Southern Belle in Training

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle Blog || Est. 2012 || Charlottesville, VA

March 26, 2021

Travel Diary: Is Virginia Beach Off-Season Worth It?

      When I moved to Charlottesville three years ago, I was excited to learn that I'd only be about three hours away from Virginia Beach. I set a goal to visit VB later on in 2018. I wasn't able to get there my first year in Virginia... or my second year... but better later than never right?! A couple weeks ago my dad came down from Maine to visit, and we spent a long weekend off-season in Virginia Beach. 

     I always assumed the first time I'd visit this oceanfront destination would be in the summer during the height of tourism season and warm weather. But instead, my first visit was off-season in March! Visiting a traditionally summer destination in the off-season can have mixed results- there's both pros and cons. I thought it might be helpful to share my thoughts on coming here in the off-season, and also some thoughts on Virginia Beach as a travel destination in general. I definitely haven't experienced enough of VB to do a full Travel Guide, so a mini Travel Diary it is!


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     Did you know that Virginia Beach is actually the largest city by population in the state of Virginia? It doesn't have as much of a downtown scene as cities like Richmond and Norfolk, but it's very large in square miles, and the population is super spread out. Most of the residential and business neighborhoods are further away from the oceanfront, which is all very touristy for the most part. Virginia Beach is known as being one of the more commercialized beaches in the South, right up there with Myrtle Beach and other places with similar vibes. Although I haven't been in several years, I am a big fan of Myrtle, so I always thought that I would really like Virginia Beach since I heard that they were a similar vibe. The Virginia Beach Boardwalk is a paved three mile walking path along the oceanfront, and most of the large hotels are located right on it. 

     My dad came down to visit me earlier this month, and since he's already visited me in Charlottesville several times, we decided to do a long weekend in Virginia Beach! After all, the weather there in March is much warmer than where my parents live in Maine, so it would definitely seem like great weather to my dad. The weather was super interesting while we were there. On the day we arrived, it was in the mid 70s (hence when most of these photos were taken!). The next day was mid 50s, 60s on the day after, and they day we left it was quite chilly and in the upper 40s. This just goes to show you how unpredictable the weather can be off-season. You may luck out, or you might not!

     We stayed in one of the oceanfront hotels on the Virginia Beach boardwalk. I feel like if you are visiting here, it does give you the best experience to stay right on the ocean! I mean, that is the main attraction right? It doesn't need to be summertime to enjoy seeing the waves and beach from your hotel balcony. We stayed specifically at the Four Points by Sheraton, which was nice! But I'm sure a lot of the hotels near it are pretty similar in amenities and experience. Off-season is the time for great deals at the beach, and I'd say go with whatever oceanfront hotel you can get the best deal on. The first picture below was the view from my balcony when we checked in! (The pictures of me in short sleeves and shorts were also taken that day since the first day was the warmest day we were there. 😊)




Things To Do:
      
     There are a good number of things to do off-season in Virginia Beach. They have both Top Golf and several places to play miniature golf, there is an aquarium, and you can do a day trip over to Norfolk to explore there (one of my favorite Virginia cities!). My dad and I kept things pretty chill and relaxing during our time there. One of the afternoons we made the short drive over to First Landing State Park to walk around and explore their nature trails. They have several miles of trails and you could easily spend a good amount of time there exploring. 

    On the next afternoon, we rented a little two-person bicycle cart thing that you can peddle around in on the bike path next to the Boardwalk! It was a lot more strenuous to peddle it than we thought it would be, but we did have fun. There are a few different shops and bike rental places that have these for you to rent. On our third day we walked to breakfast, and the restaurant we went to was in the Vibe Creative District, which is just a few blocks from the oceanfront. It's an up and coming neighborhood that's filled on every corner with cool murals and other street art! (It reminded me so much of the NEON District in nearby Norfolk.) I honestly could've spent a lot more time walking around in that neighborhood to see even more street art. I have pictures of a few of my favorite murals we saw below. 

