State Parks Solutions is an ongoing series of reports to help you find and plan low-cost, easy-on-the-gas-tank vacations with an emphasis on outdoor activities.
CAPE CHARLES, Va. (WFXR) — Sand, surf, sun! There is nothing like a beach vacation. Of course, after you factor in a hotel and list of activities and meals, there is nothing that costs like a beach vacation, either.
But, have you considered the State Park Solution?
Lodging at Virginia State Parks is reasonably priced. Most activities are free or low-cost. Facilities are well-maintained and easily accessible.
But what about the beach?
There are state park options. One of the best-kept secrets in Virginia is Kiptopeke State Park. It offers miles of quiet and secluded beaches. The surf is low making it a great option for families with small children. Some stretches of beaches at Kiptopeke are even open to pets at certain times of the year.
Kiptopeke is located just north of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel Complex in Northampton County.
“It doesn’t get any better than this,” said Kiptopeke State Park Manager Sean Dixon. “It’s quiet, it’s peaceful, it’s not crowded.”
In addition to the beach, there is a fishing and crabbing pier. Depending on the time of year, anything from striped bass to speckled trout to ribbonfish can be caught.
The park also offers miles of trails and elevated boardwalks for hiking and wildlife viewing. And, the water view is available almost anywhere in the park.
“If you are a water person, if you love the water, there is no better place than this park,” said Dixon.
The park is on a migratory flight path for birds, especially raptor species. Wildlife photographers and birdwatchers converge on the park to view and photograph the many various bird species that stop there.
In addition, dolphins are also often spotted swimming in park waters, and especially at the fishing pier.
“That’s a common sight in here,” Dixon said as a pair of dolphins porpoised just off the pier. “Just about any given time you spend enough time sitting here or on the beach, you’ll see a pod go by.”
The park is also home to a bit of history. A fleet of ships made from concrete because of steel shortages during World War II now serves as a break-wall near the fishing pier and beaches.
“A lot of them were used as supply ships in the Pacific,” Dixon said.
The park sits at the site of what was once the Virginia Ferry Corporation ferry terminal.
“The ships were brought out here to serve as a breakwater, said Dixon.”
Kiptopeke is open year-round. It offers a variety of lodging options that include camping, cabins, lodges, and yurts. You are urged to book early because lodging fills up quickly.