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Top Rated Beaches in Virginia

When it comes to beaches in Virginia, one naturally thinks of Virginia Beach first, as it is one of the most popular vacation spots along the Atlantic Ocean. However, Virginia offers more than just Virginia Beach, with its stunning coastline along the Atlantic and numerous sandy beaches along the Chesapeake Bay and other smaller stretches throughout the state.

Virginia’s Eastern Shore coastline is home to a variety of quality beaches that offer unique experiences. The state parks and recreational areas in Virginia also feature inland public beaches, providing even more options for beachgoers. Let’s explore some of the beautiful beaches that Virginia has to offer:

Virginia Beach

# 1 in Best Beaches in Virginia

Top beaches in virginia

Virginia Beach is undoubtedly the most famous beach in Virginia, attracting vacationers from both near and far. Its prime location on the Atlantic Ocean, combined with its proximity to the Chesapeake Bay, gives the area a unique charm and enhances its food scene and recreational activities.

One of the reasons for the popularity of Virginia Beach is the diversity of water and land experiences it offers. Whether you want to relax on the beach, watch thrilling surfing competitions, or enjoy live music and sand volleyball games, there is always something happening along the shoreline.

For those seeking active adventures, Virginia Beach provides opportunities to learn snorkeling or rent bikes to explore the scenic trails of the Back Bay National Refuge. The three-mile boardwalk is a must-visit, offering a chance to take in the crashing waves, stroll along the shore, and discover the many shops and restaurants that line the bustling strip.

Accommodation options at Virginia Beach cater to a range of preferences and budgets. Along the beachfront, there are several good-value hotels available, including pet-friendly options. If you’re looking for a more luxurious stay, the historic Cavalier Virginia Beach is part of the Marriott five-star Autograph Collection. This upscale hotel offers oceanfront views, beautifully renovated spaces, and a touch of elegance.

Whether you’re seeking a laid-back beach experience, thrilling water sports, outdoor adventures, or indulgence in luxury, Virginia Beach has it all. Its fame is well-deserved, as it provides a memorable vacation destination with its vibrant atmosphere, stunning beachfront, and an array of activities to suit every taste.

Westmoreland State Park

# 2 in Best Beaches in Virginia

Top beaches in virginia

Westmoreland State Park, located in Virginia along the banks of the Potomac River, is a captivating destination that seamlessly blends natural beauty with historical significance. Covering more than 1,300 acres, the park offers a diverse range of recreational activities, making it a popular spot for both outdoor enthusiasts and those seeking a peaceful retreat. Here are some key aspects of Westmoreland State Park:

  1. Natural Wonders:
    • The park is characterized by a varied landscape, featuring forests, wetlands, meadows, and a pristine shoreline along the Potomac River.
    • Hiking trails wind through the wooded areas, providing opportunities for visitors to explore the native flora and fauna of the region.
    • The park’s diverse ecosystems support a rich array of wildlife, making it a haven for birdwatchers, nature photographers, and wildlife enthusiasts.
  2. Waterfront Activities:
    • With its location along the Potomac River, Westmoreland State Park offers numerous water-based activities. Fishing is a popular pastime, with anglers casting their lines in the hope of catching a variety of fish species.
    • The park provides a boat launch, allowing visitors to explore the river by kayak or canoe, immersing themselves in the serene beauty of the water and its surroundings.
  3. Historical Significance:
    • Adjacent to the park is Stratford Hall, the birthplace of Robert E. Lee. Visitors can take guided tours of the historic mansion and grounds, delving into the region’s colonial-era history.
    • The juxtaposition of natural landscapes and historical sites adds depth to the overall experience, providing a unique blend of outdoor recreation and cultural exploration.
  4. Camping and Accommodations:
    • Westmoreland State Park offers a range of camping options, from traditional campsites to cabins and a group camping area. This allows visitors to tailor their experience based on preferences for camping style and level of comfort.
    • Camping at the park provides an opportunity to immerse oneself in nature, with evenings under the stars and daytime adventures exploring the park’s trails and amenities.
  5. Recreational Opportunities:
    • The park features a swimming pool, providing a refreshing way for visitors to cool off during the warmer months.
    • Picnicking areas and open spaces make Westmoreland State Park an ideal location for families, groups, and individuals looking to enjoy outdoor activities and leisure.
  6. Conservation Initiatives:
    • Westmoreland State Park is actively involved in conservation efforts, including habitat restoration projects and environmental education programs. The park’s commitment to sustainability contributes to the preservation of the natural resources within its boundaries.

