For beachfront fun, outdoor recreation, arts and culture, and family-friendly attractions, you can’t beat the coastal vibe of Virginia Beach. With 28 miles of sandy beach fun and 38 miles of shoreline, Virginia Beach is the longest pleasure beach in the world.
That’s according to the Guinness Book of World Records, so you know it must be true. The three-mile Virginia Beach Boardwalk is popular with walkers, runners, bicyclists, and in-line skaters.
Located on the Atlantic Ocean, where it meets the Chesapeake Bay, Virginia Beach is the largest city in the Hampton Roads metropolitan area and the largest city in Virginia. The resort city has loads of luxury hotels, resorts, budget-friendly options, bed and breakfasts, and vacation rentals with ocean, bay, and boardwalk views.
Enjoy the sandy shores of Chic’s Beach (on the Bay), Sandbridge Beach, and the main area of Virginia Beach and the boardwalk. The area hosts a wide array of festivals and events that range from 5Ks, seasonal light shows (you get to drive on the boardwalk for that one), patriotic parades, USO experiences, craft shows, food and wine festivals, and music events such as VA Beach native Pharrell Williams’ Something in the Water music festival.
Speaking of celebrities and musicians, Missy Elliott supposedly owns a home there (and it was featured on MTV Cribs) and Marvel’s Hulk, Mark Ruffalo, grew up in the area. Now, you probably won’t see any of them walking down the boardwalk, but wouldn’t it be cool if you did?
Popular attractions in Virginia Beach include the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, the Neptune Statue, the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, and First Landing State Park, which is located near Cape Henry and the site of the 1607 arrival of the Jamestown colonists from England.
Let’s get started discovering the best areas to stay in Virginia Beach!
TLDR; Our Favorite Accommodation in Virginia Beach
Best Areas to Stay in Virginia Beach
- Best area for first-timers/tourists – North Boardwalk
- Best area for budget travelers – Inland
- Best area for luxury travelers – Town Center District
- Best area for safety – Chic’s Beach
- Best area for families – Sandbridge
- Best area for nightlife – Oceanfront Boardwalk
- Best area for culture/history – ViBe Creative District
Where to Stay in Virginia Beach
1. North Boardwalk: Best Area For First-Timers/Tourists
On the boardwalk, but further north from the lively atmosphere of the main boardwalk area, North Boardwalk is a terrific area if you’re wondering where to stay in Virginia Beach first time. This area is near the main attractions of the beachfront and the boardwalk while being convenient to areas like Chic’s Beach, Inland, and the Town Center District.
As a frequent visitor to the Virginia Beach oceanfront, the North Boardwalk is my favorite area. I enjoy visiting in the winter months when there are fewer crowds, the boardwalk is less congested, and you still have those stunning ocean views. Here is a summary of the top things to see here:
- Bring your bike, or rent one, to take a leisurely ride along the boardwalk. The boardwalk has a separate lane for cyclists, which makes it nice for those walking with small children. We can’t guarantee you’ll see Missy, Mark, or Pharrell, but let us know if you do.
- Visit the Navy SEAL Monument at 38th Street on the boardwalk. Sculpted by Seward Johnson, it features a demolition-team swimmer atop a black granite and stone base. The monument was a collaboration between the Navy SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, FL and the City of Virginia Beach.
- Hit the beach where you’ll find a less crowded strand of sand than at the south end of the beach.
- Visit otters, eels, sea turtles, sharks, seals, and more at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center.
- Pose for a family pic at the Neptune Statue at Neptune’s Park along the Virginia beach Boardwalk. Neptune’s Park often has live music and other events.
- Enjoy fine dining at the Cavalier Virginia Beach hotel. Restaurants at the historic Cavalier Hotel include the Hunt Room, Becca, and Raleigh Room.
- Take a day trip to the circa 1792 Cape Henry Lighthouse and First Landing State Park.
There are several hotels, resorts, and family-friendly options in the North Boardwalk area of VA Beach. Accommodations include oceanfront hotels like the Four Sails Resort, the Oceanaire Resort Hotel (which has four oceanfront pools), and the Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront.
