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Wanderlust: wändər ləst / noun: a strong desire to travel.

The roads have been calling. Old travel photos compel you to daydream about adventure. Whispers of the wind have your mind wandering. We get it. You’ve got a case of wanderlust. Your travel plans may have been stifled this year, but we have the cure. Tucked away on the shores of Virginia is a luxurious, quirky, and delicious haven to feed all your wanderlust cravings: Kilmarnock. 

Join us for a day of adventure in the hub of Virginia’s River Realm, an enchanting collection of eight small towns and 465 miles of dreamy shoreline. There’s plenty of space and loads of experiences to love. Kilmarnock is home to 43 “Best of Virginia” winners from Virginia Living’s annual poll of its readers.   This treasure is less than a few hours away from most cities in Virginia and Maryland, so you can get back to your own bed by nightfall. 

Wander with us:

Start Off with a Cup of Joe.

Get on the road in the morning. Don’t worry about brewing up a pot of coffee at home. We’ve got you covered here. Fill up a cup at Front Porch Coffee House along Main Street in Kilmarnock. You’ll get a sense of the rich and joyful community that resides here. Everyone gathers at Front Porch! The coffee house has hours into the evening and also offers online ordering. 

We also recommend stopping by the newly opened Chesapeake Doughnut Company, which is just down the road in White Stone. Order your sweet treats online ahead of time and pick up when you arrive with a simple text. 

Shop or Make a Gift to Take Home.

Downtown Kilmarnock, also known as the Steptoe’s District, is home to a wide variety of speciality boutiques, local merchants and experiences. One of our newest friends in Kilmarnock is Grow NNK! Here, you and your travel buddies can build your own terrarium with air plants and succulents. If you don’t have time for crafts, shop eclectic gifts including family farmed CBD products.

If you’re looking for something to wear, explore a River Realm classic: Weekends Fashions. The beautifully restored 1903 Victorian home is always fully stocked with brands like Tommy Bahama, Southern Tide and Sperry. For more clothing and accessories head into Waterline, which has an extensive collection of resort ready looks. Dubbed the Best of Virginia in 2020, The Rivah carries a blend of river inspired home decor, jewelry, clothing and more.

Something else you can’t find anywhere, our extensive river inspired antique shopping! Rivah Antiques & Accessories is 4,500-square-foot of adventures. For serious antiquing, search the dealers at Kilmarnock Antique Gallery. You’ll find an amazing collection of oyster plates for sale. Their beauty is worth the trip. Get more shopping ideas in this blog post.

Grab a Gourmet Bite to Enjoy Outside. 

From hidden gems to well-known national chains, Kilmarnock is home to a wide array of restaurants and foodie destinations. Kilmarnock’s #1 Trip Advisor place for breakfast and lunch Car Wash Cafe is located in a former Car Wash building. The restaurant serves wild dishes like oyster eggs benedict, grilled pimento cheese sandwiches, salmon salads, and soft shell crab BLTs. Car Wash Cafe now offers an outdoor dining option

Two doors away is Terrie’s Place is a Kilmarnock staple with a menu offering fresh meats and seafood coupled with a complete al fresco dining option. Right next door there’s Stevie’s Ice Cream, a local favorite, which serves the area’s best soft serve ice cream perfect for an outdoor treat. 

You can also pack up a gourmet batch of snacks to enjoy outdoors from Carried Away Cuisine, which has a little bit of everything–truffles, sandwiches, pastries, cheese, crackers and more. Enjoy your snacks with lots of distance, fresh air and good views at places like Kilmarnock Town Centre Park, Hughlett Point Natural Area Preserve , or Dameron Marsh Natural Area Preserve .  Don’t be shy. Load up for the next part of your day…

Head to Sip on Some Spirits. 

Start with some beer at Kilmarnock Brewhaus, Kilmarnock’s first brewery. Now offers outdoor seating there’s always some fun (and delicious!) happening at this watering hole.  Wide open spaces await just outside of town, too! Continue your sipping adventure at Ditchley Cider Works. Park at one of the many tables scattered about the large lawn. The staff will serve you cider social distance style. Order up a tasting of ciders made from fruit grown right before your eyes. Say“Hi” to the cows as you explore the sprawling grounds.

If you’re ready for more, Good Luck Cellars is a River Realm staple. Tucked away among rolling hills, the vineyard is a sweet paradise, especially with a new frozen wine pop in hand! You can also guide yourself on your own wine tasting on the wrap-around porch.

Take a Bite Out of Life.

Now it’s time to refuel again. Historic Downtown Kilmarnock restaurants are ready to feed you. We have so many favorites. For some Asian flare and a bit of kick, Chao Phraya Thai and Sushi Grill is always a lively time. The patio is dog friendly, too! Order up curry, sushi, salads and more in a dreamy atmosphere. You’ll feel transported to not only the River Realm, but another land far away. 

For something classic, head to Lee’s Restaurant. It’s a family run restaurant–four generations and counting!–and it’s the best place to indulge in a slice of pie in town. One final recommendation: imaginative burgers and Lobster from NN Burger. These bites are Instagram-worthy and decadent.  

Just in Case You Need to Crash. 

Feeling full and ready for some snuggles? We don’t blame you! Just a half block from downtown shops is the quirky and comfy Kilmarnock Inn. The boutique hotel is full of enchanting finds: 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. If tea and crumpets sound fun to you, then you may consider Back Inn Time Bed & Breakfast. Afternoon tea and crumpets are served at 4 p.m. every day on the veranda or in the parlor in front of a warm fireplace! Make time to walk around the two-acre property to enjoy the English Boxwoods, Azaleas, more than 40 rose bushes as well as a wisteria pergola and herb garden. If you’re looking for something a little more classic, the Best Western is always open. 


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Show Us How You #WanderLove

We want to see how you social distance travel in the River Realm! Share your refreshing discoveries and epic views. Tag us on Instagram at @virginiasriverrealm or @visitkilmarnock.

For more information about Kilmarnock visit 

For more day trip inspiration, visit our blog.

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.