5 Things to Do in the Chesapeake Bay Area

If you plan on spending time in Virginia, don’t miss the area known as the Middle Peninsula – which is located on the western shore of Chesapeake Bay. The landmass that makes up the Middle Peninsula sits between two rivers – the Rappahannock and the York. So, with two rivers and a large bay you can expect that water adventures are big here. But there is also so much more to this charming, historic, and picturesque area of Virginia. Glamping options here include a variety of cabins, several of which are pet-friendly, at Thousand Trails Chesapeake Bay in Gloucester or the charming cottages at Bethpage Camp-Resort in Urbanna.

  1. On the Water: We’ll start with water adventures and there are a variety of ways to enjoy the rivers and the Chesapeake Bay. If you want to canoe or kayak, consider the Gloucester Blueways, which is a system of five water trails throughout Gloucester County. Paddling these water trails is a terrific way to see the wildlife in the area which includes terrapin turtles and tundra swans (at Maundy Creek), white-tailed deer and great blue herons at Ware House Landing, or the possibility of a bald eagle sighting while paddling John’s Point. For details on the Gloucester Blueways visit virginiawatertrails.org.

  2. History Tours: Rosewell Ruins are the remains of the vast estate owned by the Page family dating back to 1725. In 1916, a fire all but destroyed everything, however the shell of the home remains and was donated to the Gloucester Historical Society in 1979. Visitors can see the remains of the structure as well as see exhibits and artifacts in the Visitors Center (rosewell.org). Gloucester County has several museums and historic sites which can be seen on self-guided walking or driving tours. For maps and details, visit gloucesterva.info/1405/historic-walking-drive-tours.

  3. To the North and South: If it’s called the Middle Peninsula, then what’s above and below, you may wonder? To the north of the Middle Peninsula is the Northern Neck and to the south is what is known as the Virginia Peninsula (actually all three of the peninsulas are referred to as “necks” in Virginia). If you want to visit the Northern Neck here’s what’s what: there are several wineries, the George Washington Birthplace National Monument, Stratford Hall (a National Historic Landmark and the home of the only two brothers to sign the Declaration of Independence, Richard Henry and Francis Lightfoot Lee), the Reedville Fisherman’s Museum, and Westmoreland State Park, which is great for fossil finding. The Virginia Peninsula is home to what is known as the Historic Triangle which contains historic Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg, and Yorktown Battlefield. Busch Gardens Williamsburg and the historic Cape Henry Lighthouse are also here.

  4. Oysters, anyone? A trip to this part of Virginia pretty much requires a brief education on all things oyster. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, Oyster Seed Holdings (oshoyster.com) offers tours and tastings every other Friday at their facility on Gwynn’s Island. Check out virginiaoystertrail.com for more oyster-related events and fun including oyster tasting tours and oyster charters. And definitely make a reservation to return to Bethpage to glamp in November to enjoy the Urbanna Oyster Festival. The 66th annual event will be held November 3-4, 2023, and promises plenty of fun with an oyster-shucking contest, the Oyster Festival Parade, plus oyster cuisine of all kinds including roasted oysters, Oyster Rockefeller, and fried, stewed, and raw oysters.

  5. Hit the Beach: A little over an hour’s drive from the Middle Peninsula is Virginia Beach, which is located on the Virginia Peninsula. Beyond the 30+ miles of shoreline, Virginia Beach attractions can include the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center; Mount Trashmore, which is actually a repurposed landfill that resulted in the nation’s first landfill park; and the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art. Beachside you can stroll the 3-mile boardwalk and have a bite to eat or enjoy a cocktail. Don’t miss the opportunity to grab a selfie with the 26-foot tall statue of King Neptune.
Vacation Cottage at Bethpage Camp-Resort
Vacation Cottage at Bethpage Camp-Resort

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Go Glamping for These 2023 Events

If you want to make sure you have the best glamping spots reserved that are nearby to some of 2023’s big events, take note of these events below and get your rezzies in order with Petite Retreat accommodations.

Palm Springs International Film Festival: Scheduled for January 5-16, 2023, this event includes screenings of international films and documentaries, plus awards and celeb sightings in and around Palm Springs. Book a cottage stay at Palm Springs to be near festival events.

Cottage at Harbor Lake RV Resort
Cottage at Harbor Lake RV Resort

MLB Spring Training in Florida: Experience the 2023 Grapefruit League season and take in a few games as you glamp around the Sunshine State. Games start February 25 and run through March 28. Options can include cottage rentals at Sunshine Travel in Vero Beach to see the NY Mets play in nearby Port St. Lucie at Clover Park; Harbor Lakes to see the Tampa Bay Rays or Holiday Travel to see the Philadelphia Phillies in nearby Clearwater at BayCare Ballpark.

Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival: Scheduled for Saturday, April 15, this event has a Cherry Blossom Walk, a pup parade, live music, and a Sumo wrestling event. Sounds like a colorful, and interesting, way to welcome the beautiful cherry blossoms and the arrival of spring. Book a stay at Natchez Trace Tiny House Village!

