Virginia Beach is on the Mid-Atlantic coast, part of the southeastern shoreline of Virginia below the Chesapeake Bay. This popular resort area features a wide public beach with moderate surf that is easy to access via a 3-mile-long level concrete promenade along the shore known as the “boardwalk.”
The closest airport is Norfolk International (ORF), about 17 miles away via Interstates 64 and 264. Most of the major airlines and rental car companies serve this airport. James River Transportation (866-823-4626) offers accessible airport shuttle service on request with 48 hours notice. Black and White Cabs (757-853-0411) also has wheelchair-accessible vehicles. The beach can be easily accessed by vehicle. From Interstate 64 (Hampton Roads Beltway), take exit 284 to go east on I-264 (Norfolk-Virgina Beach Expressway). I-264 becomes 21st St. and ends at Atlantic Ave. at the oceanfront.
Streets in the beach area are laid out on a grid: Atlantic Avenue and Pacific Avenue (US 60) run north-south a block apart, with Atlantic being the closest to the ocean. The cross-streets running east-west are numbered, with the lowest numbers to the south. Designated accessible parking is available on-street at numerous locations, as well as in all municipal parking lots (fee; 9th, 19th, 25th and 30th Streets). Hampton Roads Transit operates an accessible shuttle bus called The Wave (fee) that runs up and down Atlantic Avenue (route 30) about every 15 minutes between 8:00am and 2:00am from May until September. Additional Wave routes 31 and 32 venture a bit further from the coast for easy access to nearby campgrounds, shopping, and museums
Fun in the Sun
The boardwalk parallels Atlantic Avenue, running north-south between 40th Street and Rudee Inlet. Sidewalks with curb-cuts provide access between the boardwalk and Atlantic Avenue at each cross street. Every couple of blocks along the length of the boardwalk, there are public parks or plazas where accessible restrooms and drinking fountains can be found. Many of the parks feature public art like sculptures, monuments, or murals. Outdoor stages located at 7th Street, 17th Street, 24th Street and Neptune Parks host concerts, movies and special events. Information kiosks are located at 17th and 24th streets. An accessible fishing pier (fee) is located on the boardwalk between 14th and 15th streets.
You can enjoy the ocean view right from the boardwalk, but if you want to get into the sand and surf, there are concrete ramps from the boardwalk down onto the sand at every block. Wooden plank walkways have been placed on the beach at 8th, 12th, 17th, 24th, 30th and 40th streets to allow wheelchairs to roll out across the sand. Two beach wheelchairs are available for loan at the beach rental stations at 17th and 24th Street (seasonal; first-come, first-served), or beach wheelchairs can also be rented from Beach Power Mobility (757-481-1590) and 1st Mobility (757-355-2211). When you are finished playing on the beach, you can remove the sand at shower stations on the boardwalk near the beach access ramps.
At the south end of the boardwalk near Rudee Inlet is a wonderful oceanfront park called JT’s Grommet Island. This 15,000 square-foot park is fully accessible and features a playground with raised sand tables, sensory games for children who are autistic or visually impaired, and a swaying boat. Fun sculptures like dolphins, a surfboard, and an ocean wave encourage pretend play. Designated accessible parking and restrooms are nearby. Beach wheelchairs are available at this location as well. See a park attendant, or call 757- 385-1100 during off-season (Nov.-Apr.). You can take a virtual tour of Grommet Island here.
Where to Sleep and Eat
A few campgrounds advertising accessibility are located about 3 miles southeast of the beach on US Highway 60, “General Booth Blvd.”, which becomes Pacific Avenue. Try Holiday Trav-L-Park (757-425-0249) or Virginia Beach KOA (757-428-1444). Numerous national-chain hotel properties such as Hilton, Clarion, Days Inn, Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn and Comfort Inn are situated along Atlantic Avenue at the oceanfront and advertise accessible lodging – some with balconies overlooking the beach and boardwalk. A lot of these hotels provide direct access to the boardwalk, and some have on-site restaurants. Many additional restaurants, shops, and services like ATMs and drug stores are located along Atlantic Avenue and Pacific Avenue.