1/23/24 Updated by Lori

Disclaimer: You may come across affiliate links on this page. Here’s the deal: I may earn a commission if you purchase through any of these links. The best part? It won’t cost you a penny extra. These links are simply a way for me to recommend products or services that I believe in, enhance your experience, and help keep this blog in business. Thanks for the support!

Virginia Beach is one of Virginia’s most popular tourist destinations. And why not? Its three-mile, 28-foot wide boardwalk on the Atlantic makes it one of the best beach vacations on the east coast. But as fabulous as it is, Virginia Beach is only one of the dozens of amazing Virginia beaches in the state.

And though Virginia Beach is the most famous beach, sometimes you don’t want the hassle and expense of traveling there. You want Virginia beaches closer to home or better for nature lovers.

Lucky for us, there are plenty of other incredible Virginia beaches for a day of swimming, sunning, fishing, kayaking, or just relaxing by the water. So whether you live in DC, Richmond, or Charlottesville, we guarantee you’ll find a beach in our ultimate guide to Virginia beaches for good times and tan lines!

Our guide is broken down by region, and the beaches are alphabetically arranged.

Southside Hampton Roads Virginia Beaches: The Best of the Best in Virginia Beaches

White sandy beaches of southern Hampton Roads, Virginia.
Virginia Beach has the best beaches in Virginia and some of the best on the entire east coast.

Southside Hampton Roads has world-class Virginia beaches and all the amenities that go with that. So if you’re looking for a “true” beach vacation with huge sandy beaches, surfing, parasailing, exciting nightlife, and water sports, this is where you want to be. 

Southside of Hampton Roads beaches map.
Beaches on Southside of Hampton Roads map.

Chic’s Beach

People are playing volleyball on the beach.
Chic’s beach is a local hot spot.

3656 Shore Dr. Virginia Beach, VA 23455

Parking: Parking spaces are sparse. You can sometimes find free street parking if you come late or early in the day. Parking is easier to find the further you are willing to walk. A parking lot under the Lesner Bridge has a bathroom and outdoor showers.

This is a hidden gem that most tourists don’t know about. Because it’s on the bay rather than the ocean, the surf is calmer and excellent for kayaking and paddle boards. Small children can swim safely here without worrying about big waves or strong currents. 

An excellent beach for swimming, walking, sports, and dolphin watching. Feel free to bring Fido after Labor Day. 

Insider tip: Buoy 44 Seafood Grill has excellent food and drinks with the best water views off its outdoor deck.  Complimentary valet parking. 

Amenities Quick Look

  • Fishing and boat launches are nearby.
  • Restaurants
  • Portable toilets along the beach
  • Dog friendly on the off-season

Croatan Beach

A beach for surfers
Croatan Beach is for surfing, so Hang Ten!

920 Vanderbilt Ave, Virginia Beach, VA 23451

Parking: Lot close to the beach. $7 in season, credit cards only. If the lot is full, there is no other parking since this is in a residential area. 

Croatan Beach is primarily a surfer’s beach that stretches from the Rudee Inlet to Dam Neck Navy Base. However, swimming is allowed. If you or your kids want to learn to surf the waves, this is the beach to hit!  

No restaurants or stores are nearby, so bring everything you need, including food, water, and beach gear. 

Insider tip: Learn to surf at the Seth Brody School of Surf. They offer summer surfing camps and private lessons.  From their website: Seth’s surf camp is top-notch, loads of fun, and is a great way to learn how to surf!

Amenities Quick Look

  • Basic bath house with outdoor showers only 
  • Lifeguards, in season 
  • Famous for surfing lessons. 
  • Pets are permitted before 10 am and after 6 pm. 

Dam Neck

Waves hitting the shore.
Dam Neck is a hidden gem for military members only.

1977 Terrier Ave. Bldg. 531. Virginia Beach, VA 23461

Parking: Large, paved, free parking lot. 

The beach at Dam Neck is open only to those with access to military bases. This is a beautiful beach with everything you need for a spectacular day without the crowds or expense of Virginia Beach.

Giant waves, an expansive white sand beach, lifeguards, and extensive amenities make this a no-brainer for military families.  Bathrooms, changing areas, and outdoor showers are available. 

Insider tip: Parking is never an issue, but get there before 10 am for the best slots in the shade. 

Amenities Quick Look

False Cape State Park

A person is walking at sunrise on the beach.
False Cape State Park isn’t easy to get to, but worth the trip. Credit: Virginia State Parks

4001 Sandpiper Rd, Virginia Beach, VA 23456

Parking: No public access with vehicles into the park. Parking is available at the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge visitors center but fills quickly in the summer. Additional/overnight parking is available at Little Island City Park.

Surrounded by water on two sides, Back Bay to the West and the mighty Atlantic to the East. 

False Cape State Park is the last bastion of undeveloped land along the Atlantic coast. More than any other in Virginia, this park offers the opportunity for guests to experience nature in a purely primitive setting.

The park reaches back to a time when the land, beach, and sea weren’t developed, with time seemingly standing still here. When you plan a visit, you will first realize that you can’t drive to the park, much less hit up a store for a snack or some concessions. You can only access the park by foot, bicycle, boat, or tram. Bring what you need because you likely won’t find it here.

 The weather can be unpredictable, so you should be prepared. What you also will find in abundance is sunshine and insects. So sunscreen and repellent should be on your list of what to bring.

Six miles of the Atlantic Ocean-facing shoreline is an excellent place to participate in a guided kayak tour or experience primitive camping. The area is rich with hiking and biking trails for those who like to take every bit of the scenery in. Bringing your four-legged companion is alright, but you are discouraged from bringing them through Back Bay.

Insider tip:  If you’d like to see the park’s Barbour Hill area and the historic Wash Woods site, you can take the tram from the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The 4-hour ride will take you throughout the wildlife refuge.

