Maritime Museum at Reedsville, VA
Sandwiched in between the Northern Neck and Lower Peninsula, the Middle Peninsula is bordered by the Rappahannock River to the north, the York River to the south and Chesapeake Bay to the east. Much like the other two peninsulas, the Middle Peninsula may easily be called a boater’s paradise. In fact, people in these parts like to say there are more boats than people. Perhaps so.
If you don’t have a boat, you can rent one or go big and buy one at either Norton Yachts or Deltaville Yachting Center. Norton Yachts offers sailing charters and even some sailing programs from which to choose. Deltaville Yachting Center stands out for its full-service marina, its ship’s store and boater’s boutique and much more. Many consider Deltaville to be the boating capital of the Chesapeake; just tour around some and you’ll understand why. But for heaven’s sake, whatever you do, find a way to spend time out on the water. Remember, there’s nothing like a sail on the bay.
Boating and fishing go together like oysters and beer (or white wine, if you prefer). And the two have been intertwined here for centuries. Find out about the life of the watermen at the Deltaville Maritime Museum & Holly Point Nature Park and also at the Mathews Maritime Museum & Foundation in Mathews. The former emphasizes the history of boat building in the Chesapeake and also puts on an outdoor concert series on their Waterfront Stage overlooking Mill Creek. The Mathews Maritime Museum & Foundation exists to preserve, present and participate in the rich maritime and cultural heritage of Mathews County, Virginia. The museum has amassed over 2600 items, including model boats, navigational charts, boatbuilding tools, Civil War memorabilia, nautical clothing and gear and much more. Both of the museums have gift shops that allow you to take home some nice souvenirs.
If you have children in tow, stop at The Children’s Garden at Holly Point Nature Park, just beyond the Deltaville Maritime Museum. It’s adorable! Many edible plants and trees have been planted here, so, of course the wee ones are encouraged to taste them. Would you believe there’s a “peanut butter” tree? Lots of berries, beans and herbs, too.
This is a good segue into telling you about the delightful rural aspects of the Middle Peninsula. Where tobacco fields once grew, today you can find a mixture of family farms and farmstands. Drive through here in the season and you’ll be able to pick up a cornucopia of produce and other treats at a variety of locales.
Shuck your worries away at the historic port town of Urbanna. There’s nothing like perfectly-chilled oysters and a frosty brew to help you to forget more challenging times. Ahhhh, the taste of the sea permeates all of the senses. Be sure to get in a good slurp when consuming your oysters. Urbanna puts on a big oyster festival in the fall–November, to be precise. (Notice it’s a month with an “r.”) Urbanna Seafood Raw Bar and Market rates as a great place to go to enjoy your fill. Settle into a spot on their docks that overlooks Robinsons Creek, watch the watermen bring in the freshly-harvested seafood from the brackish Rappahannock River and dive into a plate of crab cakes, fried oysters, steamed shrimp and more. Oh yeah, this is low country living at its finest. The farmer’s market in Urbanna is filled with lots of local flavor as well, both in terms of food, drink and ambiance.
Merroir: A Tasting Room in Topping consistently receives rave reviews. Much of “the room” is actually an expansive patio with waterfront views and as for the tasting, oysters take centerstage whether they be raw, roasted or grilled. All kinds of other succulent seafood and small plates for which this restaurant has been lauded make for the perfect accompaniment to your oyster tastings as well.
Check in with the local chambers of commerce both in person and online for more information. There you can also find out about the Urbanna Trolley and the Deltaville Shuttle, two fun forms of transportation that run during the season.