Way back during the long, cold days of winter we booked a trip to sunny destination. We didn’t want to drive too far – our two year old is notoriously bad at enduring any amount of time in her car seat – and we wanted to keep the overall cost low. We settled on Virginia Beach, which included the added bonus of being able to see our dear friends who moved away earlier this year.
We didn’t realize how much we missed living on the coast until that first sunset! That, paired with the James Taylor/Chicago cover band we were treated to at dinner set the tone for the rest of the trip in the best way.
We booked our stay for four nights at the Hilton Oceanfront Virginia Beach hotel. It was a decent stay, with our favorite amenities being the live bands (for me), rooftop pool (for Nate and the kids), a Starbucks within just a few steps, and of course the beach just out the door and across the boardwalk. Across from the hotel were a few cute little stores full of beach themed trinkets and goodies for the home – one such being partially devoted to mermaid themed trappings – and a few frozen yogurt/ candy stores. This hotel gets an A+ for location, but more like a C+ or B- for cleanliness. The first room we were given was filthy and I’ll leave it at that. They moved us without a fuss to a north-facing room with perfect views up the beach, down at the band stand (which I loved because we had music to fall asleep to) and with great views of the sunset to the left and sunrise to the right. In short:
- Book a NORTH- or EAST-facing room (North-facing will hear music till 10pm on weeknights though)!
- Bring your own washcloths (or get them from the gym, as housekeeping will remove yours but never replace them – we weren’t the only guests with this issue).
- The hotel gives a discount for military, but not if you book via a third-party site (ie Expedia).
- Hotel guests get free chair rentals but all other beach seating costs extra.
- Kids (under 5?) eat a buffet breakfast for FREE, our 9 year old ate for $10. (Our server was extremely kind and let Nate and I eat for free at the same rate as diamond/platinum rewards members, otherwise it’s $18/adult).
- Get to the rooftop pool early as once noon rolls around there is NO seating left.
- This hotel has two restaurants – Catch 31 and Salacia – with gorgeous beach views that don’t get busy until 630p or later. Food at Catch 31 is alright.
The game plan
With three full days to relax and unwind from the stress of life, we immediately took to the beach, where we also spent most of our first day. Once it was theoretically nap time (which didn’t happen) we headed inside, got some lunch, then explored the cute little stores just out our front door. When the sun began to set and the weather became a perfect 80 degrees and breezy, we rented one of these Flintstone bikes/Pedi-cabs for $25/hour. Shout out to Nate for doing all the pedaling! 😜 We ended the night at All American Yogurt, which had the best tasting FroYo I’ve ever had PLUS, they give military discounts! Best flavors:
- Peach medley
- Cookies & Cream
The second day was for the pool – the rooftop pool! I couldn’t get enough of the views from the 21st floor and Nate and the girls loved going from the indoor pool, to the outdoor pool then into the hot tub for hours! We arrived just after breakfast, maybe 10am and had our pick of lounge chairs. Nate and little one left early (she actually napped!) then the big girl and I left a few hours later at about 2pm feeling very relaxed, and very sun-burnt!
As a result of said sun-burn, we spent the last full day indoors as much as possible. First stop was breakfast. We wanted to try Citrus, a restaurant recommended to us by our dear friends, but at 10am on a Friday, we were way too hungry to wait an additional 30 minutes for a table. Instead, we went about a minute up the road to a place I was familiar with from my years living in Ohio, First Watch. This one was different though; rustic, weathered wood, wrought iron and Edison bulbs filled the open space, with a menu that rivaled any of the farm-to-table, slow-food, hipster joints that we loved when we lived in California. Following a big and delicious breakfast, we headed to the mall, Lynnhaven mall to be specific, not to be confused with the other 5 or so malls this area boasts.
Tips for your VA Beach stay
- For military: all of the places we shopped by our hotel and at Lynnhaven mall offered military discounts.
- Listen to live music each week night all along the boardwalk after 5pm.
- DEFINITELY wake up for sunrise (see pic below)!
- Stop at Colonial Williamsburg on your way in or out of VA Beach (coming from the north).
- The aquarium, Adventure Park, First Landing State Park and Cape Henry lighthouse are all highly rated and easily accessible from the coast and can be done in the same day as beach/pool day.
- Head further inland to Norfolk for the Botanical Gardens (which I want to see!), outlet mall, and Children’s Museum. If you’re a military history buff, tour a battleship at Nauticus!
It was a great trip but by the end of it, the little one was vacationed out. Four nights and 3 days is definitely a good amount of time for a two year old to be away from home and out of their comfort zone. Let me know if you’ve tried any of these activities, restaurants, or stayed in this hotel below in the comments!