Amenities Quick Look

  • Bring water since there aren’t many options in the park for fresh water. 
  • Kayaking trips
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Biking

First Landing State Park

Boardwalk to the beach.
First Landing State Park Beach is a warm, gentle beach close to everything.  Credit: Virginia State Parks

2500 Shore Dr, Virginia Beach, VA 23451

Parking: $7 weekdays, $10 weekends

With so many state parks to choose from in Virginia, it may be surprising that First Landing State Park is the most visited across the commonwealth. It’s no wonder when you realize this park is a whopping 2,888 acres. That’s 1.5 miles of beautiful sandy beach with 20 miles of trails for off-beach exercise and exploring. 

This is another park where English colonists explored back in 1607. Not sure why they didn’t settle here, but I’m sure it was a close second to Jamestown. These waterways have seen it all, from Native American canoes to Colonial settlers to modern-day cargo ships.

The landscape of First Landing varies greatly, offering guests many educational and recreational activities. You’ll find unusual habitats like bald cypress swamps, a maritime forest, lagoons, and rare plants and wildlife.

If you’re looking to stay longer than a day, the park has campsites in various forms. You can rent a cabin or yurt, water, and hook-up campsites. You can even bring your boat and use the various boat ramps. If you forgot anything, you could pop into the camp store to meet those last-minute needs.

Insider tip:  As you might expect, weekends tend to be high visitation days. There will be delays, and guests will be turned away once the lot is full. So show up early and enjoy your day at one of the premiere beach spots in Virginia. 

Amenities Quick Look

  • Cabins
  • Yurts
  • Water and electric hook-up campsites
  • Tent campsites
  • Picnic area
  • Boat ramps
  • Camp store

Little Creek Beach

Calm water near the beach
Little Creek has a quiet, gentle beach on the Bay for military members only.

Beach Drive on Little Creek Amphibious Navy Base, Virginia Beach, VA  23455

Parking: Free parking lot at the beach

This is an excellent beach for anyone with access to a military base.  It’s a child and pet-friendly beach with gentle waves and shallow water. You’ll enjoy swimming, sunning, playing volleyball, or exercising on this uncrowded white sand beach!

The base has a Wendy’s and a NEX store for food or drink. There are no amenities for food or drink close to the beach. 

Insider tip: Once your time in the sun is over or you need a break, head to the Gator Bowling Center for indoor fun. This is the largest Navy bowling center in the Hampton Roads area boasting 32 lanes and a full snack bar and games.

Amenities Quick Look

  • Parking nearby
  • Easy Access
  • Typically uncrowded
  • Beach volleyball
  • Limited shade, so bring an umbrella and some sunscreen
  • Restroom and showers
  • Pet-friendly all year

Fort Story Beach

Beach with a lighthouse on it.
Fort Story Army base has a scenic beach with two lighthouses to visit.

The Main Gate is off Shore Drive, where it becomes Atlantic Ave. Open 24 hours. 

Parking: Free parking in multiple lots

Accessing this beach is easiest if you are an active or retired military member with an ID. But don’t fret if you aren’t. You can go through the guest entrance, and once the guards are satisfied at the gate, away you go.

Once through the gate, you can visit two lighthouses nearby one another. The older one is inland a bit more than the other. The new one has 192 steps from bottom to top. Great views of the two historic and beautiful lighthouses can be seen from the beach. 

Guests have reported seeing dolphins and whales from the shoreline. Plenty of trash cans to help you dispose of garbage. You can check out the spot where the Jamestown colonists first landed their vessels in North America in the early 1600s. 

As a civilian, you need to ensure your vehicle is inspected for access to the base and have proof of insurance, registration, and of course, your driver’s license.

Insider tip: If the weather turns sideways or you need to get out of the sun for a while, check out Flipper McCoys, just a short ride down Atlantic Blvd. You can play laser tag and classic arcade games to your heart’s content.

Amenities Quick Look

  • Portable toilets
  • Trash cans
  • No beach concessions

Little Island Park

People enjoy the beach by swimming and sunning.
A local favorite with all the amenities you need. Credit: PumpkinSky

Address: 3820 Sandpiper Rd, Virginia Beach, VA 23456

Parking: $5

Little Island Park is a lesser-known beach spot a bit further south than the beach in Sandbridge on Virginia’s shoreline. This sizable 122-acre beach park is technically still in Sandbridge, and you’ll find it a stone’s throw north of the Back Bay Wildlife Refuge. The 400 ft fishing pier is a big draw, but so is the 775-foot beach earmarked for surfing. Sunbathers, swimmers, and fishermen can enjoy the 2,000-foot beach on the pier’s south side without worries about surfers coming their way.

The brackish waters of Back Bay are great for fishing and crabbing on the park’s western side. ​You will not need a Virginia Saltwater Fishing License to fish from the Fishing Pier, but you will need one to fish from the beach. You must pay a fee to use the pier from May through October. Service dogs are the only four-legged friends permitted on the pier. 

With just a photo ID, you can check out some sports equipment from the park office to liven up your visit. 

Insider tip: If you plan to stay at this Virginia beach for a while, pack a cooler with food and drinks; there isn’t much nearby.

Amenities Quick Look

  • Public restrooms
  • Picnic shelters with grills 
  • Lighted tennis courts
  • Pickleball court
  • ​Basketball courts
  • Volleyball court and beach volleyball
  • Playground
  • Canoe/Kayak launch​ – Seasonal parking fees may apply. 
  • Public use AED

Oceanview Beach Park

Waves crashing on the beach
Oceanview beach is Norfolk’s best beach.

100 W Ocean View Avenue Norfolk, VA 23503

Parking: Parking lot available at the Ocean View Beach park, street parking for other areas as designated 

While Oceanview Beach in Virginia covers a large swath of oceanfront, its 6.5-acre beach park is where most of the action is. Parking is most accessible here instead of street parking in other areas, which can be tough to score.

A park highlight is the band shell used for presentations and live entertainment. Every Sunday night from 7 pm – 9 pm, you can catch Big Bands on the Bay from late May through early September. Expect to feel your toes tapping, leading you to dance to the sounds of the Big Band era. 

