Sometimes first impressions are misleading. Such was the case with our visit to First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach. This is a huge campground with direct beach access, and lots of amenities to please everyone. However, the check-in process was so confounding that we nearly gave up.
First Landing accepts reservations, but you’re not assigned a camp site until you check in. On a crowded summer day, like when we arrived, this became an hours-long ordeal.
Arriving at the park entrance, we were assigned a campground loop and a color-coded ticket that matched the length of our rig. Then we were expected to drive around (on narrow one-way lanes) to search for an open camp site. The day we arrived the temperature was 105 and every site in our designated loop was full. We ended up parking in a different loop, which meant another lengthy trip back to the office to re-register for a properly coded tag.
But once we made camp and settled back with a couple of frosty beverages, the glories of First Landing State Park became apparent.
Simply put, the beach at First Landing is fabulous! It’s a mile-long stretch off the Chesapeake Bay, and reserved for use only by State Park campers. There’s plenty of room to stake out a blanket and chair, and even on a busy summer week it did not feel crowded. The bay has lovely warm water with gentle waves, and you can wade out quite far. The best bonus is this beach has no rules. You can throw a fishing line, play football, and bring your dog. We spotted several families hunting for crabs in the evening and roasting their catch over a pit fire in the sand.
Spacious campsites are threaded throughout the loops, many offering shade, and all have abundant landscaping between sites. The campground has no street lights, and is deliciously dark and quiet at night. Four boardwalks from the campground cross over pristine sand dunes and lead you down to the beach. If you stroll the beach in the evening, be sure to note where the boardwalks are located because it can be tricky to find your way back in the dark!
A huge camp store with adjoining laundry is located at the entrance. Movies are shown at the amphitheater nightly, and across the road is a Nature Area offering easy hiking trails along with historical markers and scenes.
First Landing State Park is safe and well patrolled, and we found all campers to be quite friendly. Despite our initial impression during the cumbersome check-in process, this turned out to be a wonderful vacation spot!
May 24, 2013