Many of us know Virginia to be one of the most beautiful states in America with some of the prettiest beaches. Let’s dive in and visit some of the best beaches in Virginia!
Virginia offers tons of history– it’s where the United States began and where George Washington was born. Nowadays, it’s known for its miles of coastline along the Atlantic Ocean. Whether you’re a local or traveling, enjoying the sand and surf is a must.
Virginia offers popular Virginia Beach locations, quiet beaches located on the Chesapeake Bay, and coastal towns perfect for your next vacation. Let’s take a look at 15 of the best beaches in Virginia and everything you need to know before choosing our next seaside destination.
1. Cape Charles Beach
Cape Charles was a town built for the railroad. In 1882, a railroad extension was planned across Virginia, starting in Norfolk and ending at the Chesapeake Bay. For that purpose, the railroad company purchased land at Cape Charles and transformed it into a small but bustling railroad town. It remained a busy port until after World War II.
Once the golden age of the railroad was over, Cape Charles stopped expanding. Many of its original families left to find work elsewhere. It wasn’t until the early 21st century that the town reentered the national spotlight and this time as an ocean getaway.
Today, Cape Charles is a popular coastal city. In fact, most of its revenue comes from tourists. This is what helps maintain the pristine beaches and the historic main street.
The family-friendly beach offers shallow waters and gentle waves. With its close proximity to town, days at the beach are made easier. Beachgoers also enjoy the boardwalk and fishing pier. And, shops and restaurants provide things to do after your day at the beach.
The Summer season offers average temperatures in the high 70s and low 80s, with only a few days of rain a month. The coldest months of the year are in the low 40s, with very occasional snowfall.
Vacation rentals are the most popular way to stay in Cape Charles Beach. There are tons of options from beautiful seaside hotels to cozy inns. Here are some of our favorites:
- Bay Haven Inn
- Northampton Hotel
- Fig Street Inn
- Alyssa House Bed and Breakfast
- Hotel Cape Charles
2. Virginia Beach
Virginia Beach was also along the route of the railroad expansion during the late 1800s. However, it was developed distinctly to be a resort town. Virginia Beach quickly became a popular destination for beach lovers because of its location on the Chesapeake Bay.
After working as a port during World War II, Virginia Beach also became home to several military facilities. With that said, one of its main purposes has always been to help people find joy at the beach.
Virginia Beach is the largest beach city in the state. Not only are there many beach activities and stunning panorama, but there’s plenty to do around town. Three miles of boardwalk connecting the beach to the city, offer a variety of experiences from dining to relaxing.
Another draw to Virginia Beach is its mild summer weather. The hottest months in summer don’t get above 86℉ on average while staying within the 70-80℉ range. Winters are cooler with temperatures between 32℉ and 50℉.
Virginia Beach actually consists of a variety of popular beaches. You can find Sandbridge Beach, First Landing State Park, and Chesapeake Bay Beach. No matter where you stay in the city, you’ll be near one of these sandy slices of paradise and an ocean view.
If you need accommodation in Virginia Beach, there are a plethora of housing options to choose from. There are vacation rentals, hotels, inns, and camping facilities. Here are some of the most popular places to stay:
- Virginia Beach KOA Campground (Camping)
- Holiday Trav-L Park (Cabin rentals)
- Beach Spa Bed and Breakfast
- Barclay Cottage Bed and Breakfast
- Key West Oceanfront Rentals
- Cutty Sark Motel and Cottages
- Beach Quarters by Diamond Resorts
- Coastal Hotel and Suites
3. Sandbridge Beach
Sandbridge is a 4-mile-long Virginia beach. While it’s a part of Virginia Beach, it’s a little farther from the main city. Little Island, which is next to Sandbridge Park, offers a fishing pier and another large beach.
Sandbridge Beach and Little Island Park are both public parks operated by the city of Virginia Beach. This is a popular beach for dog owners because furry friends are allowed on leashes before 10 am and after 6 am. During the off-season, dogs are allowed at any time.
There are several exciting things to do in and around the park. For outdoor recreation, book a kayak, paddleboard, or speed boat and explore the coast. The facilities at the park include picnic areas, restrooms, and outdoor showers.
There are several oceanfront accommodations at Sandbridge. Many visitors stay in the areas mentioned above by Virginia Beach since they’re close to one another.
4. Bethel Beach
Bethel Beach is located in Onemo, Virginia. This area is quiet without much happening. It’s a great spot for a day trip to relax on a quiet beach surrounded by nature.
Bethel Beach sits within Bethel Beach Natural Area Preserve and is perfect for nature lovers. The preserve was founded to protect several rare and endangered beach species. There are almost 200 different species of birds.
