Many people are familiar with the Virginia Beach area but seldom travel south to the quieter Sandbridge Beach in Virginia. When planning our family beach trip on the East Coast of the US, we wanted a family-friendly beach with access to vacation home rentals and a manageable drive from our hometown of Pittsburgh, PA. Sandbridge, Virginia was recommended by friends and family as one of the best east coast beaches for families.
With everything going on in the summer of 2020, Sandbridge Beach certainly met our expectations as the perfect family vacation destination. Keep reading for where to stay, places to eat and things to do in Sandbridge.
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Table of Contents: Sandbridge Beach Vacation Guide
Getting to Sandbridge Beach in Virginia
Sandbridge, Virginia is part of the greater Virginia Beach area on the east coast of the United States. It’s a 3 mile stretch of beach at the Northern part of the Outer Banks, above Corolla, NC. Virginia Beach is known for its boardwalk, nightlife and tons of other activities. Sandbridge, alternatively, is a more quiet, secluded beach with primarily house rentals and residential properties.
Many people choose to drive to Sandbridge, Virginia, but flying is an option as well. Norfolk is the closest international airport to Sandbridge, and Virginia Beach also has a small regional airport.
Where to Stay in Sandbridge, VA
There are hundreds of vacation rentals in Sandbridge, VA, most of which are family homes. Booking sites like AirBnB and Booking.com offer several Sandbridge vacation rental options. There are also two realtors in Sandbridge, Virginia that manage most of the condos and beach house rentals in Sandbridge, VA. (Sandbridge Realty and Siebert Realty.)
We went with Sandbridge Realty and were happy with the level of service and help we received in finding the perfect vacation home in Sandbridge Beach. We ultimately chose the Southern Comfort house from several Sandbridge beach house rentals. It’s a great 6-bedroom vacation rental in Sandbridge, with a private pool and several added features like a boat dock and game room. (Although full disclosure, the landscape and dock out back where not as well maintained as in the pictures.) While there are several Sandbridge house rentals on the beach, ours was located 2 blocks from the beach on Sandpiper Road with easy beach access.
If you’re looking for condo rentals in Sandbridge, VA Beach, there are also two large condo buildings available. Sandbridge Dunes is located at the entrance into Sandbridge and Sandbridge Sanctuary Condos are located on the southern side of the beach. If you’re searching for Sandbridge, VA hotels, you’ll find that there aren’t any hotels in Sandbridge. (One of the selling points for us!)
For more vacation rentals in Sandbridge, Virginia Beach, search here.
Things to Do in Sandbridge, VA
Wondering what to do in Sandbridge, VA? While the town itself is pretty quiet, there are several outdoor things to do in Sandbridge, VA in addition to the beautiful beach. Plus, the greater Virginia Beach area also offers several different activities if you’re looking for more things to do near Sandbridge, VA. Keep reading for more ideas below.
Sandbridge Beach, VA
The beach itself is the obvious draw for a family vacation in Sandbridge, Virginia. Compared to some other beaches I’ve been to, Sandbridge Beach is incredibly clean and flat. Given that there are no hotels in Sandbridge, VA, the beaches also don’t get very crowded. (Perfect in this new era of social distancing.) We were able to find tons of seashells and even spotted dolphins close to the shoreline one morning.
If you’re visiting Sandbridge for the day, there’s public beach access and restroom facilities near the entrance to town. Sandbridge beach parking is also available in a small parking lot.
Be sure to check Visit VA Beach’s official website for updated information on openings and restrictions.
Military Aviation Museum
The Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach is the perfect activity for the whole family, whether you’re with adults or looking for things to do with kids in Virginia Beach. It’s home to one of the largest private collections of WWI and WWII planes in the world. The entrance to the museum has a great gift shop area, and the main building is packed with history and artifacts from the world wars. You can also find original aircrafts from WWI and WWII in separate Army and Navy hangars.
We visited shortly after the museum’s reopening in June of 2020. It was very clean with mask wearing and physical distancing well enforced. For updated information on hours and admission at the Military Aviation Museum, see the website here. The museum is located at 1341 Princess Anne Road in Virginia Beach, 10 miles from Sandbridge.
