Along the Potomac River
Off of Pope’s Creek, a tributary of the Potomac River, is George Washington Birthplace National Monument, which includes the heart of Augustine Washington’s plantation, the 17th century homesite of the immigrant John Washington, and the Washington Family Burial Ground. Tour the Colonial Revival memorial house and dependencies constructed in honor of the bicentennial of Washington’s birth and as part of the creation of the national park in 1932. Visit the colonial farm where George Washington was born and took his first steps and immerse yourself in an 18th century experience that includes, gardens, outbuildings, fields and heritage breed animals. Walk along creekside paths to enjoy unspoiled waterfront vistas. 804.224.1732 or www.nps.gov/gewa
Either travel through Montross stopping at The Art of Coffee for lunch, which features homemade soups, pastries, gourmet coffee, lattes, frappes and smoothies. Browse through their gallery as art is always on the menu! Located at 15722 Kings Highway in downtown Montross. 804.493.9651. Or continue on to Stratford Hall dining room for lunch and tour of the Great House.
Stratford Hall is the home of two signers of the Declaration of Independence, Richard Henry Lee and Francis Lightfoot Lee, and birthplace of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. The Georgian Great House was built in 1738 and the grounds still encompass 1900 acres of the original land which sits high along the bluffs overlooking the Potomac River. Explore the many dependencies, formal gardens, grist mill and hiking/nature trails. 804.493.8038 or www.stratfordhall.org
Return back up Route 3 to Oak Grove and Ingleside Plantation Vineyards and Winery. Ingleside was built in 1834 and vineyards now cover about 50 acres of gently rolling countryside. Enjoy tours and tastings at one of Virginia’s oldest and largest wineries. 804.224.8687 or www.inglesidevineyards.com
Option: Stop by the Westmoreland Berry Farm to stock up on fresh fruit and produce in season, and the farm’s own line of gourmet fruit preserves. Enjoy a fresh fruit sundae on their pavilion deck overlooking the Rappahannock River. 804.224.9171 or westmorelandberryfarm.com
Chesapeake Bay Maritime Heritage
Depart one of the Northern Neck’s delightful bed & breakfasts or country inns after breakfast and travel to Reedville to see this turn-of-the-century fishing village historic district. Visit the Reedville Fishermen’s Museum and its exhibits detailing the traditions of the working watermen and fishermen of the Chesapeake Bay. Also tour several boat restorations, including the replica of John Smith’s barge, “The Spirit of 1608”, a third generation working boatyard and the Walker House, a modest 1875 fisherman’s home. 804.453.6529 rfmuseum.org
Option 1: Cruise aboard the skipjack Claude W. Somers from Reedville. Watch the crabbers in their traditional Chesapeake Bay workboats tending their crab pots and unloading their catch at a local crab house. Available during the season on various Saturdays so call for a reservation. 804.453.6529 rfmuseum.org
Option 2: Tour The Gables, one of Reedville’s fine Victorian sea captain’s mansions, and learn how Captain Fisher built his stately home from bricks brought from England as ballast and how he included the mast of his favorite schooner into the construction. 859 Main Street, 804.453.5209 or thegablesbb.com
Located on a low bluff at the end of the Yeocomico River, the historic village of Kinsale was established in 1706. It is the oldest colonial port town on the Virginia side of the Potomac River. Learn about the 1813 battle on Kinsale Creek and the many schooners that frequented the busy port at the Kinsale Museum located in a late 1800s barroom. 804.472.3001 or kinsalefoundation.org
An Island Out of Time
Tangier Island, Virginia
From Buzzard’s Point in Reedville, board the Chesapeake Breeze for a day boat cruise to Tangier Island. Tour this quaint island in the middle of Chesapeake Bay where island families earn their living from the famous blue crab. See crab shanties, wander along the commercial docks where the crab boats are tied up and stroll the narrow streets where bicycles are golf carts are the main means of transportation. After a seafood dinner at the Chesapeake House, return to the boat and arrive back in Reedville.
Tangier Rappahannock Cruises
468 Buzzards Point Road
Reedville, Va 22539
A Walk on the Wild Side . . . Virginia Birding & Wildlife Trail
The Northern Neck Loop of the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trailfeatures a wide diversity of waterfront and forested sites. Visitors can view spectacular wildlife and scenery amidst the birthplaces of three of our nation’s first five Presidents: George Washington, James Madison, and James Monroe. Opportunities abound to observe songbirds, waterfowl, wading birds, bald eagles, stunning vistas, and breath-taking butterflies. Bring a picnic lunch from The Art of Coffee and visit Westmoreland State Park for a walk along the Potomac River shoreline searching for shark’s teeth and 12-million year old fossils below the cliffs. Learn about the prehistoric animals that once populated the area. A range of hiking trails are available at this 1311-acre state park built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. Rent a kayak and explore the Miocene-era cliffs from the Potomac. 804.493.8821 orwww.dcr.virginia.gov/state_parks/wes.shtml
Avid birders will enjoy a walk along the Rappahannock River at Belle Isle State Park or Tayloe Wildlife Preserve. Learn why the Rappahannock River National Wildlife Refuge was created, and why the area’s fresh and saltwater wetlands, forests and fields are home to many species. (804) 333-1470.
