The Only 5 Family Beaches in Virginia That You Need to Visit This Summer
Did you know there are amazing family friendly beaches in Virginia? You’ve likely heard of Virginia Beach, but it’s not the only beach in Virginia that’s the perfect place to plop down with your family and soak up the sun.
But first- why only five beaches? There are articles with more than just these 5 beaches in VA, but I don’t want to overwhelm you. And frankly, I didn’t find the others to be family friendly.
When it comes to your kids and family, you don’t want a beach that’s too wild. So here are the best FAMILY FRIENDLY beaches in VA.
I have a long history of beach going- starting with my mother who loves the beach. She grew up in the Buckroe Beach area and frequented the beach almost daily growing up.
From there, we took yearly family vacations to Nags Head in North Carolina. Our families would rent a huge beach house together and all of cousins would play at the beach all day, swim in the pool and eat Chesapeake bay crabs and shrimp cocktail.
We’d also take day trips to Virginia Beach growing up. It was only a short drive (45 minutes) to the oceanfront from our house, so it was an easy day trip. My mother and I would lug an umbrella, chairs and a boogie board down to the beach.
Then for lunch, we would walk up to the 7-11 right across from the boardwalk for a hotdog or nachos. At the end of the day, we’d carry it all back to the car and drive home exhausted, but filled with joy and memories.
I know I will always cherish the times my mother and I played in the ocean waves and laid on the beach reading books (despite me saying I was bored 1000x as a child).
As a teenager, my friends and I would pile into the car and drive down to Yorktown Beach to sunbathe and listen to music all day.
Now as an adult, I have to say Cape Charles is my number one pick as a family friendly beach. Jamestown beach comes in second, neither of which are on the Atlantic Ocean, which makes them feel safer for little kids without the raging waves.
Best Family Friendly Beaches in Virginia Map
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Family Friendly Beaches in Virginia – The List
Virginia Beach is the most well known beach in Virginia. It’s also the largest on the oceanfront with miles of beachfront sand and ocean waves.
VA beach is bustling and busy with a boardwalk, restaurants and hotels abound. If you are taking a day trip, plan your public parking and meals get there early.
If you’re staying in a hotel, there are tons of choices for accommodations and dining on the ocean and a block or two away. You’ll also find AirBnB’s in Virginia beach.
The waves here are roaring. While it’s fun to play in the water here, if you have young children I recommend keeping a hold of them and not letting them go above knee deep water on their own.
The ocean is beautiful, but dangerous. The water has undercurrents that will suck you out in an instant. So, keep safety in mind and keep your little ones close and don’t go above your head. There are lifeguards posted and rescue squads are nearby and well trained to deal with emergencies.
You will have plenty of fun playing in knee deep water jumping over the chest high ocean waves.
While you are here, you can rent bikes or scooters to ride on the boardwalk, and boogie boards and umbrellas are for sale along the shops.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention any downsides to the Virginia Beach Oceanfront. Here’s what we view as the downside:
- Ocean currents- Virginia beach is on the Atlantic ocean; be careful of riptides and currents
- Crowded- the most crowded of the 5 listed here- with crowds bring loud music, sometimes profanity from other beachgoers and a lot of people on the beach
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UNPRETENTIOUS AND UNCROWDED WITH MILES OF WHITE, SANDY BEACHES, SANDBRIDGE BEACH IS THE PERFECT YEAR-ROUND VACATION DESTINATION.
Nestled in the southern part of Virginia Beach, the best of both worlds meet: the sparkling Atlantic Ocean and the broad expanse of Back Bay. A winning combination.
So, if you love the waves, but want a quieter experience, Sandbridge is the beach for you.
Looking for other activities at the beach from Ocean Rentals LTD:
- Stand Up Paddling
- Back Bay Tour
- Surf Lessons
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention any downsides to Sadbridge beach. Here’s what we view as the downside:
- No lifeguards, so keep a close eye on kids as the Ocean is unpredictable
- It’s remote- there aren’t many places to eat or activities to do nearby
- On the Atlantic Ocean, so the waves can be brutal
Best places to eat in Sandbridge, VA
- Best Local Seafood Restaurant – Margie & Rays
- Best Brunch – The Bee & The Biscuit
- Best Strawberry Pickin’ Farm – Henley Farms
The next best beach in Virginia for kids is Cape Charles. I cannot say enough about the beach at Cape Charles in Virginia. It has to be hands down, the most family friendly beach.
It’s located on the Chesapeake Bay on the Eastern Shore, a peninsula that extends down from Maryland and Delaware and includes Virginia (it’s called the DelMarVa).