Another option is the historic Cavalier Hotel, which isn’t oceanfront but has its own beach club with a beach bar, a swimming pool, and a hot tub (free shuttles escort guests to and from the hotel). Choose from guest rooms with a private balcony, free Wi-Fi, family rooms, or luxurious rooms.
Families will particularly enjoy the Holiday Inn & Suites Virginia Beach for its indoor lazy river, hot tub, outdoor pool, on-site restaurant, and kids’ play area. Guest rooms have private balconies and free Wi-Fi. It’s one of my favorite oceanfront hotels in Virginia Beach.
To help get you started with your planning, here are some recommendations for places to stay:
See Related: Virginia Beach vs Ocean City: What’s the Difference
2. Inland: Best Area for Budget Travelers
If you’re wondering where to stay in Virginia Beach on a budget, you can’t go wrong with the Inland area. Dining, farmers markets, family-friendly attractions, outdoor recreation, and shopping at Lynnhaven Mall and the Shops at Hilltop are all convenient to the beachfront area (which is approximately a 20-minute drive).
This area is just off Interstate 64 as you’re headed to the Virginia Beach Boardwalk. Here are some of the best things to do in the Inland area:
- Visit the Virginia Beach Farmers Market for fresh veggies, organic fruits, fresh-caught seafood, artisan bakery items, and much more.
- Go running, walking, hiking, and relaxing at Mount Trashmore (60 feet high and 800 feet long). Aptly named, it’s built on a former landfill (a 640,000-ton pile, to be exact). The 165-acre park is a sister park to Haginodai Park in Japan. There are two playgrounds, two lakes, multi-use pathways, and a skate park.
- Make a day of it at Back Bay Brewing’s Farmhouse Brewery. The restored 1912 farmhouse offers local brews and cider. There are tasting rooms, food trucks, a farmers’ market, and a 1.5-acre garden with blueberries, hops, figs, and others that are used in the brews. Play ladder golf, bocce ball, and cornhole.
- The Ocean Breeze Waterpark is perfect for a day of sliding and splashing about in wave pools, lazy rivers, and water slides.
You’ll find a variety of budget-friendly hotels and resorts in the Inland area of Virginia Beach. Hotels offer amenities such as a seasonal outdoor pool, laundry facilities, a business center, free parking, and a sleeper sofa. If you do decide to go with luxury for a family vacation, the Founders Inn and Spa is one of the best hotels in Virginia Beach for luxury travelers. Here are our recommendations for the best Inland hotels:
3. Town Center District: Best Area for Luxury Travelers
Luxury travelers will appreciate the variety of arts and culture, dining, shopping, and entertainment found in Virginia Beach’s Town Center District. Located in the heart of the central business district, Town Center comprises 17 blocks between the beachfront and downtown Norfolk. These are the top things to do in the Town Center District:
- Take in a concert, ballet, or symphony performance at the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts.
- Watch shows by local writers and artists at Zeiders American Dream Theatre.
- Spend an hour or two laughing at the Funny Bone Comedy Club and Restaurant.
- Dine at Italian, Irish, sushi, steak, and gourmet dessert restaurants.
- Shop till ya drop at boutiques, art galleries, and designer stores at Town Center.
One of the hallmarks of luxury travel is the convenience of entertainment and attractions. Virginia Beach hotels such as the Hilton Garden Inn and the Westin Virginia Beach are located among the restaurants, shops, bars, and theaters of the Town Center District.
The Town Center District offers some of the best hotels with amenities such as luxury linens, antique furnishings, a private balcony, a business center, an adults only infinity pool, and a rooftop pool. Here are some of the best hotels in the area:
See Related: Best Beaches in Virginia to Visit
4. Chic’s Beach: Best Area for Safety
While most areas of Virginia Beach are perfectly safe for families, groups, and business travelers, we’ve picked Chic’s Beach for its gentle waves, laid-back atmosphere, and natural setting.