Bethel Beach is one of the best beaches in Virginia if you enjoy hiking or strolling. Wander trails while enjoying ocean views and wildlife.
While the beach isn’t the best for swimming, it’s a great place to take photos or go fishing. It’s also more secluded than other beaches in Virginia if you’re looking to get away from the crowds.
While there aren’t many hotels nearby, there are some inns and private rentals located close to the beach. Many people go to Bethel Beach for a day trip.
5. Yorktown Beach
Many know Yorktown as a place with a long history, dating back to the beginning of the country. This city is where the Revolutionary War officially ended in the Battle of Yorktown. After the surrender, the city was a successful port for many years and was a pivotal station in the Civil War.
Over the past 50 years, Yorktown has become a peaceful city for locals and travelers. The coastal city is now known for shipbuilding, delicious seafood, and gorgeous beaches.
Today, much of historic Yorktown still stands. At the beach, enjoy swimming, sunbathing, boating, and jet skiing. In addition to hanging out at the ocean, visitors enjoy historical monuments and museums. There are a variety of buildings from the seventeenth century worth exploring.
Summer weather is cool but humid in Yorktown. Temperatures don’t usually surpass 80℉. In winter, it’s chilly and windy.
Visitors typically stay in Historic Yorktown, which features several hotels and vintage inns. You can also rent cottages and beachfront homes. Here are some of the top picks in Yorktown:
- Hornsby House Inn Bed and Breakfast
- Baytree Manor Bed and Breakfast
- Yorktown Beach Hotel
- Yorktown Cottages
- Captain John Smith Inn
- York River Inn Bed and Breakfast
6. Assateague Island
Assateague Island National Seashore is a 37-mile stretch of undeveloped beach along the eastern shore. While parts of the island are in Maryland, the North Beach is located in Virginia.
This wildlife refuge is home to wild ponies and almost feels like you’re in a faraway paradise. In addition to hiking and swimming, travelers can rent kayaks and boats to explore the lakeshore.
Pets are permitted with restrictions on the Maryland side of the island. However, no pets are allowed on the Virginia side. A pass is required to enter the park unless you come by bicycle or on foot.
While there are limited hotels in town, there are camping facilities and sites. A beachfront park offers bathrooms and changing rooms. Parking is available but very limited in summer.
7. Buckroe Beach
Located on the Chesapeake Bay in Hampton, VA is Buckroe Beach. This spot offers stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and is a great place for a day trip. Buckroe Beach isn’t as crowded as many of the other best beaches in Virginia.
Buckroe Beach is one of the best beaches in Virginia for families with tons of space to play and swim. It also provides easy wheel-chair access if needed. There’s free parking, beach activities, and food trucks and vendors.
Buckroe Beach is a neighborhood in itself with lots of activities available. There are places to rent kayaks, jet skis, and paddleboards. You can also visit local parks and hit the tennis courts.
8. Ocean View Beach
Ocean View Beach consists of over seven miles of beachfront near Norfolk, Virginia. The area offers scenic ocean views and plenty to do. Ocean View is one of the best Virginia beaches for swimming and relaxing.
Aside from the beach itself, Ocean View Park has a pavilion that hosts summer concerts and events. Enjoy bands, dancing, and beautiful sunsets.
Ocean View Beach is handicap accessible and has lifeguards in the summer. There’s a boardwalk and a large open field for vendors and activities. There is limited street parking and only a few public restrooms along the beach.
If you’re looking to vacation here, there are a variety of accommodations nearby including some right by the water.
9. First Landing State Park
First Landing State Park, located at Virginia Beach, is one of Virginia’s hidden gems. It boasts a mile and a half of sandy beaches, tucked away by the state park’s trails and woodlands. First Landing is on the National Register of Historic Places, located where the English colonists first landed in the US.
This state park provides opportunities for swimming and beach activities, as well as miles of hiking trails. Fishing and biking are also popular activities.
First Landing State Park offers several convenient amenities including various locations for public beach access. Pets are allowed on leash and parking is available at a small fee. There are also public restrooms available within the park.
If you’re looking to extend your stay, there are accommodations available. Stay at camping facilities including cabin rentals for a peaceful experience in nature.
10. Chesapeake Beach
Chesapeake Beach, located in a residential neighborhood, is another fantastic Virginia Beach. It provides the beauty of the ocean with the calmness of a bay. It’s just under two miles of beach where dolphins are often spotted in the shallow water and plenty of sand for relaxing or building sand castles.
There are public restrooms and changing rooms, as well as many restaurants nearby. The beach itself has a playground and the opportunity to rent equipment for water sports. The pier provides great fishing opportunities and picnic tables.
