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A Weekend Getaway To Lively, Virginia

A Weekend Getaway To Lively

The Rappahannock River is our signature landmark here in Virginia’s River Realm. It’s the heart of the region and leads many travelers, seafood, wildlife, and good times our way. Off this major river, though, are smaller creeks, coves and other rivers. One of those is the Corrotoman River, which splits off north about 8 miles from where the Rappahannock River meets the Chesapeake Bay. This river leads to the small town of Lively. Here, you’ll discover a remote and tranquil escape full of outdoor exploration, history, and views. 


Known as the “The Gateway to Belle State Park” and the birthplace of Mary Ball Washington, mother of George Washington, Lively is the perfect places to plan a road trip with the family. During your visit, you’ll disconnect to reconnect with nature and history and find yourself feeling alive in Lively. 

Where To Stay


For a stay closer to nature, we recommend Belle Isle State Park. Here, you can sleep under stars at a full-service or primitive campsite. The park also has a Camping Lodge bunkhouse that sleeps up to 14 people. Finally, the crew can stay at the Bel Air House and the Bel Air Guest House for a more elevated stay.  Where ever you rest your head, you’ll be able to access and explore 892 acres and 7 miles of shoreline.  The park features three picnic shelters, trails for hiking and biking, boat launches, children’s playground, fishing pier, boardwalk, and regular educational programming to enjoy. 


For more of a home-away-from home feel, check out our local vacation rentals. Fish Tales Lodge is nestled inside your own private riverside forest. The outdoor living space is huge, complete with hanging lounges, a grill, tables, chairs, kayaks, and an epic view of the Corrotoman River. You’ve got it all for remote working here, too: cable and high-speed wifi.


Bewdley is an elegant, yet rustic large historic home on the Corrotoman River. Sleep on 1,200 count Egyptian sheets, enjoy renovated bathrooms, and relax on the hammock or river-facing screened in porch. Take advantage of kayaks, paddle boards, bicycles, fishing rods, crab pots and crabbing nets the house offers for you and the family to enjoy.  

Belle Isle State Park in Lively, Virginia

Get Some Fresh Air

Whether you’re camping at Belle Isle or not, this is where you want to take the family to stretch their legs and get in touch with nature. The massive state park is home to a wide variety of tidal wetlands interspersed with farmland and upland forests. There are eight distinct types of wetlands within the park. These diverse habitats provide homes to blue herons, osprey, hawks, bald eagles, white-tailed deer, turkeys, groundhogs, rabbits, squirrels, moles, reptiles and amphibians. You are guaranteed to see something you’ve never seen before and forget all about the stress of the city back home. Rent canoes, kayaks and bikes at the park to help you get around to see it all. Sign up for guided canoe trips or crabbing to make the most of your time there.

Belle Isle State Park in Lively, Virginia

Get On The Water

Calm Waters Rowing is an immersive way to level up your river getaway. This full-service sculling camp vacation caters to the master rower, but also welcomes beginners and recreational rowers. Sign up for three or four-day rowing camps led by elite coaches, Charlotte Hollings and John Dunn who have more than 70 years of combined experience. The days start bright and early at 7 a.m. and end at 5 p.m. This truly unique hands-on river experience can only be found here in the River Realm. 

Get on the water in Lively, Virginia

Embrace Some Local History

Something else you can only find in the River Realm: must-see Colonial period history landmarks. One of those is right here in Lively. Take a quick trip back in time to explore the Historic St. Mary’s Whitechapel.  Constructed in 1669, this place of worship and colonial center is the resting place for numerous members of local families, including those kin to Mary Ball Washington. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, St. Mary’s still has an active congregation 350 years later.  Bring the family to observe the Holy Eucharist Sundays at 11:15 a.m. and walk through the Labyrinth in the woods. The Labyrinth is based on the Chartres Cathedral design and is used as a place of contemplation and prayer. 

Historic St. Mary’s Whitechapel in Lively, Virginia

Dine Like A Local

It’s known as “world-famous” around here. Though it may not actually be world famous,The  Corner is a special eatery. The laid back restaurant and bar sits on the corner of Mary Ball Road (Rt. 3) and White Chapel Road. Enjoy the “County’s Coldest Beer” and order up casual river inspired bites like crab cakes. Indulge in other house favorites like the Lively Sailor with piles of pastrami, swiss cheese, knockwurst, and spicy mustard. Challenge the travel squad to a game of pool while you’re there.

For the days when you have a big appetite, make sure to try the ribeye at The Oaks. This local eatery offers other delicious daily specials like buffalo shrimp, shrimp and grits, haddock, pasta, and steak. Comfort Food Thursdays and Sunday Brunches always offer up something special to try, too all in a casual and welcoming atmosphere. Order up cocktails and craft beer from the full service bar to wash it all down.

Local Dining in Lively, Virginia

Shop It Off

Bring home a bit of the River Realm style and fun. The newly opened River Country Mercantile is full of both. Discover a fun hats and load up on statement tops and dresses. You’ll also find unique art, figurines, and other home decor to brighten up any corner in your river home or office back home. Come here to find something special to remember your time at the River. You’ll be sure to smile.

Where to go shopping in Lively, Virginia

Ride The Ferry

Get a big breath of fresh air during a ferry ride–another adventure unique to the River Realm.   The Virginia Department of Transportation runs a free ferry that you and the family can hop on near Belle Isle State Park. The boat will cross the western end of the Corrotoman River. You’ll wind up on a peninsula that is otherwise hard to reach by car. Before you set out, though, check 511 Virginia for real-time information on the ferry’s status. If you have a doggy on your travel squad, ask the ferryman about a biscuit for your furry friend.

Merry Point Ferry in Lively, Virginia

Explore More of Virginia’s River Realm

Lively is a gateway to hundreds of hidden gems tucked away in our eight small river towns. A short car ride or boat ride away can lead you to more enchanting views, creative culinary discoveries, adrenaline sports, boutique hotels, luxurious spas, chic boutiques, outdoor adventures and live music. Plug in one of our other small town destinations into your GPS and to discover something new. 

Explore our River Realm map for more travel inspiration. 

Capture & Share Your Favorite Moments!

As you make your way through the shores of rivers and wind through our roads here in the River Realm, we’re sure you and your travel crew captured special and stunning memories. After your getaway has come to a close, check out your photos and share the best with us! We hope more people like you can enjoy the calming and enchanting spirit of the River Realm. Tag us using @virginiasriverrealm and we’ll share your photos.