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Your memories of the River Realm may include long, hot summer days on the water. Boat rides, cookouts, water parks, kayaks–all of the outdoor summertime favorites. Though the days are shorter and colder during the winter months,  there is still so much to discover here on the coast of Virginia. Our restaurants are still serving up warm, creative dishes. Our boutiques are full of fresh finds from antiques to booties. Nothing quite warms up the soul like a brewery or vineyard, and we’ve got those, too!

Here are a few ways to spend a winter getaway in the River Realm:

Cozy up in a Boutique Hotel

The first step to a perfectly crafted winter getaway is to secure cozy lodging. Our boutique hotels are known for their laidback luxury. They are gateways to some of the regions most charming towns and main streets. In Irvington, the Hope & Glory Inn sets the bar high. Owners Dudley and Peggy Patteson have curated a refined and funky getaway. The outdoor walkways are dotted with inspirational quotes, the design is shabby chic and every detail nods to the former boarding school’s past. 

urbanna virginia hotel

In Urbanna, the The Chesapeake Inn has custom mattresses, peaceful nautical decor, down pillows, and attentive customer service to help you ease into your weekend by the river. The Inn is located in the heart of Urbanna and is walking distance to boutiques, bars, and the marina. Take on the town by foot or take out one of the Inn’s two-person bikes to explore.

Over in Kilmarnock, a home away from home awaits at the Kilmarnock Inn. The enchanting boutique hotel is full of treasures–a putting green, a garden, a spacious deck. Each of the eight guest cottages are named for a Virginia-born president. The town of Kilmarnock is full of eateries from Thai food to burgers, all in walking distance.

Sip on Spirits

We can help warm you up from the inside out. We’ll start with the booze! We have so many great wineries and watering holes here in the River Realm. Good Luck Cellars is tucked away in the hills of the River Realm, you can enjoy award winning wines cozied up inside or on the the vineyard’s wrap around porch overlooking the scenery. Be sure to save your Fridays for tacos from Dredge and Sundays for Sangria, with new recipes featuring Good Luck wines. Check out more events here. 

We also love Vine in Irvington. Inside, there’s a welcoming tasting room and walls lined with hand-selected bottles of best beer and wine from around the world. The friendly staff will help you sift through the selections with ease. Make room in your suitcase to take some home–after you’ve indulged here first, of course!

For some brew, head to Kilmarnock Brewhaus. You’ll discover a long list of beers on tap from the rich and chocolatey Mother’s Milk Stout to the malty Greir’s Gaire Pilsner. The industrial charm of the building is a great backdrop for a relaxing, and cozy afternoon with friends no matter what the weather. 

Indulge in Art

There are a lot of reasons artists make the River Realm home. The gorgeous landscapes, the charming people, and the sense of adventure inspire them to create here. That means we have many spots to enjoy their creations. Start with the local artist hub at Allure Art Centre. The 3,800 square-foot building is full of original works including painting, sculpture, carving, metal work, wood working, photography, illustration, and mixed media. There is always an art opening or party on the books here, too. It’s easy to meet people here.

In Urbanna, stop into Urbanna Harbor Art Gallery. The 5,000 square-foot treasure trove is a unique blend of new art and a ranging collection of antiques. Spend an afternoon here sifting through original paintings, books, antiques and other one-of-a kind collectibles. 

Nimcock Gallery is one of those places you need to keep coming back to again and again to see everything. Here, local Emily Chowning curates a magical collection of antique furniture, trinkets, prints, and paintings. Her husband Shep crafts custom frames in his atelier. Pick up coastal landscapes and Urbanna Oyster Festival posters, and river maps for your river home. Don’t miss the garage out back packed with more furniture and antiques.

Get Your Shop On

There are so many special boutiques here, each one curated by locals who have a passion for fashion, art, home decor and gifts. We have a few favorites! In Irvington, stop into The Dandelion (featured above). This old house has walls, floors and cabinets dripping with fine women’s clothing, jewelry and gifts. Down the road, Objects Art and More you can find artist-made clothing, jewelry, paintings and more. A new featured artist is always on display to join the more than 200 artists who regularly showcase their items here. 


In Kilmarnock, shopping is a favorite past time. The Rivah carries something for everyone. As you weave in and out of shelves and racks, you’ll discover rivah-inspired home decor, gifts, accessories, and women’s clothing. For something a little refined and crafty, the Papeterie (featured above) is the ticket. The shop is a haven for stationary geeks and the perfect final stop if you’re searching to top off a gift to someone special. Enjoy a large selection of chic cards and gorgeous stationary.

Over in Urbanna, several boutiques line Virginia Street. We’ll start with The Fashion Exchange.  The consignment boutique is loaded from wall to wall with jewelry, accessories, and clothes to brighten the spirit. RS Bristow’s is the area’s only surviving general store. It’s packed scarves, jackets, jewelry, purses, sweaters, and ties for men and women alike.  For something on the resort side of style, visit Lowe Tide (featured above). Here, you’ll find your favorite designer resort fashion brands. Stock up for the warmer days for all the men and women on your river squad.  

Get Outdoors

A visit to Belle Isle State Park may be brisk in the winter, but the outdoors are still inspiring, refreshing and full of fun here in the River Realm. At the Park, you and your crew can explore a wide variety of tidal wetlands interspersed with farmland and upland forests. Bring along the bikes and stop into the park office to learn how you can use million dollar satellites to find hidden treasures in the woods using Geocache technology. The cost to rent a GPS unit is just $6.00 for half a day. The cabins are still available for rent, too! Sounds like a cozy winter getaway in the wild waiting to happen. Learn more. 

Did We Mention Food?

Our fresh local seafood and produce shine brightly all year round. We have many foodie guides over on our blog. Take a visit today by clicking here. See what else you can discover in between your winter explorations and discoveries. Our chefs have the creative and downright decadent meals to warm your heart and soul. 

See all of our travel guides and blog posts here. 

Don’t Forget to Call Ahead!

While many of these restaurants and hubs are open during the winter months, some are closed or may close for rough weather days. Be sure to call ahead, check websites and social media to be sure. Visit our helpful business directory for phone numbers, websites, and more. Click here.

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.