During Summer, dogs are not allowed on the beach. However, you can bring leashed dogs early in the morning, late in the evening, or anytime during the off-season. There is limited street parking, but you can find various lots and garages close to the water.
If you’re looking to spend the night, there are a few hotels close by.
11. Colonial Beach
Colonial Beach, located in Westmoreland County, is one of the most historical beaches in Virginia.
This area was founded by settlers in the 1600s and eventually incorporated in the late 1800s to become a stop along the new railroad. The city was a port for both pirates and legal oyster fishermen for many years. Since the 1960s, the Colonial Beach area has thrived on seafood and tourism.
On the bay of the Potomac River, Colonial Beach provides a rich American history. You can visit the home of Alexander Graham Bell or George Washington’s birthplace. There are also many restaurants and beachside entertainment options to choose from. Wander around downtown for shopping and dining, too.
The summer temperatures in Colonial Beach average in the 80s with a high of 89℉. Winter can dip below freezing and snowfall is normal in Colonial Beach.
In addition to many small cottage rentals, there are hotels, inns, and campgrounds to stay at in Westmoreland County. Here are some of the most popular near the water:
- Nightingale Motel and Marina
- Riverview Inn
- Tides Inn Bed and Breakfast
- Harbor View RV Resort and Campground
12. Kiptopeke State Park
Kiptopeke State Park is located near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel near Cape Charles. The park boasts almost 600 acres of nature. Enjoy hiking, exploring, and some of the most beautiful dunes in the state. Kiptopeke is a great place to bring families who enjoy different activities– it’s more than just the beach.
Everyone can find something to do at Kiptopeke. Kayak rentals are available during peak season. There are miles of trails to explore along with guided hikes or kayaking trips. While there’s no lifeguard on duty, there are areas of shallow waters for children to play.
The visitor’s center at Kiptopeke State Park offers public restrooms and vending machines. There are also campsites, RV hookups, and cabins available to rent. Pets are allowed on a leash.
To enter the park, you’re required to purchase a pass. You can buy a parking pass or an annual pass (which works for any Virginia state park). There’s also a fee to access the pier. With that said, the fee is waived on specific days and for certain local programs.
13. Smith Mountain Lake Beach
Get off the beaten path to Huddleston, VA at Smith Mountain Lake Beach. Rather than sitting on the Atlantic Coast, this beach is hidden inside Virginia’s biggest state park. The beach is on Smith Mountain Lake, a large and beautiful inland lake near Roanoke. Enjoy the beach, mountains, or forest.
The beach offers concessions, a picnic area, and a playground. There are lifeguards on duty all summer, and a boat ramp and rentals are available for visitors. Campsites and cabins are also available to rent. In addition, the state park has opportunities for hiking, biking, and nature observation.
Dogs on leashes are allowed at Smith Mountain Lake Beach, so this is the perfect spot if you’re looking for a place to bring your pet.
14. Westmoreland State Park
Westmoreland State Park borders both the Atlantic Ocean and the Potomac River in Montross, VA. The park offers are unmatched views, trails, and beachside camping spots. Westmoreland is located near Colonial Beach.
The park itself offers miles of hiking trails, picnic areas, and public beach access. The visitor’s center features an Olympic-sized swimming pool, boat ramp, bathhouse, and snack bar. Visitors can rent equipment for fishing and watersports. There are also campsites and RV hookups for travelers.
With a Virginia State Park annual pass, you will be able to enter any of Virginia’s parks (including Westmoreland). There are daily and weekly permits available as well. The passes aren’t too pricey so it might be worth it to invest in a pass and explore multiple state parks in Virginia!
15. Croatan Beach
Croatan Beach is another incredible spot located in a neighborhood of Virginia Beach. It’s a local favorite because it’s less crowded than the more populous beaches in the area and offers two separate areas for surfing. When the tide is low, sandbars offer great play areas for families.
Croatan Beach has two surfing areas, which makes it a favorite for surfing enthusiasts from around the world. You can also schedule surfing lessons for children or adults. There are also public restrooms for convenience.
Although dogs aren’t allowed on the beach during the day, they are permitted before 10 and after 6. During this time, leashes aren’t required, so your dog can run free in the evening at Croatan Beach!
While there aren’t hotels located right on Croatan Beach, there are tons a little north in the popular Virginia Beach area.
Whether you’re looking to spend a tranquil afternoon on a small beach or get active on the water, Virginia’s beaches have it all!
There are opportunities to be isolated in nature or hang out in a buzzing city. We hope you find your perfect getaway on this list of incredible beaches in Virginia!