By Barbara Noe Kennedy. Cover photo by Tom Saunders via Flickr
Admittedly, beaches aren’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Virginia, the land of Civil War battles, country villages, and the hazy Blue Ridge. But with more than 7,000 miles of coastline—including a scenic network of rivers and estuaries, the formidable Chesapeake Bay, and the meandering Atlantic coastline—Virginia offers an amazing number of sandy escapes to enjoy. From popular Virginia Beach to the remote Tangier Island, reachable only by ferry, here are seven of the best beaches in Virginia to pitch your umbrella.
The far-flung Northern Neck peninsula, east of Fredericksburg, is a salty realm of historic villages, oyster farms, historic sites, and wide, open beaches. Here, tucked-away Colonial Beach on the Potomac River, believe it or not, has the second-largest waterfront in Virginia. Spanning more than 2 miles, it boasts five different beach fronts. Downtown Beach is where the action’s at, with food trucks, waterfront restaurants, souvenir shops, and outfitters offering stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, and waterskiing. The beach areas further north and south of downtown are quieter. Sunrises and sunsets are spectacular everywhere.