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Road School Results: Virginia Beach

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I recently set out on a super-last-minute trip with one goal in mind: to enjoy a typical east coast beach trip before the arrival of autumn.  It was the actual last week of summer–well after Labor Day, which typically marks the end of beach season–and I wondered if I was too late to make my beach dreams come true in 2013.  Yet to Virginia Beach I drove, with a hopeful heart and a back seat full of beach chairs.

I’m happy to report that my beach trip was everything a beach trip should be.  During the course of a three night stay, I managed to:

Have dinner on an outdoor, beachfront patio.  I did a very little bit of research before arriving in Virginia Beach–after all, the trip was booked less than 24 hours in advance.  But there is one thing I will always find time to Google–restaurant reviews (even if that Googling takes place via iPhone enroute).  Which is how it came to pass that I spent my first night and my first meal in Virginia Beach on the patio at Waterman’s Surfside Grill, a hopping little spot on 5th street and the boardwalk.  They have valet parking, fabulous drinks (I had a Ruby Red ‘Crush’, though apparently the original Orange ‘Crush’ is the more popular option), and seafood that put my New England seafood shack memories to shame.  Ok maybe not really–that seafood shack was pretty amazing.  But still–the food was really good.  Which brings me to my next beach requirement….

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Eat a lot of seafood.  By my third night in town, I actually sought out a highly recommended Latin American restaurant–Mojitos–to force myself to have something other than shellfish.  Though that is hardly fair, considering I’d had the appetizer portion of my meal at Big Sam’s, a little shack-like structure on the inlet.  And said appetizer was the best clam dish I’ve ever enjoyed.  But more on that later.

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Browse beach-themed crap.  My vision of a typical beach boardwalk is one lined with stores selling hermit crabs and offensive t-shirts.  Thus, I was a little surprised (and delighted) to not find that in Virginia Beach.  No, to find the crap, you have to leave the boardwalk and walk half a block inland to Atlantic Avenue.  Here you will find all of the beach crap of your beach crap dreams.  I don’t every buy anything–it’s just nice to know that it is there.

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Do a little day drinking.  What’s a beach vacation without a beverage, right?  And I found just the right place to have that beverage–Rudees on the Inlet, an absolutely adorable little beach front restaurant and cabana bar that I am certain I will return to every single day on my next trip to Virginia Beach.  Stay tuned for a more detailed post to come–Rudees was so great it deserves its own feature.

Sit outside and listen to live music.  This was actually the first thing I did upon arrival; after driving for almost eight hours, I threw my things in my lovely room at The Belvedere Beach Resort and headed south on the boardwalk to Catch 31.  Totally unplanned, I arrived at the exact right time to actually get a seat at the bar before the place got packed in anticipation of the band that was playing in adjacent Neptune Park.

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Burn things.  From the sunburn on the skin on my nose to the sand-burned bottoms of my feet, at no point did I think ‘brrr, it’s cold here in mid-September’.  In fact, the water was warmer than the air at night.  Looking for a late season beach escape that doesn’t require a flight from the northeast?  Virginia Beach is a darn good bet.

That’s a lot of summery, beachy activities if you ask me.  However, there were a few things I did not manage to fit in: I did not have ice cream, I did not have french fries or pizza, and I did not go for a bike ride down the boardwalk.  But the reason I did not do these things had nothing to do with the time of year–they had to do with my short visit and my slow metabolism.

In fact, visiting in the sort-of off season had more than its share of benefits.  It wasn’t scorchingly hot.  Nowhere was crowded; I had lunch (with no wait) on the beautiful outdoor patio at Catch 31 at an oceanfront table that would surely be in high demand in July or August.  And best of all–there were very, very few children.  No one ran past me on the beach, kicking sand in my eyes.  No one boogie boarded into my shins.  All the little children were right where they belonged on a Monday in mid-September–sitting at their desks in their classroom.

I think I’ll go to the beach every September from now on.  And maybe in May, too.  Perhaps July as well, just to mix things up a bit…

Many thanks to David at  The Belvedere Beach resort for hosting me during my three nights at Virginia Beach.  

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