Looking to get out of town this weekend but want to beat the beach traffic? Check out the Northern Neck of Virginia.
Where to Shop:
River and Creek: River and Creek is located in Irvington, walking distance from the Tides Inn, and prides itself in "outfitting you AND your home." The charming store sells women's clothing and accessories, and devotes half its space to home-decor. Check out their website for directions and more.
The Dandelion: Walk from River and Creek to the Dandelion, located just down the block, for even more clothing and housewares. The boutique features women's clothing, shoes and more.
The Box Boutique: The Box Boutique sells unique clothing and housewares, as well as beachy finds like cover-ups and sandals. Visit their store on your way to Windmill Point to pick up some essentials. The White Stone shop is a quick drive from Irvington or Kilmarnock.
Burgess House: This unique antique store features old and new and everything in between. It's located at 80 Jessie Ball DuPont Memorial Highway outside Kilmarnock (look for the giant chair out front!).
Rappahannock Art League Studio Gallery: This gallery is the oldest and largest visual arts organization in the area. The studio has 400 members and is located on Main Street in Kilmarnock. Find it within walking distance of the Kilmarnock Inn.
Feeling inspired by the beauty of the Northern Neck and want to put it down on paper? The studio has workshops for kids and parents -- check out their website for a schedule.
Where to Dine:
The Tides Inn: You don't have to be a guest at the Tides Inn to enjoy its delicious lunches and dinner. Be sure to request a seat outside on the patio to enjoy spectacular views of the water and local sailors.
The Local: Hungry from walking around Irvington? Try one of the Local's specialty sandwiches (the brie and apple panini is a fan-favorite) and coffees.
Lee's Restaurant: You'll probably see more locals than vacationers in Lee's, located in Kilmarnock. The restaurant features traditional diner fare and a homey atmosphere. Save room for dessert -- their pies are unbelievable.
Thai Pot: Thai food might seem unusual on the Northern Neck, but Thai Pot on Main Street in Kilmarnock sticks to traditional roots. The restaurant features a wide variety of vegetarian dishes, and guests can ask chef and owner Tan to spice up any dish with traditional curries. Be sure to try her famous fresh rolls and dim sum.
Good Luck Cellars: Good Luck Cellars, located outside Kilmarnock, doesn't serve food, but invites guests to pack a picnic to bring to wine tastings. Not in the mood for wine? That's OK; pack a picnic and go anyway -- the owners say they love company.
The Crazy Crab: Some of the best seafood on the Northern Neck can be found at Reedville's Crazy Crab. The waterfront joint has beautiful views of sunset every night and serves all things seafood. Try their fried oysters, steamed clams and mini-clam pasta for a fresh, local treat.
Smokin' Joe's BBQ: Smokin' Joes, found off Main Street in Kilmarnock, serves traditional barbecue and sides. Head out during the evening to hear local musicians perform on the adjoining stage, or stop by for lunch and take your food to go.
Where to Hit the Beach:
Windmill Point: This beach, just down the road from White Stone, is big enough to accommodate families but never feels crowded. The water is great for children, pets and parents alike and has several shallow areas for weaker swimmers. Pack a picnic and plan to spend the day there -- you won't want to leave!
Hughlett Point: This lesser-known treasure is tucked off Jesse Ball DuPont Memorial Highway. Walk through the surrounding forest on boardwalk paths before landing on its sandy beach. The beach is also a great place to launch kayaks and paddleboards.
Belle Isle State Park: Belle Isle features a large park with room to play and hang out. The beach nearby doesn't have much room to spread out on, so leave your towels on the grass!
Colonial Beach: Don't mind driving? Take a trip to the northern tip of the Northern Neck to visit Colonial Beach. The river town is a great place for water sports enthusiasts, and draws crowds of visitors every day.