Last year after my trip to St. Michaels, Maryland, I made a pact with myself to do a better job of exploring the Chesapeake Bay. It’s such a beautiful place right in my own backyard that I haven’t explored nearly enough. So when Memorial Day was approaching and I didn’t have a long weekend trip plan, I decided it would be the perfect opportunity to find a new place on the Bay to explore. I asked my sister Lindsey if she wanted to come with me, and we got to planning!
In my research, I found The Tides Inn in Irvington, Virginia. The hotel is on Carter’s Creek, which feeds into the Rappahannock River, which feeds into the nearby Chesapeake Bay. The region is called Virginia’s Northern Neck because it’s the northernmost peninsula in the Commonwealth—it’s bound by the Potomac River on the north and the Rappahannock River on the south. Even though I’ve been a resident of Virginia/DC since 1998, I had never made it to the Northern Neck prior to this weekend! It won’t take me 20+ years to get back, that’s for sure. It took us about three hours to get to The Tides, but it’s on the far end of the peninsula, so we hit the Northern Neck about an hour into our drive. Once we were off I-95, the drive itself was beautiful—there were lots of corn and tobacco fields, and we passed through some really cute small towns with gorgeous old homes. There were also lots of abandoned homes on the route, which are beautiful in their own devastating way.
We had such an amazing trip, so I wanted to give y’all a recap of what we did on our Memorial Day getaway, and would definitely encourage any DC, Virginia, or Maryland readers to head to Virginia’s Northern Neck and The Tides Inn as soon as you get the chance! Summer is definitely their high season, but I think it’d be worth it to go in the warmer months since you’ll be able to take the most advantage of all the outdoor activities the resort offers—sunset cruises, a gorgeous pool, a sandy beach, tennis, golf, paddle boarding, biking, live music outside, kayaking, fishing, yoga and more. (And, the majority of these activities are included in the resort fee—they give you a weekly summary of all resort activities at check-in so it’s easy to see what’s available to you in the resort fee and what’s at an additional cost.)
When I was researching the area around The Tides Inn, I stumbled across the Trip Advisor reviews of The Crazy Crab and decided it would be fun to head there for lunch on our drive down. It’s located on Cockrell Creek in Reedville, Virginia, about half an hour drive from The Tides Inn. It is slightly out of the way, but it was so worth it—and I would love to go back next time we’re in the area. We arrived in time for a late lunch, and sat on their beautiful back patio. It reminded me of a great seafood shack at the beach—it had a super relaxed vibe, but everything was clean and the staff was so friendly.
Since we were on vacation, I decided to get a spiked strawberry lemonade with lunch—it was super refreshing. While we were waiting on our food, a lot of people would drive their boats or jet skis right up to the restaurant to dine at or pick up food to go. Lindsey opted for a shrimp po’ boy and I got a fried fish sandwich, both served up with French fries. I could have stayed on their back patio enjoying the water views all day, but we had to head to our main destination!
When we drove up to The Tides Inn and were immediately in awe! The grounds were so well maintained, and the check-in desk had the most gorgeous wallpaper. I forgot to snap a picture of our room, but we had a deluxe king without a water view. We paid for it in advance to get a 15% discount, so it came out to $260, plus the resort fee. We booked in late March, so about two months before Memorial Day. Closer to the holiday, rooms were running close to $400, so we definitely got a good deal for the popular weekend.
There is valet parking, but we opted for self-park, and it was a short walk to our room. Once we dropped our bags off, we went off to explore the resort. The lobby was immaculately decorated, with a nautical nod to the resort’s Chesapeake Bay history. Since it was such a nice day, most people were enjoying the patio right off the lobby, but in the cooler months or during inclement weather, this would be a great spot for a glass of wine.
My biggest regret about our stay at The Tides is that we didn’t bake in a day to hang by their beautiful pool and sandy beach on the creek! It was beautiful. Right off the pool is the Fish Hawk Oyster Bar & Restaurant, which offers all sorts of surf and turf options for lunch and dinner. Their menu looks delicious and was probably much more up our alley than where we dined on the Chesapeake Terrace (more on that below!) but it closes at 8pm, right around the time our sunset cruise docked back at the marina. If you do end up by the pool or eating at Fish Hawk—or anywhere on the property, really, since it’s available at all bars!—make sure you get a Lancester Lemonade. It’s the resort’s signature drink made with chilled vodka, limoncello, Northern Neck Ginger Ale, fresh squeezed lemon, and garnished with lemon balm and fresh herbs.
Like I mentioned before, the resort has so many activities so you won’t be bored. Lindsey and I enjoyed walking down the sandy beach at golden hour and walking up and down some of the docks. When we booked our trip, I was curious as to what the demographics of the resort would be since a lot of their marketing features older couples. I was a little nervous about being the only young group! When we arrived, I was pleasantly surprised—there were people of all ages! There were a lot of young families and then several millennial groups and several empty nester groups. There really is something for everyone.
We then headed over to the marina for a sunset cruise! I called the activities office ahead of time to reserve our spots since the cruises only seat six, but the other patrons scheduled to cruise with us never showed up, so we had the boat all to ourselves. The cruise lasted for 90 minutes, and our Captain was so knowledgable. He gave us a wonderful tour of Carter’s Creek, took us out to the Rappahannock River, and gave us lots of history on the Chesapeake Bay. Our cruise almost got rained out, but I am so glad the storms held off because it really was a highlight! The cruises are one activity not built into the activities fee and are $55/person—it was very easy to bill it to our room.
When we returned from our sunset cruise, we enjoyed a glass of wine before dinner on one of the empty docks near the marina. After the sun completely set and our wine glasses were empty, we headed up to the Chesapeake Terrace for dinner. It’s a patio off the Chesapeake Grill—which no one was eating in because it was such a nice night!—that overlooks Carter’s Creek. On weekends in the summer, they have a live band for entertainment and they sang a ton of crowd-pleasing songs—I almost felt like we were at a wedding!
The dinner menu at Chesapeake Terrace is definitely more upscale seafood options—most entrees were between $28-40, and truthfully, I could have gone for a really good chopped southwest salad or burger at this point. But, the views were unbeatable and the caesar salad and scallops entree I had were absolutely delicious. The service was on the slower side, but we weren’t in a rush, so it didn’t really matter. If you’re celebrating a special occasion, definitely look into their overlook dining, where your table is underneath a tree strung with twinkle lights, closer to the water.
If you’re looking for a dinner option not at the resort, several people on Instagram recommended Dredge to me! It was located a short drive from the hotel, next to the coffee shop we had breakfast at, and honestly, if you didn’t want to worry about drinking and driving and couldn’t get an Uber, it’s definitely walkable.
The next morning we bid farewell to our beautiful resort with one final walk around the property. We ate breakfast on the patio at The Local, which was a super cute coffee shop serving up breakfast, salads, and sandwiches. I had a really delicious avocado BLT that came with a side of potato salad. If you’re staying at The Tides, I would definitely recommend coming here over grabbing breakfast at the resort—it’s more affordable and a great way to support another local business.
My biggest regret with this trip is not staying longer! I absolutely loved The Tides Inn and my time on the Northern Neck. I plan to get back as soon as possible—it was the perfect place to kick off summer.