Travel Recommendations for Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay Towns

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve likely seen that I go down to the Urbanna, VA area fairly often to visit my parents at their river cottage on the Rappahannock. And, it’s been on my list of places to write about for ages — I just never seem to have my camera handy when I’m there.

Well, similar to how I ended up just doing a Mini-Travel Guide for Austin, TX since I’m there several times a year, but never on travel assignment, I’m going to give y’all a little travel snack today with recommendations for Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay towns, those that run the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula. This won’t be a full travel guide, but rather some recommendations on restaurants and my favorite river activity: antiquing

Travel Recommendations for Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay Towns

Heading down to the towns along Virginia’s Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula seems to be on more of my readers’ radar now that we’re turning to drive-able destinations for our summer trips. The river or the bay is more laid-back than the beach, less crowded, and, while I don’t want to give away all my secrets and start fighting crowds at my favorite spots, I will give you a few spots to check out.

When I’m at the river, I’m in Urbanna, but it’s a hop, skip, and a jump away to so many other charming small towns: Irvington, Kilmarnock, Mathews, White Stone, Saluda, Deltaville, and more. Looking for somewhere to stay? You’ll find a few quaint bed and breakfasts or you could snag a rental home on the water and venture into town for shopping and eating. 


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Where to Eat Along the Northern Neck and the Middle Peninsula

First things first, most of the restaurants we’ve been to have been because they’re the places my parents frequent. So, really this is Leslie and Billy’s list of recommendations and what they love is simple, tasty American food. But, as I was pulling this together, with Adam’s help, of course, we realized there are so many spots we haven’t been to — and we’re making a list of new places to try ASAP. In the meantime, here are a slew of places I can vouch for now.

Merroir Tasting Room | Topping, VA: This waterfront restaurant is worth the trip for the view alone — the delicious oysters from this Rappahannock Oyster Company are the icing on the cake.

Where the Sidewalk Ends | Urbanna, VA: Owned and run by the sweetest local couple, you’ll find mouth-watering homemade biscuits, sausage, and more (as in farmer grown plants and honey!) in this quaint cafe.

Something Different | Urbanna, VA: Lots of classic American dishes, including all sorts of barbecue and brisket sandwiches are the standard at this homey spot.

Virginia Street Cafe | Urbanna, VA: I’ve stopped in here for a delicious breakfast, but the reviews seem to indicate that oysters and crab cakes are the way to go.

The Table | Deltaville, VA: This low key upscale spot is tucked away in a shopping center in Deltaville, but the food is so good that locals keep coming back. 

J&W Seafood | Deltaville, VA: We always pick up seafood here, but don’t sleep on the Rivah Dip or the Shrimp Cheese Ball Dip. Adam and I always pick up extra to take home to DC with us.

Hole in the Wall | Gwynns Island: Give me a summery cocktail and a basket full of hush puppies and I’m a happy camper at this waterfront bar and restaurant.

The Local | Irvington, VA: One of my all-time favorite sandwiches is from this coffee shop! I now make the cream cheese, bacon, and cucumber bagel sandwich at home (though I’d still rather be here).

Kilmarnock Brewhaus | Kilmarnock, VA: We stopped in here to appease Adam after I’d spent a few hours strolling through aisles of antiques. They have live music in addition to craft beers on tap.


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Where To Go Antiquing in the Northern Neck

My absolute favorite thing to do when I’m at the river is antiquing. I can think back to summer trips to my aunt and uncle’s river house when I was young and looking forward to that afternoon when I would go with my mom and aunt to the antique mall in Tappahannock (funny enough, I haven’t been back to this one as an adult!). I still remember my mom hemming and hawing over a crazy white floral vintage lamp before finally deciding it was worth the splurge — it’s still in the living room, so I’d say it was worth it. 

Kilmarnock Antique Gallery | Kilmarnock, VA: This large antiques mall is my must-stop each time I’m at the river. If you love oyster plates, you can’t miss it. If you love any antiques, you still can’t miss it (they even have a mid-century room!).

Rivah Antiques and Accessories | Kilmarnock, VA: I’ve picked up a few framed prints and decorative items here for a song. You’ll definitely find more than just home items in this good-size shop.

Mathews Main Street | Mathews County, VA: While I haven’t been here enough times to list all the little shops out, this is worth checking out for several smaller antique stores, consignment shops, and art galleries.

Rivah Shack Treasures | Deltaville, VA: They call it “flea market style shopping.” I call it the place where I once found a brass cowboy boot. Doesn’t get more treasure than that (and, yes, it now resides in our home).

You can find Virginia’s River Realm’s listings for all the antique stores in the area here. It looks like I’ve got plenty of exploring to do!


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Until Next Time…

Okay, that’s all I’ve got for today, but I promise this summer I’ll head down to the river with camera in hand, ready to put together a formal travel guide for y’all. So, stay tuned, because these aren’t the last travel recommendations for Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay towns that are headed your way.


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