It’s not all just music, either. You’ll find an array of themed parties and family movie nights in July and August. Lots to do to start your weekend on Friday nights with kids’ activities, food, drinks, and some cornhole too. Oceanview Golf Course is right around the corner too!

Insider tip: Even without seaside concessions, a short walk from the beach will get you to one of many restaurants, groceries, and convenience stores nearby.

Amenities Quick Look

  • Restrooms are located at Ocean View Beach Park, but it’s harder to find a restroom along the southern parts of the beach, which are behind hotels and other real estate.
  • Trash cans are scattered along the beachfront
  • Lifeguards in season
  • Boardwalk
  • Handicap access ramp
  • Open green space

Sandbridge Beach

Deserted beach with sand in Virginia
Sandbridge Beach is a local favorite in Virginia Beach and one of the state’s best beaches.  Credit: Brent Hoard

2549 Sandfiddler Road, Virginia Beach, VA 23456

Parking: Parking fees are charged from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Weekend. Two parking areas fill up fast, so arrive early to minimize parking hassles. 

​​​​​Sandbridge Beach may be the place for you if you’re looking for a beautiful beach without the fanfare of a boardwalk and vendors. While the beach has been here for eons, the facility is newer with its parking area, restrooms, foot washes, and shower, plus a nice changing area, so there is no need for a Superman wardrobe change in your back seat.

Once parked, you can walk across the street for easy beach access. The restrooms are available from March through September from 8 am to sunset. If you visit during the cooler weather, portable toilets provide relief.

For an in depth dive into this great beach check out our blog Sandbridge Beach in Virginia: A Best-Kept Secret.

Insider tip: When done for the day at the beach, a short 20 min ride northwest will take you to the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, a great place to stop for all ages. There’s even the Adventure Park alongside the aquarium for those with energy to burn.

Amenities Quick Look

  • Restrooms
  • Outdoor shower
  • Changing area
  • Bring what you need, but there are some concessions
  • MWR beach equipment rentals
  • Portable restrooms available during the off-season

Virginia Beach

The best of Virginia beaches, Virginia Beach. Resort beach with sunbathers
Virginia Beach: The best resort beach in Virginia with the longest boardwalk in America.

2100 Parks Avenue, Virginia Beach, VA 23451

Parking: Parking along side streets where indicated and some lots like Rudy Loop, 2nd Street Parking, 31st Street Public Parking Garage, and 4th Street Municipal Lot.

This is the granddaddy of them all. If there were any beach in Virginia that deserved rock star status based on recognition alone, it would be Virginia Beach. This beachfront rivals other states’ best up and down the East Coast. The boardwalk at the Oceanfront is a landmark, the widest and longest in the state at 28 ft wide and an entire 3 miles long. It will take you from 2nd Street to 40th, a great place to exercise on foot or a bit faster over on the bike path.

During the summer, you can catch some live entertainment at one of the four stages at the oceanfront, 7th, 17th, 24th, and 31st Streets. Some major acts come into town, so plan your trip to Virginia Beach Oceanfront with that in mind.

Virginia Beach is no different from most large beach cities because it has endless restaurants and shops, including bike and beach gear rentals. There is plenty to see and do off the beach, with multiple nautical sculptures, including King Neptune’s bronze likeness standing at an imposing 24 ft. 

King Neptune welcomes guests to the 31st Street Neptune Festival Park. Get your selfie with the King!

Insider tip: Wind down your day off the beach at the Tarnished Truth Distilling Co. in the historic Cavalier Hotel. The first and only craft distillery you’ll find in a luxury hotel in the US.

Amenities Quick Look

  • Public restrooms
  • Restaurants
  • Shopping
  • Museums
  • Playground
  • Fishing
  • Beach gear rentals and extensive amenities

Willoughby Beach

Flower on the beach
A beautiful beach in Norfolk.

11th View Street Norfolk, Virginia 23503

Parking: Street-side parking and the Ocean View Fishing Pier near the southern part of Willoughby Beach.

Known for its excellent fishing and sunsets, Willoughby Beach offers plenty with a relaxing non-boardwalk experience. There are not many amenities, but if you bring enough supplies, you should have a great beach experience buffeted by the local restaurants and convenience stores.

Insider tip: A great place for lunch is just down the road at the OV Beach Tavern. The firepit and strung-up lights will invite you in; you’ll love the atmosphere and the eats.

Amenities Quick Look

There aren’t many amenities along the beach, but the Oceanview Fishing Pier offers a bar and restaurant when you’re ready for a break from the sand.

468*60

Peninsula Hampton Roads Beaches: Beautiful and Hassle-Free Virginia Beaches

Four beautiful beaches with sunrises and sunsets.
The Virginia Peninsula: Beautiful beaches you can visit while beating the traffic.

 

Here’s a secret everyone who lives in the Tidewater area of Virginia knows–the Peninsula Virginia beaches are incredible! Free parking, fewer crowds, warmer water, excellent swimming, and white sand beaches add up to a fun and hassle-free experience. 

No, you can’t surf, and there isn’t any nightlife to speak of. But if you’re coming down from Richmond or the Charlottesville area and don’t want to deal with the Bridge-Tunnels (if you know, you know), these are the beaches for you. 

 

Peninsula Beaches of Hampton Roads map.
The fantastic Peninsula Beaches of Hampton Roads map.

Buckroe Beach

Sunrise on a beautiful Virginia beach with a pier
Buckroe Beach in Hampton, a great beach on the lower Peninsula.

100 S 1st St, Hampton, VA 23664

Parking: Free parking lots and street parking as marked, plus overflow parking with shuttle at Jones Magnet Middle School, 1819 Nickerson Boulevard 

Located just 2 miles from I-64, Buckroe Beach and Park offers fantastic views of the Chesapeake Bay along its nearly mile-long stretch of beach. Recently receiving a facelift, Buckroe is an attractive and amenity-heavy beach location. The concrete boardwalk is wide and inviting for those looking for exercise or a stroll. And the separate bike path allows for those who want to move at a quicker pace.

