48 Hours in the River Realm: A Guide to Laid Back Luxury
Relaxing sunset views, fresh seafood, and a side of adventure — that’s what we serve up fresh here every day in the River Realm. While we locals get to soak it up 24/7/365, we know you may only get to visit for the weekend. For those times you can get away and let the river calm your mind, there are a few menu items you should order, views you should take in, and people you should meet.
Here’s our ideal weekend recess in the River Realm….
Rest your Head and Explore Quaint Kilmarnock
Your first stop during your laid back journey should be Kilmarnock. Here, you can check in to The Kilmarnock Inn. The enchanting bed and breakfast is located just off Main Street. It is full of treasures like a practice putting green, a garden from which guests can harvest, a spacious deck for relaxing and eight guest cottages, each named for a Virginia-born president.
During your first afternoon, take a walk around town. Explore Rivah Antiques and Accessories to find a river themed mirror or decorative pillow. Invest thoughtful time in Burke’s Fine Jewelers to pick out a custom river-inspired piece. Talk a walk to Weekends to discover the perfect dress or fall parka. Purchase a vintage Oyster plate (yes, bivalves have their own plates) at the Kilmarnock Antique Gallery.
Settle in for a light, yet exotic dinner at Chao Phraya. The Thai and sushi grill has an extensive and exciting sushi menu. Your meal may come with color changing lights or feature local oysters–there’s something for everyone! For dessert, swing by Northern Neck Popcorn to grab snacks for the room. The gourmet popcorn shop has more than 50 flavors of handcrafted, small batch popcorn from sweet to savory. Sample with your travel partner and pick your favorites.
Wake Up to See See Some Wildlife
Grab breakfast at the Inn or Carried Away Cuisine. Pile into the car and head north to Belle Isle State Park. Get ready to get a little wet. Here, you can rent a canoe or kayak and borrow a “park pack,” which includes field guides and equipment to help you explore. If you want to get up close and personal with the water, Belle Isle State Park hosts an intro to crabbing for just $2 per person. Be careful! They can pinch. The park also offers lectures and demonstrations on watermen culture, oysters, insects and more. Preregistration is recommended. Call 804-462-5030 or stop by the Camp Store.
Head to Irvington to Refuel
The town of Irvington is just a little past Kilmarnock on your way home. It’s worth the detour for the afternoon. For a casual lunch, visit the The Office. This renovated dentist office now serves flatbreads, salads, soups and other lunchtime classics. If you need a pick-up (we don’t blame you!), grab a coffee at The Local. Our neighborhood coffee spot serves craft coffee by Richmond-based Ironclad Roasters.
Take your caffeine on a saunter to see some of our other favorite spots. Objects & More is an upscale gallery that carries work from more than 200 artists from across the country. You’ll also find jewelry, home decor, and even nightlights. Down the road, indulge in a bit of history at the Steamboat Era Museum. The museum brings landscapes to life from an era when revival camps, shucking houses and country stores dotted the river’s shores. Head into Vine, our new wine and craft beer shop. You can even enjoy tastings on Wednesdays 5-7p.m. Keep walking toward the Tides Inn to catch a view of the river while you sip a Lancaster Lemonade, a River Realm favorite. If you’re still hungry, the Tides Inn has a new water front foodie spot: Fish Hawk Oyster bar.
Head back to Kilmarnock, but First…
Just outside of town is one of our favorite wineries. Order yourself a glass of wine at the 6-acre The Dog & Oyster Vineyard.You can also polish off your day of indulging with more local oysters and fresh seafood prepared a variety of ways at the winery’s Slurp eatery. Take a few bottles of the Virginia Wine home as gifts or to serve at your next family gathering.
A Historical Pitstop
On the ride back to Kilmarnock, park the car at Historic Christ Church & Museum. It is the only church from colonial Virginia to retain its original high-backed box pews, and it is one of only two with its original triple-decker pulpit. The landmark also hosts regular Ice Cream Socials and events like the annual Craft Beer Festival.
Take the Long Road Home to Deltaville
You can’t see everything we love in one weekend, but you can try. During your final day in the River Realm, load up the car and take the long way home. First, visit Deltaville. The Deltaville Maritime Museum memorializes the boat building skills that made the area famous. The museum also hosts a wide variety of community events and festivals at the Holly Point Nature Park. This outdoor area is a haven for children’s play and natural inspiration with a nature trail walk, kayak launch, picnic tables and a pier walk. It’s home to a summertime concert series, Groovin’ in the Park. After some time here, swing by J & W Seafood Market to bring some of our fresh seafood home with you. The market specializes in take-out fresh, local seafood, including raw oysters. Add sauces to your basket depending on how you’d like to enjoy your oysters.
One More Town Awaits: Urbanna
One more town awaits: Urbanna. This one is packed with River Realm favorites and is the setting of our annual Urbanna Oyster Festival, which brings in thousands from all over the country every November. Grab homemade barbeque and bloody marys at Something Different. Now that you’re fueled up, walk up and down Virginia Street. Shop at boutiques including Cyndy’s Bynn, Lowe-Tide Boutique, RS Bristow’s, and the Fin & Pearl. Keep the walk going down to the Urbanna Town Marina to watch the boats roll in and out of the docks. For a final meal, visit Portside Grill. Pull up a seat inside to cool off or relax at one of the tables outside for a view of the marina. We recommend the crab cakes, “Sea Sprouts” (brussels sprouts roasted with sea salt), and the Trophy Burger with a crab cake on top and a burger on the bottom.
What Was Your Favorite Spot?
Maybe you discovered something not on our 48-hour guide. Maybe you fell in love with a new cocktail. We hope you and your travel buddies enjoy the charm of the River Realm while you’re here. Did you snap some pics for the gram?! Tag us at @virginiasriverrealm.