Colonial Beach

# 3 in Best Beaches in Virginia

Top beaches in virginia

Colonial Beach, located in Northern Virginia between the Potomac River and Monroe Bay, is a popular destination for both locals and visitors, particularly those coming from Washington D.C. It offers a combination of historical charm, comfortable amenities, and enjoyable water activities.

The beach is conveniently situated near a historical town, allowing visitors to explore the area’s rich heritage. You can stroll through the town’s streets, which have retained their old-world appeal, and visit local shops, restaurants, and cafes. The town’s seaport status on the Potomac River adds to its historical significance and provides a unique atmosphere.

Colonial Beach provides a range of amenities and activities to enhance your beach experience. The beach itself offers a pleasant spot for swimming and enjoying the water, with the Potomac River on one side and Monroe Bay on the other. Water sports enthusiasts can rent kayaks from Ferry Landing Pier, enabling them to explore the waterways and enjoy a scenic paddle.

For those interested in boating and fishing, Colonial Beach has several marinas nearby. This makes it easy to plan a full beach itinerary with a variety of activities, from cruising along the water to casting a line and reeling in some fish.

If you plan to visit with your furry companion, Colonial Beach is pet-friendly from October 1 through March 31, as long as pets are kept on a leash. This allows you to enjoy the beach and surrounding areas with your four-legged friend by your side.

Cape Charles

# 4 in Best Beaches in Virginia

Top beaches in virginia

Cape Charles Beach is indeed a hidden gem among Virginia’s beaches, offering a more relaxed and less crowded atmosphere. Located on the Eastern Shore along the Chesapeake Bay, it provides a tranquil setting for visitors to enjoy.

One of the standout features of Cape Charles Beach is its calm and shallow waters, making it an ideal destination for families and those who prefer swimming in gentle bay waters rather than ocean waves. This makes it safer and more enjoyable for children and individuals who are not strong swimmers.

For water sports enthusiasts, Cape Charles Beach offers easy access to various activities. Local outfitters can arrange excursions for activities like fishing, boating, and jet skiing, allowing visitors to explore the bay and its surroundings. Kayak rentals are also available for those who prefer a self-guided paddle adventure.

The beach’s proximity to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, just 10 miles away, makes it easily accessible for travelers. It’s important to check the beach’s hours, as they may vary during different times of the year. Additionally, Cape Charles Beach is pet-friendly, providing an opportunity to enjoy the sandy shores with your furry friends.

Nearby, you’ll find the Kiptopeke State Park, which also has a public beach and amenities such as a bathhouse. Exploring this state park can add to the outdoor experience and offer additional recreational opportunities.

The town of Cape Charles itself is a charming historic small town, offering a selection of restaurants and boutique shops. Visitors can immerse themselves in the town’s quaint atmosphere, enjoy local cuisine, and explore unique retail offerings.

In terms of lodging, Cape Charles primarily offers small bed-and-breakfast options, like the Alyssa House Bed and Breakfast, which is housed in a beautifully renovated century-old home. These accommodations provide a cozy and personalized experience for visitors seeking a comfortable stay.

Cape Charles Beach and its surrounding area provide a peaceful and enjoyable coastal getaway with a range of activities, scenic beauty, and small-town charm.