You’ll find lifeguards on duty from 10 am to 6 pm Memorial Day through Labor Day. Families can relax and stay the day with a bathhouse and portable toilets close by. A large fenced playground can break up the beach activities for the kids, and there are three picnic shelters with grills available for rent.

Guests can also rent beach gear and water sports equipment at the beach. Food trucks are at the park daily during the Summer to fuel your fun. Park rangers provide a degree of safety as they patrol year-round. No dogs are permitted anywhere on the premises from May 15 to Sept 15. 

Insider tip: What’s old is new again! If you’ve been to Buckroe before and weren’t impressed, it’s worth another look after the city poured quite a bit of money into the area with a hefty revitalization. Fewer issues with traffic and parking are plentiful, a great alternative to southside Virginia beaches.

Amenities Quick Look

  • Restrooms with showers
  • Bike path
  • Concrete boardwalk
  • Kayak/paddle boat rentals
  • Playground
  • Stage pavilion
  • Fishing pier
  • Picnic sites

Ft. Monroe Beach

Sunrise on the beach with a reflection on the water.
Ft. Monroe Beach, a great option on the lower Peninsula.

30 Ingalls Road Fort Monroe, VA 23651

Parking: Plenty of parking throughout the beach area along the eastern side of the Fort. The beach is easily accessible from the parking lots.

Conveniently located a mile from the last exit off I-64 East, the Ft. Monroe beaches provided miles of family-friendly, quiet beachfront. Here you’ll find plenty of space for you and your family to spread out to play in and enjoy views of the Chesapeake Bay. 

This is a location with plenty to do off the beach as well. The concrete boardwalk parallels the beach and gives way to a narrower walk that wraps around the southernmost parts of the, which is also great for walking or biking. The Fort is a treasure trove of history and can be explored for free. See Old Point Comfort Lighthouse!

Bird watching is on the agenda for those looking for a more leisurely activity, with 89 species of birds throughout the Fort. Nature lovers will love 249 species of flora and nine species of trees.

Outlook Beach is open from sunrise to sunset. You can expect to see lifeguards on duty from 10 am to 6 pm, Memorial Day through Labor Day. Dogs are permitted on the beach from late September until mid-May.

Insider tip: Within walking distance from the beach is the actual fort, and within it is the Casemate Museum which details history back to 1609. The museum is a free and cool place to retreat during summer.

Amenities Quick Look

  • Plenty of free parking.
  • Portable toilets are conveniently located along the beachfront. 
  • No bathhouses or food are available on the beach/boardwalk. 
  • There is a coffee shop opposite the Fort and a small campground store for incidentals.

Grandview Beach 

Aerial of a long stretch of sandy beach.
Grandview Beach will take you away from the crowds to where nature still abounds.

State Park Drive Hampton, VA 23664

Parking: There is no parking near the beach itself, but you can park along the right side of State Park Drive. 

.40 of a mile walk through the beautiful marshland from where you park on State Park Dr. At the Grandview Nature Preserve, you’ll find a natural open beach that will make you feel like you’ve been shipwrecked with miles of quiet shoreline. That is until the F-22 Raptors inbound to Langley Air Force Base scream on by. The sound of freedom!

This is one hidden beach if you don’t know it’s there. While parking is sparse, it’s worth the hassle and the short hike to the beach. Bring everything you’ll need because all you will find are seashells, birds, and other quiet beach seekers.

Insider tip: Since you won’t find anything but residential property near Grandview, your last stop for supplies is the 7-11 on Beach Road as you make your way toward the water. Before that, Fox Hill had a grocery store and fast food. 

Amenities Quick Look

  • Bring it if you’ll need it because there aren’t any amenities on this beach.
  • There are trash cans at the end of the walk to the beach.

Huntington Beach

Sunset at the beach with clouds on the horizon.
Huntington Beach, a great place to visit on the water in Newport News.

361 Hornet Circle  Newport News, VA 23607

Parking: Large lot for vehicles and boat trailers

Huntington Beach is one of the few west-facing beaches in Virginia, making it an awesome location for viewing a beach sunset. With 60 acres, some of which is the public beach on the James River, Huntington Park offers visitors a wide variety of activities.

You will find a tremendous beachfront with lifeguards and concessions, a vast playground (13,000 square feet), and twenty tennis courts. That’s not all! The property is also home to the Virginia War Museum, which showcases memorabilia from the Revolutionary War right up until today.

A public boat ramp is accessible year-round to allow for water sports and fishing. Speaking of fishing, the fishing pier, which parallels the James River Bridge, you well out into the James with its long reach of over half a mile long. For those wanting a relaxing activity, the Rose Garden, with its 45 varieties, is a beautiful place to slow things down.

Insider tip: The closest and frankly fantastic place to grab lunch or dinner with a view is near the beach at Crab Shack on the James. Situated at the foot of the fishing pier, you won’t have any trouble finding it and will love the catch of the day, burgers, and cocktails.

Amenities Quick Look

  • Restrooms
  • Parking
  • Tennis center
  • Rose garden
  • Picnic area
  • Fort Fun playground
  • Ball fields
  • Fishing pier
  • War Museum

Yorktown Beach

Aerial view of the beach with a pier and buildings
Yorktown Beach: plenty of history nearby to go along with this fantastic beach.

425 Water Street, Yorktown, VA 23690

Parking: Free parking in several lots, a garage near the beach, and a free trolley to get you to the beach from the further away lots. 

Not a large beach at only 2 acres, but for what Yorktown Virginia Beach lacks in size, it makes up for in beauty. And that beauty is wrapped up in its location. Situated near the foot of The Coleman Bridge in historic Yorktown, this gorgeous beach has everything mere steps away.

Parking is in abundance, with food and drink just across the road. And for those with wheelchairs, this beach features a Mobi-Mat and a Mobi-Chair to make the beach universally accessible. 

Not only is the beach handicap accessible, but so is the fishing pier. Everyone can participate in the fun at Yorktown Beach, making it a significant draw.

