It may be secluded and uncrowded (a huge part of its charm!). But make no mistake, Sandbridge Beach, VA, offers tons of opportunities for family-friendly fun. So, if you’re vacationing with children – tots to teens – you’ll never run out of kid-pleasing things to do.
#1. Sandbridge Beach at 2500 Sandfiddler Road
Seeking a safe, sheltered place to sun and swim with your little ones? Come to 122-acre Little Island Park, site of the largest public beach in Sandbridge.
Located south of the Little Island Pier, this beautiful beach spans 2,000 feet of pristine, unspoiled shoreline, with glistening white sand and shimmering blue water. There’s ample parking (for a small charge) plus on-site public restrooms, seasonal food concessions, and a large adjacent playground.
The beach itself is ideal for families. Your kids will have a blast building sandcastles, searching for shells, wading in the warm shallows, and splashing in the gentle waves. Meanwhile, you can relax worry-free, knowing you’re in a protected environment. During the season – daily between 9:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. – highly trained lifeguards monitor the beach, while professional lifeguard supervisors patrol the shore in dune buggies.
When you’re all finished soaking up sun and surf, you can enjoy a festive family picnic at one of the park’s four covered picnic shelters… followed by an invigorating game of basketball, tennis, pickleball, or volleyball. (OK, you may want to leave that part to the kids!)
Or, you can mosey on over to Sandbridge Island Restaurant at nearby Sandbridge Seafood Market, where you can savor mouthwatering specialties like blackened salmon, grilled tuna, authentic Virginia BBQ, and luscious, award-winning pizza. There’s even a low-price kids’ menu featuring favorites like burgers, fish & chips, popcorn shrimp, and mac & cheese.
#2. Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge…Where the Wild Ponies Play
Have you heard of the Banker Horses, those famous feral ponies descended from Spanish mustangs brought to America in the 17th century?
Most of these gentle beasts live in the North Carolina Outer Banks. And Virginia authorities would prefer to keep them there! But some persistent ponies keep making their way north across the border into Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
When you visit the refuge, you may spot a few of these horses frisking along the shore or foraging for wild sea oats. If you do, be a little cautious. Bankers are known to be friendly and docile, but remember, they’re wild, not domesticated, so stay at a safe distance – for their sake as well as yours.
Even if you catch just a glimpse, you’ll be enchanted by their beauty. And your children will be positively thrilled. (What child doesn’t love wild ponies?)
Of course, horses are not the only creatures you’ll see roaming free at the refuge. This 9,108-acre preserve provides feeding and resting habitat for thousands of migratory birds, including tundra swans, snow geese, Canadian geese, osprey, ducks, warblers, and sparrows. Plus, it’s home to loggerhead sea turtles, piping plovers, and other endangered species.
Your youngsters will enjoy learning about island ecology, natural history, and wildlife preservation… all in a gorgeous outdoor setting.
#3. The Dunes at Back Bay
Kids love climbing sand dunes. And, at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, they’ll find some of the best and biggest dunes on the entire Virginia coast… especially along the Dunes and Seaside hiking trails.
Covered with sea oats, beach grass, and wax myrtle, these pristine white-sand dunes furnish precious habitat for many small mammals and songbirds. Nearby, sea turtles nest, and sandpipers feed in moist sand. If your children love animals, they’ll be in seventh heaven.
Located at 4005 Sandpiper Road, Back Bay Wildlife Refuge is open during daylight hours only. A small entrance fee is charged during the season. (There’s no charge during the winter migration period.) Free public parking is available on a first-come, first-served basis.
#4. False Cape State Park, One of the East’s Last Undisturbed Coastal Areas
Can’t get enough of that unspoiled natural beauty? Bring the family to False Cape State Park, accessible only by foot, bicycle, boat, or tram through Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
Formed by a mile-wide barrier spit between Back Bay and the Atlantic, this 4,321-acre coastal park offers numerous hiking and biking trails… plus six miles of untouched beachfront, where your children can romp and wade in unparalleled peace and privacy.
No cars or trucks are allowed. But during the season you and your family can board the Blue Goose Tram at Back Bay Refuge for a three-hour tour of the park. Along the way, your expert driver will fill you in on local flora and fauna. Your kids will gain a deeper appreciation for Virginia’s delicate coastal ecology.
They’ll also spot plenty of wildlife and wildfowl, so be sure to have your camera on hand… along with a pair of binoculars.
If you’re up for a brisk, scenic walk, hike to the park’s southern tip – which is also the border between Virginia and North Carolina!
Safe. Fun. Breathtaking. No Wonder Families Love It. There’s something for everyone – young and old – at Sandbridge Beach, VA. Visit and see for yourself.