I know lots of people just rave about Virginia Beach, but I have to admit myself... disappointed. I'm sure it's great if you can afford a nice room in one of those fancy new places on that boardwalk and already know which are the good dives, and your favorite thing is to bake to medium-well in the summer sun. However, for a nice little daytrip from somewhere else, I saw nothing to entice me back. Parking was horrible and expensive, with a long walk to the actual sand. All of the boardwalk places looked alike- no character, nothing special, all chains (or too sterile to make any nevermind), shops were packed with bikes to rent, to the point you couldn't see what was for sale (if you could park close enough to go into a shop at all.) Forget something when you're on the sand? There's hardly any shops or anything on the boardwalk itself- you have to walk another block, through tunnels through the fancy hotels, to get to anything. There was one shop on the board near our stretch of sand- and it was quite a hike. No others in sight, up or down the walk. You have to cross the bike road to get to the sand at all, and hope you don't get run over, all day long. I saw a few glimpses of character left- only one of the once-ubiquitous haunted houses, for example. But mostly its been knocked down and rebuilt into Anybeach, USA. Inconvenient Anybeach.
The beach itself was OK, but not great. The sand was full of straw for some reason, and hadn't been sifted at all, so there was a lot of trash debris. I know some folks want the sand to be white, but to me, sand is yellow, and Virginia Beach is yellow, so no biggie there. There was a good number of people, but it could have been worse. No shells, but then, OC doesn't have shells anymore, either. That was one thing I remember from California that was so wonderful- you could really collect seashells. Not just shell scraps and bits, but whole shells. Very cool.
The boys did well in the surf, and had a grand time. We let them run about until they were tired enough to volunteer to leave. Joey immediately regretted his decision and spent the rest of the trip trying to convince us to return to the surf.
We were impressed by the Virginia Zoo. The main part of the zoo is open and the animals are more free-range, so they wander about and seem very happy. The lion area has windows right on the level with the cats, so they are walking right at you! Even with so much torn up, being remodeled, built,and rebuilt, there was plenty to see.
My sunglasses turned out to be the big hit of the trip, though. Very fashionable.
All in all, and my apologies to Va Beach fans, but we saw no reason to go back. Its fine if, like this trip, we're down there for other reasons and want something to do, but as a destination?
We'll take Ocean City, all the way.