Beach equipment can be rented, including paddle boats, kayaks, and bikes which can be ridden on the bike path. 

Tickets can be booked on-site or before a visit with the Schooner Alliance for a sailing adventure on the York River.

Insider tip: This tip won’t take long cause it’s a winner, hands down. The Yorktown Pub off the beach is a fantastic place to grab lunch, dinner, or drinks. It can get wild at night. You won’t be disappointed!

Amenities Quick Look

  • Restrooms
  • Hotels
  • Bed & breakfasts
  • Shops
  • Restaurants
  • Boating 
  • Fishing pier 
  • Water sports rentals 
  • Tall ship cruises
  • Picnic areas

Central & Northern Virginia Beaches: A DC or Richmond Day Trip

Four beaches with surf and sand.
Central & Northern Virginia Beaches: Not far from Richmond or DC

Central and Northern Virginia are known for many things.  But Virginia beaches are not one of them. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some worth visiting when you can only fit in a day trip. We have a few gems on our list that are worth the drive–especially for nature lovers!

728*90

 

Beaches of Central & Northern VA map.
The Beaches of Central & Northern VA.

Aquia Landing Park

Daytime at the beach with calm water
Aquia Landing Park is a relaxing, often crowd-free beach.

2846 Brooke Road, Stafford, VA

Parking: Fee: Residents: $3 Youth/Seniors and $4 Adults; Non-residents: $4.50 Youth/Seniors and $6.50 Adults

Just a 25-minute drive from Fredericksburg, Aquia Landing Park is a popular swimming location at the mouth of Aquia Creek.  This 32-acre park is also a go-to fishing spot for locals and a great place to take a nature hike. The marsh, which borders the park’s entrance, teems with various birds, including rails and songbirds. The park is not all marshes, and you’ll find the wooded portions just as attractive and filled with breeding and migrant songbirds. 

Visitors near the creek channel should also watch for the waterfowl. Terns and gulls find the area good for dinner, so fishermen may have some clever competition. 

Insider tip: If you should be headed north after visiting Aquia Landing Park, stop and enjoy some time at the Potomac Point Winery. This European estate will make you feel like you’re far from DC when you’re just an hour away. Great wine, great food, and a great stop!

Amenities Quick Look

  • Restrooms
  • Accessible
  • Fishing
  • Picnic area
  • Bird watching

Bethel Beach Natural Area Preserve

Natural beach with a sandbar and water beyond.
Bethel Beach Natural Area Preserve: back to nature.

State Rte 609, Onemo, VA 23130

Parking: gravel parking area on site

The Bethel Beach Natural Area Preserve is located in Mathews County and a five-mile ride east from downtown Matthews. This area is primarily made up of sandy shoreline, which suits avid Virginia beachgoers but also contains some low dune and salt marsh habitats. 

The evolving landscape makes for a different experience each time you visit. Sand is moved by the winds and water, resulting in a dynamically changing habitat along the slender beach. The strong currents of the Chesapeake Bay combined with storms have continually shaped portions of the shoreline. 

This landscape is inviting for some rare colonial and marsh nesting birds, so bird-watching enthusiasts will wholly enjoy themselves. Grab your swimsuit and binoculars and spend some time exploring the preserve. 

Insider tip: A unique opportunity nearby lies with Bay Fly Fishing. Whether you’d like to try saltwater fly fishing or fish like the big boys in the open water, Bay Fly Fishing can set you up for a full day or reel in the big ones.

Amenities Quick Look

  • No restrooms or trash cans on site, so whatever you bring, kindly take with you. 
  • Dogs are welcome but must be kept on a leash.

Colonial Beach Beaches

Credit: Mark07142 

Hawthorn St, Colonial Beach, VA 22443

Parking: Parking is available for $2 an hour from midnight to 11:59 pm. If you plan to stay a whole day, the rate is $20 per day. If you need to make a quick stop or run into a shop, there are free 15-minute parking spaces scattered throughout the retail areas.

The town of Colonial Beach is situated on the western side of the Potomac River, just across from Cobb Island. As the town’s name would lead you to believe, Colonial Beach is a hot spot for sun worshiping and water activities. 

This town of almost four thousand year-round residents is home to not one beach but five, yes, five beaches; North Beach, Downtown Boardwalk Beach, Irving Avenue Beach, Castlewood Beach, and The Pointe Beach. 

These beaches make up close to a mile and a half of the town’s waterfront, and each offers something a bit different from the next.

North Beach is located at Colonial Avenue, North of Riverboat on the Potomac. Here you’ll find the atmosphere quieter and the beach more secluded while still being close to the energy and activity of the Boardwalk.

Downtown Boardwalk Beach can be found laterally on Taylor Street. This is the spot where all the action is. Here you’ll find a bathhouse, water sport rentals, swings, the Town Pier, and places to eat and shop.

Irving Avenue Beach can be found where Beach Terrace and Irving Avenue intersect.

This beach is in a more residential area and is where you will find quite a few vacation rentals, Airbnb’s, restrooms, and for the history buffs, the Cannon War Memorial. 

Castlewood Beach can be found at the southern end of Irving Avenue. Here you’ll find a dog park and Castlewood Park, which has many amenities like restrooms, picnic tables, benches, and places for the kids to play.

The Pointe Beach can be found at the southernmost tip of Colonial Beach. You’ll be close to the Dockside Restaurant & Tiki Bar and the Colonial Beach Yacht Center.

While the beaches may all be a bit different, the same rules apply to all town beaches. 

  • No grills/fires
  • No littering
  • No golf carts or vehicles on the beach
  • No alcohol
  • No fishing on the beach between 10 am and 6 pm
  • No pets

Insider tip: You don’t have to go far for a fun throwback 60’s style soda fountain at Colonial Beach Games & Soda Fountain. Get out of the sun for a meal, ice cream, or video games. Something for everyone!

