Travel Guide Virginia Beach: What to do, eat and see

Best hotels Virginia BeachWith my sister’s birthday on the horizon and knowing she’s an avid country music fan, Virginia Beach seemed like the perfect getaway for a surprise sister birthday trip. Not only is Virginia Beach two easy flights from Toronto or an 11-hour drive, it offers the perfect backdrop for a sister weekend away. With stretches of beach, great seafood restaurants and a fun little bar scene, it was the ideal backdrop for her birthday weekend.

We also happened to time our trip with the Beach It Country music festival, which took place right along the beachfront on the sand. Listening to music to the backdrop of the ocean was a truly unique and magical experience.

With headliners like Miranda Lambert, Luke Bryant and Thomas Rhett it was an unforgettable weekend, and this is coming from someone who prior to this, was not much of a country music fan. Though I have to hand it to all of the performers and the fans there, their enthusiasm definitely rubbed off on me, and I found myself dancing with my sister as much as some of the biggest fans in attendance. So if you’re planning a getaway to Virginia Beach, check out my recommendations below. 

Beach it Festival 2024 lineup

Photo Cred: Beach It Festival

Getting There: By Plane or Car

Virginia Beach is easily accessible from Toronto, with convenient flights or a picturesque 11-hour drive through scenic landscapes, passing through states like New York and Pennsylvania. On the way there, we opted to take a flight with a brief stopover in Washington D.C., before landing at Norfolk Airport. Upon arrival, a rental car awaited us, allowing us to explore this coastal haven at our leisure.

On the way back, we decided to take a road trip for 11 hours. We broke the trip up by spending the night in Pennsylvania due to a storm but we could have easily split up the drive and driven all the way through. There’s nothing like a road trip through beautiful country roads with your sister and your favourite music blasting. If you’re travelling with kids, a road trip may also be an easier option if you have a lot of luggage, and it would provide a memory that lasts a lifetime. 

Where to Stay

Hyatt Place Oceanfront

Hyatt Place oceanfront Virginia Beach stay

View from Hyatt Place Oceanfront

For a stay that perfectly blends luxury and convenience, we chose the Hyatt Place Oceanfront. Nestled along the endless stretch of pristine beach, this oasis provided seamless access to the Beach It Festival, making it the ideal home away from home.

With a prime location along the endless stretch of pristine beach, the Hyatt Place Oceanfront offers stunning ocean views and easy access to the Beach It Festival, making it the ideal home away from home.

The Hyatt Place Oceanfront boasts a range of well-appointed rooms and suites, each designed with modern comfort in mind. Our room offered breathtaking ocean vistas from a private balcony, where we could savor the sea breeze and soak in the coastal ambiance.

In the mornings, we enjoyed a complimentary breakfast, which offered a spread of fresh fruit, eggs, bagels and more. The Hyatt Place Oceanfront takes hospitality seriously, ensuring our every need was met. Like when we decided to walk back from Beach It Festival after hours of dancing and just wanted to kick back with a glass of wine on our balcony, they provided some nice options for us to choose from.

If relaxation is your goal, the hotel’s outdoor pool and sun deck provide the perfect setting to unwind while enjoying panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean. After a day of exploration, we found ourselves sipping cocktails at the on-site bar, a chic space that epitomizes beachfront elegance.

The Hyatt Place Oceanfront’s staff exudes warmth and professionalism, making us feel right at home from the moment we arrived. Their concierge service was invaluable in helping us navigate Virginia Beach’s vibrant dining and entertainment scene.

Where to Dine: Savoring Virginia Beach’s Culinary Delights

Virginia Beach boasts a culinary landscape that’s as diverse as it is delectable. Here are some gastronomic gems that made our trip unforgettable:

The Atlantic

3004 Pacific Ave, Virginia Beach, VA 23451, United States

This establishment is a seafood lover’s paradise, offering a diverse selection of oysters from various regions, shrimp cocktails, clams, and exquisite lobster tails.


1718 Atlantic Ave STE 103, Virginia Beach, VA 23451, United States

Harvest Restaurant Virginia Beach

Located at the intersection of 18th and Atlantic Avenue, Harvest tantalizes the palate with locally sourced, farm-to-table cuisine. A rooftop lounge adds a touch of sophistication to the dining experience.

