Similar to the “Mini-Travel Guide” to Austin that I did back in March, today I have a Mini-Travel Guide to Virginia Beach. With the exception of Richmond, it seems the cities that I visit regularly get neglected when it comes to my travel writing.
Virginia Beach is a city that I find myself in at least once a year – it used to be much more frequently – so, in some ways, I feel like I don’t get to explore it the same way I would a city that’s new to me or where I don’t know anyone.
DISCOVER VIRGINIA BEACH BEYOND THE BOARDWALK
But, on the other hand, because I know it well, I do have quite a few recommendations that I can round up for you. Virginia Beach seems to get a bad rap in terms of East Coast beaches, but it’s all about knowing where to go and where to avoid. Yes, the boardwalk is a scene of sorts, but there are certainly gems to be found. It just requires doing your research and going a bit off the beaten path.
WHERE TO STAY
To be honest, I typically stay with friends when I visit Virginia Beach, however I have stayed at a bed and breakfast once and it was absolutely lovely. Hands down, one of my favorite bed and breakfasts I’ve ever stayed in. A light, airy and relaxing spot just blocks back from the beach, Beach Spa Bed and Breakfast is definitely worth checking out.
WHERE TO EAT
When you’re at the beach, of course the emphasis is on seafood, and sometimes a waterfront view goes further than an expertly cooked meal, but these are a few of my favorite spots.
Taste: You can’t beat Taste’s sandwiches – the Hilltop is a personal favorite – and their house dressing is worth buying by the bottle. Don’t miss their pimento cheese and their brownies. Plus, you can have your order delivered to the beach!
Chick’s Oyster Bar: Not sure if Chick’s is actually as good as I give it credit for, but it does occupy some prime real estate on Lynnhaven Inlet and I’ve been going there for years. It’s a solid seafood spot with a fantastic view.
Aloha Snacks: We discovered this little spot on our latest Virginia Beach trip when the Atlantic on Pacific had far too long a wait. It has poke bowls, burgers, craft beers, and apparently delicious donuts that were sold out when we arrived.
Tautog’s: A reasonably priced spot for seafood on 23rd street, Tautog’s is another one of those classic spots that I’ve been going to for years. Expect a wait, but don’t worry, there’s plenty of room to relax with a drink outside.
Doc Taylor’s: Right near Tautog’s is Doc Taylor’s, a brunch spot that is also one of the hot spots that almost always has a wait. If you’re looking for a breakfast to keep you full until well into the afternoon, this is your spot.
Bay Local: Every single thing we ordered here a few weeks was absolutely amazing and you can’t beat the sophisticated yet hip decor. There was a wait when we went, but there’s a large lounge area to hang out in during the meantime. Whatever you do, do not miss the Proper Rock oysters.
One Fish Two Fish: If you’re looking for a nice date night out, One Fish Two Fish is a fancier restaurant with waterfront views. The night I ate there, we got a front row seat to a rehearsal dinner that was getting really into early 2000’s hip hop (something I appreciate), and they were nice enough to send us over dates. So, I consider that a win.
WHERE TO DRINK
Yup, even Virginia Beach is getting a craft beer scene! I’ve tried out a few of the breweries in the area, but there’s a whole slew of others.
Beachside Social: Following the trend of giving us games with our cocktails, Beachside Social is a bright (and Insta-gram worthy!) spot. Pro tip: join their mailing list online before you go to get a free hour of shuffleboard.
Smartmouth Brewing: A big industrial space that pulls up food trucks right to its back deck, I’m officially obsessed with Smartmouth’s coconut fruit beer, the Tinamatua.
Back Bay Brewing: With a huge space upstairs above the bar, this is a great spot to come with a large group to escape a rainy day at the beach. And you’ll quickly realize here, that, yes, there are hipsters even in Virginia Beach.
WHERE ELSE TO GO
Spending a few days in the region and want to check out a bit more of what Eastern Virginia has to offer?
Williamsburg: I can’t help it, I’m a huge fan of Colonial Williamsburg. I just love those men and women strolling around in character, wandering through William and Mary’s gorgeous campus, and grabbing a sandwich from The Cheese Shop.
Sandbridge: Maybe you’d rather rent a beach house away from the hubbub of Virginia Beach? If that’s the case, head to Sandbridge and kick back and relax in a low key beach town. Plan a night or two to come into Virginia Beach to eat, but otherwise just spend some time hanging out beachside.
So, there you have my best Virginia Beach recommendations in the form of a Mini-Travel Guide! If you’re a fan of the area, definitely send me some of your favorites so I can add them to my list to try next time.