This has been a standard tourist destination for quite some time. In fact, I remember going to Virginia Beach on Spring Break when I was at Penn State as an undergrad. Yeah, it was cold, but we visited Williamsburg and Busch Gardens in an RV oddly enough.
So I was interested to come back and see what it was all about. It was not just block after block of beach and hotel but mile after mile of it. Virginia Beach apparently grew up and became a giant version of itself. There is no boardwalk shops or arcades, but there is a boardwalk you can walk along (for miles and miles) or ride your bicycle or rent one. Where can you rent a bicycle in Virginia Beach? Well, the answer is pretty much everywhere up and down the boardwalk – hardly a block without a rental place.
The main street off the beach is Atlantic Avenue and that’s got loads of great places – I was dying to go into the haunted houses and halls of mirrors – these now have a somewhat nostalgic appeal to people who are gen Y and late boomers as well as the ice cream and frozen custard shops and even the tacky tourist souvenir shops. It was all wonderful and in some respects a throwback in time – and let’s face it everyone wants to go back in time. I’m surprised more destinations don’t take advantage of that.
My biggest disappointment, which was not a major deal, was not seeing salt water taffy made – it has to be here but for all the miles we rode our bicycles along the boardwalk and Atlantic Avenue I somehow missed it – surely it had to be on each street corner I thought to myself. Nonetheless, it was an incredibly great place with not an intellectual establishment to be found. When on vacation, sometimes it is nice to just relax and not bother thinking much – at least for a while. This is just great pure fun and shouldn’t be over-thought.
Having spent a lot of time on the Jersey Shore as a kid (Sea Isle City mostly), I longed for the arcades to be right on the water on the boardwalk with Italian Ice vendors riding their bicycles up and down the boardwalk. This is a nice boardwalk with none of that crass commercialism. You can find a lot of it in a much more regulated manner along Atlantic Avenue as I mentioned. It isn’t quite the same as being right on the water but use your imagination. I loved it.
Where to camp in Virginia Beach
So, now that you’re interested in Virginia Beach, where can you camp near the beach? We found the KOA Campground (or Kampground as they spell it) not far down the road from the beach to be perfectly situated. We rode our bicycles from the KOA/Virginia Beach and there was a pleasant bicycle path the entire way including the bridge which wasn’t too tough to climb over.
We passed a number of things along the way that would be interesting if staying for any length of time. The Virginia Aquarium is right along the way and there is even a really cool ropes course in the forest behind here. It is branded as the Adventure Park at the Aquarium and we really wanted to visit it but, again, time got in the way. There are bike lanes the entire way and even on the beach side there are bike lanes too. It was very bike friendly and a terrific town to ride around. We will return here for sure.
The campground was great – lots of things for everyone to do and a nice sized pool with an excellent camp store. The cable TV was great at the site and there was wireless but for some reason we couldn’t get on. I’m sure the office could have helped but it wasn’t that critical to us at the time.
Overall this would be a great place to spend a week and go back and forth to the beach. There is a shuttle bus that lifts you directly at the campground and runs seasonally to the beach stopping at the aquarium along the way. It is a great thing to have as parking on the beach can be tight. I’d highly recommend this itinerary and you could do it for a night or an entire season and you can do it with family or just a couple. It is a destination that is flexible. Enjoy.
RV Road Trip Note:
This is part of the series of blog posts on a fourteen day road trip from St. Petersburg, Florida to the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania with stops along the way north and south with no real planned itinerary. We did this trip in our 30 foot class A motorhome in late July/early August with two bicycles strapped to the back. We traveled to Virginia Beach from New Bern and Washington, North Carolina and after Virginia Beach we headed to Assateague Island near Ocean City, Maryland via Berlin, Maryland.