Orion’s Roof

4201 Atlantic Ave, Virginia Beach, VA 23451, United States

Elevate your dining experience at Orion’s Roof, perched atop the Marriott Virginia Beach Oceanfront. With Asian street foods, sushi, and wok specialties, this venue offers epic views and memorable flavors.

Bay Local Eatery

972 Laskin Rd, Virginia Beach, VA 23451, United States

This coastal Southern eatery showcases the region’s finest produce, meats, fish, and seafood. Whether you’re craving fried chicken sandwiches or soft shell crab BLTs, this spot is a must-visit in Virginia Beach.


501 Virginia Beach Blvd Suite A, Virginia Beach, VA 23451, United States

Housed in an Art Deco-era building, Esoteric pairs an extensive selection of local brews with a stellar surf-and-turf menu, featuring dishes like charred octopus and Southern classics like pimiento cheese. Esoteric offers a really nice vibe and even better food.

What to Do in Virginia Beach

Beach It Festival 

Beach It Festival Lineup 2023 Virginia BeachAt the heart of our trip was the Beach It Country Music Festival. Held from June 23rd to June 25th, 2023, this festival transformed Virginia Beach’s serene shores into a musical extravaganza. The lineup featured some of country music’s biggest stars, including headliners Miranda Lambert, Luke Bryan, and Thomas Rhett.

The infectious energy of the performers and the backdrop of the calm ocean, the sea breeze, and the sand beneath our feet made this festival a standout experience. Even a sudden rain shower during Thomas Rhett’s set couldn’t dampen the spirits of the festival-goers and just added an extra layer of fun to the evening. If you’re a country music fan, I would highly recommend visiting Virginia Beach during the 2024 edition of Beach It Festival. It’s a one of a kind festival where the performers really do turn it up far more than during a stadium concert.

For those interested in attending next year, you can check out the festival’s official website here for details on the upcoming lineup and tickets. It’s an event you won’t want to miss!

While the Beach It Country Music Festival stole the show, Virginia Beach has much more to offer:

The Cavalier Virginia Beach

4200 Atlantic Ave, Virginia Beach, VA 23451, United States

Immerse yourself in history at this iconic hotel, which has hosted famous figures from Bob Hope to Bette Davis as well as ten U.S. Presidents. The hotel and the grounds have an old-world charm, and the food and cocktails are a stand out. It’s hands down one of the best martinis I’ve ever had when I ordered my go-to, a Hendricks Martini extra dirty. It’s nice to spend the afternoon here, grab some snacks, and watch the sunset on the patio. 

Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge

4005 Sandpiper Rd, Virginia Beach, VA 23456, United States

Find solace in nature at this sprawling refuge, encompassing 9,200 acres of dunes, marshes, wetlands, and pine forests. Encounter diverse wildlife while reveling in the refuge’s vastness. We went for a morning hike, and it was a great way to start the day, breathe in the fresh air and take in the scenery.

Pleasure House Oyster Farm Tour

Dive into the world of oysters with a boat tour on the Lynnhaven River. Learn about the legendary Lynnhaven Oyster and savor succulent bivalves. The tour is hosted by oyster farmer and owner Captain Chris Ludford and offers you a chance to explore the oyster farm and taste the oysters from the waters directly beneath you.

Dolphin Kayak Tour with Chesapean Outdoors

Experience the water like you haven’t before with this beautiful experience that puts you in touch with nature. Witness mesmerizing sunsets on the Chesapeake Bay while paddling alongside dolphins and taking in local landmarks. It’s a peaceful way to spend the afternoon, and I recommend booking this one beforehand.

Sanbridge Beach VA

Sandbridge Beach

Sandbridge Beach

No Virginia Beach visit is complete without some quality beach time. Whether you’re dipping into the Atlantic or trying water sports like skimboarding and paddleboarding, Sandbridge Beach promises relaxation and adventure. My sister and I spent the early afternoon here and cooled off in the water before returning to Beach It Festival. The beach wasn’t too busy and charming homes were nestled all along the water. Just note that if you do go, this beach has more of a local feel and you need to bring your own towels, chairs, etc.

Virginia Beach offers a blend of fun and seaside serenity, where delicious dining, natural beauty, and a world-class music festival converge. Pack your bags and embark on a girl’s getaway to Virginia Beach, where memorable moments await!