Put on the map earlier this year thanks to the Something in the Water Festival created by Pharrell, Virginia Beach is buzzing again. Nestled where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Chesapeake Bay, Virginia Beach actually has a few different beaches for you to explore. I had the pleasure of calling Coastal Virginia home for nearly three years so I cannot wait to share my Virginia Beach travel guide. This is a local’s take on the best beaches, where to stay, what to eat and of course, things to do!
The peak season is from May until late September, which is no surprise since it’s a beach town. Virginia Beach is part of what’s known as the Hampton Roads area. Just three hours from Washington, D.C. it’s a popular spot for many on the East Coast.
WHERE TO STAY
Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront Hotel
3001 Atlantic Avenue, Virginia Beach, Virginia | hiltonvb.com
Right on the beach with sweeping views of the boardwalk and Oceanfront. If you want the rising sun to wake you up and hear the waves right after you open your eyes in the morning, this is the hotel for you. A $13 million renovation updating the guest rooms finished in 2018. We stayed on the 14th floor and had an Ocean view, which was spectacular. Watching the sunrise from the balcony was simply magnificent. I quickly remembered how beautiful Virginia Beach can be. Our room was very spacious, complete with a King-size bed, bedside USB ports and plenty of desk space to work.
Located next to Neptune’s Park, there are free concerts and bikes to rent for you to explore the boardwalk. Of course, you can also hop on a Bird scooter to get around the Oceanfront as well. The Hilton boasts two restaurants. I’ve dined at Catch 31 a few times and the food is always beautifully prepared.
Another huge perk of staying at the Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront is the rooftop infinity pool and Sky Bar. From here, you’ll have panoramic views of the ocean. During the day, soak up the sun and relax. At night, the Sky Bar comes out to play and it becomes a nightlife destination. However, Sky Bar is only open to hotel guests and members. There is also a hot tub outdoors and another swimming pool indoors.
A Virginia Beach travel guide isn’t complete without this oceanfront hotel on the list.
The Cavalier Virginia Beach
4200 Atlantic Ave, Virginia Beach, Virginia | cavalierhotel.com
A historic hotel carrying on Virginia’s rich history into the modern day, The Cavalier recently underwent a $75 million renovation. However, its iconic look is still there and the details are exquisite. Famous former guests include F. Scott Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and many more. While the hotel itself is not on the ocean, guests and members get access to the Beach Club, which is. The Cavalier has plenty to offer, including delicious restaurants (Becca is my favorite), a gorgeous indoor pool in the atrium and overall a great atmosphere for hanging out and having a good time.
A luxury hotel, The Cavalier’s rooms are beautiful with many plush details. Our room from a previous stay faced the ocean. In addition to hotel guests, many locals frequent The Cavalier for brunch, drinks or just to spend time on the lawn. If the weather cooperates, being outdoors on the property is a must. You can rent bikes and explore the quaint North End neighborhoods complete with charming beach homes. It’s a gorgeous place and a must on any Virginia Beach Travel Guide.
See my full post on the Cavalier Hotel here.
Oceanfront at 31st Street
Right outside the Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront, this a very popular beach spot. The Hilton offers private cabanas and chairs for a fee. This is a good option if you don’t like to lay on towels at the beach and want a place to sit or lay down to relax. I will warn you, it can get very very crowded here. Since dozens of hotel line the Oceanfront plenty of tourists set up here for the day. However, if you’re a hotel guest, it’s the perfect place to catch the sunrise like we did with our friends Kelly and Justin. We woke up at 5:15 a.m. and the glowing colors are so worth it. I remember it was forecast to rain this day and I wanted to cancel. But Kelly persisted and we were rewarded with these gorgeous photos!
My blue beach umbrella is currently on sale and makes me so happy. I cannot believe I waited this long to get one. Justin and Kelly are what I like to call professional beach bums and they said this umbrella was great quality and seemed very high-end! It also comes in white, which is what I originally wanted. However, shipping does take a bit of a while for the white so I went ahead with the blue.
