Virginia is known for its beaches during the summer months but the beauty of these locations doesn’t disappear during the off season. We’ve put together some of the most popular and even lesser known beaches of the state with reasons why you need to plan one last vacation of the year.
One of the most well-known and beloved beaches on the east coast truly deserves its spot as a favorite among locals and travelers. Virginia Beach is the beach to visit during the fall. Horseback rides on the beach happen Fall, Winter and Spring, and the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center is a great learning opportunity while not being busy with crowds like it is in the summer. Another major reason to come by during the off season is the festivals that just don’t stop.
The First Landing Fall Festival is an October event where you can enjoy the scenic beauty that Virginia has to offer, hay rides, pumpkin decorating, and more. Don’t forget Neptune’s Fall Wine Festival, to taste more of what’s great in Virginia. Join friends on the oceanfront to eat delicious food and try new wines from specialty vendors.
Virginia Beach Horseback
Found between the Monroe Bay and the Potomac River you can find the beautiful Colonial Beach. These marinas and beaches are a favorite to boaters, fishers, and those who just want to get away. There are even opportunities to try your hand at crabbing. These are just some of the things that keep Colonial Beach alive during the off season, making it the perfect short term get-away to experience all the beauty of the beach while mixing in the fun of the fall season.
Stop by the George Washington Birthplace National Monument where you have the special chance of seeing the colonial farm and find a re-created 18th-century plantation life. The advantage to coming during the fall is not just in the relaxing atmosphere, but also in your chance to be part of the annual Colonial Beach Bikefest, held each October. Here you’ll find activities, contests, live music, and more.
photo credit: Chris Militzer, @miliman12
Five miles of gorgeous sand dunes and sea front on the east coast is where you’ll find Virginia’s Sandbridge. This secluded beach is slowly becoming more of a favorite getaway for visitors who don’t like the big crowds. The calm and marshy waters of Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park are perfect for great kayaking, hiking, and fishing. While the sun still makes the sand warm, the beaches will be even more deserted during the off season and you’ll be able to enjoy time with just the wind and the waves.
Be sure not to forget the Virginia Oysters! A short drive away is Newport News and as much of the best seafood you can eat. Stop by the Virginia Living Museum Oyster Roast in November, where you can enjoy all-you-can-eat fresh local oysters, craft beers, and more of what makes Virginia’s food great.
Looking for one more? Try the City Center Oyster Roast in October. This roast is hosted at the beautiful Fountain Plaza at Oyster Point and is nothing less than the perfect place for Chesapeake Bay seafood. Hosting activities for adults and the kids alike, shop around and enjoy live music all while taking in the scrumptious oysters of Virginia. These are festivals you just won’t find during the heat of the summer season.
Sandbridge Beach. Photo credit: Bill Crabtree, Jr.
This historic location is an ideal vacation during the off season. Come by and enjoy the beach without the ruckus of hundreds of umbrellas and excited kids. With its close ties to the past, you’ll feel a real connection to the community and wildlife without the chaos and commotion of modern life.
The beachfront provides opportunities for boating and fishing, along with acres of grass picnic area to have a relaxing meal or get-together with family and friends. Come by the Riverwalk Landing for the Yorktown Market Days and Fall Festival, hosted this year on October 13. You’ll find the constant and ever fresh display of produce, seafood, and baked goods. Stop in for quality art, live entertainment, and the children’s hay maze. This free festival is fun only found during fall.
CAPE CHARLES BEACH
The Eastern Shore’s southernmost town is full of food and fun at Cape Charles. The public beach is a favorite to many with traditions of vacations and interests in history. The Bay’s shallow waters provide great fun for the young ones and a comfort for parents to relax in the sun and pools. And just because the seasons change doesn’t mean the fun has to stop.
photo credit: Adam Lewis, @adamtlewis
These beaches provide an extension to your summer while the sun is out and the breezes are low, allowing you to continue enjoying the water. And be sure not to miss the amazing deals on cottages and hotel rooms. History doesn’t have a season either! So you can continue coming by the learn more about the beautiful area and the historically rich state you’re in.
Farther up the coast is where you’ll find the Merroir and Terroir - Oyster Extravaganza. Join in on wine tasting from local vineyards and heirloom oysters from the water that surrounds you. Buy a ticket for a glass of wine, clam chowder, an unlimited amount of oysters, and more.
Can’t get enough of those Virginia Oysters? Check out the annual Ducks Unlimited Oyster Roast by the Barrier Island Center. Come feast on smoky, roasted oysters, Virginia’s famous barbecue, and more. Last but not least, Brew 'N' Que (and Oysters, Too!) at Sunset Beach Hotel and Beach Club.
Chincoteague Island is the small and relaxing fishing town full of summer vacation memories for many Virginians through generations. Famous for the Chincoteague ponies and the pony run, it is also a popular spot for wildlife enthusiasts and those who just enjoy getting away. With many bike trails and opportunities to soak in the sun and small town charm, it can’t be missed.
The beach here is calm and perfect for family fun. The restaurants around are full of some of the tastiest seafood in the state perfect for romantic date nights and trying new dishes. Already a relaxing spot to stop by, during the autumn season the crowds die down and room rates drop but the fun never ceases.
With events year round, the Annual Chincoteague Island Oyster Festival in October is a favorite. Try as much as you can eat of the oysters made every way you can imagine. Packed with raffles, games, and food, this is the festival to beat. Don’t miss out on “America’s Happiest Seaside Town” this fall.
About the Author: Kemry Johnakin is an English Major at Brigham Young University-Idaho, hopes to write the next great American novel, and is greatly unsettled by the lack of oxford commas used in government paperwork.