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Magical Places to Enjoy the Holidays Outdoors in Virginia’s River Realm

‘Tis the season to be jolly! Bring that festive spirit with you all the way to the River Realm. Instead of the bustle and crowds of the city, come here and enjoy the holidays with a side of fresh air and small-town magic.  Cruise here for a day trip or stay for the weekend to really immerse yourself in all of our riverside charm. Walk through our streets, which are sparkling with lights and decorations. Dig into cozy winter dishes al fresco. Enjoy the open spaces during exciting events and more. While you’re at it, enjoy some refreshing company as you support our small businesses. Here are a few ways to get outside in our eight great small towns this holiday season:

Enjoy a Waterside Dinner in a Sparking Globe

In Irvington, the Bubbles By the Bay Experience may take your breath away. New this year, the Tides Inn offers an alfresco, stargazing supper experience under its Great Cedar Tree. The two sparkling “Chesapeake Bay Bubbles” are decked out with Moët Chandon blankets and pillows. Each rental comes with a complimentary glass of Moët bubbles. You can order from the Chesapeake Restaurant menu, which features a River Realm take on classics like filet, oysters, scallops, and more–many of which feature ingredients sourced locally from places like Dug In Farms. Food and cocktails are not included in the bubble rental fee. To reserve, please contact the Tides Inn at 804.438.4457.

Walk or Ride the Polar Express Through Festive Urbanna

One of our eight great small towns, Urbanna is a magical escape from any city. The main drag is Virginia Street, which is decked out with twinkling lights and other holiday decorations. It’s ready for cute photos, shopping, dining, and drinking! Fill up your sleigh with gifts from well-stocked boutiques and galleries like R.S. Bristow Store, Nimcock Gallery, Urbanna Trading Company, and River House Creations. Indulge in a holiday river feast at the Half Shell Grill, Portside Grill, or Mi Jalisco. During the holiday months, you can ride the “Polar Express,” which is Urbanna’s trolley “The Pearl” decked out for the holidays!

Christmas in Urbanna

Chop Down a Fresh Tree

Fresh and local–that’s how we like our Christmas trees here in Virginia’s River Realm. Here are three places where you can bring that truly fresh pine scent from the farm to your home:


Camp in Irvington:  This local hangout is set amid a sprawling field of a former winery. This year, they are lining it up with fresh trees for you to bring home and planting more for years to come. See more info here.


Country Cottage in White Stone: Know for its fresh floral designs and homemade chocolate, Country Cottage transforms during the holiday season. Get your trees here Monday to Saturday while they last. Check Facebook for the latest hours! 


Macey’s Christmas Tree Farm in Hartfield: This longtime local favorite is the perfect place to pick out a Christmas Tree the classic way. Visit Macey’s Christmas Tree Farm from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.. It is closed Wednesday and Thursday.

See the Best Light Show By the Bay

Stephen Blue’s Light Show is a reason to come to the River Realm all its own! Immerse yourself in an incredible display featuring 164,000 lights that twinkle and light up the night sky in a synchronized dance that is controlled by 228 Computer Control Channels.

It takes approximately 32 days to set up and is well worth it to enjoy the wonders! It is located between J&W Seafood and Mason Realty in Deltaville. It is free to visit. 

Enjoy The Oldest Lighted Night Parade in Virginia

Join us in Christmas present for a trip back in time. The Kilmarnock Lighted Christmas Parade is full of history, community, cheer, and a bit of a party! This year’s parade theme “A Community Strong Christmas” will celebrate small-town strength, perseverance, and unity and honor community heroes including first responders, led by local firefighters. The parade begins at 7 p.m. on Friday, December 9 along Main Street in Kilmarnock and will last approximately an hour. Pre-parade activities start with music, refreshments, and photos with Santa start around 5:30 p.m. throughout the Steptoe’s District. 

Capture & Share Your Favorite Moments!

With every river bend and wind in the road, we’re sure you and your travel buddies captured memories of the sights, sounds, smells, and flavors of the River Realm. After your adventures are done, 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.

Discover Your Perfect River Realm Adventure!

Are you the type that loves an outdoor adventure? Or are you looking to spend quality time with your loved ones splashing along our shorelines?

Discover your perfect path for exploring the wonders of Virginia’s River Realm.