Bethel Beach Natural Area Preserve

# 5 in Best Beaches in Virginia

Top beaches in virginia
  1. Location:
    • Bethel Beach Natural Area Preserve is situated in Virginia, USA, on the Chesapeake Bay’s eastern shore. Specifically, it is located in Mathews County.
  2. Natural Beauty:
    • The preserve is renowned for its scenic coastal landscapes, including sandy shores, tidal marshes, and diverse ecosystems. Visitors can enjoy the tranquility of the bay and observe the rich biodiversity that thrives in this coastal environment.
  3. Wildlife and Biodiversity:
    • The natural area serves as a sanctuary for birdwatchers and enthusiasts of nature. It provides habitat for a variety of bird species, including migratory birds that use the Chesapeake Bay as a crucial stopover during their journeys.
  4. Recreational Activities:
    • Bethel Beach Natural Area Preserve is typically open to the public for low-impact recreational activities such as hiking, birdwatching, and nature photography. Its unspoiled beauty and peaceful surroundings make it an ideal destination for those seeking a serene outdoor experience.
  5. Educational Opportunities:
    • Many natural area preserves, including Bethel Beach, often offer educational programs and interpretive materials to help visitors understand and appreciate the local ecosystems, wildlife, and conservation efforts.
  6. Conservation Focus:
    • Natural area preserves like Bethel Beach are typically established with a focus on conservation. They aim to protect critical habitats, and rare plant and animal species, and maintain the ecological balance of the region.
  7. Access and Facilities:
    • Visitors to Bethel Beach Natural Area Preserve may find walking trails, observation points, and potentially interpretive signage that enhances the understanding of the area’s natural features. Facilities may be limited to maintain the natural character of the preserve.
  8. Local Community Engagement:
    • Natural area preserves often collaborate with local communities and environmental organizations to ensure sustainable management, conservation, and public awareness.

Hampton, VA

# 6 in Best Beaches in Virginia

Top beaches in virginia

Hampton, Virginia, is a city with a rich history, diverse culture, and a strong presence in the Hampton Roads metropolitan area. Here’s an overview of key aspects of Hampton:

1. Historic Significance:

  • Hampton has a deep historical heritage, dating back to its founding in 1610. It played a crucial role in early American history, and visitors can explore historic sites such as Fort Monroe, America’s largest stone fort, and the Hampton History Museum.

2. Fort Monroe:

  • Fort Monroe, a military installation with a history spanning centuries, is a National Monument. It played a role in the Civil War and has a moat, historic homes, and scenic views. The Casemate Museum within Fort Monroe provides insights into its military history.

3. NASA Langley Research Center:

  • Hampton is home to NASA Langley Research Center, a key facility in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The center has been instrumental in aeronautical and aerospace research, making significant contributions to the space program.

4. Education and Research:

  • Hampton is home to Hampton University, a historically black university with a strong emphasis on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs. The city’s focus on education and research is complemented by its proximity to research institutions and military installations.

5. Military Presence:

  • Apart from Fort Monroe, Hampton has a strong military presence, with Langley Air Force Base located nearby. The military contributes significantly to the local economy and cultural fabric of the city.

6. Hampton Roads:

  • Hampton is part of the larger Hampton Roads metropolitan area, which includes other cities like Norfolk, Virginia Beach, and Newport News. The area is known for its ports, military bases, and a diverse range of cultural and recreational offerings.

7. Hampton Coliseum:

  • The Hampton Coliseum is a prominent venue for concerts, events, and entertainment. It has hosted iconic performances and is a hub for community gatherings.

8. Waterfront and Recreation:

  • Hampton boasts a scenic waterfront, providing opportunities for leisure, recreation, and water-based activities. The city hosts events along the waterfront, and parks like Buckroe Beach offer residents and visitors a chance to relax by the water.

9. Hampton Roads Convention Center:

  • The Hampton Roads Convention Center is a modern facility that hosts conferences, conventions, and events. It contributes to Hampton’s role as a regional hub for business and tourism.

10. Cultural Diversity:

  • Hampton reflects a diverse cultural landscape, with various festivals, events, and attractions celebrating the city’s multicultural heritage. The city actively promotes inclusivity and cultural awareness.

Chincoteague Island

# 7 in Best Beaches in Virginia

Top beaches in virginia

Nestled along Virginia’s Eastern Shore, Chincoteague Island offers a beach experience unlike any other, where the majestic ocean and thriving wildlife combine to create an enchanting setting. This picturesque island, known as a National Wildlife Refuge, is home to wild horses and a variety of native birds, adding an element of natural beauty to your day on the water.