Located on the Chesapeake Bay, Chic’s Beach is set on two miles of sand between the Lynnhaven Inlet and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. This local and off-the-beaten-path area is north of the main boardwalk scene. Here are the top things to do in the area:
- Take a day trip across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel to Kiptopeke State Park or Cape Charles. The 17.6-mile series of bridges and tunnels opened in 1964 (replacing a ferry system). Many find this bridge anxiety-inducing because of its length (you can actually lose sight of land). Now, I, personally, love bridges, so it’s a must-do for me. It’s one of my favorites, and I recommend giving it a try. Conquer that fear!
- Head to First Landing State Park for kayaking, fishing, birdwatching, and hiking trails.
- Sip and sample local wine at Mermaid Winery (4401 Shore Drive).
- Norfolk Botanical Garden, approximately 10 miles from Chic’s Beach, offers a variety of gardens, plants and trees, special events, and educational programs. There’s also a seasonal butterfly garden.
- The 53-acre Virginia Zoo, which opened in 1900, is home to more than 700 animals. It’s a terrific way to view and learn about lions, cheetahs, tapirs, tigers, and bearded dragons.
Hotels in Chic’s Beach range from budget-friendly options to bay-front hotels and family-friendly resorts. Here are a few options of the best Virginia Beach hotels near Chic’s Beach:
5. Sandbridge: Best Area for Families
Sandbridge is located along the same coastline, and near, Currituck Banks Peninsula in the Outer Banks. But, no you can’t drive there. There’s a fence at the border.
Sandbridge is about 30 minutes south of Virginia Beach’s main boardwalk area. The area is quieter and offers a secluded beachfront vibe that’s perfect for a family vacation.
You’ll still have those ocean views and sea breezes. These are the best things to do in Sandbridge:
- Walk the trails and look for migrating birds at Back Bay National Wildlife Reserve. You’ll find False Cape State Park nearby, which is a serene and secluded spot for kayaking and biking.
- Jump waves and build sandcastles along the Sandbridge beachfront.
- The Military Aviation Museum features one of the world’s largest collections of military planes still in flying condition. Check out World War I and World War II planes from Germany, Italy, Russia, and the U.K.
- The Sandbridge Fishing Pier is a terrific area for fishing, swimming, and sunbathing. There are restrooms, showers, and picnic tables.
- Take the kids to Hunt Club Farm. The local farm has a petting zoo, pumpkin picking, plants, and local products like jams and jellies.
- Gather the crew and visit the local agricultural (farmland meets seascape?) area of Pungo with its pick-your-own farms featuring blueberries, strawberries, and other produce.
Wondering where to stay in Virginia Beach with kids? Sandbridge offers an array of vacation rentals, ocean view beach cottages, and family-friendly hotels with complimentary breakfast, room service, and outdoor pools as well as a heated indoor pool, fitness center, and an on site restaurant. Here are some of our favorites:
See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Norfolk, Virginia
6. Oceanfront Boardwalk: Best Area for Nightlife
Virginia Beach’s three-mile-long boardwalk offers a wide variety of restaurants, hotels, resorts, and entertainment options. Venture about a block off the Virginia Beach Boardwalk and you’ll find more nightlife venues.
It’s worth mentioning that while you’ll find hotel restaurants along the boardwalk, you’ll have to venture back a block to the area around Atlantic Avenue and Pacific Avenue for pizza parlors, pancake houses, ice cream stands, candy shops, and the typical tourist t-shirt and souvenir shops. These are the top things to do in the Oceanfront Boardwalk area:
- Listen to live music at Abbey Road Pub & Restaurant, Calypso Bar & Grill, Tortuga’s Café & Tiki Bar, or Oceans 14.
- Enjoy fresh seafood at Waterman’s Surfside Grille, Rockafeller’s, Big Sam’s Raw Bar, or Doc Taylor’s.
- Go fishing at the VA Beach Fishing Pier.
- The Virginia Legends Walk, located at 13th Street on the boardwalk, features plaques honoring Virginians who have made an impact on the nation. Names include Patsy Cline, Edgar Allan Poe, President George Washington, Captain John Smith, and more.
