ESCAPE KEYS: Virginia Beach
GETTING THERE: From Washington, take Interstate 95 south to I-295 near Richmond. Follow it until you reach the signs for I-64 east. Follow the road into Virginia Beach.
DON'T FISH? There are plenty of attractions for the non-angler, starting with the main reason many folks come here: catching some rays at the beach. Parking can be a problem, and remember to bring plenty of quarters to feed the meter.
For those needing a break from the sun, a few blocks from the pier is the splendid Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center (717 General Booth Blvd.; 757-425-3474). Admission is $11.95; hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Memorial Day through Labor Day.
Virginia Beach has an excellent bike path running along Atlantic Avenue, and several outfits offer rentals by the hour. Try Cherie's Bicycle and Blade Rentals (757-437-8888), which has outlets along Atlantic Avenue.
STAYING THERE: Oceanfront rooms are very popular and pricey. You can easily spend $200 to $300 a night, and bookings on weekends can be hard to come by. Many of the major chains (Marriott, Hilton, etc.) have hotels on the ocean. We stayed several miles from the beach at the Best Western (5718 Northampton Blvd., 757-363-2500) and got a perfectly serviceable room and breakfast for $90.
EATING THERE: Again, options abound. If you're interested in high-end dining in a casual setting, try Catch 31 Fish House and Bar, in the Hilton hotel (3001 Atlantic Ave.). Entrees run $20 to $25, and grilled fish is a specialty. For a down-home place, a local favorite is Charlie's Seafood Restaurant (3139 Shore Dr.), near Lynnhaven Pier. Most entrees run $15 to $20, though I had a great soft-shell crab sandwich for $11.
INFO: Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau (800-VA-BEACH, http:/