Chincoteague Island is highly regarded as one of Virginia’s most popular beach destinations and is situated near Assateague Island, which is also renowned for its population of wild horses. As a barrier island, Chincoteague boasts a unique topography characterized by naturally formed dunes and lush grasses, contributing to its reputation as one of the state’s most scenic locations.

The beach on Chincoteague Island is managed by the National Park Service and offers a plethora of activities to delight beachgoers. Whether you enjoy swimming, sunbathing, beachcombing, or birding, this beach caters to all preferences. Its pristine shoreline and clear waters provide an ideal environment for a refreshing swim, while the soft sands beckon visitors to relax and soak up the sun.

As you stroll along the beach, keep an eye out for fascinating seashells and other treasures that may wash ashore. Bird enthusiasts will be thrilled by the diverse array of native avian species soaring overhead, creating a captivating sight for nature lovers.

Beyond the beach, Chincoteague Island presents a vibrant calendar of events and programs that can further enrich your day on the island. These activities add an extra dose of excitement and entertainment, ensuring there’s always something to look forward to during your beach getaway.

Lake Anna State Park

# 8 in Best Beaches in Virginia

Lake Anna State Park, situated in Virginia, USA, is a picturesque destination that combines outdoor recreation, natural beauty, and a variety of activities for visitors. Here’s an overview of the key features and attractions of Lake Anna State Park:

  1. Location:

Lake Anna State Park can be found in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. The park surrounds the 13,000-acre Lake Anna, which was created in the 1970s as a cooling reservoir for a nuclear power plant.

  1. Lake Anna:

The focal point of the park is Lake Anna, a freshwater reservoir known for its clear waters. The lake provides opportunities for swimming, boating, fishing, and other water-based activities.

  1. Outdoor Recreation:

The park offers a range of outdoor activities, including hiking, fishing, picnicking, and birdwatching. Several hiking trails wind through the wooded areas, providing scenic views of the lake and surrounding landscapes.

  1. Boating and Fishing:

Lake Anna is popular for its boating enthusiasts. The park has boat ramps and a fishing pier, making it accessible for anglers looking to catch bass, catfish, and other freshwater fish.

  1. Camping Facilities:

Lake Anna State Park provides camping facilities for those who want to immerse themselves in the natural surroundings. Campsites include electric and non-electric options, and there are also cabins available for rent.

  1. Educational Programs:

The park offers interpretive programs and educational events, providing visitors with insights into the natural and cultural history of the area. Nature walks and talks are often organized to enhance the overall visitor experience.

  1. Wildlife Observation:

The diverse ecosystems around Lake Anna State Park attract a variety of wildlife. Visitors may have the opportunity to observe birds, mammals, and other native species while exploring the park’s trails and waterfront.

  1. Picnicking Areas:

The park features designated picnic areas equipped with tables and grills, making it an ideal spot for families and groups to enjoy a meal while surrounded by nature.

  1. Special Events:

Lake Anna State Park hosts special events and recreational programs throughout the year. These events may include nature walks, wildlife demonstrations, and festivals, adding an extra layer of enjoyment for visitors.

  1. Accessibility:

The park is designed to accommodate visitors of varying abilities, with accessible facilities and amenities to ensure that everyone can enjoy the natural beauty and recreational opportunities offered by Lake Anna State Park.


# 9 in Best Beaches in Virginia

Williamsburg, Virginia, is a city steeped in history and known for its well-preserved colonial architecture, vibrant cultural scene, and educational institutions. Here’s an overview of key aspects of Williamsburg:

  1. Colonial Williamsburg:

At the heart of the city is Colonial Williamsburg, a living-history museum that recreates the atmosphere of a colonial American town. Visitors can stroll through historic streets, interact with costumed interpreters, and witness demonstrations of 18th-century crafts and trades.

  1. Historic Triangle:

Williamsburg is one of the three key points in the Historic Triangle, along with Jamestown and Yorktown. Together, these three locations provide a comprehensive understanding of early American history, spanning the arrival of English settlers in Jamestown to the American Revolution in Yorktown.

  1. College of William & Mary:

Established in 1693, the College of William & Mary stands as the second-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The college adds an academic and cultural dimension to the city, contributing to its vibrant atmosphere.

