The Weekender

Slip away to Irvington and Kilmarnock for a quiet weekend. 

View of the water from the Tides Inn. 

Photo by Tyler Darden 

If you’re looking for a peaceful weekend near the water without the hustle and bustle of most touristy beach towns, it doesn’t get much better than the southernmost tip of the Northern Neck. Here, situated between the Rappahannock River and the Bay, Kilmarnock and Irvington offer some of the best front porch swingin’ and oyster shuckin’ in Virginia. If it’s a pleasant weekend at the Rivah you’re after, here are some tips to get you started.


Tides Inn
480 King Carter Dr., Irvington

It’s hard to beat a waterfront room. The Tides Inn opened to the public in July 1947, and it remains one of the top places to stay in the Northern Neck. Explore the area on a bike or take to the water in a kayak or on a jet ski. Activities also include fishing excursions, evening s’mores around the fire pit, disc golf and a mixology class.  

Hope and Glory Inn
65 Tavern Road, Irvington

What started as a 19th-century boarding school is now a boutique inn featuring cottages, luxury rooms and a pool. Park yourself at Detention, the inn’s private bar, for a drink—the bartender will hand you a pencil and a “Why You Are in Detention” composition notebook, so let your creative juices flow as the drinks do the same. Relax by the pool, take a leisurely walk around the private garden or treat yourself to an afternoon at the spa.

Back INN Time Bed & Breakfast
445 Irvington Road, Kilmarnock

The name says it all. This four-room inn is designed to transport you back to a quaint, simpler time, with rooms like the Romance Room, which features an antique white, cast iron queen bed and white-on-white decor. Breakfast is included, of course, and the menu may include waffles, warm muffins, frittata, ham or house-made sticky buns.

Kilmarnock Inn
34 E. Church St., Kilmarnock 

At the Kilmarnock Inn, it’s all about presidential heritage. The inn’s main house welcomes guests with a replica of the Oval Office’s presidential seal rug, and the theme is evident throughout the main house and cottages. The bed and breakfast also features a bar and lounge, and staff are available to help you plan your trip.

Hope and Glory Inn 

Photo by Tyler Darden


Car Wash Café 
481 N. Main St., Kilmarnock 

In an old converted gas station, the Car Wash Café is the place to go for breakfast and lunch. Menu items include eggs benedict with potatoes, huevos rancheros, biscuits with sausage gravy and a Western omelette sandwich. Be sure to order a side of the stone-ground grits.

NN Burger
62 Irvington Road, Kilmarnock 

No town is complete without a classic burger-and-shake joint, and NN Burger is a local favorite in Kilmarnock. The menu includes wood-grilled gourmet burgers like the Chesapeake Crabmeat-Topped Burger (topped with crabmeat, pimento cheese, mixed greens, balsamic sauce, red onion and tomato) and handspun milkshakes in flavors like chocolate-chip cookie dough, Nutella, Oreo and cold-pressed espresso coffee.

Trick Dog Bar & Bistro
4357 Irvington Road, Irvington

It’s developed a bit of a cult following in the area, and it’s easy to see why. The menu features classic Chesapeake fare like oysters and calamari, plus decadent entrees like swordfish puttanesca, lobster ravioli and wasabi-crusted seared salmon. Wine from all over the world is available by the glass and bottle, and on the bar menu you’ll find wings, soft-shell crab, French onion soup and a selection of sandwiches.


The Dog and Oyster Vineyard
170 White Fences Dr., Irvington

Is there anything better than a bottle of wine and a platter of fresh oysters? Located near the Hope and Glory Inn, the Dog and Oyster Vineyard crafts its wine specifically to pair with the oysters that are so abundant in the area. Recent releases include the Rosie, a blend of Chambourcin, Merlot and Vidal Blanc.

The Local
4337 Irvington Road, Kilmarnock 

Sure, you can order breakfast or lunch at The Local (the menu includes pastries, wraps, salads and sandwiches), but the star of the show is the coffee bar. Stop by for a freshly-brewed cup of joe, mocha or cafe au lait. Also on the drink menu are spiced apple cider, cold-brew coffee, smoothies, bottled beer and wine by the glass.

Main Street in Kilmarnock. 

Photo by Tyler Darden


Baylor Park
770 N. Main St., Kilmarnock 

Located off Route 3, the entrance to Baylor Park is easy to miss—it’s between Old Fair Grounds Way and Good Luck Road, and it’s only accessible from northbound Route 3. Once you’re in, though, you’ll find a nature trail around the perimeter of Norris Pond, where you’ll catch glimpses of waterfowl and native plants. The trail is still under construction, so there’s a good chance it’ll be even longer the next time you visit. 

Kilmarnock Antique Gallery
144 School St., Kilmarnock 

From grandfather clocks to Persian rugs to fine art, this shop located one block of Main St. is sure to keep antique-hunters happy. Special items available this month include an American Sheraton writing table from the 1820s, an antique carved Chinese chess set and a 1930s oak roll top desk.

Mary Ball Washington Museum & Library
8346 Mary Ball Road, Lancaster

About seven miles from Kilmarnock is the Mary Ball Washington Museum & Library, named after the mother of the first U.S. president. Its mission is preserving and displaying the history of the Northern Neck and its people. Admission to the genealogy and history library is $5 per day, and admission to the museum is $3.
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