Amenities Quick Look

  • Bathhouse
  • Watersports
  • Swings
  • Town Pier
  • Shops
  • food trucks
  • restaurants
  • Restrooms
  • Cannon War Memorial
  • picnic tables
  • Playgrounds

Haven Beach

The Ultimate Guide: 36 Breathtaking Virginia Beaches to Visit Haven Beach
The Ultimate Guide: 36 Breathtaking Virginia Beaches to Visit Haven Beach

2846 Haven Beach Rd

Parking: Limited parking lot with ten spaces.  Street parking is available. 

Directly due east from Mathews, VA, you will find a gem of a beach in Haven Beach. This is yet another beach on the Chesapeake Bay but with less fanfare and amenities. For those looking for a more secluded beach, this one is for you. Here you’ll find a soft sandy bottomed shoreline with designated swimming areas, making it great for families.

This is another area for the nature lovers and bird watchers in your group. The marshes, tidal lagoon, and plenty of shrubberies make for excellent habitats for many shorebirds and other creatures. The deeper water and fewer rocks will make for a better experience, so hang a left just past the main entrance and get your fill of the wildlife.

Insider tip: If you want to get out on top of the water instead of in it, arrange a trip with nearby Bay Creek Kayaking. Enjoy coastal Virginia at a relaxed pace, open daily to fit your schedule. 

Amenities Quick Look

  • Restrooms
  • Trash cans

Hughlett Point Natural Area Preserve

Balls Neck Road Kilmarnock, VA 22482

Parking: Parking for 11 cars only, so it’s tight. There aren’t any other options, so if it’s full you’ll have to be patient and wait for a spot to open up.

You will find Hughlett Point Nature Area Preserve near Ingram Bay on the Chesapeake. This is another quiet natural beach great for those who like a low-key shoreline experience. There isn’t much here but the tidal and non-tidal wetlands, undeveloped beaches, upland forests, and dunes. This setting will suit the nature lover to a tee.

The federally threatened northeastern beach tiger beetle (Cicindela dorsalis dorsalis) thrives here along with migrating waterfowl and songbirds who winter here. Bald eagles, northern harriers, and ospreys can be seen hunting here, so be sure to bring your binoculars.

Insider tip: For a great meal after exploring, check out a local favorite at KC’s Crabs & Cues. Tasty locally caught entrees and six billiard tables, a great combination in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere.

Amenities Quick Look

  • Sparse parking
  • Trails
  • Woodland boardwalk
  • Wildlife viewing platforms
  • Educational signage

Jamestown Beach

Credit: Sarah Stierch

2205 Jamestown Rd, Williamsburg  23185

Parking: plenty of parking nearby

The Jamestown Beach Event Park is a stone’s throw from the historic Jamestown Settlement. This family and the dog-friendly beach opens daily at 8 am and closes at sunset. This isn’t the most extensive beach on our list, but it is high in amenities. You’ll find plenty of picnic areas with grills, a fishing area, a pier to get you out over the water, and the all-important restrooms.

You’ll also have access to outdoor rinse stations, a paddle craft launch, and a fully stocked concession facility. You can also rent kayaks from Memorial Day through Labor Day. And as a handicap-accessible park, guests will find an ADA-accessible walkway, parking, restrooms, outdoor rinse stations, and a beach mat that can bring everyone to the river’s edge. 

Insider tip: The obvious add-on to a trip to Jamestown, Virginia beach would be Colonial Williamsburg, but another wallet-friendly bit of fun is right there near the beach. The Jamestown-Scotland Ferry is a fun and free way to get out onto and across the James River to Surry. The ferry runs 7-days a week year-round.

Amenities Quick Look

  • Fishing
  • Interpretive Signage
  • Kayak rentals
  • Picnic Areas
  • Restrooms
  • Store/Concessions
  • Wildlife Viewing

Leesylvania State Park

Credit: Virginia State Parks

2001 Daniel K. Ludwig Dr, Woodbridge, VA

Parking: $10 on weekdays and weekends

Beautiful Leesylvania State Park juts out into the Potomac River as a peninsula. The home for Native Americans for thousands of years, this park has quite a rich history. Not long after landing in Jamestown, Capt. John Smith stopped in the area in 1608 as he explored the Chesapeake Bay. 

Leesylvania can be found on the National Register of Historic Landmarks, but it’s not just a museum-type location. This park offers many activities like hiking, picnicking, swimming, fishing, and boating. For those who like to take their activity up a notch, there is a 20-station fitness trail to tackle.

If driving from Northern Virginia, you can be at the park in 30 minutes. From Richmond, it’s about 1.5 hours. From Hampton Roads, it will take about 2.5 hours.

Insider tip: If you are looking for a place for a meal, drinks, and a movie after exploring the park, head to the Alamo Drafthouse Woodbridge. Located at the Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center in Woodbridge, this unique mash-up of drinks, food, and movies is an excellent place to cool down and relax for a few hours and only a short ride from Leesylvania State Park.

Amenities Quick Look

  • Hiking
  • Picnic areas
  • Fishing pier
  • boating
  • Playground
  • boat launch
  • boat storage
  • snack bar
  • Store
  • Visitor center and gift shop
  • 20-station fitness trail
  • canoe and kayak rentals

Tangier Island Beach

Credit: Self

Island in the Chesapeake Bay accessible by ferry from towns on the mainland

Parking: no need to worry about that

If you were looking for the most beautiful diamond among all the gems, Tangier Island’s Beach is that shiny diamond. You’re already off to a great start being on an island with so much water around you, a postcard in every direction. 

The island is made up of a series of sandbars. You may be surprised to find some houses in the grassy ridges and among the tidal marshes between those ridges. At the southern tip, you’ll find an ever-growing beach thanks to the sands left behind by the ocean as it pushes into the Chesapeake Bay.

The white sand and clear, blue-green water make this beach stunning. You’ll almost forget you’re in a Virginia bay. Since it’s relatively isolated, it remains in a natural sandy state with just a bit of boardwalk to get you across the tidal marsh on foot.

