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  1. Default Virginia Beach or Outer Banks

    Looking to visit one of the areas last week of June with family and do a condo rental - any suggestions as to which area is better and/or condo connections ?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default That Depends, Of Course

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    There is simply no generic 'best' answer to such a question. Otherwise one of those resorts would thrive and the other would shrivel up and die. Instead, they appeal to slightly different clientele. The Outer Banks are a bit less developed with access to more open stretches of beach, especially along the southern end of Hatteras Island and on Ocracoke Island. After all, much of the Outer Banks is part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Virginia Beach, on the other hand, is fairly built up with high rises, boardwalks, and proximity to a major urban and military area. Those characterizations are a bit of a simplification, but represent the basic choice you and your family have to make. There's no absolute right or wrong choice, just the one that best suits you.


  3. Default

    I've been to both of them several times. My personal preference is for the Outer Banks because I prefer the more natural looking, quieter kinds of beaches. However, I have lots of friends who like Virginia Beach better because of the various kinds of activities there. If you're going with kids, I'd guess they might like VA Beach better unless they especially love nature.

  4. #4

    Default I "third" that, with additional notes

    I am fortunate to be very familiar with both Virginia Beach (VB) and the Outer Banks (OBX).

    The main section of VB is indeed densely developed with high-rise hotels, TWO long parallel boardwalks (one for bicycles, the other for walkers and skaters), and with the normal "Jersey Shore" style range of T-shirt shops, pizza joints, arcades, and bars. Some feel that the "family fun" aspects gets put aside at night, as the bar traffic and noise draw complaints. The southern and western ends of VB, however, are of totally different character. The southern end, past Rudee Inlet and the Dam Neck Navy base, is called Sandbridge, and while there is a new-ish 5-story condo development, the remainder of about 4 miles of oceanfront is single family cottages, many in the rental pool. There are but a small handful of stores/shops at the northern and southern end, and most folks get around on fat-tired beach bicycles, available for rent by the week at the realty offices, as are sea kayaks and other beach/sound-side equipment and gear. Lifeguard-staffed swimming area are on each end, with the southern end being Little Island Park, a City of VB facility, and it has a fishing pier and a dedicated surfing section. Nature and the opportunities to experience it abound immediately south of Little Island where Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park occupy 10 miles of shoreline, all the way down to the NC-VA state line.
    The jewel of VB is the Bayside, fronting Chesapeake Bay, generally between Cape Henry (the southern rampart of the "Virginia Capes" forming the 10 mile-wide mouth of the Bay), and the southern end of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (CBBT). The area between Lynnhaven Inlet and the CBBT is mostly within the Ocean Park and Chic's Beach neighborhoods, and while this area is mostly full-time residents, some rentals remain. The Bay waters are calm (and safe for kids to be left largely unattended), shallow, and warm. The beach is wide and uncrowded (weekends excepted--gets a bit crowded near the many public access alleyways on weekends).
    Non-beach activities abound in the VB area: Harbor cruises from Waterside, in Norfolk, take you past Naval Station Norfolk, where at any given time at least one or two Nimitz-class aircraft carriers are berthed, along with the whole gamut of other Naval warships, Nauticus is a fine museum/educational attraction at Waterside, the WWII battleship USS Wisconsin is permanently berthed at Waterside, Williamsburg, VA and Busch Gardens + Water Country USA are about an hour west of the VB Oceanfront, and the Virginia Museum of Marine Science is right at Rudee Inlet beside the VB Oceanfront (the high-rise section).

    The OBX are about 2 hours farther south for those arriving from "Up Nawth". The less-dense, low-rise development is appreciated by many as a more natural beach experience, and by and large, it is. But, let me assure you, the northern part of the OBX can get absolutely jammed with vacationers. From Southern Shores all the way to Carova Beach, north of Corolla lighthouse, hordes upon hordes of families occupy huge weeklong rental houses and jam the narrow streets and roads with cars, bikes, and strollers. The section from Southern Shores south to Whalebone Junction at Nags Head is heavily-developed in the commercial sense with shops, eateries, fishing piers, and attractions. The whole of this "northern OBX" can become gridlocked on Saturdays and Sundays as roughly half of the many thousands of weeklong rentals "change over" on each weekend day, putting all of the arriving and departing traffic on the roads from roughly 10am to 6pm. This also makes the travel from and back to Tidewater VA, where most arrive from I-95/I-64, a high-traffic experience. The section known as South Nags Head, from Whalebone Junction to Coquina Beach, is low-rise and older homes and cottages and is much like Sandbridge up in VB, with a couple of piers and much more of a quieter family atmosphere. South of Nags Head is Oregon Inlet, and beyond OI are the villages of Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo, Avon, Buxton, Frisco, and Hatteras Village, set like a string of pearls among the dozens of miles of undeveloped Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Families equipped with 4-wheel drive can still drive on the beach at several points along Hatteras Island, though the NPS has recently instituted a permit system (fee charged) and has imposed generally tight restrictions as to this activity.

    Have fun planning and taking your Beach RoadTrip!


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