There’s no better way to soak up that glorious late summer sun than with an all-day excursion to Virginia Beach’s Chesapeake Bay Beach. Located just 15 minutes from the city’s Resort District, it’s the ideal mini-getaway. Here are four essential stops.
If there’s anything that makes waking up early worthwhile, it’s an oyster farm boat tour with Pleasure House Oysters. Book a morning tour, and set out on the gorgeous Lynnhaven River. With Captain Chris Ludford as your guide, learn all about the process of growing and harvesting oysters. And don’t forget to bring your appetite: Ludford (or one of his compatriots) plucks the fruits of the sea right out of the water and shucks them for you to sample. (And if you find a pea crab tucked into one of your shells, celebrate — they’re considered good luck!) An insider tip: on the way back, ask Ludford to show you around the waterways to see the colorful local architecture, including musician (and Virginia Beach native) Pharrell Williams’s home.
Refuel with a “Local” Lunch
Just a five-minute drive from the boat tour’s launching point, Bay Local Eatery is the ideal place to grab lunch back on dry land. The bustling spot serves up “Coastal Southern” breakfast-and-lunch dishes like fried chicken and waffles, or the “Willis Wharf Special” omelette (with a house Rockefeller mix inside and topped with hollandaise and fried oysters). The menu also features cold-pressed cocktails, including a decadent “Bloody Blue Mary” (a signature spin on the classic Bloody Mary, but topped with soft-shell crab). But the best part of the place might be its ambiance: the joint is a clear local favorite, and is owned by a charming husband-and-wife team.
Climb Your Way to the Best View
Located on the nearby Fort Story military base, the Cape Henry Lighthouse is one of the oldest surviving lighthouses in the United States (completed in 1792) — and it also happens to have breathtaking views of the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean. The good news? From 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (until October 31), visitors can climb to the top and take in all the sights—and take all the Instagram photos.
Sample Local Brews
Like Bay Local, Commonwealth Brewing Company is another favorite in the Virginia Beach community—and it’s easy see why. Located in a historic (yet recently renovated) fire station, the family-owned brewery boasts an expansive beer hall with 28 taps and an outdoor beer garden. And make sure to check the brewery’s calendar when planning a visit—Commonwealth often hosts local food trucks, like the excellent Hashi Food Truck, where chef Ross Riddle combines Virginia foodways and Asian cookery.