Summer flies by in the blink of an eye.
The kids are heading back to school soon, summer camps have ended and your chance to get your toes sandy by the ocean are becoming limited. So, as the summer comes to a close, here’s where you can spend Labor Day weekend (Aug. 31 to Sept. 2) and that last taste of summer freedom, as you soak up the sun.
Estimated travel time from NoVA: 2 hours
Heading to the coast doesn’t have to mean a lengthy car ride for the family. Commit to a sub-three-hour route to Colonial Beach to get your Labor Day vacation in, and you’ll find everything on your relaxing weekend checklist: ocean views, fresh seafood and quiet time.
The location was named the Best Virginia Beach by USA Today in 2018 and is the second-largest beachfront in Virginia. The area is known for its jaw-dropping sunrises and sunsets, but also for its calm and quiet places to stay (look for local Airbnbs as hotels fill up closer to the last weekend in August) and waterfront restaurants that feature everything from fresh oysters to beach-themed cocktails (Dockside Restaurant and Tiki Bar, anyone?)
And if you tire of spreading out your towel and getting some much-needed vitamin D, be sure to stop by George Washington’s Birthplace National Monument and James Monroe’s Birthplace Monument. Both offer a small representation of a piece of our nation’s history, and can be a great lesson for traveling kiddos who are used to the monuments of the nearby nation’s capital.
Estimated travel time from NoVA: 3 hours
Sometimes having a getaway to the beach isn’t just about going to the actual beach. It’s about all of the activities you can wrap up into a beach trip, including walking down the boardwalk, riding a roller coaster or trying your swing at a round of mini golf. Luckily, Rehoboth Beach is the place for all of the fun activities beyond getting sand in your toes.
The beach is a hot spot for visitors near and far in the Northeast, and is one of the top-rated for its water quality in the country. The 1-mile-long boardwalk showcases a variety of restaurants and, of course, ice cream locations to please everyone in the family. (Which will you choose: The Ice Cream Store, Kohr Bros Frozen Custard or The Best Ice Cream & The Bellyfiller?) Right off the boardwalk is also funland, a place where the name says it all. Kids of all ages can ride the SuperFlip 360 or get a good scare in the Haunted Mansion, and take a chance to play all of their favorite carnival-style games. Maybe you’ll head home with a new (stuffed) best friend!
For places to stay, be sure to check out all locations in the Rehoboth Beach area to stay in walking (or moderate) distance to the coastline. Airbnbs, as well as resort-style stays, are available, and if other travelers have booked up most of your go-to locations, you can also find available places south toward Dewey Beach.
Cape May, New Jersey
Estimated travel time from NoVA: 3.5 hours
One of the county’s oldest vacation destinations may just be the weekend oasis you’re looking for. Rather than expecting your trip to be centered around your kiddo’s favorite beach store (they most likely don’t need another seashell jewelry box and lifeguard sweatshirt), you can find yourselves walking down the streets of Cape May to enjoy the Victorian-style historic homes, all while being just a short distance from the white sand and blue water.
If you’re looking for a little more excitement on the water, be sure to rent a jet boat or jet ski that will have you flying fast on the water, or take your views a bit higher with an actual flight with East Coast Parasail. Want to take it a little slower? Hop on the Cape May Whale Watcher to cruise for a three-hour whale-and-dolphin watching expedition, or travel 2 miles away to see the Cape May lighthouse.
History doesn’t have to be something you simply gaze upon while you explore the town. You can also stay at local spots that are rich with the area’s history and offer a taste of Victorian style to your stay. Book a night at The Queen Victoria Bed & Breakfast, located right in the middle of historic Cape May, or book a room in Cape May’s oldest original hotel, The Chal Fonte.
Need more suggestions on where to spend your vacations in and around NoVA? Subscribe to our Travel newsletter, here.