Ready to escape the frenetic pace of city life and find your quiet place? Only one hour from Richmond and three hours from D.C., Middlesex and Lancaster counties in Virginia are the answers to your need.
Known as Virginia’s River Realm, these two counties offer a retreat with no parking fees, no traffic, no crowds, and no chain restaurants or stores. Instead, you’ll find friendly folks, charming towns, 22 marinas, peaceful river views, and a quieter, slower pace.
“This is where you want to go to unwind and have fun,” said Michelle Brown, economic development and tourism coordinator for Middlesex County. “There is plenty to do here if you want to, but if you’d like to get away and soothe your soul, this is the place to come.”
With 465 miles of shoreline, coves, and inlets surrounding eight charming small towns, you’re invited to “catch your breath, calm your mind, and live your dreams.” Eat, shop, walk, watch an old-fashioned baseball game, relive the excitement of car racing on a dirt track, stroll through a museum, or golf, kayak, fish, and swim. Virginia’s River Realm truly offers something for everyone.
Water, water everywhere
A Waterman Heritage Tour is a unique, fun way to experience a one-of-a-kind day on the water with a working waterman. Enjoy beautiful scenery, catch oysters and crabs, learn about oyster farming, taste fresh seafood, or just go fishing. “These guys are very real, the authentic real deal,” said Brown. “They can tell you the greatest sea stories. It’s amazing!”
The fifth Typhoon National Championship Regatta takes place June 8–10 at the Rappahannock River Yacht Club in Irvington. It’s the largest gathering of Cape Dory Typhoon sailboats in the world.
The Leukemia Cup Regatta, July 13–15, has beautiful sailboats racing on the Piankatank River, all for a good cause.
Registration, auction, events, awards, and an after-party are held on the waterfront at Deltaville Maritime Museum.
Art and music
Arts in the Middle is a free event in Urbanna on June 2 and 3, beginning at 10 a.m. This display of fine artwork by 100 artists is held on the spacious grounds of stately 17th-century Hewick Plantation, a short walk to downtown. Enjoy music along with fresh local cuisine, craft brews, and Virginia wines.
Concerts are held on scheduled summer weekends along the waterfront. Kilmarnock offers Music on the Half Shell, Urbanna has Music Under the Stars (free), Deltaville has Groovin in the Park, and Belle Isle State Park offers Music by the River.
Food and fun
Four Farmer’s Markets offer fresh produce, cheeses, breads, seafood, and various crafts during the summer from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Irvington, at 98 King Carter Drive, is open every first Saturday and also offers music and free library books. Urbanna, in Taber Park, includes music and a dip in the town pool each second Saturday. The fourth Saturday has markets in
Kilmarnock’s new Towne Centre Park and at the Deltaville Maritime Museum, which features free cruises and a children’s garden.
Independence Day is celebrated from 6 to 10 p.m. July 2 at the marina in Urbanna. The free event features food trucks, crafts, a band, a boat parade, and fireworks over the water. Irvington celebrates the 4th of July with a Norman Rockwell small town parade starting at 10 a.m.
And this is just a sampling of the fun events you can enjoy during your relaxing stay along Virginia’s River Realm.
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