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Virginia Beach Travel Tips for a Day, Week, or Weekend

Updated on August 9, 2017
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Scott Bateman is a professional journalist who lives in Virginia. He has visited many of the state's major events and attractions.

Virginia Beach is a popular getaway even for just a day for many people throughout the region.
Virginia Beach is a popular getaway even for just a day for many people throughout the region. | Source

A Virginia Beach vacation is simple and convenient with the help of a few simple travel tips.

This miles-long strip of white sand, hotels, restaurants, and entertainment is so appealing that nearly 13 million people make the trip every year.

For many visitors, a vacation there can last a day, a weekend or an entire week. Out of the nearly 13 million total visitors, about 6 million spend at least one night there and 7 million spend just the day, according to the Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The state that produces the most visitors to Virginia Beach is Virginia itself. Richmond delivers 10 percent of the total visitors and Washington D.C., which is 200 miles away, provides nearly 17 percent of the total, the CVB says.

Anyone who lives along the I-95 and I-64 corridor between Washington D.C. and Virginia Beach can attest to its popularity on holiday weekends because of the heavy stop-and-go traffic that develops.

But Virginia and Washington D.C. are not the only major sources of visitors to the beach. Other top places of visitor origin are Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, and New York, the CVB says.

Virginia Beach and Myrtle Beach, which also experiences 13 million visitors a year, are two of the most popular beaches on the mid-Atlantic coast.

Lifeguards watch the crowded beach carefully.
Lifeguards watch the crowded beach carefully. | Source

Virginia Beach Poll

If you have visited Virginia Beach, would you recommend it to a friend?

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Travel Tips for a Day or a Weekend

Best Time to Arrive

The beach is a well-known day trip for cities as far away as Richmond, a two-hour drive on a good day.

The best time to go to Virginia Beach from any starting point within a 100-mile radius around the beach should result in an arrival time between 9:30 and 11 a.m.

Any time earlier runs the risk of slowing down in rush hour traffic that hits the two-lane Hampton Roads Bridge tunnel. It is a notorious clogging point for traffic on I-64 heading into the beach.

Traffic also can back up getting off I-64 and onto I-264 heading west into the city of Virginia Beach.

Arriving much later creates a different set of problems. On a day with clear skies and warm temperatures, nearby parking spots fill quickly and open areas on the beach by the water fill as well. However, there is plenty of room somewhere on the well-groomed sandy beach to lay out because it is nearly as wide as a football field.

Best Time to Leave

Finding the best time to leave is a bigger problem, especially for people driving north.

People leaving Virginia Beach to drive north to Richmond, D.C. and elsewhere have to share the road with people leaving from the Outer Banks in North Carolina.

These visitors then have to share the road with people leaving from Busch Gardens and Colonial Williamsburg, located north of the beach along I-64.

Based on experience, one of the best times to leave the beach is early evening around 6:30 p.m. because the total volume of traffic is often lower.

The Virginia Beach Boardwalk stretches three miles. Walkers, joggers and others fill it with activity during the summer.
The Virginia Beach Boardwalk stretches three miles. Walkers, joggers and others fill it with activity during the summer. | Source

Virginia Beach Parking Lots and Garages

Overnight stays of course can use hotel parking if they book a room on the beach. But day visitors and anyone who books a cheaper hotel farther than walking distance from the beach have a bigger challenge.

The area by the beach has nearly 1,000 on-street parking spots with meters. The cost is $1.50 per hour between April 1 and Oct. 31. The meters accept debit and credit cards.

A variety of parking garages have rates that start at about $7 a day from Monday through Thursday and $10 or more from Friday through Sunday.

The city manages three garages and seven municipal parking lots at the oceanfront. Like the meters, the lots and garages accept credit and debit cards.

Visitors must pay one amount for the entire day at fixed-rate lots and garages. The fixed rate locations include 300 19th Street, 306 4th Street, 104 Atlantic Avenue, ​145 Atlantic Avenue.

Anyone who wants to pay by the hour can use the variation rate locations. Their addresses are 209 30th Street, 335 26th Street and 200 9th Street.

Two of the most popular attractions are the boardwalk and fishing pier.

Local Attractions

Day or weekend visitors have a limited number of nearby attractions assuming they want to spend most of the time on the beach.

