the authentic Virginia Beach experience.
The Face of ViBe
The ViBe Creative District has revitalized an area of Virginia Beach that’s been too long forgotten. Businesses that have made their home in the ViBe are as colorful and creative as the 45 public art murals that now decorate the fence line of 18th Street Parklet. And since 2015, 24 new businesses opened in the District.
Since ViBe is an arts district, what would the area be without incredible art! The Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, or MOCA, exhibits some of the most significant and impactful art of our time, offering a diversity seldom found in the arts community. These modern pieces offer insight into the age we live in. ViBe also houses smaller studios, like The Artists Gallery. This location is an artists’ cooperative, managed by the creative tenants themselves.
However, the creativity extends beyond the visual into the palatable. Creative restauranteurs have anchored themselves within the District, offering exciting dining and imbibing experiences. ViBe has become a mecca for local foodies.
The area is buzzing with locals and visitors dying to try craft beers, incredible spirits and delicious cocktails. Chesapeake Bay Distillery creates incredible spirits, with the craftsmanship you’d expect from a ViBe resident.
For daytime dining, Stockpot serves up delectable farm-to-table comfort food. Bad Ass Coffee and other coffee roasters have made the District a go-to destination for some of the best coffee in Virginia Beach. ViBe also contains mainstays you’ll recognize, like Zero’s Subs. Zero’s began making oven-baked subs in 1967 and has become an institution in Virginia Beach.
Yet the variety of businesses is not limited to arts and dining. You can find everything from antiques to fine jewelry at Superior Pawn. Need something to carry your new purchases in? Stop by North End Bag Company for a handcrafted canvas or leather bag.
It’s hard to drive or walk through the ViBe District without noticing the bright yellow building. The 17th Street Marketplace is an art and consignment shop offering a wide variety of home furnishings and gift items.
The ViBe Creative District is bringing diversity and vitality to the Oceanfront. Talk a walk off the beaten path and you’ll find the creative renaissance of the ViBe.
For more information on the ViBe Creative District, visit ViBeCreativeDistrict.org.