Our Colonial Heritage
(Can be a day trip or add this full day tour to your Virginia History itinerary. On the way from Williamsburg to Fredericksburg.)
After breakfast at the world-class Tides Inn, meet your docent at Historic Christ Church in Irvington. Built in 1735, this National Historic Landmark is the best preserved of Colonial Virginia’s Anglican parish churches. Virtually unchanged, its splendid architecture includes a three-level pulpit that towers over the individual enclosed high-backed pews. christchurch1735.org.
Tour the Mary Ball Washington Museum & Library in the Lancaster Courthouse Historic District. The complex of buildings built around 1800 includes the Old Clerk’s Office, Old Jail and Lancaster House. Mary Ball, born at nearby Epping Forest, was the mother of George Washington. mbwm.org
Option #1: Lunch at The Local, a coffee shop that serves breakfast and lunch in Irvington.
Option #2: Return to The Tides Inn in Irvington for four-star luncheon in one of the resort’s dining rooms.
Stop in Kilmarnock for a small town strolling and shopping experience. Stop in at a gift shop or gallery along Main Street or just around the corner at the Kilmarnock Antiques Gallery on School Street featuring over 80 vendors. virginia-antiques.com. Visit the Kilmarnock Museum, which houses exhibits of business and commerce of Kilmarnock. Recalls the early days of the bustling town, first known as Steptoe’s Ordinary, settled in 1719. Open 7 days a week, 10am-5pm. 804.435.1207
Rubble with a Cause
(This study tour features archaeological explorations and architectural history and offers a glance at preservation-in-progress.)
Stop first at the Richmond County Museum in Warsaw for an overview of the environment of the county’s colonial plantations along the Rappahannock River and the Rappahannock Indians who lived here first.
10:00 a.m. Join a guided tour of Menokin built in 1769 for Francis Lightfoot Lee, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and his wife, Rebecca Tayloe of nearby Mount Airy. Once a flourishing Rappahannock River plantation near Warsaw, the imposing Georgian brick mansion, a National Register building, has partially collapsed. Its original materials and architectural features survive and are displayed at the Visitors Center.
The great families of Virginia’s Northern Neck have long known that forging partnerships through marriage and business often ensured financial success and the propagation of healthy and flourishing family trees. Perhaps two of the most prominent colonial families, the Tayloes of Mount Airy and the Lees of Stratford Hall, formed such a partnership with the marriage of Francis Lightfoot Lee and Rebecca Tayloe in 1769. Though the marriage produced no children, the couple’s home, Menokin, a wedding gift from John Tayloe II (Rebecca’s father) became their progeny. While Mount Airy has remained through history as the private home of the Tayloe family, Menokin changed hands many times and eventually fell into disrepair; it is now under the stewardship of the Menokin Foundation to interpret and preserve it.
Yet the relationship between Mount Airy and Menokin has remained strong. And now this ancestral partnership has created a unique opportunity for you to tour both properties for an in-depth look at the houses, the architecture and the families that lived in them. Previously closed to the public, Mount Airy is now offering guided tours of the house and grounds. In collaboration with this tour is the option for a guided tour through the Menokin house site, an opportunity that is otherwise unavailable.
An organized tour of Mount Airy would include a visit of both inside the house and its surrounding outbuildings, grounds and garden. The tour would begin in the forecourt with a description of the construction materials used, the design characteristics and the uses of the dependencies. Visitors would enter the great hall for a viewing of all of the paintings and furniture. The tour would continue on the main floor to include the dining room, the library and the bedroom. A description of all furnishings and portraits would be given. After completing a tour of this main floor, visitors would exit out onto the bowling green for a tour of the garden and outbuildings. The outside tour would include a tour of the cemetery and grave of Francis Lightfoot Lee and his wife Rebecca.
