Question: We are thinking of moving to the Hampton Roads area of Virginia and are wondering where the public beaches are.
Answer: There are many beaches to choose from in Hampton Roads both in Va Beach, Norfolk, Yorktown, Newport News, Hampton, The Eastern Shore and The Outer Banks ( OBX)
In Virginia Beach the Oceanfront offers visitors 12 miles of public beach stretching from Fort Story south to Sandbridge. Visitors can surf, swim, bask in the sun and stroll the three-mile Boardwalk. Entertainment includes concerts at the 17th and 24th Street stages, a summer-long series of festivals and celebrations, and fireworks shows through July and August. The main resort area, from First to 40th streets, has lifeguards in season, with surfing allowed between Third and Fifth streets. The Oceanfront also has public restrooms, public and private parking and wooden walkways to the beach. The VB Wave shuttle runs between Second and 40th streets, May through September. www.vbfun.com The beaches north of the resort area, in a residential area, are quieter, but parking is scarce and public facilities are limited.
South of VA Beach’s resort area are Croatan Beach, Sandbridge Public Beach, and Little Island Park, all with lifeguards during season. Croatan has a popular, and sometimes crowded, surfing area. Little Island Park, near the edge of Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, has a fishing pier, concessions, picnic shelters and playground. The beach on one side of its pier is dedicated to surfing; on the other is a 2,000-foot beach for swimmers.
Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, south of Sandbridge, allows visitors to hike the freshwater marsh trails, bike on the dike roads or take a tram ride to nearby False Cape State Par k.
First Landing State Park is perfect for those who want to combine sunbathing and swimming with their walk on the wild side. Located on Shore Drive, the park has a swimming beach.
Norfolk has beaches in Ocean View , along the Chesapeake Bay. The city maintains three beach parks, staffed by lifeguards in season, along the 71/2 miles of beaches off Ocean View Avenue. Ocean View Park, 100 W. Ocean View Ave., is home to a boardwalk and hosts a series of special events, including concerts, festivals and fireworks. There’s also Sarah Constant Beach Park, at the intersection of Tidewater Drive and Fourth View, and Community Beach Park, between Tidewater Drive and Chesapeake Boulevard. Norfolk’s beachfront also is home to the new Ocean View Fishing Pier, which juts 1,690 feet into the Bay and is open 24 hours a day, Memorial Day through Labor Day. The pier includes a restaurant, bait shop and game room.
in Hampton you will find Buckroe Beach and with it’s mile-long Chesapeake Bay beach along North First Street has a playground, boardwalk, bandstand and observation pier. A hot spot for swimming and sunbathing, this park also offers kayak and paddleboat rentals. The beach allows dogs Sept. 15 through May 15 and has an enclosed Bark Park near the beach. Public restrooms are available, as well as two free parking lots.
Also in Hampton is Grandview Nature Preserve a bit farther off the beaten path, but this two-mile stretch of beach along the Chesapeake Bay offers a secluded spot ideal for swimming and beachcombing. The nature trails that meander through some of the park’s 475 acres of salt marsh and tidal creek offer excellent bird watching. There are no lifeguards and parking is limited.
NEWPORT NEWS has Huntington Park, the city’s only public beach, located on the James River, nestled at the base of the James River Bridge at the intersection of Mercury and Warwick boulevards. The park has a giant wooden playground called Fort Fun, the longest fishing pier on the East Coast, a children’s fishing pier extending into Lake Biggins, a boat ramp and snack bar. The swimming area has lifeguards from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.
YORKTOWN has The Riverwalk complex on the York River the anchor for the town’s two-acre public beach, with fine dining, an ice cream shop, boutiques and sightseeing cruises. Restrooms and showers are open April through mid-October.
On the EASTERN SHORE you will find the Cape Charles Town Beach, at the end of Mason Avenue, it offers a shallow, protected swimming area in the charming resort town of Cape Charles. There are restrooms and a fishing pier at the southern end of the half-mile-long beach and restaurants within walking distance. Summer concerts, holiday events and a monthly Applaud the Sun beach party take place in and around the beach’s pavilion. Parking is free along Bay Avenue, with a paved walkway running the length of the beach. There are three wooden walkovers providing handicapped access. No lifeguards. Pets are prohibited on the beach Memorial Day through Labor Day.
Also on the Eastern Shore is Kiptopeke State Park just three miles north of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, but worlds away from the hubbub of busier resort areas. Sunken concrete-filled ships form a protected area for swimming on the half-mile beach. Lifeguards are on duty Memorial Day through Labor Day. Pets are not allowed.
Assateague Island has extensive beaches. Lifeguards are on duty from Memorial Day through Labor Day at Toms Cove Beach. Pets are not allowed. Hours vary by season; entry fee is $10 per vehicle, good for a week; for those who enter on foot or by bike, admission is free.
The OUTER BANKS offers Dozens of public beach access points along North Carolina’s string of barrier islands, on both the ocean and sound sides. Most have lifeguards on duty from Memorial Day through Labor Day, and some also offer bathhouses, showers and other amenities.
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