Jerrasic Park at the Military Aviation Museum
Looking for free things to do at Virginia Beach? Be sure to also check out “Jerrasic Park” at the Military Aviation Museum. It’s an outdoor area with a walking path that takes you around several large statues of dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals. You can even get a dinosaur scavenger hunt (also free) at the museum’s gift shop to learn about and search for the dinosaurs as you go. It was a little too rainy when we were visiting to walk through the whole thing, but the kids loved seeing the dinosaurs from the car.
Jerrasic Park is located at the entrance to the Military Aviation Museum. You can park at the flat area under the trees when you first turn off Princess Anne Road.
Kayaking in Sandbridge
With access to both the bay and the ocean, Sandbridge is the perfect spot for kayaking in Virginia Beach. Our Sandbridge house rental was located on the bay side of Sandpiper Road and came with a dock, so we rented a kayak for the week. If you’re looking for a place to kayak with dolphins in Virginia Beach, Sandbridge is also known for frequent dolphin sightings in the morning along the shoreline.
Ocean Rentals LTD offers Sandbridge kayak rentals, and they conveniently deliver them to your house for free. If stand up paddle boarding is more your thing, you can rent SUP boards through them as well. For more Sandbridge beach rentals, you can get beach chairs, umbrellas and carts delivered to your house from Ocean Rentals as well.
Golfing in Sandbridge
With access to so many different golf courses in Virginia Beach, Sandbridge is a great base to golf Virginia Beach from. The guys in our family went golfing at two different golf courses in Virginia Beach: Virginia Beach National Golf Club and Heron Ridge Golf Club. Both courses are 18-holes and open to the public. Virginia Beach National Golf Club is a par 72 course designed by Pete Dye, who is known for designing popular golf courses like TPC Sawgrass and Harbour Town. Heron Ridge is another challenging course with several water hazards, lakes and wetland areas throughout.
For more golf courses in VA Beach, search here.
Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge
We discovered Back Bay Wildlife Refuge when planning family pictures in Virginia Beach. While sunbathing is technically not allowed at the Back Bay beach, it’s a great option if you’re looking to explore the wildlife in Sandbridge, Virginia. There’s even a scenic walkway with a stroller-friendly path that goes from the parking lot to the beach. In addition to the beach, Back Bay is also known for fishing, hiking and bird watching.
The main parking at Back Bay Wildlife Refuge is located at 4005 Sandpiper Road. At the time of our visit, the visitor’s center at Back Bay was closed and fees were not being collected. (Typically the cost to enter Back Bay is $5 per car.) Be sure to check the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge website for up to date information on hours, access and entrance fees.
Family Pictures in Sandbridge, Virginia
With this being our first trip as a growing family on my husband’s side, it seemed like the perfect opportunity for family pictures with my mother in law. We opted to take our Virginia Beach family pictures at Back Bay Nature Reserve given the mix of ocean, sand dunes and greenery. The Sandbridge fishing pier is another popular place for family pictures in Sandbridge as well.
There are several Virginia Beach photographers available if you’re looking to do family pictures on your trip. We originally discovered Misty Saves the Day in our search for Sandbridge, VA photographers. With rainy days and schedule conflicts, however, we had to go with another photographer. She quickly put us in touch with Valerie Demo, an awesome Virginia Beach Wedding photographer. Valerie was great with the baby and toddlers, and we were able to get a number of pictures in a short amount of time.
More Fun Things to do in Sandbridge
Between a couple of rainy days and closures, we weren’t able to do everything we initially planned when booking our Sandbridge family vacation. There are so many fun things to do in Virginia Beach with kids (or without) that we’re excited to have even more reason to visit again. Below are a few Virginia Beach things to do that were recommended by family and friends for a future Sandbridge vacation.
- Visit the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center.
- See a minor league baseball game at the Norfolk Tides.
- Enjoy the nightlife, games and rides at the Virginia Beach Boardwalk.