The tour would then continue to nearby Menokin for a guided tour through the ruin. This tour begins by entering the cellar and witnessing the techniques of the stone masons that created this architectural gem. View evidence of carving experiments tried and abandoned. Touch the mortar laid by craftsman more than 240 years ago. Enter the barrel wine vault and marvel at the arched brick ceiling that has survived into this century. Continue upstairs through a series of platforms and catwalks to get an up-close look at the constructions methods employed by 18th-century artisans. Experience the unique feeling of peering behind the walls to understand how this giant jigsaw puzzle was constructed. The tour concludes with a stop at the Menokin Visitor’s Center to view the interior paneling, which was miraculously removed from Menokin before its collapse and remains in pristine condition due to the efforts of local preservationists. Before departing, hear about the foundation’s plans to restore Menokin in a revolutionary way using original fabric and architectural glass.
This joint tour is available by reservation only. Email: email@example.com or visit menokin.org
Enjoy lunch at the Tavern Cafe behind the historic Northumberland County Courthouse in Heathsville.
You’re already at the Heritage Arts Center at Rice’s Hotel/Hughlett’s Tavern, so for the complete experience, enjoy an excellent example of the type of hotel and tavern you would have found in many Tidewater courthouse towns in the 18th and 19th centuries. A long white frame building, the Tavern was developed in stages with the oldest section dating before 1795. Archaeological excavations have revealed many artifacts of the colonial area. Traditional trades such as blacksmithing and weaving are practiced by active guilds.
For further information, contact the Northern Neck Tourism Commission at 804.333.1919 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit our web site www.northernneck.org or on Facebook
Visit Stratford Hall, the Lee family estate, for a special tour featuring African-American contributions to the running of a tobacco plantation and farm in the Colonial Era. (See itinerary #1 for details.)
11:30 a.m. Option #1: Lunch in the Dining Room at Stratford Hall.
12:30 p.m. Option #2: Continue on to Reedville for lunch at The Crazy Crab.
On the way from Stratford to Reedville on Route 3 east of Montross, see the A.T. Johnson Museum outside Montross for exhibits on African-American education in Westmoreland County.
Visit the Reedville Fishermen’s Museum, featured in African-American Pathways, and learn about the special contributions of early 1900’s African-American fishermen and watermen of the Northern Neck through photographs and oral history. Meet and listen to a special performance of the Northern Neck Chantey Singers, a group of retired fishermen who have brought back the old work songs that once were needed to help the fishermen draw up the heavy nets filled with fish. (See itinerary #2 for details.)
Many area museums have special rotating exhibits on African-American heritage, inquire about the availability of special tours. And there is also the option of a self-guided “African-American Education in the Northern Neck” tour.
Oysters in the area
Why, then the world’s mine oyster,
Which I with sword will open.
– Shakespeare, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act II. Scene II.
No sword needed to get into Northern Neck oysters, but here’s where you can experience some of the riches of the Northern Neck:
1) Take an on-water tour with a waterman…northernneckheritage.com. Go tonging, learn about the Baylor Survey, and see first-hand how oysters sustained a region for generations, and maintained water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.
2) Buy oysters to take home… 1) Denson’s Grocery and R&B Oyster Bar(804.224.4121), 117 Washington Avenue, Colonial Beach 2) & 3) Faunce’s Seafood 2 locations: (804.493.8690 (Montross) 804.333.3935 (Warsaw), 2811 Cople Highway, Montross and 123 Maple Street, Warsaw; 4) Bluewater Seafood (804.435.3530), Chesapeake Commons Shopping Center, Kilmarnock, 5) Tri-Star Supermarket(804.435.3800), 81 Irvington Rd, Kilmarnock on Route 200; 6) KC’s Crabs & Cues (804.435.7665) between Kilmarnock and Wicomico Church; 7) Cockrell’s Creek Seafood & Deli (804.453.6326), 567 Seaboard Road, Reedville
Annual Events Suitable for Motorcoach Tours
- Rappahannock River Waterfowl Show: Saturday and Sunday, 3rd weekend in March: Juried show, decoy and songbird carving, waterfowl art, in White Stone.
- Garden Week 2017: Wednesday April 26, Tour of homes in Northumberland County
- Stratford Hall Wine & Oyster Festival: September 16th-17th, 11-5 at Stratford Hall in Westmoreland County
- Christmas on Cockrell’s Creek – Saturday and Sunday 2nd weekend in December: Tour candlelight homes in this waterfront fishing village by water taxi.
- Christmas at Pope’s Creek Plantation 2nd Saturday in December: Special tours of George Washington’s Birthplace decked out for Christmas.
- Christmas by Candlelight at Stratford Hall – Friday and Saturday 2nd weekend in December: Costumed interpreters perform vignettes of life at Stratford as you stroll through Robert E. Lee’s home by candlelight. Special lunch and dinner in the dining room.
- For further information, contact the Northern Neck Tourism Commission at 804.333.1919 or email@example.com. Visit our Facebook or website at northernneck.org