Although the city limits of Virginia Beach extend inland to include dozens of distinct neighborhoods, most visitors to the area spend the majority of their time on the coast. The beaches along the northern end of Virginia Beach, near the Chesapeake Bay, are quieter and less developed than those along the central coast, where you’ll find a busy boardwalk and lively dining and shopping scene. The water is a bit chilly for swimming at the beginning of the summer season, but by mid-July and into August, the sea feels significantly warmer (head away from the boardwalk crowds toward the North End for a more peaceful swim). South Beach and Sandbridge are popular for water sports.
Virginia Beach Neighborhoods and Beaches
Chesapeake BayThe northernmost region of Virginia Beach, comprising neighborhoods like Bayside, Great Neck, and Hilltop, juts into the Chesapeake Bay. Though the area is becoming more commercial, natural beauty is the region’s main draw – tourists usually pass through the area on their way to Kiptopeke State Park and First Landing State Park.
Oceanfront & BoardwalkThree miles of concrete boardwalk (starting at 3rd Street and extending until 39th street) line Virginia Beach’s central stretch of sand, drawing families and young vacationers for ice cream and evening strolls. Densely populated with high-rise resort hotels and seafood restaurants, this oceanfront area is the main hub of tourist activity.
North EndThe coastline extending north from the boardwalk area has long been the city’s least developed beach area. In the past few years, however, stylish new oceanfront hotels have been constructed here, and the once-quiet North End has earned popularity with vacationers seeking a calmer, more sophisticated beach experience.
South BeachA decade ago, Virginia Beach’s southern coast was the tourists’ choice for staying and playing; today, many of the area’s hotels are a bit outdated and less competitive, though the lovely Rudee Inlet and several waterfront restaurants still attract visitors.
SandbridgeBack Bay National Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park are among the protected outdoor spaces in Sandbridge, Virginia Beach’s southernmost coastal area. Deep sea fishermen, cyclists, and outdoor enthusiasts flock here to enjoy the shady forests and quiet, pristine beaches.
InlandResidential neighborhoods like Lynnhaven and Kempsville don’t offer a great deal of attractions for short-term visitors to Virginia Beach; however, this inland region, roughly bounded by Oceana Boulevard/First Colonial Road, which runs parallel to the coast, does offer a fair share of fine restaurants and shops that appeal to the locals and are, in many cases, of higher quality than what tourists find along the boardwalk.
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