- Tour the USS Wisconsin at Nauticus.
- Visit one of several breweries in Virginia Beach area.
Sandbridge, VA Restaurants
Given the quaint size of the town, there aren’t a ton of restaurants in Sandbridge, VA. A few Sandbridge restaurants, however, are close and even walkable depending on where your rental property is. Fortunately, there are so many great food options in the Virginia Beach area if you’re willing to venture out a little more as well.
Note: We also did grocery delivery on this trip and planned several meals at home. Instacart offers delivery from several local grocery stores, including Food Lion, Kroger’s, Aldi’s, Total Wines and more.
Baja Restaurant Sandbridge
Baja is one of the most popular Sandbridge restaurants and offers outdoor seating and live music. We were still a little weary of eating out with kids after things reopened, so we opted for takeout instead. I definitely recommend the seafood risotto and she crab soup, and the crab cakes were also delicious.
If you’re ordering takeout from Baja, be sure to call right at 5pm when they open. They don’t typically offer takeout past 6pm or so when they get busy. Full disclosure, we did have several issues with things missing from our order, but they attempted to quickly remedy it.
Baja Restaurant Sandbridge is located at 3701 Sandpiper Road, Virginia Beach.
Pungo Pizza and Ice Cream
Pungo Pizza was recommended to us as the best pizza in Virginia Beach. It’s a local gem a few miles from Sandbridge in the Pungo area. I definitely recommend getting the stuffed pizza at Pungo’s, but everything we had was great. Pungo Pizza doesn’t deliver, but they do offer takeout and dine-in.
Pungo Pizza is located at 1824 Princess Ann Road in Virginia Beach.
Bonney & Sons Seafood and Produce
This little shop offers steamed crabs in Virginia Beach, plus other fresh seafood options and local produce. It’s close to Sandbridge Beach and perfect for a seafood night at home. The crabs are caught each morning, so if you want to order I recommend calling right when they open at 8am. They will then give you a pick up time to get your food later in the day.
Bonney and Sons is located at 1793 Indian River Rd in Virginia Beach.
Sandbridge Sugar Shack
If you’re looking for ice cream in Sandbridge, this locally owned spot is right in town. We loved it so much that we went a few times during our trip, and there’s a large variety of ice cream flavors and milkshakes to choose from. During our Sandbridge beach trip, the interior of the ice cream shop was closed, but they were serving ice cream with masks from the entrance.
Sugar Shack is located at 2545 Sandpiper Road in Sandbridge.
Donuts at Sandbridge Seaside Market
The Sandbridge Seaside Market is a great local grocery store in Sandbridge that sells a variety of groceries, alcohol and necessities. In addition to the typical grocery offerings, this Sandbridge market is also known for having some of the best donuts in Virginia Beach. The donuts are made fresh daily and include a variety of flavors from glazed to cream filled and amazing apple fritters.
Sandbridge Seaside Market is located at 209 Sandbridge Rd.
More Restaurants Near Sandbridge, VA
Given that we did mostly takeout and grocery delivery on this trip, there were several restaurants near Sandbridge Beach, VA that we had on our list and didn’t get to. Below are a few Virginia Beach restaurants that were recommended to us by family and friends.
- Island Grill for Sandbridge pizza and seafood right by the beach.
- Simply Steamed for takeout seafood boils, fish tacos, and lobster rolls.
- Tautog’s Restaurant for seafood in Virginia Beach.
- Doc Taylor’s for breakfast in Virginia Beach.
- The Bee & Biscuit for lunch and breakfast near Sandbridge.
Have you been to Sandbridge, Virginia or the Virginia Beach area? Please share in the comments if you have more ideas for things to do on a Virginia beach vacation!
For more ideas for some of the best family beach vacations in the US, check out the posts below:
- 50+ of the Best Things to Do in Ocean City, MD
- North Myrtle Beach Family Vacation Guide
- 7 Fun Things to Do in Sarasota With Kids
- Florida Keys With Kids: Islamorada Family Vacation
- Packing Tips and Products for the Beach With a Baby
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