I know as a military spouse myself that a true family vacation (one that includes the service member) are few and far between. My husband never requests off work and we never want to leave him behind. Therefore, we never go anywhere. However, once my husband deployed in early summer, I saw it as a great opportunity to travel around the area and not have any guilt about leaving him behind. I’ve got several places you can go that is about 3 hours from the Fort Bragg and Fayetteville North Carolina area.

Virginia Beach, Virginia is roughly 3.5 hours away. It’s as simple as 95 North to 58 East. That will drive you right to Virginia Beach via Norfolk (another must do trip for all you mermaid lovers).


You can start smelling the salty air about 10 miles before you see the ocean. I spent several summers here growing up and love the laid back country feel as you drive through back roads to reach my favorite family beach at Sandbridge. Miles away from the boardwalk and bustle of downtown, Sandbridge is much more Nicolas Sparksish than the other popular beaches and is also where the locals like to go. However, if your looking for more high energy tourist shops, food and entertainment; head downtown to Oceanfront. You will always find some amazing sand sculptures and maybe even a sand castle building contest (check out the events page for Virginia Beach here). Oceanfront also has a great boardwalk to stroll down, souvenir shops, fishing, dining and more. It’s the Myrtle Beach of Virginia.


When in Rome…. When we travel we always eat at local joints. I normally start by asking the people behind the hotel desk where they like to eat at and always ask “if you have friends or realities visiting for the first time; where would you take them?”. Talking to locals is the best way because they know all the best hole in the wall places to visit and franchise places to avoid.

I’ve been visiting Virginia Beach before I was even a year old (see my little 6 month old self for the first time at the beach below). Every time we visit we still eat at the same restaurant. Even though the location has changed, since the fabulous Pungo Beach location closed, we eat at the Virginia Beach location of Captain George’s Seafood Restaurant. I clearly remember the inlaid shelled tables from my childhood visits and stained glass dome. We took our son for the first time when he was also about six months old and I remember him staring at that dome during the entire meal (about 10 years ago). This restaurant holds a lot of memories for me and my family. Even though the price point of this restaurant is a little steep in my mind; it is one treat we do budget for because the food is so amazing and can’t be missed.

Of course when you are toting kids along on your vacation at least one meal will consist of pizza. I know with our kids it’s the easiest meal I can get my kids to eat and not fuss over. However, that doesn’t mean you need to skimp on quality just because your eating the favorite food of a 10 year old. Dinning at Pungo Pizza is definitely a must do pizza joint. If you have the odd ball kid who isn’t to happy about pizza; their kid’s menu has a large array of options.


There are so many great things to do in Virginia Beach. I could give you a bunch of free ideas like walks on the beach and watching sunrises. However, who wants to wake up early on vacation and nobody wants to wake up kids early on a vacation and drag them to the beach and listen to them complain they are bored.

Let’s be realistic here; pretty much everything costs something these days. So here are some great ideas of must do things to budget for on vacation in Virginia Beach.

1. Ocean Breeze Waterpark

2. Virginia Museum Aquarium and Marine Science Center

3. Nautilus and Battleship Wisconsin

3. Beach

4. The Oceanfront (as in a boardwalk type atmosphere)

5. Cinema Cafe

6. Parasailing over the ocean

7. Watching for dolphins

8. Fishing

9. Visit and climb Cape Henry Lighthouse

10. Hike or bike at First Landing State Park

Let me know what you explore and fun new adventures you find when you visit Virginia Beach. Oh, watch out for that jet noise!

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