Most people have heard of Virginia Beach, and other Virginia beaches are on the rise for name recognition, too. However, there are “local” beaches that are easily accessible and remain fairly hidden gems. No doubt, a number of our readers will be familiar with some of these and think we’re crazy for calling them “hidden,” but for the majority of Virginians (and of course, visitors), these aren’t top-of-mind locations when one considers going to “the beach.”
Consider these the next time you’re ready to day-trip or head out for a weekend and want a little sand between your toes. See the map below.
* Note: Some beaches may require a nominal entrance fee.
CHESAPEAKE BAY BEACHES
Cape Charles Beach is a free public beach on the bay side of the Eastern Shore of Virginia. The locals position this beach as a great one for moms, thanks to the lack of serious waves and clean “wading pool” water.
Cape Charles Beach
Chesapeake (Chick’s) Beach is “the beach” for Virginia Beach residents. Bayside, the waves are minimal and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel dominates the landscape. Parking is on-street or fee-based at nearby First Landing State Park or Lynnhaven Boat Ramp.
Chesapeake Beach and the 17.6 mile Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Photo by CameronDavidson@CameronDavidson.com.
Grandview Beach is within Grandview Nature Preserve. On-street parking and beach access are free. Don’t forget that this is a nature preserve; please follow “leave no trace” practices. Pets are prohibited April 15 to September 15. No biking.
The Ocean View Beaches are where some of the Norfolkians go when they want to cool off. Free, public access is easy to find, restrooms are tidy, and food is nearby.
Outlook Beach can be found on the Chesapeake Bay at Fort Monroe, and is perhaps Hampton’s best kept secret. Summer lifeguards are on duty; dogs are prohibited May 15 to September 15.
JAMES RIVER BEACHES
It’s amazing how few people know about Jamestown Beach. Located next door to Jamestown Settlement, this large beach park offers concessions, shaded picnic areas with charcoal grills, observation pier and more.
Historic Port of Falmouth Park in historic Falmouth has a popular beach area. Parking is available, as are picnic tables and portable toilets. Swimming is at your own risk; be aware of high water and slippery rocks. Also, wear shoes as fishing is popular here as well (no one wants a hook in the toe).
There are two lakes at Sherando, but only one is for swimming. Spread out on the warm sand and take a dip when you get too toasty. You can also camp, picnic, fish, kayak, or hike at this U.S. Forest Service-managed area.
Philpott Lake has 100 miles of shoreline. Surely there’s a beach or two for your enjoyment, right? Of course! These locations charge a day-use fee for non-campers.
- Goose Point – South side of the lake; 63 camp sites.
- Horseshoe Point – North side of the lake; 49 camp sites.
- Salthouse Branch – North side of the lake; 89 camp sites.
BUGGS ISLAND / KERR LAKE
Buggs Island Lake / John H. Kerr Reservoir is Virginia’s largest lake and offers many opportunities for beach-goers.
- Buffalo Park – North side of the lake off Route 58; 21 camp sites.
- Ivy Hill Park – South side of the lake off Route 825; picnic areas, portable toilets and day-use fee.
- Longwood Park – South side of the lake off Route 15; 66 camp sites.
- North Bend Park – North side of the lake off Route 4; 244 camp sites.
- Palmer Point Park – South side of the lake off Route 4; picnic areas, portable toilets and day-use fee.
- Rudds Creek – North side of the lake off Route 58; picnic areas, flushing toilets and day-use fee.
North Bend Park Beach
VIRGINIA STATE PARK BEACHES
Virginia’s state parks are riddled with lakes, including the big ones like Smith Mountain Lake and Lake Anna. Check out these parks with beaches (also pinned in blue on the map below)!