Bar Harbor Music Festival and Bar Harbor Fine Arts Festival: Summer in New England is the quintessential getaway and Bar Harbor is a wonderful location to enjoy come summer. The Music Festival runs June 30 to July 28 and features all genres from classical to opera to jazz while the Fine Arts Festival, scheduled for August 2-4, showcases artist works from potters to painters. Book a stay at Mt. Desert Narrows or Narrows Too to be close to these events.

Mt. Hood Huckleberry Festival and Mt. Hood Salmon, Mushroom, and Big Foot Festival: Two great reasons to book a stay at Mt. Hood Tiny House Village in Welches, Oregon, in late summer. The Huckleberry Festival, set for the third week of August, celebrates all things huckleberry while the Salmon, Mushroom, and Big Foot Festival welcomes back the salmon to the Oregon rivers as well as celebrate mushroom harvest time.

Leavenworth Oktoberfest: If you can’t make it to Munich, Leavenworth’s Oktoberfest, spread over three weekends (September 29-30; October 6-7; and October 13-14) may be the next best thing. In addition to beer and brats, there will be live entertainment, dancing, and plenty of fun. Book a stay at Leavenworth Tiny House Village and get ready to say “Prost!” more times than you can imagine.

Urbanna Oyster Festival: Urbanna, Virginia, is known as the “Oyster Capital of the East Coast” so of course they have a festival every year to celebrate the oyster. Two days of everything oyster, plus live music, and contests (yes, oyster shucking is one of them) are scheduled for November 3-4, 2023. To be near all the fun, reserve a glamping accommodation at Bethpage Camp-Resort, conveniently located in Urbanna!

Cottage at Bethpage Camp-Resort
Cottage at Bethpage Camp-Resort

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5 Things to Do In… Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay Area

Maymont Gardens in Richmond, VA

There’s a reason Virginia tourism still uses “Virginia is For Lovers” to entice visitors to the state. The slogan, which was first introduced in 1969, remains true today. What’s not to love about Virginia? It’s full of history, has produced more US presidents than any other state (eight, in fact), is known for its oysters, and other culinary delights such as blue crabs and Virginia ham, and offers all kinds of outdoor adventures from hiking to water sports. And one spot you will absolutely love is the Chesapeake Bay area.

Cottage at Bethpage Camp-Resort in Urbanna, VA

The Chesapeake Bay is an estuary between Maryland and Virginia. And the point where the Bay meets the Rappahannock River is known as the Virginia River Realm, a magical mix of shoreline, charming towns and one-of-a-kind experiences. Lucky for you, we have three great locations where you can settle in while exploring here. Bethpage Camp-Resort, in Urbanna, Greys Point Camp in Topping, and Chesapeake Bay RV Campground in Gloucester. Each of these locations has a number of cottages and cabins for you to make your home base while you explore the area. The towns of Topping and Urbanna are part of the River Realm and Gloucester is a charming town with roots dating back to Colonial Virginia.

Here are five ways to get to know the area:

  1. Day Trip to Richmond: About an hour west is Virginia’s capital city of Richmond, which offers a little bit of fun for everyone. Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is 50 acres of amazing outdoor gardens (opens to the public July 16). Themed gardens include a Children’s Garden, Cherry Tree Walk, and the Rose Garden. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts offers free admission and exhibits from around the world. Another option for an outdoor experience is Maymont, a Victorian estate with public parklands. While some of the exhibits are currently closed, the 100-acre estate offers plenty of outdoor parkland and gardens to explore. 
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. Richmond, VA
  1. Belle Isle State Park: Open from dawn to dusk, Belle Isle offers all kinds of outdoor activity from bird and wildlife viewing to hiking, biking, kayaking, and canoeing. The great thing is they offer rentals for canoes, kayaks, and bikes so you can travel lightly there and back.
  1. Virginia Oyster Trail: You absolutely cannot visit this part of Virginia without getting up close and personal with the bivalve that Virginia is famous for! The Virginia Oyster Trail (virginiaoystertrail.com) is a mix of oyster-focused sites that provides insight to the world of Virginia oysters.
Cottages at Greys Point Camp in Topping, VA
  1. Presidential Birthplaces: George Washington was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia, in 1732. The George Washington Birthplace National Monument is a national park where visitors can see a replica of Washington’s childhood home as well as a living colonial farm with historians to explain life as it was during Washington’s childhood. The James Monroe Birthplace Park and Museum honors our fifth president, James Monroe, who was born in Westmoreland County on April 28, 1758. Visitors can see the area where Monroe lived from birth until he left for college (College of William and Mary). A replica of the home is currently under construction, but the Visitors Center is open on Saturdays and Sundays and offers some history and artifacts.
Cabins at Chesapeake Bay RV Campground Gloucester, VA
  1. Deltaville: Known as the “Boating Capital of the Chesapeake Bay”, Deltaville is a delightful coastal town with shops, a maritime museum, and great places to eat crab cakes and oysters along the water. Consider booking a day sail, sunset cruise, or a fishing charter out of Deltaville.