The main beach thoroughfare is Atlantic Avenue with a line of hotels facing the beach on one side and restaurants and small entertainment venues on the other side.

Two of the most popular attractions are the boardwalk and fishing pier.

The concrete boardwalk is 28 feet wide and nearly 3 miles long. It runs parallel to the beach and in front of the hotels. A path for bikes, surreys and rollerbladers runs along the boardwalk.

Four outdoor stages at 7th, 17th, and 24th and 31st streets have live entertainment nightly during the summer.

The Virginia Beach Fishing Pier between 14th and 15th streets is a popular spot for fishermen, sightseers and photographers. Note that it costs $10 to go onto the pier itself.

Bikes, rollerbladers and even surreys use the path that runs parallel to the Virginia Beach boardwalk.
Bikes, rollerbladers and even surreys use the path that runs parallel to the Virginia Beach boardwalk. | Source

Visitors will spot another attraction just across Atlantic Avenue from the fishing pier—the Atlantic Fun Park.

Atlantic Fun Park is a seasonal attractions with 16 rides, a go-kart track, midway games and food stands. It has a large ferris wheel and a thrill ride that shoots visitors 165 feet into the air.

Other attractions on or near Atlantic Avenue include Nightmare House, the Virginia Legends Walk, the Old Coast Guard Station, Captain Cline’s Pirate Ghost Ride and several putt-putt courses. The mini golf courses usually are found one street over on Pacific Avenue.

Nightmare Mansion at Atlantic Avenue and 20th Street is easy to spot.
Nightmare Mansion at Atlantic Avenue and 20th Street is easy to spot. | Source

Virginia Beach for a Week

Anyone spending multiple nights won’t have to worry about traffic as much as people spending the day.

Visitors using hotels away from the beach will want to avoid rush hours depending on their location, especially as they get closer to Norfolk.

Visitors staying on the beach will want to know about the potential for crowds that build quickly by late morning and early afternoon.

Colonial Williamsburg is one of the most popular attractions in Virginia and a 60-90 minute drive for Virginia Beach vacationers.
Colonial Williamsburg is one of the most popular attractions in Virginia and a 60-90 minute drive for Virginia Beach vacationers. | Source

Regional Attractions

The Virginia Beach region excels with attractions, much more than its nearest competitor at Myrtle Beach.

Two major attractions are located about 60-90 minutes north of the beach at Colonial Williamsburg and Busch Gardens Amusement Park. Total driving time depends on whether the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel is backed up or flowing freely.

Colonial Williamsburg is a recreation of a 18th century American town with costumed artisans, craftsmen, shopkeepers, soldiers and entertainers. The Williamsburg Premium Outlets at 5715-62A Richmond Road is a massive and popular shopping center with nearly 150 brand name outlets.

Williamsburg is part of the Historical Triangle, which also includes the communities of Yorktown and Jamestown. Yorktown features the battlefield where General Cornwallis surrendered to George Washington and ended the American Revolutionary War. Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in the United States, has a recreated colonial fort, historic homes, and native American village.

The nearby Busch Gardens is a popular amusement park with roller coasters, animal encounters and European villages. It is noteworthy for its shading landscaped grounds.

Other attractions in the immediate vicinity of the beach include Mount Trashmore, a hilly park made of a mountain of garbage; First Landing State Park; Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center; Motor World; Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art; Ocean Breeze Waterpark; and concerts at Hampton Coliseum or

From spring to fall, the triple A Norfolk Tides minor league baseball team plays at Harbor Park.

The area has seven nine or 18-hole golf courses: Virginia Beach National Golf Club, Hell’s Point Golf Club, Bow Creek Golf Course, Honey Bee Golf Club, Stumpy Lake Golf Course, Cypress Point Country Club and Owl’s Creek Golf Course.

