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Making the Oceanfront Better


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I'll preface this by saying I love Virginia Beach + Norfolk. There is such a great mix of urban, historic, modern, rural, and so much access to the water. It's a really fun place to live, work and play.


I've noticed however, that a portion of the residents in Hampton Roads really have a disdain for the oceanfront, which is one of the area's notable spaces. Many people on Pilot articles are quick to proclaim how they "never visit the oceanfront" or would "rather drive to the Outer Banks." I often wonder what the area would be like if some of the shopping in Hilltop was up and down Atlantic Ave, or what the revitalization of 17th street with the arena and arts district will make the area look like in a few years. 


Lots of other cities have a tourist area that is pretty intermingled with residential and commercial areas. Locals and tourists living together in harmony. I'd love to approach the city with some ideas, or at least find someone to talk to about the vision for a more integrated district. if more residents spend time at the oceanfront on a regular basis, a better or more diverse quality of business will open, maybe we'll even see some mixed-use businesses relocating to get closer to the action.


My question is: what would you do to make the oceanfront more desirable to residents and tourists alike?

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As a resident of VB for over 30 years, outside of going to Watermans or Chichos and parking off of 38th to do my run I don't do the strip nor do I take my kids or family there for the most part. We go to the beach almost every weekend but its typically far on the North End where its far more enjoyable. I can say I don't enjoy the mile of sitting traffic on pacific, the crowds of obnoxious teenagers and tourists, all the police and the lifeguards who whistle at me to come in when the waves surpass my knees. Mostly the beach itself is just way too packed, I can't really enjoy it when we can barely move around. As a resident I get it and I think the city is taking steps to improve the overall appeal of the strip but I'm content w it being the cash cow it is and I'll gladly take my family out to the north end or croatan or sandbridge and enjoy the beach without all of the hassle

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I can't remember the last time I've really walked the strip...it's been at least five years, and it was just too packed for my tastes. I love that we have a tourist spot that stays busy during the summer, but it's just too much for me. That said, if I were to change anything, it would be to relax the rules, and not try so hard to be a family friendly Miami. It's a beach, there's going to be rowdiness, no need to be so politically correct. 


Look at Granby Street, Ghent or even Town Center on a Friday night. It's pretty busy with an adult crowd, and it doesn't go out of its way to be family-friendly. The Oceanfront could relax its rules and cater to families without trying to be so strict. Then again, I think the stretch near Catch 31 kinda caters to the crowd seeking a Granby or TC atmosphere. I'd like to see them put more down there for the locals, along with a true nightclub that would make you think you're in Miami...I guess that would be the Skybar, no?


I like the mix of clubs, bars and tourist shops along Atlantic, and I love that Flipper McCoys still looks like something out of the early-80s. That place has a lot of charm and stirs up nostalgia for me. However, there's still something missing, and I can't pinpoint what it is. The arena could def. change that. 

Is Jungle Golf still down there?

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Thanks for the replies. I think BFG nailed it when you say " there's still something missing, and I can't pinpoint what it is." I guess that is the crux of what I'm asking. 


Things I'd love to see:


Better restaurants, even if they are national chains – Aside from a few standbys (Waterman's, Mahi Mahs, Catch 31, Doc Taylors) there are a ton of lowest common denominator joints with subpar food, atmosphere, and high prices. While I'd rather see cool local restaurants, I think well placed national chains could really improve the area. How about a Morton's Steakhouse, Mellow Mushroom, or a shoot, even a Cheesecake Factory? BW3 and Starbucks on Laskin are the only chains I can think of down there.


Shopping, and not just sunscreen and tshirts – Atlantic, even a stretch of it, should be Virginia Beach's Rodeo Drive. We need a mix of cool local boutiques, as well as national brands. There's a huge Quiksilver/Roxy store in Times Square, we should have one here. There are cool local places like Dobson's on Laskin, why isn't a spot like that on Atlantic?


Regulated Visual Standards – A lot of my problem with the Oceanfront is that it looks tacky, or worse yet – uncared for. Stores with sun-faded signage in the windows, cheap vinyl signs, etc. I'm not expecting VB to become Charleston, Savannah, or Cape May, but we could stand a healthy dose of charm. Like them or not, the Goldkey development around Laskin is doing a good job of this. Cool, higher end shops and restaurants that don't look so dingy. Does the city have anyway to enforce design guidelines for businesses?


Big trees, and more of them – The little wimpy head high whatever they are trees on the strip aren't cutting it. Live oaks, cold hardy-palmettos, whatever. It makes the streets look better.

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