It’s time to pack up and head to the river. Leave the city life behind and hop in the car for an afternoon, a weekend, or a whole week in the River Realm. Its waves, its breeze, and its welcoming people are ready to help you catch your breath and calm your mind.
There’s nothing quite like spending the day out on the water. There are many ways to take on the waterways here: by jet ski, by kayak, by deadrise boat, or something a little bigger. Our state parks, marinas, and museums are shepherds of the rivers, creeks and bays. They can help you get on board and on your way to making memories in our enchanting region.
See our full guide to boats and marinas in the River Realm.
Kick back and let us do the work. Climb aboard a traditional deadrise boat or a laid-back pontoon boat. Get a lesson in culinary tradition, ecology and luxury with the help of locals who know the bends and grooves of our waterways.
Mill Creek Cruises at Deltaville Maritime Museum
287 Jackson Creek Road, Deltaville, VA
Fourth Saturdays during their Farmer’s Market event
Call ahead: 804 776-7200
Don’t just ride a boat, ride one back in time. The Deltaville Maritime Museum welcomes you to step on board to a classic deadrise boat. During the hour-long Discovery Cruise, guests weave through Mill Creek, Jackson Creek, and the Piankatank River. Learn about both the past and living maritime history of the Chesapeake Bay. Discovery Cruises will begin at 10:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., with a check in time 30 minutes before boarding. Don’t forget to visit the Holly Point Farmer’s Market on the Museum grounds 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Urbanna Road, Urbanna
Call or email ahead: (804) 366-1778, firstname.lastname@example.org
Relax on the river like a local in a 22’ pontoon boat. Urbanna Cruises will customize a trip for you and your river crew. They’ll get you up close to photo ops with wildlife including osprey, herons, eagles, gulls, terns and ducks. You may even catch a glimpse of porpoise, stingray and jumping fish. If you work up an appetite, your captain will dock your ride at The Tides Inn, Merroir or Urbanna Seafood and Raw Bar. We recommend scheduling a sunset or full moon cruise to float into a night you’ll never forget.
The River Realm is home to sailing experts, many of whom take part in races around the region and even the world. You don’t have to be an expert to play skipper. Schedule a chartered sailing experience or learn how to take the ropes in your own hands in sailing school.
97 Marina Drive, Deltaville, VA
Call ahead: (804) 776-9211
Set sail on your very own luxury getaway. Norton’s Yachts will fully stock a yacht for you, guide you through operations, and show you the way through our rivers and creeks. Bring along your own cocktails and oysters, or take the yacht to some of our dockside dining favorites. While you’re on board, keep your camera close by for sunset sightings, one-of-a-kind wild life moments and quaint captures of our colonial waterside neighborhoods. Norton’s also offers sailing classes and sells boats if you’re ready to make it official!
744 St. Andrews Lane, Weems, VA
Call or email ahead: (804) 438-9300, email@example.com
Arabella Denvir has taken on Ireland and England by sailboat. Now, she helps you and your travel buddies set sail in the River Realm. Her team of sailing savvy experts will teach you how to navigate the water by wind and sail. Premier offers courses for the family, for women-only and more. If you’d rather kick back, ask for a chartered sailing experience or a sunset cruise. Polish off a day on the water with drinks and Angry Oysters from the Tides Inn.
Forget the Motor
Get your outdoor fix by kayak, paddleboard and paddle boats. While you’re at it, enjoy breaking a sweat and getting closer to our wildlife and natural views. You don’t have to have your own toys for this adventure. Our campgrounds and parks have everything you need. But if you didn’t bring your own, check in at Docks of the Bay for paddleboard and kayak rentals.
679 Brown’s Lane, Urbanna
Camp out by the river at one of our favorites! In addition to a lively waterpark, mini golf, ice cream, Bethpage offers kayak, paddleboard and paddle boat rentals when you stay at the resort. Hang out in the freshwater lake or head out from the resort’s marina. You’ll work up an appetite for dessert from the Ice Creamery!
1632 Belle Isle Road, Lancaster, VA
Call ahead: (804) 462-5030
Belle Isle has seven miles of shoreline along the Rappahannock River. See it all by tandem kayak, single kayaks, canoes, and paddle boards. The park offers rentals for hourly and day rates. While you’re out on the water, you’ll be enchanted by the river’s diverse habitat. In the sky, blue herons, osprey, hawks and bald eagles call this place home. On land, you’ll also see white-tailed deer, turkeys, groundhogs, rabbits, squirrels, moles, and reptiles. Below you, eight distinct types of wetlands thrive in the water.
A Dose of Speed
Take on Carter’s Creek and the Rappahannock River with a little extra oomph. Rev up a jet ski, which makes getting around easy and nimble. While you’re zooming through the waterways, be sure to slow down and take a deep breath. Enjoy the views. Appreciate the wildlife.
480 King Carter Drive, Irvington, VA
Hop on board a jet ski during one of the Tides Inn’s energetic and enchanting jet-ski excursions. Your tour will start with a short classroom session about rules and safety precautions. Then, head out for nearly an hour on the water. Get up close and personal with the Ellery Kellum Rock oyster sanctuary, which is home to oysters year-round thanks to the VCU Rice Rivers Center. As you pick up the pace, you may find yourself riding alongside porpoises!
Let a Waterman Lead the Way
If you’re looking for authenticity, then you should board a deadrise boat with a local waterman. They help bring the seafood from the bay to your table. They share stories, often from generations past, of the oyster and seafood industries. They can also show you their favorite spots to enjoy the view and bring home the catch of the day.
480 King Carter Drive, Irvington, VA
This adventurous foodie experience connects the dots between history, environment, and cuisine. This journey starts at your boat via the Tides Inn. First, you’ll learn history about Virginia’s oyster industry, ecology, and tools of the harvest. Then, you’ll head out on the water and catch fresh oysters! We encourage you to try one fresh. End the experience learning how to prepare oysters from a local chef.
Watermen Heritage Tours
Click for Various locations
We have a long list of captains who are waiting to be your personal guide to the Chesapeake Bay. Sign up for one of many on-water tours. While on board, learn about the ecology of the Bay, how seafood is harvested, and a little bit history from the captains who know it best. Many of our captains will create customized tours for your travel crew. When you call to set up the tour, let them know what interests you the most.
Show Us Your River Experience
Bring the camera! Share your wildlife moments, your hilarious water fails, and epic sunset views. Tag us using @virginiasriverrealm and we’ll share your photos of your on-the-water experiences in the River Realm.