BEACHES VIRGINIA

Pre-Memorial Day at Virginia Beach

May 28, 2014

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Maybe it’s true that if you really really reallllly want something, the Universe wants it for you too. Or maybe I unknowingly used one of my three wishes on beach time. I had been dreaming about going to the beach for months, then waited too long to make reservations for Memorial Day, then just didn’t want to deal with the hassle, the crowds, the traffic, etc.

Whatever the case, this trip to the beach fell out of the sky in a way that never seems to happen. Just when I had given up on the whole beach idea, at least until later in the Summer, Sly came home and said he was going to Virginia Beach for work and asked if I wanted to tag along. One day turned into two and a half and just like that, out of the blue, we had ourselves a last-minute trip to the beach.

I have only ever camped at Virginia Beach, technically First Landing State Park, so staying an oceanside motel with a balcony/view of the beach felt totally luxurious. As much as we love beach camping, since we were staying in town we were able to explore new restaurants, vintage coffee shops and hippie holistic centers.

One of our first stops was Edgar Cayce’s Association for Research and Enlightenment. Edgar Cayce has been deemed the “father of holistic medicine” so being hippies at heart, we decided we would check it out. Sly ended up getting one of the spa treatments while I roamed the grounds, tried my best at meditating in the meditation room, and spent way too much time in the gift shop reading about native american animal guides. The gift shop would be what I call non-denominational hippie — there was something for everyone in there – crystals, books, stones that I think had mystical powers, sun chips. Definitely a place to spend a good half hour.

We spent the majority of our time walking along the beach, eating seafood, or just relaxing on our balcony with a cup of local coffee. For the most part we kept our sliding doors wide open. One night we went out and ate a boatload of seafood but our last night we decided to stay in — we searched around for some hippiemarts — of which Virginia Beach has a surprising amount of — and settled on some pre-made salad bar take out from Whole Foods. Those always seem to be my favorite meals — something simple and healthy eaten on a private balcony with a beautiful view.

DETAILS

STAY //
Holiday Inn Oceanside – mid-week, and just off season (before Memorial Day) seems to be the best time to stay in Virginia Beach. Way less people and the rooms were significantly cheaper.  I recently checked the rate of a similar room as ours and it was nearly 3x the price during an official Summer weekend. Now I know why we always end up camping. We usually would not pick a chain hotel to stay but since this was for a work trip our options were limited. That being said, this was a great hotel with enough character to make it unique. All the rooms were updated and all of them had balconies with views of the beach. There was an indoor pool (with a beach view), an attached ‘tiki lounge’ that had all kinds of great happy hour deals, and most importantly it was literally steps from the beach.

EAT//
CP Shuckers – Seafood. Sports Bar. // We were looking for a place where we could get simply prepared fresh seafood and found CP Shuckers. They have great deals during the week/happy hour but we opted to split the massively huge Neptune’s Platter. This place definitely has a sports bar vibe with a mix of frat boys playing corn hole and older folks (like us) stuffing their faces with seafood. We sat outside, enjoyed the weather, and ate lots of seafood, which is exactly what we wanted to do.
Belvedere Coffee Shop – Diner // You really cannot beat coffee in a tiny vintage diner right by the ocean. This was a really well-maintained, authentic diner–from the food to the waitstaff to the decor–it’s as if nothing had changed in the past 50 years. The hotel it’s attached to is equally cute and vintage and definitely the type of place I’d choose to stay on my own if not part of a business trip. It’s recommended to get to the diner early since it’s so small there can be a line outside.
Bad Ass Coffee – Coffe Shop + Cafe // I would have never guessed this to be a chain coffee shop — located off the strip in converted house in a more residential area the moment you walk in it feels as if you have stepped into any given coffee shop in a more tropical environment. The menu features healthier options as well as some gluten free and paleo items. We took our very strong (and delicious) dark roast coffees and breakfast back to the hotel and ate on our balcony but there seemed to be plenty of seating in the shop otherwise. I really liked this place, would definitely come back.

DO//
Virginia Beach – this kind of goes without saying. I loved watching the beach come to life in the early mornings.
Edward Cayce’s A.R.E. — We are pretty open minded and embrace a lot of holistic principles, but I’m still not 100% sure about this place — like I couldn’t tell if this was a Scientology type of place or what. I just do not know enough about Edward Cayce or his beliefs to say for sure. But at face value, this place was really awesome. They have a spa/wellness center where you can get all kinds of treatments. There is also the main visitor’s center where you can take free yoga classes, free meditation classes, attend a (free) lecture, visit the library, watch films, go the book store, walk around the gardens, walk a labyrinth, visit the meditation center, etc. I went to the meditation room which had a beautiful view of the ocean and was decorated with panels of vivid stained glass. Maybe it was the power of suggestion but I really did feel a moment of calm upon entering that room. From what I gathered these services (check online for a current schedule of activities) are for everyone, you do not need to be a member or even necessarily ‘believe’ in this sort of thing. There was nobody pressuring me to take “stress tests” or forcing pamphlets into my hands about how I was doomed to Hell if I didn’t join. If you’re the least bit interested in this sort of thing, I would recommend visiting. And if you’re not, at least get a spa treatment.

SHOP (aka a list of Hippie marts) //
Heritage Natural Market – probably the largest of the independent hippie marts that we found — a full service holistic grocery store complete with organic produce, wine, frozen section, etc.
Teddy’s Health Food Market – closest natural food store to the beach, smaller selection with an area dedicated to books/reading.
Whole Foods — pretty much everything you’d expect from a Whole Foods, including an attached restaurant.

CAMPING AT VIRGINIA BEACH

Previous camping trips to First Landing State park here and here.

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