     Other then that, we mainly just hung out and enjoyed the beach. We walked up and down the Boardwalk, brought books with us to read on the beach, and checked out some of the little beach shops within walking distance of the hotel. (One of the afternoons I spent taking a riveting long nap in the hotel- ha!) It definitely wasn't swimsuit weather on the beach any of the day we were there, but being out there with a sweater on it wasn't bad at all. We definitely kept things very chill and relaxing- but it definitely did seem like there are plenty of activities to do year-round both in walking distance to the oceanfront, or a short drive away! 




Restaurants:
     
     The thing that impressed me the most about my few days in Virginia Beach was the food. Wow there are some great restaurants here!! We ate at four great places that I would go back to again. 
  • Commune (501 Virginia Beach Blvd. Suite B) - This was the BEST meal of the trip- you can see the amazing looking waffles pictured below. Commune is a completely local farm-to-table restaurant- with most of their ingredients coming from Virginia or nearby states. My dad and I went for brunch one day and it was just divine. I had the apple granola waffle, and he had fried chicken on a waffle. I also had their version of a chai latte (made with local tea). Commune has a Norfolk location as well! Both are open for breakfast and lunch.
  • Taste (multiple locations) - This was a recommendation from my friend Amy, who used to live in Virginia Beach. My dad and I really liked it! Taste is a casual market-style spot that has sandwiches, salads, soups, and some other items like wines and desserts available in their market. I had a French onion soup with a side order of Virginia ham biscuits- both were great! This is a great casual spot for a quick lunch or takeout. We ate at the location closest to the Boardwalk.
  • Chicho's Pizza (multiple locations) - A great pizza spot! They offer build-your-own pizzas with a variety of toppings, and they have a few speciality pies on the menu as well. Chicho's has a few Virginia Beach locations, we ate at one that's located on the ground level of one of the oceanfront hotels that was walking distance to ours. 
  • Waterman's (415 Atlantic Avenue) - Amy and a couple other friends recommended this to me, so I knew it was a must-visit for dinner. Waterman's is a Virginia Beach seafood staple. It's located right at the south end of the Boardwalk, with the outdoor seating having ocean views. I had the fish of the day and it was wonderful! I don't often eat seafood at restaurants in Charlottesville so Virginia Beach definitely seemed like the place to take advantage of this. My dad and I also split a fantastic peanut butter pie slice for dessert. 


     So in conclusion... Virginia Beach off-season, yay or nay? I vote yay! Honestly- I think that Virginia Beach would get overwhelmingly busy in the height of the summer. On the Saturday and Sunday that we were there it was already fairly busy, and it was hard to imagine crowds that are probably 10x the size of that in the summer! You'll get amazing hotel deals off-season, less of a wait at popular restaurants, and as long as you don't mind bundling up, the beach can still be enjoyed.

     I do have to be honest as I wrap this up- I don't think Virginia Beach is my favorite city that I've been to in Virginia. I've mentioned this a few times already in the post, but I visited Norfolk for a blogging press trip in 2019 and fell in love with that neighboring city! If I had to pick one to visit again soon, it would personally be Norfolk for me. If I do any beach trips in the South soon, I think I'd rather finally get the see the Outer Banks, or go back to Myrtle Beach, which is similar vibes to VB but I think a bit more fun. I think visiting VB off-season was the perfect choice! I will say that if I ever do go back, I am definitely looking forward to re-visiting some of the great restaurants I mentioned in this post. The food was the best part of Virginia Beach I think!



    Have you been to Virginia Beach before? Are there any warm weather spots you also like going to off-season?


     God Bless,


     xoxo Annaliese 







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4 comments

  1. Just finished my trip to VA Beach! Thanks for sharing ur thoughts about the places!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Va. Beach is not what it used to be. The ocean front, especially at night becomes a mecca for ghetto behavior. I would not take my family there.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for sharing your experience. I have a trip planned memorial day weekend and I appreciate your input.

    ReplyDelete

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