Virginia Beaches & Water Adventures

Virginia Beach is just the beginning. Discover the fun of swimming, kayaking and fishing Virginia’s beaches, rivers and lakes, many near Washington, DC.

Sandbridge Beach near Virginia Beach
Sandbridge Beach, 5 miles of pristine beaches south of the Virginia Beach resort area
A relaxing moment along the Virginia Beach oceanfront
Virginia Beach boardwalk
Virginia Beach's three-mile boardwalk includes a separate bike path, making it ideal for strolling, rollerblading or biking
James River rafting in downtown Richmond
Rafting the James River through downtown Richmond
Sailing the Eastern Shore Bay
Sailing along Virginia's Eastern Shore
Tangier Island Ferry
Take a cruise to Virginia's secluded Tangier Island, where natives still work the waters and talk with an Elizabethan twang
Sandbridge Beach near Virginia Beach
Virginia Beach boardwalk
James River rafting in downtown Richmond
Sailing the Eastern Shore Bay
Tangier Island Ferry

With hundreds of miles of coastline, Virginia offers a large collection of beaches near Washington, DC, the most famous of which is Virginia Beach. Sunbathe while lying on the soft, sandy shore, parasail above the ocean below or take part in the thrilling rides and non-stop entertainment of the boardwalk. Go fishing, boating or waterskiing along one of Virginia’s major rivers, or visit one of the area’s beautiful mountain lakes, ideal for a romantic getaway or family adventure.

Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach is comprised of three distinct areas: Chesapeake Bay Beach, the resort beaches, and Sandbridge Beach. Each offers its own unique character, making it easy for visitors to choose their preferred type of beach vacation.

For a lively party atmosphere, hit the resort area, whose expansive boardwalk is packed with cafés, performers, rollerbladers and cyclists, as well as a 24-foot statue of King Neptune. For a quieter, more serene getaway, head to either Chesapeake Bay or Sandbridge Beaches. Both beaches are known for their pristine shores and beautiful state parks, making them ideal destinations for nature lovers.

If visiting Chesapeake Bay Beach (one of the closest to Washington DC) go hiking, kayaking or boating through the tranquil lagoons and marshlands of First Landing State Park, site of one of America’s earliest colonial settlements. At Sandbridge, take in the rolling sand dunes from Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge or False Cape State Park, both stunning sanctuaries of unspoiled natural beauty.

Virginia Rivers & Lakes

With thousands of miles of rivers, lakes and streams, Virginia offers endless recreational opportunities for water lovers: boating, fishing, white-water rafting and more. Paddle your own canoe or kayak, or enjoy a sightseeing cruise along the banks of local rivers.

Explore the lush natural beauty of the Shenandoah River, which winds its way through quaint towns and along the famous Shenandoah National Park. Within the James River, anglers can cast their lines for catfish, bluegill, and smallmouth and largemouth bass.

Both the Shenandoah and the James are also favourite river rafting sites, making them ideal destinations for any adventurer. For a relaxing interlude, enjoy a fishing, boating or camping excursion to Smith Mountain Lake near Roanoke, known as the “Jewel of the Blue Ridge Mountains”.

The Chesapeake Bay Region

Spanning 180 miles, the Chesapeake Bay offers some of the closest beaches to Washington, DC and extends south through Virginia, highlighting the interconnectivity of the Capital Region’s ecosystem. The inlets lining the Virginia coast provide a wealth of recreational and educational opportunities.

Go swimming, fishing or boating at any number of waterfront locations, including the beautiful Belle Isle State Park, whose acres of wetlands are home to innumerable species of wildlife. Fishing and sailing charters, learn-to-sail companies and kayaking outfitters are available to enhance your Chesapeake Bay travels.

To learn more about those who depend on the bay for life and livelihood, stop by the Reedville Fishermen’s Museum, which examines the history of local boatmen. Or, take a cruise to the secluded Tangier Island, where natives still work the waters as in days of old, and even talk with an Elizabethan twang – a by-product leftover from the island’s earliest settlers.

Whether planning to visit beaches, bays, lakes or rivers, you’ll find the Capital Region is full of waterways to discover. Explore outdoors and nature attractions throughout the region.

Attractions & Family Fun
Outdoors & Nature