Virginia is for lovers — and that includes beach lovers. In the Williamsburg area and around Newport News, the best beaches can be found along the York River, the James River and Chesapeake Bay. Here’s where to go…for the day or longer.
Not only do these friendly beaches have beautiful water and beach areas, but many are in historic towns. (This SheBuysTravel.com story details the tours in Jamestown and Yorktown). A trip to the beach also makes a nice day trip for families visiting Colonial Williamsburg.
Read More: The Ultimate Beach Vacation Packing List
If you want to drive all the way to Norfolk (about an hour drive south through the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnels), you’ll find beach after beach along the Atlantic Ocean. Many of the country’s best beaches are along the East Coast.
If you’re in the Williamsburg area, though, you don’t need to drive that far for a fun beach day. Some of the best beaches are less than an hour from Williamsburg, including:
Distance from Williamsburg: 6 miles
Across the street from the Jamestown Settlement, this small, tucked away, fresh-water, sandy beach has lots of shady trees, so your beach chairs and picnic areas don’t have to be in the blazing sun.
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Jamestown Beach also has charcoal grills. Bring some charcoal, a pack of hot dogs, buns, a bag of chips and voila! An easy and budget-friendly lunch. As one online reviewer described it: “Awesome beach for an all day hang out!”
- Shady trees close to the beachfront, perfect for a hot summer day
- New restrooms
- Kayak rentals available
- Terrific picnic spot, with picnic tables and access to charcoal grills.
- Jamestown Beach’s parking fee ranges between $4 and $10.
- Designated fishing area.
- Shallow water so you can walk quite a ways out and be only waist-deep.
Distance from Williamsburg: 14 miles
This 2-acre beach on the York River, in historic Yorktown, is ideal for just about everything, like swimming, sunbathing, fishing and picnics. It’s also one of the only handicap accessible beaches in Hampton Roads. Book a Schooner Alliance sailboat tour, like the kid-favorite “Captain Mayhem’s School of Piracy.” Or take one of their history or sunset sails.
Definitely take a walk out on to the fishing pier. Even if you don’t fish, you might get lucky and see large Navy ships or other tall ships passing through the channel.
- Yorktown Beach has a Mobi-Mat and Mobi Chair that allows disabled guests to physically get in the water (with an escort), plus an ADA-accessible fishing pier.
- Kayak, bike and paddleboard rentals available
- If the free public parking is full, there’s a free trolley from the parking lots to the beach.
- Excellent fishing pier where you can catch Chesapeake Bay blue crab, trout and more.
- From the pier, you can sometimes see sting rays and pods of dolphins.
Distance from Williamsburg: 32.6 miles
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Avoid the Hampton Roads bridge tunnel and stop at this small beach that borders Chesapeake Bay. It’s a great place to sunbath or rent jet skis. Walk along the boardwalk or out to the covered observation pier and you might see ships arriving at their ports.
Little kids will love Buckroe Beach’s nautical-themed playground, or if you can get everyone up early, it’s a great place to watch the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean. You can rent one of the picnic areas with a shelter and a grill to make lunch or dinner; just be aware that they don’t have electricity or water.
- Large restroom facilities with outdoor showers
- Besides a snack bar, there are often food carts and food trucks
- Paddleboards and kayaks rentals available.
- Fishing pier
- Free parking lots near the beach or free shuttle service to the beachfront from Jones Magnet Middle School starting at 11 a.m. The shuttle loops every 25 minutes.
- Lifeguards on duty from Memorial Day to Labor Day
Distance from Williamsburg: 60 miles
Virginia Beach is a longtime favorite because of its boardwalk, Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and more. Routinely listed among the East Coast’s best beaches, Virgina Beach — where the Chesapeake Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean — is nestled in a touristy area with beachfront high-rise hotels. It has everything a family could want for a beach day trip outing, from a jungle gym to jet skis.
Get a snow cone from one of the vendors and walk along Virginia Beach’s three-mile-long boardwalk, play in the water or the light brown sand, watch the surfers, take a dolphin-watching tour, listen to live music or just grab a seat on the sandy beach and soak it all in.
“Fun for all,” as one online reviewer perfectly summarized.
- While it can get crowded during peak times, it’s fun to rent bikes and ride up and down Virginia Beach’s boardwalk
- The Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge has lovely (and flat) hiking trails in False Cape State Park, plus fishing areas and group tours.
- Horseback riding tours on the beachfront are available
- The boardwalk is full of shops and restaurants
- 27 sculptures dot the beach area, including Virginia Beach’s iconic Poseidon (God of the sea) statue.
- Grommet Island Park is Virginia Beach’s large and wheelchair accessible playground that includes some features for autistic children.
- The Virginia Beach oceanfront is 35 miles, with different personalities and outdoor activities. Here are some SheBuysTravel.com tips of fun things to do in Virginia Beach, as well as some free things to do in Virginia Beach.