Virginia Beach is a resort city located on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. This location allows for the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center to be a popular tourist destination. Other attractions in the Virginia Beach area include the Military Aviation Museum, the Cape Henry Lights, and the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art. Virginia Beach hosts an annual contest, the East Coast Surfing Championships, one of the oldest surfing contests. One of the largest Half Marathons in the world, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon, is held in Virginia Beach on the same weekend as the American Music Festival. Virginia Beach has over 4,000 acres (about half the area of Chicago O'Hare airport) that make up their more than 200 parks and helps them rank in the top 10 of the best park systems. The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages an 8,000-acre freshwater refuge called the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
Tourism, real estate, and defense make up a large part of the economy of Virginia Beach. Tourism provides many opportunities for employment in Virginia Beach, especially through hotels, restaurants, and entertainment. Virginia Beach is also home to many national and international corporate headquarters. Naval Air Station Oceana, a U. S. Navy fighter jet base, is one of the largest employers in Virginia Beach. There are three other military bases located in Virginia Beach who also impact the economy. Another part of the economy of Virginia Beach is the almost 150 farms in the area, which produce vegetables, corn, wheat, and dairy products. Nearby airports, railroads, and port facilities contribute to Virginia Beach’s ability to participate in commercial shipping. All these factors help make Virginia Beach a presence in national and international commerce.