Virginia Beach Attractions

show route and directions
A markerVirginia Beach boardwalk -
Virginia Beach Boardwalk, Virginia Beach, VA, USA
get directions

B markerColonial Williamsburg -
Colonial Williamsburg, 101 Visitor Center Dr., Williamsburg, VA 23185, USA
get directions

C markerWilliamsburg Premium Outlets -
Richmond Rd + Olde Town Rd (Williamsburg Premium Outlets/Oceans and Ale), Williamsburg Premium Outle
get directions

D markerBusch Gardens Williamsburg -
Busch Gardens Williamsburg, 1 Busch Gardens Boulevard, Williamsburg, VA 23185, USA
get directions

E markerVirginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center -
Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, 717 General Booth Boulevard, Virginia Beach, VA 23451
get directions

F markerHarbor Park, Norfolk -
Harbor Park, Norfolk, VA 23510, USA
get directions

G markerChrysler Museum of Art -
Chrysler Museum of Art, 1 Memorial Place, Norfolk, VA 23510, USA
get directions

H markerMount Trashmore Park, Virginia Beach -
Mount Trashmore Park, 310 Edwin Drive, Virginia Beach, VA 23462, USA
get directions

Weather and Best Months to Go

Virginia Beach lies about 350 miles north of Myrtle Beach, and as a result has lower temperatures through most of the year.

The average high temperature ranges from 49 degrees Fahrenheit in January to 89 degrees in July, according to 30 years of historical data from the National Weather Service.

The average highs stay at 80 degrees or higher from June through September.

The months with the warmest temperatures also have the high amount of rain.

Rainfall historically averages four inches in June, five inches in July and September, and more than seven inches in August.

June is the best month to go for a combination of warm temperatures—with an average high of 85 degrees Fahrenheit—and a moderate risk of rain.

Despite cooler and even cold temperatures, people do visit Virginia Beach from late fall through late spring for the sake of simply getting away.


© 2015 Scott Bateman


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    • promisem profile image

      Scott Bateman 7 weeks ago

      Hi, Dwaye. North Myrtle Beach is closer to Virginia Beach. For the record, I think they are both equally worth a visit, but for different reasons. Virginia Beach has some great attractions in the area, while Myrtle Beach is farther south and a bit warmer.

    • profile image

      Dwayne 7 weeks ago

      Hey Scott, Dwayne from Niagara Falls Canada. We have been to Myrtle Beach many times with the kids many times, but now looking for something a bit more subtle for just my wife and I. M.B. has great beaches with dunes and nice clean sand. I find North MB and South M.B. to be very different. Can you tell me which is closer to Virginia Beach? North or South MB?

    • promisem profile image

      Scott Bateman 3 months ago

      Hi, Christie. It depends on your budget and the time of year you go. The long strip of rental homes is much more low key than the hotel strip if you can afford them. Sandbridge to the south also is more quiet than the main strip.

      Not surprisingly, the best time to go for quiet is most months other than the summer.

    • profile image

      Christie 3 months ago

      What area is the most low-key?

    • carolynkaye profile image

      carolynkaye 2 years ago from USA

      I've mostly been to Ocean City MD. It looks like VB is a similar type beach with nice sand and waves.

    • promisem profile image

      Scott Bateman 2 years ago

      Thanks, Carolyn. If you have been to Myrtle Beach, I would recommend Virginia Beach as another option. I actually think the VB beach is nicer with quite a bit of high-quality sand. There are fewer dining and entertainment options at VB itself, but much bigger attractions within driving distance.

    • carolynkaye profile image

      carolynkaye 2 years ago from USA

      Great Hub. I love east coast beaches. I haven't been to Virginia Beach yet, but it looks beautiful. Thanks for all the useful info! Voted up.

    • promisem profile image

      Scott Bateman 2 years ago

      Thanks for your comments, Michal. If you have never been to the United States, I recommend that you consider visiting both Washington D.C. and Virginia Beach in one trip.

      Likewise, I can't wait to visit Prague. I have heard many good things about it.

    • MichalWrotter profile image

      Michal 2 years ago from Czech Republic

      It must be a great holiday to spend on such beach. I had so much fun reading your article and i can only dream of it for now. Thank you for the well guided article.

    • promisem profile image

      Scott Bateman 2 years ago

      I see you are from Ontario. The fact that Virginia Beach is one of the most northern major beaches on the U.S. coast might make it more convenient for you than some others, like Myrtle Beach. Thanks for your comment.

    • louise-barraco profile image

      Louise Barraco 2 years ago from Ontario

      Very informative maybe one day I will travel there