- Check out bird decoy displays at the Atlantic Wildfowl Heritage Museum. Built in 1895, the structure (known as the deWitt Cottage) is the oldest remaining private building on the boardwalk.
- Book fishing charters, whale-watching excursions, parasailing, kayak tours, or dolphin-watching trips at Rudee Inlet.
- Discover the history of VA Beach’s lifesaving professionals and maritime history at the Virginia Beach Surf & Rescue Museum.
- Enjoy ocean breezes along the Virginia Beach Boardwalk.
- Indulge your inner child with go-karts, midway games, and rides at the Atlantic Fun Park (located just a block back from the beach on Atlantic Avenue).
- Nightmare Mansion is a year-round walk-through haunted maze (you can’t miss the big scary scene on the corner building). The haunted attraction is in its 33rd season and also features an escape room (Escape Nightmare Mansion).
A beachfront hotel is one of the best hotels, in my humble opinion. And the Virginia Beach oceanfront offers some of the best. Whether you seek a heated indoor pool, an on site restaurant, a fitness center, or indoor and outdoor pools, you’ll find a wide array on the Virginia beach oceanfront.
There are several luxury hotels with private balconies, fine-dining restaurants, rooftop bars, direct beach access, and live music, as well as budget and mid-range hotels like the Residence Inn by Marriott, which is near the Hilton Vacation Club Oceanaire Resort Hotel. Turtle Cay Resort is on Atlantic Avenue and within walking distance to sand, surf, and the Doubletree by Hilton Hotels beachfront hotel.
Here are some of our suggestions for the best hotels with ocean views, a rooftop infinity pool (that would be the Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront), and an oceanfront room on the Virginia Beach Boardwalk:
See Related: Best East Coast Vacation Spots in the US
7. ViBe Creative District: Best Area for Culture/History
You’ll find sculptures, memorials, and murals all around the VA Beach area, but the ViBe district has the word “creative” in its name, so we think that’s a good place to start. It’s the best place to stay in VA Beach for fans of art and creative expression.
Murals throughout the area were created by local artists. Here are some of the best things to do in the ViBe Creative District:
- Go shopping at The Alley for custom-made bags and hand-painted artwork, and boutique items
- Dine on organic and locally grown products at The Heath, Commune, Esoteric, or the Beach Bully.
- The Old Beach Farmers Market, about a block from the Virginia Beach Convention Center, is in the parking lot of Croc’s 19th Street Bistro. Purchase baked goods, fresh fruit and vegetables, and local meats and cheeses.
- Peruse fine art, photography, paintings, and sculptures at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art.
- Take a walking tour to see all the ViBe District murals. You can see all of them within a one-mile radius. Throughout the area, you’ll find several coffee shops and cafés.
Anchor your artistic and cultural vacation by staying near access to sites in the ViBe District. Whether it’s a bed and breakfast, a budget-friendly hotel, or a luxury hotel with ocean views, a fitness center, an indoor pool, or a rooftop infinity pool, the ViBe District is the perfect place to stay in VA Beach. If you decide that you want to stay in this area, here are our top recommendations:
Where is a good place to stay in Virginia Beach near the boardwalk?
You’ll find a wide array of luxury, mid-range, and budget hotels to suit the whole family along the boardwalk and the Atlantic Ocean. To be near restaurants, shopping, and attractions, choose a hotel in the middle or southern end of the boardwalk.
What is the best area to stay in Virginia Beach?
If you’re looking for the best area to stay in Virginia Beach, think about your interests. For nightlife, you’ll want to be near the boardwalk. The ViBe Creative District and Town Center are the best places to stay in Virginia Beach for fans of art, culture, and boutique shopping.
What are the best neighborhoods to stay in Virginia Beach?
Virginia Beach offers several areas for travelers with various interests. For beach bums, choose the boardwalk, Sandbridge, or Chic’s Beach. If you prefer a quieter vibe on the beachfront, but with easy access to the boardwalk, the north end of the boardwalk is your best bet on the Virginia Beach oceanfront.