Virginia is for Beach Lovers: Weekend Guide to Norfolk, Virginia Beach and ChesapeakeBy Jodi Thornton O’Connell
Stretching more than 200 miles to the Atlantic Ocean, Chesapeake Bay is famous for its seafood, scenery and wildlife. Although there are enough activities to keep you busy for weeks on end, the Chesapeake Bay area is ideal for savoring a long, relaxing weekend vacation away from everyday life.
As always, check for travel restrictions and closures before planning your trip.
Day 1: Virginia Beach, Virginia
There’s no better place to kick off your long weekend than where the country’s first settlers made land in Virginia Beach. Stroll along the sandy shoreline to First Landing Beach. Stretch your legs with a hike into the maritime forests of First Landing State Park. Grab some Instaworthy photos in front of the two Cape Henry lighthouses, which are some of the oldest in the country.
Enjoy looking out over the ocean as you enjoy a Tin Smash cocktail or sunset dinner at Tin Cup Kitchen + Oyster Bar. The eatery serves up fresh seafood and coastal cuisine, as well as captivating views. Be sure to try blue crab, one of the most plentiful sea creatures originating in the Chesapeake Bay.
Delve into the local nightlife: Stroll west from the hotel to rub elbows with the residents of the Chic’s Beach neighborhood of seaside cottages and multilevel homes while you dance the night away to local bands at hot spots like HK on the Bay, Calypso Bar & Grill, and Hot Tuna.
Day 2: Norfolk, Virginia
Surround yourself with the scent of flowers at Norfolk Botanical Garden, Virginia’s largest botanical garden. Meander through a native wildflower meadow or get heady on the aroma of thousands of rose bushes.
Check out your favorite animals — including local wildlife — at the Virginia Zoo. Meet Luther, a baby tapir — a whimsical animal that looks like a cross between an elephant and a pig and is striped like a watermelon. Go on a behind-the-scenes adventure where you can get face-to-whiskers with a moon bear or other select animals.
Day 3: Chesapeake, Virginia
Round out your long weekend with some back-to-nature time in Chesapeake. Bring your selfie stick when you visit Chesapeake Arboretum. Eight picturesque bridges and an 1830s farmhouse make memorable backdrops for vacation pics. Three miles of trails wind around a lake and through native forest. Trailside trees have labels to let you identify each species.
In warmer seasons, spend the afternoon picking fresh strawberries at Hickory Ridge Farm or paddle along Lake Lesa in Northwest River Park on the northern edge of the Northwest River Natural Area Preserve.