Let’s start with our favorite reason: oysters! When settlers first arrived here in the 16th and 17th centuries, the beds of our rivers were so full of oysters that boats couldn’t pass through certain stretches. Oysters continue to be the source of culinary plenty here, especially with the introduction of aquaculture. Oyster companies including, J & W Seafood, Urbanna Seafood Market, Chesapeake Bay Oyster Company and Rappahannock Oyster Company are just a few of many in the area fueling our restaurants and riverside cookouts with oysters. Raw, broiled, baked, roasted, fried–every way they deliver the flavors of our region to your palette.
There’s more fresh-from-the-Bay seafood varieties here-crabs, rockfish or striped bass, flounder, sugar toads. Just another reason to come visit! Plus there’s lots of locally grown produce. Meet the fishermen, growers and harvesters of wonderful seafood and know where your food comes from.
The calming effects of the water may come in the form of adventure and adrenaline for some. On the river, it’s much easier to get out and enjoy the water without the waves and undertows. There are all sorts of adventurous ways to help your mind and body relax and unwind. Take off from the docks at the Tides Inn, Bethpage Camp-Resort, and other marinas here. Enjoy the waterways by sailboat, jet ski, paddle-board, kayak, canoe, or even an oyster boat. For even more adrenaline, soak up the wild sights and sounds of the cocktail boat races during the annual Urbanna Cup. These single person, wooden boats are exhilarating to watch.
We also love seeing the winding curves and intersections of our rivers from the sky. That view is not just for the birds. Schedule a tour on a chartered plane ride from Coastal Sky Taxi or Bay Aviation. For the thrill seeker, opt for an aerobatic ride that includes maneuvers like the wing-over roll, the hammerhead, the loop and a spiral descent.
Norton’s Yachts in Deltaville can help lull you into relaxation with the gentle roll of the waves through sailing! Ever stayed overnight on a boat? Book a captain and sail away for an zen excursion and chase away all your worries. Depending on the sailboat, you can sleep anywhere from 6-10 people.
You can also get up close and personal with the seafood you love by booking a fishing or sightseeing charter. Bring your own food or drink or pull up to a favorite waterside restaurant with Golden Age Charters. They can cruise you and your crew around the river on a historic buyboat for a spectacular view of the sunset. A local waterman will lead you to oyster beds and crab pots while explaining the industry’s connection to the ecosystem and economy on Rappahannock River Charters. For something more hands-on, River’s Run Boat Tours will take you to the perfect fishing spot (tackle included) and let you experience crabbing aboard the Pamlico. On the Water Custom Power charters, Captain Gene Edmonds, guides curious travelers on custom tours and shares his extensive knowledge about homes, lighthouses, oysters, and the Bay’s water creatures.
Creative restaurants, fashion forward boutiques, luxurious bed and breakfasts, stunning wineries, art galleries, museums, and concert venues are some of the small, local experiences that make our region one of the most fun and delicious places to explore. Their stores, hotels and eateries dot the lines of our rivers’ shores. You can boat up to enjoy oysters and other seafood at Urbanna Seafood & Raw Bar, Deltaville Tap and Raw Bar and Portside Grill on Urbanna Creek. The Deltaville Maritime Museum opens up the minds of visitors to a long history of not just the region, but the country. The walkable roads leading from the Tides Inn into Irvington are dotted with art galleries and boutiques like Objects-Art & More and Village Needlepoint. That road leads to Dog & Oyster Vineyard, where you can sip on locally grown wine as you enjoy locally sourced seafood bites. It’s so easy to enjoy our local delicacies and creations in the River Realm. There is more shoreline, more inlets, more marinas and more roads to lead the way.
The ocean has its limits. You can generally only enjoy the wildlife below when you’re out in the sea. Without a wetsuit and snorkel, that may be hard to truly enjoy. Here in the River Realm, our shallow shores and rich, diverse forests open up many avenues to enjoy the array of animals, plants, fish, and mollusks that call the area home. There are a lot of ways to get up close and personal like a cruise. Urbanna Cruises will lead you and your crew on a 22’ pontoon boat. They’ll get you up close to photo opps with wildlife including osprey, herons, eagles, gulls, terns and ducks. You may even catch a glimpse of porpoise, stingray and jumping fish.
At Belle Isle State Park, seven miles of shoreline are waiting for your footsteps or paddle strokes. Take it on by water in a kayak or canoe. If you trek it on foot, you’ll also meet white-tailed deer, turkeys, groundhogs, rabbits, squirrels, moles, and reptiles. Of course, the oyster is part of our ecosystem here, too. Hop on a deadrise board with a local watermen through the Virginia Oyster Academy or a Watermen Heritage Tours. While on board, you’ll learn about the ecology of the rivers, how seafood is harvested, and a little bit of history from the captains who know it best.
It’s Down Right Gorgeous
Capture your favorite shot of the river and share it with us! Help us show our friends that the river is where the best waterview views are found. Tag us using @virginiasriverrealm and we’ll share your photos of your picturesque memories in the River Realm.