You can take the Tangier Ferry from Onancock Wharf, which leaves daily at 10 am and 5 pm. There are golf cart and bicycle rentals if you want to get around the island a bit quicker, but on foot, you’ll be able to take in the scenery a bit at a time. Check out the shops and grab a bite to eat and enjoy.

Insider tip: A unique activity while at Tangier Island is Kayak Through the Trails of Tangier. A big bonus is that you can free borrow a kayak or canoe from the Tangier Island History Museum. The water trails around the island are a site, so get out on the water if time allows. 

Amenities Quick Look

  • Large public beach
  • No fees
  • No restrooms or showers
  • Boat or ferry to access the island

Vir-Mar Beach

779 Vir-Mar Beach Road, Heathsville, VA

Parking: Free parking available

Located right where the Potomac River blends with the Chesapeake Bay, Vir-Mar Beach sits waiting for wildlife adventurers who appreciate a quiet shoreline experience. This small beach is an excellent location to catch a glimpse of wintering waterfowl along with terns, osprey, sanderlings, and Monarch butterflies. 

Near the parking area is a wooded lot that often hosts an array of fall migrants. And in the summer months, you may experience a chorus of gray and green tree frogs letting their presence be known. 

Views of the Smith Island Lighthouse can be seen when the weather is dry and clear, as well as some islands and the shores of Maryland. Once again, this is a beach where your binoculars will get a workout.

Insider tip: Looking for an excellent place for a meal close by after leaving the beach? Look no further than Rancho Viejo Bar & Grill for some great Mexican food and drinks. You’ll find a great menu and fantastic atmosphere at this local favorite.

Amenities Quick Look

  • No restrooms
  • Abundant wildlife viewing

Wake Beach

1099 Mill Wharf Rd, Wake VA

Parking: Tiny parking lot, so arrive early

This is another hidden gem of a small beach on the Rappahannock River near Richmond. The locals may not like us letting the cat out of the bag with this uncrowded beach, but it’s a small treasure, and we think it’s worth a look. 

There are no restrooms, so prepare accordingly, but this pristine beach is a must-see. The summer months are a perfect time to visit when taking a dip to cool off is at a premium. 

Insider tip: If you’re still looking for something to do close by after your time at the beach, check out the Deltaville Maritime Museum. This museum takes you back to when a giant meteorite hit the Delmarva peninsula 35 million years ago. So much to see and learn. Worth checking out!

Amenities Quick Look

  • No restrooms

Westmoreland State Park 

145 Cliff Road, Montross, VA 22520

Parking: parking throughout the park in designated areas. For those staying in the RV park, there is a limit of vehicles per site.

Westmoreland State Park is a full-service state park that offers more than just a beautiful Virginia beach. Located on the Northern Neck of the Potomac River, this park on the National Register of Historic Places is a well-rounded site with activities for the whole family.

The list of amenities is vast, from the bathhouse to the boat ramp. There is so much to do that staying more than a day is commonplace, with the campground and RV park a welcome sight after a full day. 

For those who like to slow it down, a popular activity is hunting for ancient shark teeth, which can be discovered along the shores of the Potomac. There is plenty of fishing off the pier or among the off-shore breakers. 

The six miles of trails will take you across various terrain and increase your chances of seeing exciting birds of prey like bald eagles, kingfishers, and ospreys. You may also spot great blue herons, terns, green herons, and other wintering fowl.

If you are looking for a great view of the Potomac, nothing beats the perspective up on Horse Head Cliffs at Murphy Hall. This hall is a fantastic venue if you have a large group and can be reserved well in advance.

Cell phone reception is spotty, but if you have a pressing need, there is WiFi in and around the camp store. 

Insider tip: If you’ve yearned for some history, it’s a short drive to Stratford Hall, a National Historic Landmark. These 2,000 acres were the home of the Lee family, dating back to the 1730s. This is a gorgeous estate to roam and explore, open to the public daily.

Amenities Quick Look

  • Bathhouse
  • Meeting area
  • Snack bar
  • Camp store
  • Power-boat ramp
  • Visitor center
  • Campgrounds
  • Camping cabins
  • Playground
  • Fishing pier
  • Boat rentals
  • Bird watching

 

Eastern Shore Beaches: Virginia Beaches for the Nature Lover

The Eastern Shore has one of the most beautiful Virginia beaches on the east coast, Assateague Island. It’s a jewel of Virginia and the only public beach on the Atlantic Ocean side of the Eastern Shore. 

But it’s not the only game in town. There are some fantastic family beaches on the Chesapeake Bay side that you can enjoy. All the beaches have plenty of wildlife and seclusion for all nature lovers. 

Beaches of Virginia's Eastern Shore map.
The amazing beaches of Virginia’s Eastern Shore!

Assateague Island National Seashore

Credit: Mohsan Raza Ali

7206 National Seashore Ln, Berlin, MD 21811

Parking: Assateague Island National Seashore Group Site Parking, NPS Visitor center parking lot, Beach Access Rd, Chincoteague. Here is a handy park map that designates parking and routes on the island.

If you like the beach, I mean A LOT of beaches, nothing beats an island, and Assateague Island’s 37 miles of shoreline is lengthy. While only the bottom third of the island is in Virginia, you can explore across state lines into Maryland on foot. No vehicles are permitted to cross from one district to the other. To access the other part of the island by car, you must drive back to the mainland first.

Most of the island is open year-round, but the VA portion, which falls in the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, has hours that change seasonally. If you visit spring to fall, be prepared for biting flies and mosquitos that can be bothersome. If you bring repellent, this won’t pose much of a problem. 

This is a gorgeous place to visit, and be sure to check out the Assateague Lighthouse. It’s the prettiest lighthouse in Virginia and open for tours. 

Insider tip: Just a short ride from Assateague Island, you’ll find Assateague Farm for fresh produce, cut flowers, and firewood. Come by and meet Jasmine and Cosmo, the friendly family goats who like to welcome customers.

Amenities Quick Look

  • Vault toilets and restrooms 
  • Showers
  • Bring food and water since there are only a few places to purchase these things on the island. 

