Virginia Beach

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Virginia’s eastern coast is a convenient jumping-off point for day trips to attractions that lie both west and north of the beach, including Civil War-era sites, the bustling state capital of Richmond, sleepy villages on the Chesapeake Bay, and a lovely state park where bird enthusiasts can observe raptors in their natural habitat. Though public transportation is convenient within Virginia Beach itself, the easiest way to reach these day trip destinations is to drive.

Day Trips from Virginia Beach

Chincoteague/Assateague

Visitors stop at the quaint resort island of Chincoteague on their way to catch a glimpse of the famous wild ponies roaming the seashore at the adjacent Assateague Island. Old-fashioned lighthouses and unspoiled beaches dotted with snow geese and great blue herons grace the coasts of each island. Conveniently, a bridge connects the islands to the mainland.

100 miles northeast of Virginia Beach (2.5 hours by car), Virginia/Maryland, www.chincoteague.com, www.assateagueisland.com
Tags: family | budget | editor pick | day trip

Colonial Williamsburg

This charming and well preserved settlement was England’s political center in the colonies throughout much of the 18th century. Today, Williamsburg is a window into pre-American Revolution life. With actors (in authentic attire, of course) portraying colonial figures throughout the complex of historic cottages, taverns, and courthouses, Colonial Williamsburg is entertaining and educational for adults and children alike.

60 miles northwest of Virginia Beach (one hour and 15 minutes by car), VA, www.history.org
Tags: family | expensive | history | day trip

Fredericksburg

Civil War buffs shouldn’t miss the small Virginian city of Fredericksburg, home to the Fredericksburg Battlefield, the site of one of the war’s most important battles. The Civil War-era Chatham mansion is also of historic interest, as are the Kenmore Plantation, where George Washington’s sister once lived, and the Mary Washington House, which the first president bought for his mother in 1772.

160 miles northwest of Virginia Beach (2.5 hours by car), VA, www.visitfred.com
Tags: family | budget | day trip

Kiptopeke State Park

Avid bird watchers and outdoorsy travelers cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel to reach Kiptopeke State Park, home to abundant populations of hawks, osprey, kestrels, and various types of migratory birds. Swimming, fishing, and boating are also popular activities here, as are hiking and biking (the well-maintained trails are designed to lead visitors through animal habitats and hardwood forests).

35 miles north of Virginia Beach (50 minutes by car), VA, www.dcr.virginia.gov/state_parks/kip.shtml
Tags: family | budget | outdoors | day trip | wildlife

Onancock

Bordered on one side by the Chesapeake Bay and the other by the Atlantic, the historic town of Onancock has a population of only 1,500. Victorian architecture, art studios, boutiques, and antique shops set the backdrop for a low-key afternoon in a village that has been around since 1680.

75 miles northeast of Virginia Beach (one hour and 45 minutes by car), VA, www.onancock.org
Tags: family | moderate | day trip

Richmond

Virginia’s capital city lies within easy reach of the state’s eastern coast. Founded by the English in 1607, Richmond offers a range of historic and cultural attractions, including the Museum of the Confederacy (1201 E. Clay St.; 804-649-1861; www.moc.org), the Children’s Museum of Richmond (2626 W. Broad St.; 804-474-7000; www.c-mor.org), the Virginia Fine Arts Museum (200 N. Blvd.; 804-340-1400; www.vmfa.museum), the Black History Museum (00 Clay St.; 804-780-9093; www.blackhistorymuseum.org), and, for literary types, the Edgar Allan Poe Museum (1914-16 E. Main St.; 804-648-5523; www.poemuseum.org).

110 miles northwest of Virginia Beach (2 hours by car), VA, www.visit.richmond.com
Tags: family | expensive | trendy | day trip

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Karen_dion

“If you have an early flight, choose a hotel close to the airport the night before. Starting a trip on too little sleep is never fun.”

Karen Dion Freelance Editor

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