Hampton Roads is a fantastic area for spring break, whether you’re looking for a vacation or staycation. The natural beauty of the area guarantees plenty of activities for the wildlife enthusiast or avid trail-goer, while the coastal location means tons of tourist activities. Southeastern Virginia is also the home of countless historical cities and landmarks that make it hard to go anywhere without learning something if you’re from out of town. As both a Hampton Roads local and broke college student, here’s my list of favorite vacation spots that are actually fun and affordable.
1. Hang out on the Boardwalk
For us locals, the Oceanfront Boardwalk probably the location of many childhood memories. A typical tourist trap, walking around the boardwalk is scenic and fun. With several shops, great food, and plenty of ice cream shops there are plenty of ways to spend the day. The boardwalk also features a bike lane and a fishing pier. The great thing about the boardwalk is that it’s totally free unless you want to grab a bite to eat or pay a small fee to fish off the pier. The only downside here is that parking can be a nightmare and even if you can find a spot within 3 blocks, it’ll set you back around $15. If you don’t mind spending a few bucks, there are also plenty of bars and clubs that make it easy to transition from soaking up the sun to painting the town. Local or here for the break, the boardwalk is a tried and true spot whether you’re looking for a relaxing day in the sun or a day of fun activities. Don't forget to check out the Neptune statue!
2. Got to Colonial Williamsburg
One of the greatest things about Hampton Roads is the rich history located here. Colonial Williamsburg is a popular area for history buffs, school trips, or a nice vacation. There are several historical shops and attractions that vary in affordability, but colonial Williamsburg itself is completely free to see and explore. Merchant’s square is a retail village in Colonial Williamsburg that features specialty shops, eateries, and clothing stores that are great for a day out with the girls or just window shopping. Whether you’re looking to spend $100 or $0, a day at Colonial Williamsburg is never boring.
3. Go to the beach
And by the beach, I mean the real beach: Sandbridge. For many locals, this is the only acceptable beach for actual sunbathing and swimming because the oceanfront can get a little dirty and overwhelming at times. While it’s great for walking around and grabbing an ice cream, not so great for actual swimming. Sandbridge is located just southeast of the Red Mill are of Virginia Beach, meaning it’s in the middle of nowhere. I guarantee it’s worth the trek. Located adjacent to the Back Bay Wildlife refuge, beautiful scenery, tranquil beaches, and cleaner water means an altogether great experience. Sandbridge is also farther south of the Chesapeake Bay, which means slightly cooler water and usually less jellyfish. If you go during the week it’s pretty easy to find a parking spot you won’t have to pay for. Sandbridge is the place to be for a perfect beach day, and all for free! If you don’t mind spending a bit on lunch, however, Margie and Ray’s on Sandbridge road is on the way down to the beach and is the perfect spot for a late lunch.
4. Visit the Eastern Shore
Not technically Hampton Roads, the Eastern Shore of Virginia is close enough to make a day trip and have some fun. While there are many opportunities for shopping (Chincoteague is home to its own wine, fresh oysters, and many local artists) and tour cruises, it’s possible to spend the whole day visiting historical landmarks or exploring the great outdoors. If you’re lucky, you’ll run across some of the wild ponies that call the Eastern Shore their home. For normal two-axel, four-tire vehicles the toll you’ll encounter for the Chesapeake Bay Bridge is $12 there and $5 on the way back. While the toll is a bummer, the sight from the bridge is worth the drive and gives you a glimpse into the natural beauty of the Bay and the Eastern Shore.
While it’s a short list, each area is full of fun and relaxing possibilities that will make spring break in the 757 one that you won’t forget anytime soon.