Virginia is for Mothers
May 31, 2013 10:19 AM   Subscribe

Mom and I are going to Virginia beach in early August. Please help me narrow down the huge selection of beachfront hotels & things to do!

Mom and I usually day-trip to the Jersey shore, but she hasn't been on a vacation-vacation in a while. This year, I want to take her on a mid-week beach holiday to Virginia Beach this August. It's drivable from where we are, so she doesn't have to worry about flying. We were there about 15 years ago, and she still talks about the cute outdoor concerts and the boat that shot fireworks off.

Most VA Beach vacation guides and recommendations that I've seen are for families with small kids or for romantic couples. I'm a 40-year-old woman and Mom's sixty-(cough), so we're not looking to paint the town red. We'll be spending the mornings/early afternoons on the beach for certain.

I'd like some recommendations for a clean and friendly beachfront hotel and some ideas for things to do at nights or if it rains. Mom likes the above-mentioned cute outdoor concerts, boardwalk shopping, and "lively" things. We're not outdoorsy, hike-y people. Mom follows a gluten-free diet as well, so if you have any favorite GF places, I'd love to know that too. She doesn't mind chain restaurants, either.

Thank you!
posted by kimberussell to Travel & Transportation around Virginia Beach, VA (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
If it's not too expensive, I love the Hilton at Virginia Beach.

We go many times the first weekend of October when prices get way, way cheaper than the summer rates but it's still warm and summery most years. It can be crazy expensive over the summer, though. It's a really nice hotel, literally on the beach, has good parking, and is walkable to everything. The rooms are wonderful and we've always had a great time there.
posted by lyra4 at 10:27 AM on May 31, 2013

I always recommend it on threads about VA Beach, but the Cutty Sark really is pretty great. Especially if you have trouble finding gluten-free restaurants (I'm a little worried about that) and need to cook in your room.

Assuming you can find gluten free there, Terrapin is quite possibly the best restaurant I've ever been to. And Pacifica is a nice little tapas place right around the corner from the Cutty Sark. I bet they could accomodate gluten free.

For a rainy day activity, the aquarium is very nice.
posted by hydropsyche at 10:53 AM on May 31, 2013

The beach is close to Seashore State Park, a short drive north, which is a swampy area with elevated trails.

I wish I could tell you more; I grew up there (close to a garbage-dump-turned-state-park called Mount Trashmore, about 20 minutes from the beach), but haven't been back since the Monitor fought the Virginia. Most of my memories are based around being a middle-schooler on a BMX bike, so unless you want to hit the Aladdin's Castle arcade (which is probably long gone from Lynnhaven Mall), I've got no idea what else to tell you.
posted by Sunburnt at 10:54 AM on May 31, 2013

The outdoor concerts and fireworks are still very much a thing on the oceanfront. Wandering around at night there are usually street entertainers, as well as multiple clubs, a 24 hour mini golf an so on. If you decide to stay somewhere you can cook there is a Whole Foods, Trader Joes and Heritage Natural Market nearby.
posted by Requiax at 11:30 AM on May 31, 2013

I used to live in Va Beach (also near Mt. Trashmore). I enjoyed the drive to Pungo--in the far SE corner of Va Beach...and the state of Virginia. It was a nice way to get away from traffic and crowds and feel like I was in the country again. There were at that time--17 years ago--some good restaurants especially for seafood. And I bet there are more today. So you might consider a little diversion to Pungo some evening for dinner. Disclaimer: Pungo might not be quite and rural anymore.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 11:36 AM on May 31, 2013

I also haven't lived there in decades, but a nice day trip would be the Williamsburg Pottery. It's about a 1-1.5 hour drive.
posted by MexicanYenta at 12:14 PM on May 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

I am pretty sure it's gluten-free, but check before of course if you go, but I really like the frozen custard they have there. I think it's Kavel's frozen custard. get the peanut butter flavor! You will think you want to mix PB and chocolate, but the chocolate overpowers the PB too much. They have several stands up and down the boardwalk.

The boardwalk itself is fun. You can rent bikes and have easy rides on the flat boardwalk, or just go for a walk.
posted by shortyJBot at 12:16 PM on May 31, 2013

Another mefi who grew up near Mt. Trashmore. I don't know of any specific GF places but the Pembroke area (around Independence Blvd & Virginia Beach Blvd) has a bunch of nicer restaurants at the mall ( and at the Town Center (
posted by bluesapphires at 12:34 PM on May 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

Not to keep milking good ol' Mt. Trashmore, but you will probably drive by it on your way in. The Virginia Beach Expressway, which connects I-64 to the beach (and parallels the not-at-all-expressway Virginia Beach Blvd, an 8-lane monster arterial), passes to the north of Trashmore (which is an anomalous hump of green in a flat area) and from it you can see the wonderful huge Commonwealth of Virginia Seal displayed on that side, made of painted stones.
posted by Sunburnt at 7:21 PM on May 31, 2013

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