I LOVE the beach. About a month ago I decided to plan a trip to Virginia Beach – one of my favorites. I did my “magic” – looking through my various sites and found a wonderful family on CouchSurfing. I emailed Nancy and asked if we could come this past weekend and she agreed. I was very excited for a family trip – yes my husband would be joining us!
We headed down Thursday to get a little extra time and avoid traffic. It’s a really nice drive – we take 50 East then 13 South, that’s about it. There was a little traffic on 50 but it really opened up after Easton. Route 13 is just so easy, never any traffic and really nice drive through farm country and the Eastern Shore. Lots of great places to stop for local seafood as well. Last time we picked up some soft shell crabs and packed them in a cooler for a delicious dinner back home.
At the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, we stopped to enjoy the views and watch the people fishing and crabbing. They have decent restrooms, a nice gift shop and a restaurant with water views. It was nice to have a little break after a long drive. We arrived at the house in the Great Neck area and were immediately greeted by a lovely woman (Nancy). She has a very sweet dog and my daughter was immediately stricken by the four-legged creature. They have a lovely, large home with an in-ground swimming pool on a beautiful golf course. We had two bedrooms and a bathroom all to ourselves.
We quickly headed to the beach and parked in the Hilton garage on 31st. There are nice bathrooms, a rinsing station and a fun restaurant right there. Of course having driven 4+ hours with a 3- year old, we headed right for the playground in the sand. There are several of them scattered up and down the beachfront and they even have an all access one called Grommet Island at 2nd and the beachfront. It is a very family friendly beach.
There are several live music venues along the beachfront with live music every night. There was even a classic rock festival that weekend. We sat at Catch 31 one night and had a decent dinner around fire pits – one of my favorite places to eat. We splurged on a meal since we can eat most of them at “our home”.
My other favorite thing to do is ride bikes along the beachfront 3-mile long bike path. It’s a very safe and fun ride – you can stop anytime to play or grab a quick snack. We stopped to check out the two museums along the path – the Old Coast Guard Station – a neat museum that preserves maritime history with interesting events and displays. All the years I have been going to Va Beach I never gave it a thought. You know how it is – for years you go by the same places but you never stop in. Next time you do, try a new place. There is also the Atlantic Wildfowl Heritage Museum – that one is free and they even have live carving demonstrations.
We had great days on the beach – the water was perfect, the surf was pretty calm (BUT the sand was very hot – I REALLY recommend wearing some heavy socks – I had flip flops and still burnt my feet). We made a friend who was staying at the Ocean Club and they invited us to join them in the pool. Ellie had a blast in the 3 pools (one really cool “indoor” with lots of fountains) and I had a nice soak in the adult only area hot tub.
We joined them again the next day and had a GREAT meal at Tortuga’s – the restaurant and bar on site. They have poolside service and pretty good size menu, not terribly expensive. The other days we packed the cooler and ate sandwiches and salads on the beach. Our last night we were joined by Nancy’s husband and we had a really nice dinner together at their home. I scrounged up some of our food and foraged through hers and made a nice meal for all. We swam together in their outdoor pool and had great conversations about the military, travel and kids. It really was like staying with old friends.