Many countries have put a halt on travelers from America this summer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun in your own backyard with a social distanced vacation. With traveler lovers — including myself — finally beginning to harbor outside after months of hibernation, there were a few factors that I considered into planning an isolated retreat that would make home feel like a distant memory.

When debating on my first trip away, there were many specific characteristics that I wanted. First, it had to be isolated enough where I wouldn’t have to interact with any other human beings — 6 feet, please and thank you. Then there were a few other prime considerations: it had to be within driving distance from New York; I wanted a beautiful landscape (preferably a beach!); I wanted the opportunity to revel in the nice weather from early summer season and, last, but certainly not least — a beautiful hotel with amenities where I could be social or order up room service at least once or twice.

These were the realities of my 2020 planning. Sounds difficult, right?

As a person who has planned many trips before, it didn’t seem like there were many options that included my must-haves. But when a friend recommended Virginia Beach, it instantly clicked — I began planning my first socially distanced vacation. For this particular trip, there would be no flights, no border crossings or passport stamps.

And while these things may sound disappointing to an avid traveler like me, in several ways, my trip to Virginia Beach has been one of our best trips yet. Why? Mainly because when you get a taste for something you haven’t had in a while — the feeling is indescribable. But also, because Virginia Beach is a hidden gem I’d visit time and time again — pandemic or no pandemic.

Where To Stay

When I started to look into summer trips with closer-to-home destinations and socially distant activities in mind, my first thought was that I needed to stay in an Airbnb or rental property. But when I took my other considerations in mind: a private beach, where I wouldn’t have to fight for space —or be close to other humans — combined with wanting to do minimal shopping for food to put in the pantry and cook, I instantly optioned otherwise. If you’re looking for a five-star experience, that includes a private beach with no lie — less than 20 guests — you’ll want to add either the Cavalier Hotel or Marriott Virginia Beach Oceanfront to your list.

For those who love luxury, The Cavalier is old world glamour mixed with modern elegance. The opulent seaside escape has all the fixings to cater to your needs and only has 85 guestrooms, making it feel much more secluded than it seems. Their safety protocols include required masks throughout the property, at least 24 hours between guests in each hotel room (though we also brought our own Lysol cans just in case), private (distant) dining on the garden terrace and access to a Cavalier only beach club — members only.

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If you want to experience an island vibe at a brand new resort, the Marriott Oceanclub Resort far exceeded my expectations. The hotel, which just opened during Memorial Day weekend, is not only brand new — but it’s gorgeous. Like the Cavalier, beachfront access is exclusive to guests, and the hotel’s restaurant takes social distancing to the extreme in a good way. If you luck out with an oceanview room, you’ll wake up to the sounds of the ocean crashing and a beautiful view of one of Virginia’s most pristine beaches. Though you can’t go wrong at either, choose one or both during your visit.

Where To Eat

Dining is a tricky thing if you’re not quite ready to venture out of your bubble just yet. And while I was a bit hesitant also, I found that many of the restaurants have strictly enforced these guidelines in Virginia Beach. So if you are one of the brave ones — which I totally understand if you’re not — here are a few recommendations.

Cobalt Grille is not only Black owned, but it has some of the best she-crab soup that I’ve ever tasted in my life (crab soup mixed with sherry wine). The owner serves every meal with love, and it’s not on the strip so you know it’s real.

Becca Restaurant offers farm-to-table cuisine sourced from our gardens, classic cocktails, spirits from our distillery and exceptional dining on the Virginia Beach oceanfront. This place is a vibe.

If you’re looking for a midday snack or great lunch, Tulu Seaside Bar & Grill’s is a delicious and healthy option serving locally sourced, chef-driven cuisine and an inventive cocktail menu featuring locally made craft spirits. The breezy seaside patio also serves up spectacular ocean views — which you can’t beat!

What To Do

There’s plenty to do in Virginia Beach that doesn’t require interacting with other people. First, did I mention the beach? I mean, it’s quite frankly one of the top reasons you need to visit. You’ll also want to venture out for a little fresh air, and see the beauty of the ViBe District murals on your daily walk, run, or bike ride (which is complimentary with a visit to the Cavalier or Marriott Oceanclub). Kayaking, fishing and stand-up paddle boarding are also unique ways to explore the waterways — just about anything that gets you near its waters. Not to mention, Virginia Beach is considered by many to be the birthplace of East Coast surfing.