We all need time to slow down and de-stress, and there’s no better place to do it than Sandbridge Beach. If you think beach vacations are just for spring and summer, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to learn that sometimes the beach is best enjoyed during the winter months. The average high temperature for December and January is in the mid-50s, with lows rarely below 50 degrees. Pack a jacket and a hat and you’ll be comfortable enough to appreciate all of the relaxing outdoor activities that make Sandbridge Beach special.
Here are our favorite ways to de-stress at Sandbridge Beach:
#1 Visit During Off-Season
If you love a relaxing beach vacation during summer, you’ll really love it in the winter. In the off-season, locals are more casual, there’s a convivial community feeling in the air, and you’ll have the best restaurants and attractions all to yourself. You’ll also find deep discounts on rentals, making Sandbridge Beach the perfect place to sneak in an extra few days of vacation.
#2 Go Beachcombing
Temperatures at Sandbridge Beach during the winter are fairly temperate. Don a fleece and savor long, solitary walks on the beach. Since you’ll have the sand all to yourself, keep an eye out for rare treasures such as the Scotch Bonnet seashell, Queen Helmet Conch, and the conical Lettered Olive shell.
You may also find “fairy shells,” or fossils made of staurolite — a mineral that was created when the Appalachian Mountains rose from the sea. Beachcombing is more fun when you have a seashell guide to help you identify your beach bling, so pick one up at a local shop before heading out.
Shelling isn’t the only joy of having the beach to yourself; you’ll also be the solitary audience for majestic shorebirds and playful Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins. Sunrise and sunset are particularly memorable when the vista is yours alone.
#3 Go Fishing
Bring your poles and spend a relaxing day on Little Island Fishing Pier. Get a five-day fishing license from a local sporting store and you’ll have free rein to angle during your vacation. In winter, striped bass school through the area searching for baitfish — in fact, they’re so plentiful it’s difficult not to catch one. You can also expect to catch tautog, spotted sea trout, puppy drum, and flounder. If you want to fish offshore, you can score tasty tilefish and sea bass.
#4 Take in the Sights
Winter is a great time to take in the nearby sights and attractions. On Sandbridge, relax on a ride through Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park on the heated Blue Goose Tram. From the comfort of your warm ride you’ll see wintering waterfowl and other wildlife while learning about the history of the refuge and the park.
Nearby, you can visit the Virginia Science Museum, the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, the Virginia Living Museum, and more.
#5 Visit the Spa
There’s no faster way to banish stress than with a trip to the spa. Nearby spas include Natural Balance Spa & Yoga, Body Logic Massage, Picasso Salon & Spa, and the Seaside Day Spa. Whether you want a new haircut, a pretty manicure and pedicure, or a deep-tissue massage, local spas provide all the services you need to go home feeling great.
#6 Sample the Seafood
Sandbridge restaurants are open year ’round and offer delicious regional dishes only available in winter. Indulge in local oyster roasts and specials on freshly caught bass and flounder.
Some of the best places to sample Sandbridge Beach seafood are Margie & Ray’s Crabhouse, the legendary Blue Pete’s, Sandbridge Island Restaurant, and Baja Restaurant. You won’t find lines or long waits for tables during off-season, just friendly locals, lucky travelers, and plenty of incredible regional flavors.
#7 Take a Drive
In summer, everyone is eager to spend as much time at the beach as possible. However, cooler winter temperatures present the perfect opportunity to explore the rest of Sandbridge Beach, and Virginia Beach, by car. Pack your binoculars and camera, turn up the heater, and set out for a leisurely journey. Stop at scenic spots for photos, shop for souvenirs (often at reduced prices), and take time to get to know the undiscovered nooks and crannies of Sandbridge Beach. When you get hungry, break for lunch at an out-of-the-way restaurant before heading home.
Whether you’ve had a busy year or just need a break before a new year gets in full swing, a winter holiday in Sandbridge Beach is the ideal way to de-stress and recharge. Pack a few warm clothes, binoculars, and nature guides and you’ll be ready to take in the unspoiled scenery and unbroken solitude of Virginia’s beautiful barrier island.