This past summer we took a very inexpensive but very fun vacation to Busch Gardens, VA, Water Country USA and Virginia Beach, VA. I love vacations where we spend half the time at parks and half the time at the beach. I think it is a nice mix of excitement and relaxation.
We live in Ohio, so Busch Gardens, VA was just about an 8-hour car ride for us. We got up, planned to leave by 8 in the morning and actually made it out the door at about 8:30. Being a family of 5, it is sometimes difficult to get everyone up and moving in a timely manner.
Arrival in Williamsburg, VA
We timed it so that we would get to our hotel after check-in time started so we were able to check-in right away as soon as we got there. We stayed at the Comfort Suites in the historic Williamsburg area.
Since we are a family of five, we need to find hotel rooms with enough beds for all five of us and the Comfort Suites had the family suites that were perfect for us. This hotel had an indoor pool and a free breakfast. It was a good value for the price.
The hotel is actually located at 220 Bypass Road, Williamsburg, VA. Although there are hotels that are closer to Busch Gardens, the location of this hotel ended up being perfect as it was within walking distance of several restaurants.
Dinner and Miniature-Golf
After being in the car for 8 hours, we didn’t really want to get back in it so we walked to dinner at the Mexican restaurant that was just across the main road, then walked to the Pirate’s Cove, a mini-golf course just about a half of a mile down the road and played a round of mini-golf. This gave us something fun to do that evening before we got up the next morning to go to the park.
Unfortunately, while we were playing mini-golf it started to pour down rain. We opted to finish anyway. I wish I had brought my backpack that I take to the parks with me. It would have come in very handy at this point as I always keep rain ponchos for everyone in it. I just didn’t think of it but I have learned my lesson and will do so next time.
We all got soaked and had to throw our clothes in the dryer when we got back to the hotel. Usually, we love to be able to park the car and just walk, but this is the drawback to doing so. You may get caught in a downpour and still have to walk back.
After a good night’s sleep, we got up to be at Busch Gardens when it opened. The hotel was just a 15-minute ride to the park. Usually, I will have a touring plan ready when we go to a park so that we make sure to hit all of the major attractions and do everything that we want to do. I didn’t have one this time, but we did not really need it either. We went on a Friday and we were able to ride most rides with little to no wait.
We did have to wait about 20 minutes or so for a new ride this year called Finnegan’s Flyers. This was one of the most thrilling rides I have ever been on. I think mostly because it seems to last forever. It swings back and forth several times. For me, it was either scream or laugh on this ride because I just had to do something!
Busch Gardens is a great park for teens because there are actually plenty of thrilling rides. We were able to fit in all of them and the ones I would say not to miss are:
They were all very fun! In addition to rides and shows, Busch Gardens also has some animals throughout the park.
As far as restaurants go, we ate at Trapper’s Smokehouse for lunch. We just couldn’t walk by this place it smelled so good. For dinner, we went to Marco Polo’s Marketplace and then sat and watched Bel Concertino in the open-air Il Teatro Di San Marco while we ate our dinner.
During Christmas time, Busch Gardens transforms into Christmas Town with over 10 million lights and Christmas themed shows. We visited during the holidays one year and you can see lots of pictures and read about it here. It is really worth going and was lots of fun.
Water Country USA
The next day we went to Water Country USA. We went on a Saturday in July and although it was fine for the first part of the day, at about 1 pm or so it started to get extremely crowded and we could no longer get on the slides without a long wait.
This is a fun park though and if I were to go again, I would just make sure that we went on a weekday rather than on the weekend. I think this is why we did not experience large crowds at Busch Gardens but did at Water Country.
After two days of fun at the parks, we got up the next day and checked out at 11:00 am and drove about an hour to get to our hotel at Virginia Beach. We got there well before check-in time, so we headed to the beach for a few hours before we were able to check-in.
We stayed at the Surfbreak Oceanfront hotel located at 1101 Atlantic Avenue. The Calypso restaurant/bar is attached to this hotel and we found this restaurant to be very good! They also had live music on a couple of nights while we were there and this made for a very fun atmosphere.
We could sit out on our balcony and listen to it as it was right below us. (It is the blue roof in the picture above). This may be a concern for some if you have small children that go to bed early, but since our youngest is 14, this was no problem at all for us.
This hotel also had rooms that had 2 Queen beds and a pull out sofa bed so we had plenty of room for the five of us.
The hotel was located right on the boardwalk, so that made walking to restaurants and shops very easy. We were there for three nights and this is what we did each night. First, we would walk to dinner, then walk through some shops before walking back to the hotel.
One night, we walked to Neptune Park to get a picture at the Neptune statue. We had been to Virginia Beach a couple of years before over Spring Break and this is one of the main attractions that I had remembered from that stay.
The only bad part of this vacation was the drive back home. It was about 9 hours and somehow the ride there is not as bad as the ride home. Overall, though this was a fun beach/park vacation!