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Trip Report Trip Report - Virginia Beach, Sheraton Oceanside Aug 2009

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Just got back from my first trip to Virginia Beach - 8/24/09-8/28/09.

OVERALL IMPRESSION OF VA BEACH - I am new to beach trips having spent most of my vacations in the mountains. So take this with a grain of salt (or sand in this case.) The beach itself is great - very long, very wide, clean sand, not rocky, and the entry into the surf is gradual. Decent waves for kids but not overwhelming. The boardwalk is clean and well kept and a great place to stroll with the kids. There is a well maintained, asphalt bike path running alongside the boardwalk with lovely landscaping where you can rent bikes. The restaurants off of the boardwalk are a bit dated. Tons of seafood buffets which I am always leary of. The overall feel of the "resort" part of VA Beach was lively, safe but not at all resorty or posh if you like that kind of thing (which I do sometimes.) There are more motels than hotels, and the majority of the hotels are local places I've never heard of with a few Marriotts and Hiltons thrown in.

There is a lot to do out of the resort area - Cape Henry, First Landing State Park, Rudee's Inlet, Aquarium. And the other parts of the city looked more modern and exclusive than the "resort" area which I thought was a bit strange.

I will definitely go back again with the kids. Everything is so convenient. All day at the beach, hop over to the hotel pool, rest up, then out for dinner and a stroll on the boardwalk. Rinse and Repeat!! But if I want a romantic place with my husband or a lively, pampering place with my girlfriends, I think I'd go to Reheboth or Dewey and skip VA Beach.

HOTEL - Stayed at the Sheraton Oceanside with my husband, two young kids and one big dog. This hotel is pet friendly so be prepared for a few dogs, even some big ones, in the elevators. All the pets I saw were well behaved and I heard only a bit of barking on my floor, which I assume was a pet floor - 3rd.

The hotel lobby, restaurant and bar area looked very new and are very clean. They have VERY nice, large screen computers in the bar for guest use. The staff was quite friendly and accomodating (bellman, front desk, housekeeping, bartender at outside pool). The two outdoor pools were small but pretty. They weren't as clean as I would have liked but maybe it was because it was the end of the season. The overall appearance of the hotel is a bit worn (frayed carpets in elevators, dingy beach side bathroom, etc.) but our room was well maintained. The king sized bed was comfortable. The bathroom was pretty small for a family of four but manageable. We had a great view of the beach from our balcony which was big enough to store sandy beach gear and sit and watch the morning dolphins and surfers.

I would stay at the Sheraton again with the kids because it's a good location, but if I wanted to upgrade a bit, I think I'd look into Ocean Beach Club, the Residence Inn or the new Hilton.

RESTAURANTS - We had the breakfast buffet at the Sheraton restaurant (ACQUA VI) which was $5 for kids (a good value I thought) but $11 for adults. It was okay. We loved POCAHONTAS PANCAKES just outside the Sheraton (34th and Atlantic.) It gets crowded at about 10:00am so come early to beat the rush. Very casual, great chocolate chip pancakes. Had a light dinner at CATCH31 at the Hilton. This is probably the nicest decor and most modern feel of the boardwalk eateries. The service and food were okay but the real appeal is the overall feel of the place. Had hotdogs from SURF DOGS (33rd? and Atlantic) and they were gross! Great submarine sandwiches from NORTH END PIZZA (34th and Atlantic). Went there twice. The ice cream next door at HERSHEY's was great too. Delicious snow crablegs at HOOKS at Rudee's Inlet.
Grabbing sandwiches while we were at the beach was not convenient which I found odd. There are not sandwich, hot dog or taco carts on the boardwalk. I had to walk over to Atlantic to find a sandwich shop. We didn't feel like leaving all of our beach gear in the sand and hitting a casual restaurant on the boardwalk so I had to find to-go shops which are not on the boardwalk.

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