For most vacationers, a rainy day in a beach town is unwelcome at best, disastrous at worst. Sun and sand seekers suddenly find themselves stuck inside hotel rooms, wondering how they will keep themselves and their children entertained inside. Some of our favorite beaches have little more than a movie theater in town for rainy days, which, these days, isn’t even an option.
My husband and I loaded up our girls for a long weekend at Virginia Beach in mid-September. Our girls aren't yet school-aged, and we hoped to avoid the summer crowds and enjoy quiet beaches and warm—but not hot—weather.
The forecast didn’t look great as our trip drew near. When we saw the rain clouds appear on our weather app, we hoped it would just be a passing storm that would blow over.
The storm didn't blow over. Rain pounded across the whole of Virginia Beach, causing flash flood warnings and a day of unrelenting downpour.
I had been looking forward to walking the three-mile boardwalk, exploring Virginia Beach’s scattering of beautiful beaches and nature trails. I wondered how we would fill a stormy day with two young children.
I shouldn't have worried. It turns out that what makes Virginia Beach truly special is that it is equally entertaining and enjoyable in the rain.
A Surprisingly Perfect Rainy Day ItineraryWe began our morning by picking up bagels and fresh coffee from The Bagel Baker. Bellies full and caffeine levels replenished, we hopped in the car and made our way to the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center. Featuring more than 800,000 gallons of water, the aquarium represents 300 species of marine animals, including loggerhead sea turtles, sandbar sharks, and Komodo dragons. The aquarium has a sea tunnel, where we walked beneath the marine life, feeling like scuba divers while my daughters looked for Nemo and Dory.
The rain let up enough in the late afternoon for us to head to Chesapeake (Chic’s) Beach to soak up the last hours of daylight. This beach is bayside, meaning the waves are minimal and the view is marked by the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. We had the area to ourselves and let our girls run around in their sweaters, building sandcastles and looking for shells.
Sunny Day ItineraryAs much as there is to do in the rain, we were thrilled to wake up to patches of blue sky the next morning.
As we drove away from Virginia Beach, I asked my daughters what their favorite part was. I expected to hear it was the aquarium, or the boardwalk, or playing in the sand. Instead, my three-year-old said her favorite part was sleeping on a sofa bed and watching the rain through the window with her family. It made me think that rain at the beach might not be the worst thing after all.