Do you ever visit a place so frequently that you just start to take it for granted? Virginia Beach was one of those places for me. Most people would jump at the opportunity to visit a beach, especially one so close and convenient to where they live. Just a quick drive and about 3 turns (literally, all interstates!) later, and sandy toes await. My family traveled to Virginia Beach a lot when I was growing up; Sand Soccer tournaments every year, vacations to Dam Neck (the Naval base), and I even attended a University by the beach as a freshman. As adults, John and I have gone back for concerts, to visit with friends, and for a two of my weddings last year!
Virginia Beach is just one of those places that became "normal" for us. With the many tourists and less-than-soft sand, I can't say that it's my favorite beach on the East Coast (I know, I sound like a beach brat!)! However, I have loved visiting for a long weekend getaway, whether it's with Jay or with a group of girlfriends. Planning a trip to VA Beach is a great way to break up the monotony of working a full time job. And as it turns out, when we visit, Jay and I don't usually go on the beach at all! We enjoy simply "being" at the beach; walking along the boardwalk, eating seafood, and taking in the atmosphere (without all the sand). I'm starting to love Virginia Beach not for the beach itself, but for the "getaway" it gives us! If you're planning a trip and the beach isn't an option, or the day is rainy, there are still amazing restaurants and a plethora of fun activities you can do!
We absolutely love The Bagel Baker for breakfast. It's about a 10 minute drive from the boardwalk, but well worth it. The bagels are made fresh every day, the woman who owns the restaurant is sweet as can be, and the locals recommend it. John and I got two "BB on Broadway" (on Everything) bagels and they were huge - and they were also devoured in minutes. If you're looking to eat along the boardwalk, Pocahontas Pancakes is a crowd favorite (though there will most definitely be a wait) and Doc Taylor's is a charming renovated beach motel that offers inexpensive breakfast and lunch options.
For lunch, casual is our favorite. Our go-to along the boardwalk is Johnna Manana's. It doesn't look like much from the outside, and if you're not looking for it, you could probably just walk right past it, but their fish tacos are delicious. And be sure to try the house drink - a Johnny Rita! Lagerheads and Tortugas are also fun options with outdoor dining along the boardwalk.
There are a TON of dinner options along the boardwalk, but we always choose seafood when we're at the beach! Tautog's has a great selection of entrees and appetizers, and it's ideal for older couples, or parties without kids. It's a little bit pricey, but the quality of the food paired with the friendly service makes it one of our favorites! Try the crap dip, shrimp and grits, and anything with seared tuna. For something closer to the main strip, we love to sit by the fire pits at Catch 31. The iced shellfish tower is a great lite option for dinner! We split the tower and added a few extra oysters to share, and it was plenty!
We typically center our trip around a concert at the Veteran's Home Loan Amphitheater. On weekends in the summer, Neptune's Park (located right by Catch 31) has live music and various vendors set up for entertainment. Throughout the summer there are fireworks shows every Sunday and Wednesday, and there is an 8-block corridor of "BeachStreetUSA" that hosts musicians and novelty acts every night.
There's always something happening at the beach, whether it be a sand volleyball tournament, an art show along the boardwalk, or a fun concert - to plan your vacation, visit the official website here!
If you're looking for things to do that don't involve sand or surf, Virginia Beach has plenty of options. We typically just enjoy drinking and eating our way down the boardwalk, but if you walk along Pacific Avenue, you'll find many options for putt putt golf. We've played before, but John hates losing, so we don't play often. You can rent bikes or surries to ride along the boardwalk, explore the Cape Henry Lighthouse, and did I mention get a Johnny Rita? There's also the Virginia Beach Aquarium, and the Virginia Beach Adventure Park (located at the Aquarium!) where you can climb and zipline. On our list of things to try is an off-shore fishing adventure. We've heard great things about Seaduction Charters, so on our next trip down, I'm hoping we get to try it out.
If you have other suggestions for places to eat, things to see, or adventures to have in Virginia Beach, I'd love to hear them!