North End Beach
42nd to 89th Streets on Atlantic
My favorite beach spot for nearly three years. Beach parking can be a bit of a hassle but I promise if you’re patient, you will find a spot. Take some time to pay attention to No Parking signs. Make sure signs are from the city by checking the back for a seal as some North End neighbors put up their own signs to prevent people from parking in front of their home. I actually did a story on this, so if you’re looking to at the North End, check out my story here. Do not block any driveways or mailboxes during working hours and you’re good.
Since the North End is quite a big neighborhood, there are some spots I prefer. Theoretically, you could drive down and see where you find parking and there’s usually always beach access. However, my favorite beach spots are off Bay Colony and 71st Street. Bay Colony is great if you want to see some stunning beach homes and pretty flowers.
Chic’s Beach / Chesapeake Bay Beach
Pronounced “Chick’s” Beach, not chic like Color & Chic, this is another popular spot with locals when they want to get some sand and sun. The water here is much calmer since it’s off the bay and not the ocean and parking is very scarce. Most people who visit this beach either live nearby and walk or have friends who do. I fall into the later. Also, the “beach” portion isn’t as big as down at the Oceanfront so be prepared for it to usually be more crowded than not. Most locals bring their own beach chairs, umbrellas and coolers for the day.
Off the same strip as the Oceanfront but further south, this is the “beginning” of a spectacular stretch of beach in North Carolina known as the Outer Banks. Known for expensive beach homes and rentals, Sandbridge tends to be quieter than the touristy Oceanfront. About a 30-minute drive from the Oceanfront, head here if you want a more relaxed vibe. Free parking is a bit scarce, so be prepared to pay to park in the parking lot or spend some time scouring the streets. This is also a fantastic place to watch the sun set as the colors are unreal.
WHERE TO EAT / DRINK
Three Ships Coffee Roasters
607 19th St, Virginia Beach, VA | threeshipscoffee.com
Hands down our favorite spot to get coffee in the Coastal Virginia area. I love their Pungo latte, which is sweetened with locally picked strawberries during warmer months and sweet potato during cooler weather. Johnny gets their cold brew, of course. This is a great atmosphere to sit down and work, catch up with friends and even grab a small bite. I highly recommend their ham & jam biscuit!
1624 Laskin Rd #740, Virginia Beach | fruitive.com
A delicious vegan restaurant with gluten-free options, Fruitive is the first certified-organic fast-casual restaurant in the United States. There are three locations, one in Virginia Beach and two in Norfolk. The photo above is from the Norfolk location but their menu is exactly the same. The southwest collard tacos are our favorite and we usually get them to go to bring to the beach. I love how the collard green keeps all the ingredients in and doesn’t fall apart like a corn or flour taco.
When In Rome
401 N Great Neck Rd #129, Virginia Beach | wheninromevb.com
If you’re looking for delicious authentic Italian food, this is where you need to go. It’s not the most Instagrammable restaurant and the service isn’t all that incredible. However, they make up for it in spades with how delicious their food is. All of the dishes I’ve gotten here were beautifully prepared, cooked to perfection and leave me wanting more.
The Porch on Long Creek
401 N Great Neck Rd #129, Virginia Beach |
Nestled right on the water, The Porch an upscale cozy restaurant making you feel at home. Truly, a Virginia Beach gem, this restaurant boasts delicious seafood and stunning water views. It’s the brainchild of the Bay Local and Chick’s Oyster Bar owners. You can see the massive kitchen right when you walk in and the bar surrounds it, offering a unique experience. There is a long wait, even on weekdays so be warned. However, even if you can’t sit outside, all the big windows offer views of the water and sunset. I got the crab cakes,
Everything they serve is locally grown or sourced. A great place for breakfast or a late lunch, Commune has delicious bowls, salads and benedicts. I actually love their chicken sandwich and their pancakes best. Plus, they have a really great lavender latte. On the weekends, the wait can get a little long since the restaurant is on the smaller side, so try to get there early! This is walking distance from Three Ships Coffee! There is also a Norfolk location.
A yummy, no frills spot for breakfast and brunch. There are two locations but this doesn’t mean there isn’t a wait at either one. I always go for the crab benedict while Johnny loves getting biscuits and gravy. More of a hip spot, it can get a little loud because of the flowing mimosas.