Camping in Virginia Beach – July 21-24, 2021

Some years when we’ve gone to the beach in the summer, we’ve stayed at a motel 10 miles from the oceanfront just to keep our visit reasonably affordable. In more recent years we’ve stayed at a campground near Williamsburg and we’ve done day trips to the beach. (This allowed us to avoid towing through the crazy traffic and congestion of Hampton Roads and the tunnel on I-64.) This year, however, we decided to take an alternate route to the coast and stay at the Holiday Trav-L-Park campground in Virginia Beach.

We took I-64 East to I-295. Southeast of Richmond we turned onto State Route 5 East towards Charles City. This road runs from Richmond, Virginia to Williamsburg, and it’s one of our favorite drives. It’s especially pretty in the fall when the leaves are turning.

Just before Williamsburg, we followed the signs towards Jamestown–and the Jamestown-Scotland ferry. In addition to the rural, scenic nature of this route, an extra fun aspect is crossing the James River on a ferry! I always enjoy photographing the birds that hang out near the docks.

While we’ve taken this route to the beach many times, this was the first time we’d ever had our trailer on the ferry!

Waze wasn’t quite sure what was happening as we crossed the James River.

The trip across the river took 20-25 minutes, and it took us another couple of hours to make our way to the campground. A little after 2:00 PM (about 5 hours after leaving home) we arrived at Holiday Trav-L-Park and got set up in site # 152.

This is an enormous campground, and the sites in this section are only suitable for tents or small trailers, such as ours. We had water and electric hookups, and we were pretty close to a bathhouse, the main pool, the camp store, and the entrance to the park.

This particular site was mostly shaded, morning and afternoon, and on the end of a row which gave us more space.

The campground (represented by the blue dot) wasn’t far from the ocean at all.

We planned to eat an early dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, but I wasn’t sure if I’d feel comfortable eating in or if I’d want to get take-out (as we did last summer). We ultimately decided to eat in, and I was pleased to see that almost everyone was opting to use disposable gloves on their “serving hand” at the buffet. (We wore our masks any time we left our table.) As usual, the food was great! This was the ceiling in the room where we were seated.

After dinner we drove to the oceanfront and walked on the boardwalk before returning to the campground. We got some rain just after we got “home,” but the worst of the storms that night passed to our east and to our west.

The next morning we drove south to Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Most of the time there are very few people on the beach (no swimming is allowed) and it offers beautiful views of the Atlantic Ocean and the resident wildlife.

Wayne always likes to swim in the ocean, so we went to Little Island Park in Sandbridge to change into our suits. When we walked out on the beach, I took one look at the surprisingly rough surf and decided I wasn’t getting in. Wayne decided otherwise….

After the fact, he said it felt like an “Old Man and the Sea” experience–and the sea won that round. 😉

On the pier in Sandbridge, I saw some birds that I haven’t been able to identify yet. I’m not sure if they were adults or juveniles. They were smaller than seagulls, but larger than Grackles or Red-wing Blackbirds.

Back at the campground, an almost-full moon was rising over the trees, and we could hear music coming from the pool area. I remembered reading something about a DJ that night, so we decided to check it out.

This was so much fun–music, dancing, and swimming under a moonlit sky. 🙂

On Friday morning we went to a favorite restaurant (Nick’s on Laskin Road) for breakfast before driving to 64th Street and First Landing State Park. We’ve been to this section of the park SO many times and we always enjoy walking on the Cape Henry Trail and taking pictures along the way.

We totally lucked out on the weather. The temperature was pretty awesome for a day in July!

I took a LOT of pictures of what I think was a juvenile Great Blue Heron:

Our next stop was the section of First Landing on Shore Drive where the campground and beach are. If you look closely, you can see the Chesapeake Bay-Bridge Tunnel behind us.

The previous day we’d purchased tickets online for a 4:00 PM visit to the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, a place we’d never had time to go before. My pictures aren’t very good–too dark inside and everything was moving!–but I’m very glad we went!

I did not know this….

Outside of the aquarium, there’s a large tank that houses two harbor seals, Hector and Rudder.

An interesting “rainbow” formed along the outer edge of the edge of the tank as the late afternoon sun came through the water.

When we got back to the campground, Wayne made delicious salads for dinner. We ate pretty lightly on this trip–with the exception of our first night seafood splurge! 😉

After dinner we went back to the main pool for another evening of swimming and music. I’d never heard of dances like the “Cupid Shuffle” and the “Wobble”–and who knew that hula hoop contests were still a thing–but there were participants of all ages. While there were more people there than the previous night, the pool wasn’t overly crowded and everyone seemed to be having a good time on a beautiful summer Friday night.

The next morning as we prepared to leave the campground, I looked at a map to plot my course back to Jamestown via the ferry. I also checked the best way to get to Rt. 460 West, in case we decided to go that way for a change of scenery. Despite my planning, I ultimately made a wrong turn and found myself heading right for the Hampton Roads tunnel on I-64!

Yes, I had to pull over at an inspection station before the tunnel to verify that the propane tank on the trailer was turned off (Virginia state law), and yes, there was a lot of traffic, and at times we just crept along as we entered the tunnel–but you know what? It was okay.

Although I’d PREFER not to take this route in the future when towing the trailer, it’s not something I’ll absolutely avoid or be fearful about. Even with the congestion and occasional slow downs due to construction, we made it home in 4 hours.

We thoroughly enjoyed our 3-night stay at Holiday Trav-L-Park. What a fun trip, and we look forward to staying there again!

Until next time,

Sharon & Wayne

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