Trail News

Paddle to a Destination: Waterfront Attractions Along Virginia’s Water Trails

October 21, 2021

Paddling at sunset, fresh seafood, and a local brew. Sounds like the perfect way to spend an evening in coastal Virginia. But wouldn’t it be even better if you could paddle to dinner? While paddling just to paddle is always fun and good for the soul, sometimes having a destination makes it feel more like an adventure! To help you plan out your adventure, we’ve rounded up a handful of waterfront restaurants and attractions, conveniently located along the water trails of the Northern Neck, Middle Peninsula, and Eastern Shore regions.

PRO TIP: Never drink and paddle! If you’ve got cocktails on the mind, finish your paddle before indulging in the local libations!

Northern Neck Attractions

aerial view of a restaurant, outdoor seating, surrounding my water and boatsIf you’re paddling in and around Colonial Beach, a stop at Dockside Restaurant & Tiki Bar is the perfect spot to grab some grub and a cold beverage on a hot day. Live music is offered on a regular basis, and a convenient, sandy beach is available for easy landing of paddlecraft. Meanwhile, since you’re in the area, round out your adventure with a little art and culture, by visiting the Artist Alliance at Jarret Thor Fine Arts, a short walk from the main beach in town.

Heading down the peninsula to the Great Wicomico River you’ll find the elegant Horn Harbor Restaurant. Paddlers can land on the beach, boat ramp, or tie up at the docks. If arriving for dinner, reservations are highly recommended. During the summer, join the fun at the tiki bar for some cornhole and a more relaxed atmosphere.

about a dozen people explore an historic sailing vessel, the Elva-C, moored at a dock

For those seeking a destination other than a restaurant, the Reedville Fisherman’s Museum, located in Reedville, sits right on the water. Visitors can peruse the museum to learn about Lower Chesapeake culture, with a focus on the lives of local watermen. They also frequently hold engaging events and programs, so be sure to check out their events calendar before planning your trip.

If you’re interested in exploring the local history (or even if you’re not!) Menokin is a captivating historic preservation story that is sure to impress even the non-history-buffs in your party. Arriving by kayak is simple, as there is an official launch onsite, but be prepared to walk up a steep hill to see the rest of the property, as it sits a bit higher in elevation than the creek.

Find a little seafood and local culture at Rogue Oysters, situated on Greenvale Creek. These forward-thinking aquaculture entrepreneurs welcome guests to tour their facility, from the oyster nursery to the farm out on the Rappahannock. You can even place an order for oysters in advance, and pick them up when you visit! They also welcome paddlers to launch at the boat ramp at Greenvale Marina.

Willaby’s Cafe, located in White Stone, is a delightful spot to land a kayak or paddleboard, and walk right up to grab lunch or dinner. This spot also hosts regular live music nights, many of which feature local up-and-coming performers.

Middle Peninsula Attractions

If you’re exploring the Middle Peninsula region, paddling around Gwynn’s Island is best done if starting and ending at Grimstead public landing, because Hole in the Wall Waterfront Grill sits right next to the boat ramp. Fresh seafood and creative cocktails at sunset are the perfect treats after rounding the island!

Although not technically waterfront, The Blue Crab of West Point is just a short walk from the 5th street soft launch in the town of West Point. Situated in the middle of the town, this spot offers great seafood options, weekly specials, and delicious desserts.

If you’re paddling with a furry friend, you may want to check out Portside Grill on Urbanna Creek as they have a pet-friendly patio area. Portside is located on the Urbanna Port Marina with plenty of space to tie up a kayak while dining. Their friendly staff will even come out to help you tie up – just call ahead!

While there are no official water trails yet established in Deltaville, it may still be worth exploring as an option for your adventure since it has two waterfront attractions, the Deltaville Tap & Raw Bar, as well as the Deltaville Museum. So grab a bite to eat and enjoy the museum, complete with a sandy beach to land your vessel, as well as a dock, nature park, and children’s garden.


Eastern Shore Attractions

Wave Riders, a transportation and delivery service on the Eastern shore, may not technically be a waterfront attraction, but these guys can bring the attraction to wherever you are! Send them the GPS coordinates to any boat ramp on the Eastern shore, and they’ll come pick you up, transport your kayak, deliver take-out to you, whatever you need!

One of the only seaside waterfront attractions south of Chincoteague, the Island House Restaurant serves up fresh, local seafood and a relaxed atmosphere overlooking beautiful seaside marshes and the stunning barrier islands of the Eastern shore. And the closest boat ramp is practically in their parking lot!

If you’re exploring Onancock Creek by kayak or paddleboard, be sure to explore the town! There is a dedicated kayak launch in town, providing easy access to the Eastern Shore Historical Society, as well as Mallard’s on the Wharf. The historical society maintains three properties: the Ker Place, Hopkins & Bro. Store, and the Wise Family Cemetery. They frequently hold children’s programs and special events, so be sure to check out their events calendar and time your paddle with an event!

The Jackspot, located at the KOA Chesapeake Bay, is a great spot to land a kayak, and enjoy a meal while overlooking the bay. It’s close proximity to Kiptopeke State Park makes for a beautiful paddling trip!

And if you’re in the general area of Kiptopeke, another great option to paddle to is the beautiful, quaint town of Cape Charles. The town’s beach is the perfect place to land a kayak, with cute boutiques, restaurants, and a brewery just steps away.

For an adventure that feels really off the beaten path, look no further than the Crusty Crab Seafood Shack in Greenbackville, VA. You could even launch at a boat ramp in Maryland, cross the state line, and paddle right up to the restaurant. There is a public boat ramp right next door!

So don’t waste any time, get to planning your next paddling adventure, complete with a destination!  Happy Water Trails!

About the Author: Laura Scharle lives on the Eastern shore of Maryland and is a frequent paddler in coastal Virginia. She is a Virginia certified ecotour guide and is an independent marketing contractor with a focus in ecotourism and heritage tourism. Laura can be reached through our Eastern Shore ecotour guide listings.