Please help me plan a beach week for the kids
May 6, 2013 3:56 PM   Subscribe

I would like to take the kids to the beach for a week, but really don't know where or how to start planning. Location, type of housing, best weeks, is it too late for 2013? Please help!

I've only "been to the beach" a couple of times, so just can't get over the getting started hurdle. Please help!

Location: We live in Northern Virginia. The obvious choices are the eastern shore of Maryland (Ocean City, Rehobeth, etc.) but stories of bay bridge traffic turn me off. Are there other locations within a reasonable drive? We'd like to be walkable to the beach, dinner, and maybe a videogame arcade, but avoid serious commercialism and crowds. Rehobeth is probably our speed, but I don't want to ignore other options just because I happen to have been to Rehobeth.

Kids: two boys, 5 and 8. Not too adventurous, but loved the beaches we went to on a cruise this winter. They would enjoy visting an arcade in evenings to play driving games.

Housing: House or condo would be ideal, rather than hotel, because we need at least two bedrooms and would like a kitchen. It would be nice to have wi-fi as well, so can I do some work (and help finance the trip). What should I expect to pay for this? How do I go about finding it?

Ideal vacation: beach for a couple of hours, a couple hours of reading, nice food at places we can take the kids some nights. Cabanas/umbrellas/shade are a must for Mr. Coffeespoons, who tends to skin cancer.

Price: We are comfortable financially, but a bit frugal and don't want fancy or extravagant. Sorry I can't be more specific without experience.
posted by Measured Out my Life in Coffeespoons to Travel & Transportation (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Look into Duck, NC or Kitty Hawk. There are real estate agents who specialize in beach rentals. For several years we rented houses about a block or two off the beach with a small pool. There are mini golf places with arcades, family friendly restaurants, etc. Pretty easy to get to from NOVA too.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 4:10 PM on May 6, 2013

Consider Virginia Beach. It's super walkable and very pleasant. I've recommended it before on Ask, but the Cutty Sark is a sort of amazing little inn that would meet your needs. The efficiency rooms might be okay for your whole family, and they also rent apartments.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:12 PM on May 6, 2013

Just go to Rehobeth, its the closest, and it's great for all of those things. If you want to head a little further out, try Cape May in New Jersey. Cute low key beach town.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:26 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh and try (vacation rental by owner) Or AirBnB--your best deals will be renting a house/condo from the owner rather than hotels.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:28 PM on May 6, 2013

Duck and Kitty Hawk are great and would absolutely meet your needs, but if you're afraid of Bay Bridge traffic, they're not for you. There is only one road into and out of the Outer Banks, and it CRAWLS on Saturdays with all the arrivals and departures.

I'd try VRBO for Virginia Beach, Rehoboth, or Lewes, DE.
posted by nkknkk at 4:44 PM on May 6, 2013

Rent a house at the Outer Banks. We've rented from these folks 4 or 5 times and never had a problem.
posted by COD at 4:45 PM on May 6, 2013

We've had great vacations on the outer banks, but be _very_ careful with riptides.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 4:53 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: There is really no way to get from Northern VA to the Atlantic Ocean in under 6 hours that doesn't involve a bridge that is a major choke point for traffic in the summer. So either grin and bear it, or go down the night before and crash at a Holiday Inn Express on the other side of the offending bridge.
posted by COD at 4:58 PM on May 6, 2013

And in terms of timing, it's probably already high season at most Mid-Atlantic beaches as schools are out or getting out in the next week or two. So you'll be paying summer rates anywhere you go. On the off chance you homeschool the kids and don't have to worry about school schedules, wait and go South to the Outer Banks after about Sept 15. It'll still be plenty warm, rates will be about 50% off, and you'll have 100 yards of beach to yourself in Corolla NC. We did it that way every year we went.

If you have to go in the summer, staying in a Condo sound side on the Outer Banks will save you a lot. The downside is you'll have to load up the car and drive 5 minutes to get to the beach every day.
posted by COD at 5:08 PM on May 6, 2013

Whatever you do: go the night before your rental begins, and stay at a motel close to the final location. You'll beat oodles of traffic that way and have close to another full day at the beach.

NC beaches are awesome.
posted by barnone at 5:24 PM on May 6, 2013

Best answer: I'm another one fond of the Outer Banks, specifically Duck or Corolla, NC, about a dozen miles north of Kitty Hawk: it's a very family-oriented area.

One thing to consider though, since you have two smaller kids: consider a "Sound Side" house rather than an "Ocean Front" one --- Duck and Corolla don't go in much for lifeguards, and the waves are much, MUCH lower on the sound side of the island than on the ocean side. (Try
posted by easily confused at 5:34 PM on May 6, 2013

Oh, and if you rent a house right ON the sound, you won't have that drive that COD mentions.
posted by easily confused at 5:37 PM on May 6, 2013

Response by poster: These are great tips everyone, thanks! I feel like we have a path for getting started now.

The outer banks seems most appealing at first blush, even though it's a bit longer drive. In terms of "sound" v "ocean front", a silly question - the sound side has beaches though, right? If so, it sounds perfect.
posted by Measured Out my Life in Coffeespoons at 5:47 PM on May 6, 2013

If you want to stay Oceanside at the Outer Banks we rented this house 3 times (I know the owner). No smoking - and pet friendly if you have a dog.
posted by COD at 6:08 PM on May 6, 2013

Oh yes, you can rent a house literally on the edge of the island, with beach right at the edge of your property. The sound-side sand strip isn't as wide as it is ocean-side, but still wide enough for sandcastles and such, plus as I mentioned the waves are way calmer.
posted by easily confused at 6:33 PM on May 6, 2013

Don't rule out New Jersey. Ocean City bills itself as family-friendly. There's HomeAway, in addition to AirBNB & VRBO, which has a listing like this (dates randomly chosen, you don't mention when you'd go?). Plus: arcade.
posted by knile at 6:26 AM on May 7, 2013

I'd vote for Myrtle Beach, SC. It is pretty touristy, but lots of options for family condo accomodations. You can get the Low Country Boil, which is a thing.

There's a boardwalk of sorts, and rides, and the beach.

I'm thinking about a long weekend.....
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:28 AM on May 7, 2013

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