  1. Merchants Square:

Adjacent to Colonial Williamsburg is Merchants Square, a shopping and dining district with a mix of boutiques, restaurants, and galleries. It offers a charming setting for visitors to explore and enjoy modern amenities against a backdrop of historical architecture.

  1. Museums and Historic Sites:

Beyond Colonial Williamsburg, the city is home to several museums and historic sites, including the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum, Bassett Hall, and the Governor’s Palace.

  1. Williamsburg Pottery:

Williamsburg Pottery is a shopping destination known for its vast selection of pottery, home goods, and decorative items. It has been a landmark in the area for several decades.

  1. Events and Festivals:

Williamsburg hosts various events and festivals throughout the year. These may include historical reenactments, arts and crafts fairs, music festivals, and seasonal celebrations, adding to the city’s dynamic cultural calendar.

  1. Busch Gardens Williamsburg:

A major attraction for visitors of all ages is Busch Gardens Williamsburg, a theme park known for its thrilling rides, live entertainment, and beautifully landscaped European-themed sections.

  1. Parks and Recreation:

The city offers parks, trails, and recreational areas where residents and visitors can enjoy outdoor activities. Waller Mill Park, for example, provides hiking trails, fishing, and boating opportunities.

  1. Williamsburg Winery:

Wine enthusiasts can explore the Williamsburg Winery, a local vineyard that produces a variety of wines. The winery offers tours and tastings, providing a relaxing and educational experience.


# 10 in Best Beaches in Virginia

Norfolk, Virginia, is a vibrant city situated in the Hampton Roads region, known for its rich maritime heritage, cultural diversity, and thriving arts scene. Here’s an overview of key aspects of Norfolk:

1. Naval Presence:

  • Norfolk is home to the world’s largest naval base, Naval Station Norfolk, which plays a crucial role in the U.S. Navy’s operations. The city has a strong maritime tradition and is a hub for naval activities.

2. Waterside District:

  • The Waterside District along the Elizabeth River is a popular destination offering dining, shopping, and entertainment. It provides picturesque views of the waterfront and serves as a lively gathering place for both locals and visitors.

3. Norfolk Naval Shipyard:

  • The Norfolk Naval Shipyard, located in Portsmouth adjacent to Norfolk, is one of the oldest shipyards in the United States. It has a significant role in the maintenance and repair of naval vessels.

4. Arts and Culture:

  • Norfolk boasts a vibrant arts and culture scene. The Chrysler Museum of Art houses an impressive collection of European and American art, while the Norfolk Botanical Garden showcases beautiful landscapes and flora.

5. The NEON District:

  • Norfolk’s NEON District (New Energy of Norfolk) is a dynamic arts district known for its colorful murals, art installations, and galleries. It reflects the city’s commitment to fostering creativity and cultural expression.

6. Downtown Norfolk:

  • Downtown Norfolk is a bustling urban center with a mix of historic and modern architecture. Granby Street is a popular thoroughfare lined with shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues.

7. Festivals and Events:

  • Norfolk hosts numerous festivals and events throughout the year, such as the Harborfest celebration, the Norfolk NATO Festival, and the Virginia International Tattoo, attracting visitors with a diverse range of interests.

8. Educational Institutions:

  • Norfolk is home to several institutions of higher education, including Old Dominion University (ODU) and Norfolk State University, contributing to the city’s academic and research community.

9. Outdoor Recreation:

  • The city offers outdoor recreation opportunities with parks, waterfront areas, and the scenic Elizabeth River Trail. Residents and visitors can enjoy activities such as boating, kayaking, and exploring green spaces.

10. Mermaid City:

  • Norfolk is often referred to as the “Mermaid City” due to the iconic mermaid statues found throughout the city. These mermaids serve as public art installations and represent Norfolk’s maritime identity.


After exploring the top-rated beaches in Virginia, it’s clear that the state boasts an array of stunning coastal destinations offering diverse experiences for visitors. From the serene shores of Virginia Beach to the untouched beauty of Assateague Island, each beach offers its own unique charm and allure.

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