Cape Charles is full of white sandy beaches, which are hard to come by in Virginia; most of the beaches are filled with shells and aren’t pristine. The beach is located in a little section of the historic town, where most things are closed all winter and open only seasonally.
You’ll drive down the main road, Mason Avenue, to the very end and turn right to park along a divided street along the dunes and cross over one of the many beach accesses to choose your perfect spot along the bay.
The water laps up along the shore and it’s knee deep or waist deep shallow for at least a hundred feet out. When you have young kids, you want them to be aware of the dangers of water, but also feel safe enough to play and enjoy it.
Cape Charles beach provides that sense of safety with it’s shallow, calm water paired with white sandy beach that is perfect for sandcastles and swimming alike.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention any downsides to Cape Charles beach. Here’s what we view as the downside:
- No lifeguards, but it is calm so if you are supervising children it is no more dangerous than a pool or lake
- Seasonal. You’ll want to visit in summer or not much will be open
- On the Chesapeake Bay, so no ocean waves to jump or surf in
Activities & Things to Do in Cape Charles VA
- Beach day
- Jet ski
- Boat tour
BEST PLACES TO EAT IN CAPE CHARLES
While you’re visiting the beach for the day (or week), make sure to grab a bite to eat at one of these top notch dining spots.
This year when we vacationed in Cape Charles, I planned a schedule to try out as many eateries as possible so that I could give feedback for you. These local cafes and restaurants will leave you fat and happy.
You won’t be disappointed!
- Peach Street Books – for coffee
- Coastal Baking Co– for breakfast pastries
- Ambrogia Caffe – for a charcuterie board snack
- The Shanty – fried seasonal, local seafood
- Oyster Farm at Kings Creek– the best oysters on the half shell
- Deadrise Pies – grab pizza for dinner
- Brown Dog Ice Cream – for a cold treat
The warm summer sun and the cool ocean breeze make Jamestown Beach a perfect spot for families to relax. The water is shallow and calm, making it an ideal place for kids of all ages to play in.
Jamestown beach is located on the James River, not on the ocean, making is free of huge waves and riptides. There are also volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, and picnic areas on site to add fun to your family beach day.
If you’re looking for something more exciting than wading in the waves or tossing horseshoes, there’s plenty of that too! You can kayak past beautiful marshlands or take a jet ski out onto open water to search for dolphins.
It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old – Jamestown Beach is a beach day that will keep everyone entertained and enjoying themselves all day long. Everything you need is right here at the beach- food trucks, public restrooms, parking, shade, picnic tables, and the James River.
Let’s talk about the cons of Jamestown Beach:
- No lifeguards, but it is calm so just be mindful
- There aren’t many places to eat within walking distance
- On the River, so no ocean waves to jump or surf in
Finally on the Top 5 Beaches for Kids in Virginia lineup, Yorktown beach makes the list with 2 acres of beachfront and more for picnicking and walking along the historic area.
Located in Yorktown, Virginia along the York River (surprise), Yorktown beach has several small sections of sandy beach to play and swim at. You’ll want to get there early because it is a small beachfront and it fills up quickly with families, beach umbrellas and Bose speakers playing music for sunbathers.
We like Yorktown beach because like Cape Charles and Jamestown, it’s on not directly on the Atlantic ocean, meaning there aren’t as strong riptides and currents that make swimming dangerous.
The benefit of Yorktown beach is that you can walk right down the beach to grab lunch at Riverwalk restaurant or ice cream at Baskin Robbins. On Saturdays, there is a farmer’s market in the morning where you can grab a pastry, coffee, handmade jewelry or kombucha.
Yorktown is part of the historic triangle of Jamestown, Williamsburg and Yorktown so if you’re looking for something else to do, you can walk the battlefields or tour the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown.
As always, I have to mention the downsides to Yorktown beach:
- No lifeguards
- On the York River, so no ocean waves
- Crowds quickly- go early in the day to get a spot
Conclusion of Best 5 Beaches in Virginia
That wraps up our list of the top 5 beaches in Virginia if you have children. At these beaches you can swim, picnic or have a food truck lunch, build sandcastles and soak up the sun.
While they are best enjoyed from May to September, the weather in Virginia is mild. While you may not want to swim in November, you can certainly walk the beach with a sweatshirt and then grab dinner at a local eatery.
Recap of the Top Kid Friendly Virginia Beaches:
- Virginia Beach Oceanfront
- Sandbridge Beach
- Cape Charles
- Jamestown Beach
- Yorktown Beach