August 1, 2013

24 Hours In… Virginia Beach

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While Montauk becomes the Tulum via Williamsburg of the Eastern shore board, we craved an Americana get-away that was untouched by faux hipness and found it in Virginia Beach.



7amRise and sunrise. Keep the blinds open so you can wake to the sunrise over the Atlantic. Roll out of bed, open the double-balcony doors and take in the fresh sea air, while your loved one brews fresh coffee in large kitchen in the a-joining room. After overdosing on chic boutique hotels, it’s nice to stay in a large apartment hotel room at the Oceanaire.


8amEmbrace resort life. Stroll down the boardwalk towards the Hilton – a stomping ground for locals and tourists alike. Grab pecan studded-waffles at its outdoor restaurant Catch 31. Take your tablet and plan the maps for the day. Although Virginia Beach is lovely, its charm is as a resting spot for beauty in surrounding area.

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9amDrive! Norfolk, Suffolk, Cape Charles:  all beautiful areas worthy of a visit. But opt for the splendour that is Chesapeake Bay. The drive over the Chesapeake Bridge-Tunnel – the largest bridge/tunnel in the world – is a surreal marvel with views that make you feel like you are flying over endless ocean.  It is truly otherworldly and the closest thing we might have to space travel on earth.


10:30 amMarsh-on. The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States and because of that it has marshes with views and wildlife that make you forget email, twitter, Instagram and Facebook – all true signs of a good vacation. Located behind an unremarkable tourist rest area, is an easy (romantic) hike through the Cape Charles Natural Area Preserve.


12 pmBikes on the beach.  After all the driving you’ll want to get moving.  Rent bikes along the boardwalk and stop for ice cream at the old-school Dairy Queen before off-roading it slightly.

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1pmPast-lunch. Bike the backside of the boardwalk and discover the most impressive thing about Virginia Beach: the historically rich Cavalier Hotel on the Hill. Stars from F. Scott Fitzgerald to Bette Davis stayed at the hotel in its heyday. The hotel is still a ghost-like homage to those forgotten years. Though the Cavalier on Hill has very limited seasonal hours, we managed to sneak in for a peak before heading across the street for a salad at The Breezeway café in the slightly newer Cavalier hotel.


3pmRelax on repeat. Head down to the beach to read and tan. Stick close to the hotel so that you can have easy access to the pool/hot tub grotto at the Oceanaire. Order a margherita and eavesdrop on conversations. A nap back in the apartment wouldn’t be the worst idea…


6pmVirginia is for lovers. The best wedge salad and prime rib/lobster of your life is nestled deep in an unassuming neighbourhood. Steinhilber’s is unironic old school. A discovery  even as the oldest restaurant in Virgina. It’s a hidden, multi-roomed luxe cabin, over a bay, with white Christmas lights that cast a romantic glow on you and yours, as you sip a side-car while a tuxedo-clad waiter accommodates your every food desire.


9pmRock stars. As the night winds up (or down), head to the classic local bar Jewish Mother where Frank Black of The Pixies might be playing a casual show to a room of only 50 or 60 fans. Things like that just don’t happen in Montauk.


*All images courtesy of Nadia Litz