Virginia Beach Adventures and Misadventures
I’ve visited Virginia Beach a few times. These are some of my recollections. They are all from this century and some of them will show how much has changed over just a few years. I live 200 miles from Virginia Beach. That seems roughly the limit of how far people would be willing to travel to get to Virginia Beach. Virginia Beach seems it would be similar to many other tourist cities along the U.S. Atlantic seaboard. Hopefully readers will find some parts amusing, some parts instructional, and some parts a time capsule.
Our firsts visit was on the Friday before Mother’s Day in 2001. The unofficial summer season begins on the Memorial Day weekend. This meant it was just before the peak season. We were going because my son was attending a sports tournament. We started our journey at 3 PM. This meant facing the teeth of the Washington DC metropolitan area rush hour traffic. At the time the speed limit was 55 mph (88 kph). For the first part of the drive speed limit signs were a dream. As we neared Virginia Beach the speed limit signs were a joke. We learned the next day there was a fatal car crash because someone was driving on the wrong way on the highway. The drive took 6 hours.
When we reached Virginia Beach, I noticed the people in the streets were mostly teenagers or young adults. This worried me because the young crowd tends to get rowdy. We didn’t have any trouble but I learned afterward our coach had a problem I feared. She was with her 8-year old daughter in the hotel room trying to sleep. High schoolers, who had rooms at the opposite ends of the hallway, decided to have a conversation by yelling to each other from their rooms.
After checking in the hotel our top priority was to find a place to eat. We went into the closest place to the hotel. They had a children’s menu and that was all that mattered. It was a nice place to eat. The hotel room had a small balcony and an ocean view. I loved watching the waves break in the darkness. On the second and final night of the visit there was rain. The lightning flashes over the ocean were a spectacular site.
One time when we visited the hotel room wasn’t ready for us when we got there. My wife felt it was all good she would just lie on the beach under an umbrella and relax after the long drive. The fleet was apparently coming in and every few minutes a couple of jets would fly in. My son and I loved watching these planes as they flew overhead. My wife wasn’t happy that these aircraft were disturbing her relaxation.
The one visit we had that didn’t involve a sports tournament was during the peak season, summer. We didn’t make hotel reservations. The only hotel rooms we could find was in a dingy hotel about a block away from the beach. The rate was about $150 per day, this was circa 2009. Our plans were to go to Busch Gardens, Williamsburg, an hour’s drive from Virginia Beach, the next day. We decided to spend a few hours on the beach then drive to Williamsburg and try our chances at a hotel there. The gamble worked.
We visited a couple of times in early November. The city had some Christmas decorations. On the occasions we went the weather was mild. It was well past the peak season. Wintry weather is rare in early November, but it is possible.
The speed limit on the highway leading to Virginia Beach is now 70 mph (110 kph). This considerably shortens the time it takes to get there.
The hotels at Virginia Beach seems to be a popular place for prom parties. Driving in the late evening can present a problem since the hotels don’t seem to have enough parking spaces for their guests. There is limited parking in the beach area and many of the parking spaces are metered.
There are many hotels and so visitors can find one to suit their budget and demands provided they plan ahead. Prices vary greatly from peak season to off season. The beach is clean but the water is oily. Many would prefer a hotel pool over the ocean.
Dolphins may make an appearance at the beach. The usual caution against getting close to a wild animal. Visitors can rent surf boards. The Virginia Beach boardwalk is a cement sidewalk. It is a wide walkway. There is a bicycle lane adjacent to it. Visitors can rent bicycles. There are also double bicycles that seem fun for a group or family. They resemble a high-tech version of a Flintstones vehicle. There is a small amusement park and other entertainment places near the ocean.
There is the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center at Virginia Beach. It Is a fun and educational place to visit. The USS Wisconsin is docked at nearby Norfolk, Virginia next to the Nauticus Museum. They are both worth a visit.
There are many things to do for those who are staying for more than a weekend getaway. This tends to give me the feeling when I was there that I wished I could stay longer.
Which is the better beach to Visit?
© 2019 Robert Sacchi