Last year we learned that, like camping in California, the best spots during peak seasons book up quickly. It’s a bit easier to find campsites out here – I don’t think I have ever had to log in at exactly 10am, seven months to the date I wanted to visit the campground, only to have the site already be booked. It’s not on that level of difficult, but it still requires advanced planning.
First Landing State Park is one of the most popular parks in the Virginia State Park system, especially in the summer. When we arrived, we could see why – it’s a beautiful park in an amazing location. In addition to the natural setting, the park is really close to Virginia Beach.
This time around, we decided to pack a little lighter, at least as far as food was concerned. Instead of bringing a cooler full of perishables, we only brought breakfast, coffee, drinks and snacks. For the rest of our meals we “cheated: and dined at local restaurants, ate tons of ice cream, and purchased local seafood for an awesome crab boil back at camp. I think we both kind of liked this arrangement better than planning meals ahead of time.
For the second time since camping in our new (massive) tent-home, it rained. This time, it thundered and poured so hard that I thought our tent might blow away. When we woke up the next morning, our site had been flooded by all the rain (we remained dry). Despite the rain, the rest of the weather was perfect sipping beers in our hammock and laying lazily on our private beach. At night we built a huge campfire and enjoyed the cool ocean breeze under the bright full moon.
Definitely one of our most favorite parks we’ve visited on the East Coast.
First Landing State Park
Cost: $24/standard tent site, $34/site with electricity and water, $125/cabin
Tips: We stayed in Loop C which we reserved about 3-4 months in advance. The actual site was first come, first serve, and it was pretty full by the time we checked in around 2pm. The best, largest and most private sites are the ones located close to the beach access: sites 9-15. The other sites in C loop (1-8) are probably meant more for a trailer rather than a tent — most are very narrow with very little room to fit a tent. Loop B was probably the most crowded loop, and seemed to be the least private. The sites near the highway were hit or miss — many were spacious and secluded with no view of the highway, while others were visible from the main road. There are two sides to the campground: the sites to the right of the check-in station and those to the left. Because it’s a state park, many people that are not camping visit the beach accessible on the left side where the visitor parking is located. Thus, the beaches on the left side were a lot more crowded than the ones on the right that are closed off to campers only. Cabins are located across the highway.
Tautogs: Seafood/$15-$25 // Great seafood in cute converted bungalow. On weekends, get there early, a line forms outside by 5pm.
Bravos: Frozen Custard/$3-$5 // a little bit out-of-the way located in a strip mall, but worth the drive. Flavors change daily. Try the concretes, they were delicious!
Dockside Seafood Market and Restaurant // Located right on the water. We bought local crab, oysters, and shrimp from the market (we did not try the restaurant) and cooked it ourselves. Everything you need for a crab boil (along with a large selection of wines) is available for purchase. Great value and really fresh.
Virginia Beach: 10-15 min away, boardwalk, restaurants, shopping
Beach Access: multiple access points available, the most popular is accessed via the visitor center’s parking lot
Biking: lots of paved trails and a great way to explore the park. Bikes can be rented from the visitor’s center/store