There are a few things you can predict when you take a drive to the River Realm: sunset views, fresh seafood, and boat rides. There’s more waiting here for you to discover, though. Hidden gems are nestled throughout the region. From historical story-lines to ferries, here are several unexpected fun facts to track down during your next visit:
John Smith Stopped By
During Captain John Smith’s first Chesapeake voyage in the summer of 1608, he nearly died in a stingray attack. That encounter occurred here in the River Realm. The Deltaville Maritime Museum brings the moment to life. Stop in to learn not only about this nearly deadly voyage, but see a replica of of Smith’s “Explorer” at the museum along with other American boating building history. Carve out time to see more of Holly Point Nature Park, which is set on 34 acres of nature paths, gazebos, and 400-foot pier walk.
Your Crabs Are From Here
We are well known for our oysters here in the River Realm. Other areas of the East Coast are known for crabs. In fact, though, most Chesapeake Bay crabs breed here in the River Realm because of our ideal water salinity. In 2015, Gov. Terry McAuliffe said: “If anyone from Maryland is listening, I want to make this perfectly clear: All the crabs are born here in Virginia and they end up, because of the current, being taken [to Maryland]. So really, they should be Virginia crabs.”
You can enjoy crabs at a variety of our restaurants in the River Realm. Enjoy them in a variety of forms like soft shell crab sandwiches, crab balls, or steamed and ready for picking on the water at Urbanna Seafood & Raw Bar (featured above). Take some home to prepare yourself from J & W Seafood in Deltaville or Miss Mary’s Seafood in White Stone.
Spat – The Oyster Term You Should Know
If you think “spat” sounds like “spit,” you’re not too far off. Spat are what we call baby oysters. The larvae become “spat” when they attach to an oyster shell. They look a little bit like spit at this point in the life cycle. There are many more parts of the life cycle of the oyster and they’re all taking place on one of more than 30 oyster farms in the River Realm. The more you know, the more you’ll fall in love with our favorite culinary delicacy here.
If you want to get to know our favorite food better, get schooled on the water by a watermen who knows best. Join an Oyster Academy, a four-hour touch, taste and learn experience all about the oyster. Learn more ways to get up and close with the oyster here.
We Have Mad Wine Scientists
Wine may seem more like an after-hours conversation topic. For Paul and Katie Krop of Good Luck Cellars, it’s a day job that was first inspired by a career in medicine. The pair has a passion for the chemistry of wine-making. They first made small batches of wine from their home in Virginia Beach. They grew the fruit in their own backyard. Eventually their passion became a full-time adventure when they discovered the Good Luck land outside of Kilmarnock. Today, you can visit the tasting room and enjoy award-winning wine created by the scientists. Be sure to check the calendar for regular live music and tastings.
Urbanna is the New Jamestown
Urbanna was one of the twenty towns created in 1680 by the Colonial House of Burgesses. Urbanna was one of the first gateways of the tobacco trade with the Colonies. Over time, it became known for its oyster beds and packing plants. Today, you can walk down to the Urbanna Town Marina and easily imagine the port flowing with goods aboard boats from across the Atlantic.
It’s not the same gateway to trade as it once was, but the town is full of food, culture, and music. See it all during the annual Urbanna Oyster Festival–the Official Oyster Festival of the Commonwealth. See it by water via a cruise on the Rappahannock River with Golden Age Charters, an authentic buyboat that departs at the Marina. Rest your sea legs at a boutique hotel, The Chesapeake Inn (featured below) or at Bethpage Camp-Resort, complete with a water park, a boat ramp, and rentals like kayaks and paddleboards.
You Can Drive on the Water
You can’t walk on water, but you can drive on water here–sort of. The Virginia Department of Transportation runs a free ferry with a port in Lancaster County. If you’re visiting foodie spots and boutiques in Kilmarnock, save the afternoon for an adventure across the river. Drive your car onto the ferry on scenic byway Route 604. 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 from Kilmarnock. Once you’re there, head south to Yankee Point Marina or north to Belle Isle State Park (featured below) for more exploration. Before you hop on, check 511 Virginia for real-time information on the ferry’s operational status. P.S. Ask the ferryman about a biscuit for your furry friend.
We Like Boats More than People
Just kidding, but we do have more boats that people. Deltaville is the boating capital of the Chesapeake Bay. There’s a reason for that. Firstly, our history as a boat building hub during the early years of colonization. Secondly, our oyster and seafood industry keeps our watermen criss crossing the waters for their fresh catches and farm raised delicacies. Finally, boats are just plain fun. You can get in on the action yourself. We are home to 22 marinas on both shores of Virginia’s River Realm. You can bring in your own boat to explore the region, rent a boat for the weekend, learn how to sail, or sit back and relax on a chartered boat tour. Click here to learn more about taking on the River Realm by water.
Share Your Fun Fact Finds With Us
Did you track down the source of our fun facts? Share them with us on social media! We want to see! Tag us using @virginiasriverrealm and we’ll share your photos and tid bits. Maybe you can teach us, too!