Summer is in full swing, and that usually means one thing: it’s time to head to the beach! Virginia Beach is the perfect place for the quintessential summer beach vacation – plenty of sun, sand, and surf in a fun area that’s not too wild (but also never boring!) If you’re a Virginia resident, you’re likely very familiar with the annual Virginia Beach pilgrimage. But we’re guessing that you’re also very familiar with one of the downsides of this otherwise amazing summer trip: beach traffic.
Lucky for you, we’re here with the inside scoop on the best times to head to (and return from) the beach in order to avoid the dreaded traffic jams. We’ll start with the day of the week:
Avoid a Saturday drive
A recent study found that Saturday is the most dangerous day to be in your car. It makes sense: a larger percentage of people in the workforce are off on weekends, so naturally they would be out and about. More cars on the road means a higher chance of getting in an accident, so plan to leave on a different day! After all, don’t you want the whole day on Saturday to lounge by the ocean?
Try a Tuesday instead!
The same study found that Tuesday is the safest day to drive. So consider giving Tuesday some love and take your mini road-trip at the beginning of the week!
Let’s move on to the best time of day to head out:
Avoid afternoon rush hour (obviously), but also avoid nighttime drives.
The busiest (and deadliest) time to be on the road is between 4:00pm and 7:00pm – prime time for rush hour traffic. The second most dangerous time to be on the road? 7:00pm to 10:00pm…so basically your whole evening is out.
Early morning is your friend!
We know all the dads out there have an “I told you so!” ready for this exact moment: we’re here to tell you to get an early start. That’s right, 7:00am to 10:00am is the safest time to be on the road. Not a morning person? If all the coffee in the world can’t get you up and at ‘em that early, then no worries – the 10:00am to 1:00pm is still pretty safe.
HOWEVER, even though heading out in the late morning is still an option, there are a few extenuating circumstances that still mean early morning is the best:
The Theme park is near Williamsburg (which is on the way to the beach if you’re heading east) and it’s always packed during the summer. It’s open from 10:00am to 9:00 or 10:00pm seven days a week, so that means that the Interstate 64 exits to the park are usually backed up. So that the later you leave for the beach, the more likely you are to get stuck in that traffic. Leave earlier and you’ll miss it altogether!
While interstate construction typically occurs at night, the sections of road being worked can still be inconvenient even when construction isn’t actively occurring. Since road shoulders (or even full lanes) tend to be blocked off for the safety of the workers, the available space for traffic is condensed. Combine that with reduced work zone speed limits, and you’ve got a recipe for congestion. Leaving in the early morning when roads are less crowded and construction isn’t active means you might have a better chance of not getting delayed.
You might think that once you make it to the beach, your journey is over. But think again:
Don’t let excitement get the better of you!
Stay cautious even after you’ve made it; Virginia Beach City had the highest number of accidents in the state between 2013 and 2017, likely because of a large number of tourists unfamiliar with the area.
So there you have it: the best days and times to head to and home from Virginia Beach. Now you can enjoy all parts of your trip, even the commute – and all we ask is that you build a sandcastle in our honor!