Who doesn’t like a road trip to get away from it all? With that idea in mind, why not plan out a paddling trip right here in the Middle Peninsula, where a handful of offbeat destinations offer super yummy options to eat, cool places to stay and scenery that will take your breath away.
Tout Richmond and Williamsburg for its history, but this quaint river town located on the banks of the Rappahannock is older than both. Capt. John Smith liked it enough to want to try and settle there in 1608.
EAT: You won’t be wondering why NN Burger touts its fresh crafted burgers as the best in Virginia. The premium patties made from wagyu beef are so tender folks swear they melt in your mouth. It’s hard to choose when the options include the Chesapeake Crab Topped Burger (the lump crab meat on top is straight from the Bay), the Top Notch Burger topped with house made bacon and a Sunrise Brunch burger that includes an egg. Splurge by adding a NN Freakshake, an over-the-top Instagramable refreshment that allows you to leave with a souvenir. They come in a NN Burger logo mason jar mug. Take some New Orleans style fresh beignets back home. A woof menu lets your pooch enjoy his own meal while sunning himself on the dog-friendly patio. 303 Queen St.
STAY: Spacious rooms, superior breakfast and breathtaking sunset views define the Essex Inn, built in 1851 and laced in Civil War history. Plans call for it to reopen May 7 under new ownership. 203 Duke St.
PADDLE: Launch at Hoskins Creek, a tidal tributary of the Rappahannock River that meanders all though Tappahannock.
This rural port town that used to export tobacco to England houses one of only 11 surviving colonial courthouses that dates back to 1748. Urbanna hosts the Virginia Oyster Festival every November
EAT: Everything is made from scratch from the freshest local ingredients at Something Different, which likes to say it specializes in Neanderthal cuisine. Coffee is roasted In-house; for a twist, try the hot dog with apple butter and mustard. Breakfast served till 3 (go for the salmon omelet) and stop in for lunch. The Virginia sandwich combined smoked turkey and country ham on your choice of homemade bread is a favorite. Whiskey gingerbread sound good? It’s part of an extensive dessert menu where nothing is more than $4. 213 Virginia St. Closed Monday and Tuesday
STAY: Your retreat by the river, The Chesapeake Inn, allows guests to use a complimentary kayak while they reset in one of 13 elegantly appointed rooms. Stay here to walk everywhere as the Inn is in the middle of everything. 250 Virginia St.
PADDLE: Launch your craft at Town Marina, just two-tenths of a mile from downtown, or go up Urbanna Creek a few miles from the Saluda public boat ramp at Oakes Landing. 210 Oyster Road
Destination West Point
Surrounded by the Mattaponi, Pamunkey and York rivers, this picturesque King William County town covers just six square miles. It’s celebrating its 150th anniversary and invites you to stay awhile for a different point of view.
EAT: The food is special at The Blue Crab of West Point, where you can combine breakfast burrito with a flight of mimosas at brunch. Make no mistake, though. The crab cakes (or crab cake balls) are the star of the show. All crab – no filler. 620 Main St.
STAY: Escape to 403 Main, a Victorian home where the luxuries include a chef’s kitchen, soaking tub and a wraparound porch to bask in nature’s bounty. The resort-style rental sleeps 16, so it’s a great spot for an extended family getaway or a reunion with old friends. Stay includes use of two-person kayak. 403 Main St.
PADDLE: With three rivers and multiple entry points, take your pick. Check out Glass Island Landing that spills into the Mattaponi River, West Point Creek at 13th Street downtown or glide directly into the York River from Beach Park, on Main and 1st streets.