Cape Charles Beach

Bay Avenue Cape Charles, VA 23310

Parking: Plenty of parking, and it’s free. Unlike the other public beaches on the Eastern Shore, there are no fees to enter or park.

At the very tip of Virginia’s Eastern Shore, you will find Cape Charles. An inviting small town 10 miles before you hit the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. While there is much to see and do here, the free public beach is a significant draw for residents and out-of-towners alike.

Located in the historic district, the beach is family-friendly with its clean, shallow water. Unlike the shores of the Atlantic, there are no waves to worry about here, keeping small ones safe. Plenty of wading pools form during the day giving children a warm, secure place to play.

Aside from swimming, there is plenty to explore in Cape Charles. This an excellent getaway for the day. Make this your first or last stop on the Eastern Shore.

Insider tip: If you’re in town and only have a chance to grab one meal, be sure to check out The Northampton Restaurant. This European-inspired cafe serves breakfast, brunch, and lunch using local ingredients as much as possible for their excellent menu options.

Amenities Quick Look

  • Restroom at the southern end of the beach near the fishing pier
  • Fishing pier
  • Trash cans
  • Beach is accessible by paths in the dunes and wooden pathways
  • Jet ski and other water activity rentals

Kiptopeke State Park

Credit: Virginia State Parks

3540 Kiptopeke Dr, Cape Charles, VA 23310

Parking; on-site parking is available for $7 on weekdays and weekends

This is another fantastic state park on Virginia’s Eastern shore. More than just a Virginia beach, even though it’s a big draw to the park. This area is ripe with history as another place Capt. John Smith explored back in 1608. 

Due to its unique location, Kiptopeke is a superb place to observe a migratory bird habitat. Plenty of bird-watching here! 

This park is suited for overnight stays offering cabins, lodges, yurts, a bunkhouse, plus tent and RV camping. Many amenities include a boat ramp, picnic areas, a fishing pier, a playground, and a bathhouse. For those wanting to take their activity up a notch, there are over five miles of biking and hiking trails to explore.

There are also seasonal educational programs available that focus on bay ecology, history, and ornithology. 

Insider tip: Just down the road from the State Park, you’ll find the Pearl Market. This is a great indoor/outdoor flea market with many vendors with various goods. You’ll find everything from candles, sea glass jewelry, fresh seafood, and much more here.

Amenities Quick Look

  • Restrooms
  • Camping
  • Fishing pier
  • Hiking
  • Biking trails
  • Playground
  • Swimming
  • Showers

Sunset Beach and Resort

32254 Charles M Lankford Jr Memorial Hwy, Cape Charles, VA 23310

Parking: limited parking at the resort for guests and extended parking at the Eastern Shore of Virginia Welcome Center

Cape Charles covers a lot of real estate at the tip of Virginia’s Eastern Shore, and your last stop for a great beach experience before hitting the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel is the Sunset Beach and Resort.

Located just a half mile from the tunnel, this nice resort with a gorgeous beach looks west onto the Chesapeake Bay. This is a private Virginia beach, so you’ll need to commit to a stay on the grounds to appreciate this pet-friendly shoreline spot. The outdoor pool is a bonus when you’ve got the open waters at your disposal, but it’s a great change of pace. 

You can stay at the RV park if you want to camp or settle in and get comfortable at the Sunset Beach Hotel. Guest rooms feature free Wi-Fi, cable television, a coffee/tea machine, and a private bathroom.

The relaxed Jackspot Restaurant is on-site and serves freshly caught seafood. Here you’ll find local wines on the wine list and live entertainment on certain nights. And it has an amazing view of the water. 

Insider tip: To take your Virginia beach adventure to a higher level, check out Southeast Expeditions. Guided kayak water tours from experts with over 20 years of experience, even a kayak winery tour. How cool is that?

Amenities Quick Look

  • Bathrooms in the store and restaurant and near the beach in the summer months
  • Private Beach
  • Seasonal Outdoor Pools
  • Food & Dining
  • Fitness Center
  • Golf Cart Rentals
  • Pet Friendly
  • Local shuttle
  • Gym

Now That You Know, It’s Time to Go!

As you can see, the Virginia coastline has plenty of great Virginia beaches to explore. Each with something a little different to make it stand out. Let us know if we’ve missed your favorite beach!

Luggage Service

No matter where you fly into Virginia, before heading to your beach destination you may need a place to store your luggage before you can check into your hotel, or after you check out of your hotel well before your plane is scheduled to depart. One excellent option I love is a luggage storage service. And there’s no better service than Radical Storage which offers you freedom and peace of mind for as little as $6 a day. 

Just find the closest location, book online, store your luggage, and go!

6 thoughts on “36 Breathtaking Virginia Beaches to Visit: Your Ultimate Guide”

  1. I simply can’t believe how many beaches there are in VA. I had no idea. I knew about the big ones and Jamestown and Yorktown but not many of the others you mentioned. I want to see False Cape State Park. It looks so pretty. Definitely saving this for later. Thanks!

  2. We are beach people and would love to do a road trip and explore the beaches in Virginia. I had no idea about how many there were. Love that there are beaches for everyone. We would pass on the crowded ones. But watching surfers is fun and we would seek out the quieter ones. Some of these beaches are so big I am sure we would find a quiet spot. Glad you provided into on parking since that is often a challenge – especially in busy seasons.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I accept the Privacy Policy

Virginia is for Lovers…of Lighthouses! The Secret to Finding the Best RV Parks in Las Vegas Sandbridge Beach in Virginia: The Mid-Atlantic’s Best Beach? Plan Your Adventure at The Most Unique Park on the East Coast More than Cruising: 20 Fun Things to do in Cape Canaveral in Florida Massanutten: The Best Family Resort in the Mid-Atlantic Cape Charles Virginia: The Most Charming Town on the Eastern Shore America’s Newest National Park: New River Gorge National Park 36 Breathtaking Virginia Beaches to Visit #1 on the East Coast: White Water Rafting in West Virginia