As someone who grew up in southeastern VB, was a “Ghent girl” in my 20s, and then a Newport News resident through my 30s, I’ve come to truly appreciate all of Coastal Virginia.
Sure, traffic on the HRBT is so vexing it could make a Zen monk curse like Ralphie’s Old Man in A Christmas Story. And yeah, it may take a few hours to get from the Coleman Bridge to Sandbridge, depending on the time of day.
But on both sides of the water, you’ll find world-class dining experiences, great shopping, unique attractions, exciting events and rich culture. Of course, Coastal Virginia Magazine’s annual Best Of Awards is a celebration of all of that and more.
Still, reading the lists of winners across all the categories, you can’t help but wonder—which part of the region is overall the best—Southside or Peninsula? Like, if the Best Of’s were an all-star game, which team would come out on top? Does the Southside—with its renowned beaches, art museums and music venues—merit the title of “the best”? Or does the Peninsula—home of Busch Gardens, Virginia’s Historic Triangle, and centuries-old universities—take the title?
In this section, we break down the friendly competition into some head-to-head battles, including artsiest, booziest and beachiest; most family-friendly and most military-friendly; and, of course (in the time-honored words of Iron Chef), whose cuisine reigns supreme.
But no matter the outcome, ultimately, the winner is us—the locals who are blessed to live amongst such wonderful institutions and landmarks. So go out and support your favorite businesses, organizations and destinations—and check out this issue’s Best Of lists to discover some new favorites, too.
Illustration by Cherilyn Colbert, CherilynColbert.com