Stewards of the Chesapeake
The Tides Inn, exquisitely situated in the naturally scenic Northern Neck of Virginia, birthplace of George Washington, is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. The inn has long been known for its resort status, delectable cuisine, exceptional spa, and luxurious accommodations, but they go much further than expected to protect their exceptional setting. They demonstrate great respect and reverence for the unique ecosystem they are fortunate to enjoy. And guests of The Tides get to experience the resort’s impressive ecological programming.
The Tides recently completed an extensive Shoreline Restoration project, further establishing their position as stewards of Virginia’s Northern Neck region. On Carter’s Creek which flows directly into the Rappahannock River, this location is a vital tributary of the Chesapeake Bay estuary, and these impactful improvements represent an environmentally important accomplishment for the inn and community.
Meander leisurely along the Shoreline Trail wooden boardwalk past the Oyster Reef up to the Sunset Bluff, where the hotel recently hosted an exclusive viewing debut outdoors in an intimate gathering of a documentary short film which illustrates the project’s environmental impact and new educational programming about the property’s recent extensive restoration of its shoreline. This sustainability initiative will continue to reestablish wetlands, attract wildlife and increase habitat for aquatic life.
The following describes what this ambitious Shoreline Restoration project encompasses:
Teeming with more than 3,000 migratory and wildlife species, including its two most famous residents, blue crabs and oysters, the Tides Inn is a leading supporter of the restoration not only of the Bay’s natural bounty and beauty, but also of sustainable fishing and the historic lifestyle of the region’s watermen.
- In 2021, the Tides Inn embarked on an extensive restoration of its shoreline to reestablish wetlands, attract wildlife, promote responsible recreation and replenish habitat for aquatic life in collaboration with Friends of the Rappahannock (FOR).
- The $3.6 million project includes complete beach restoration with 18,000 square feet of “living shoreline” along Carter’s Creek and 1,300 linear feet of new wharf along the water’s edge:
- 150 linear feet of oyster reef
- Preservation of approximately 30 old-growth trees
- 42 new trees
- 21,000 shoreline and upland plants
The ongoing project completed its inaugural phase in Summer 2021, including development of a curvilinear wharf and nature trail, as well as restoration of the property’s original beach and shoreline by the visionaries behind the project, including internationally acclaimed Gluckman Tang Architects, Waterstreet Studio, a landscape architecture firm based in Richmond, along with Bay Design Group, the civil engineers on the project.
On your way to The Tides, take the scenic route through Fredericksburg over rolling roads with a canopy of trees on the Tidewater Trail, Route 17, for some tangy pulled pork barbecue or a mahi sandwich with the ripest red beefsteak tomatoes at 17 SOUTH for a convenient pit stop along the way. They even have a country fried filet mignon. Pass the Rappahannock River Valley Wildlife Refuge along the Blue Star Memorial Highway past marshy areas before entering Tappahannock and continue through the small town of Kilmarnock, your final gateway to your charming destination of Irvington with its colorful Victorian homes, inviting art galleries and a coffee shop.
The Tides is your Chesapeake Bay retreat, a home away from home, where you can just relax and breathe in the fresh bay air or participate in a plethora of activities. Beside the pool, enjoy some shade beneath a bungalow or play some bocce ball on the court or corn hole or croquet on the lawn. Borrow a bike and ride with the wind in your hair along shady lanes or glide along as you stand-up paddle, kayak, or canoe Carter’s Creek. Sporting activities abound, such as a par 3 golf course and volleyball. You can also play tennis or pickle ball on the tennis courts. They also have giant tricycles with front baskets that you can ride to the farmers’ market located at the center of Historic Irvington at the Irvington Commons on King Carter Drive on the first Saturday of the month from May through November from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm. Bring back some loot of fruit and fresh local vegetables and other home-made treats for a picnic.
Or whet your appetite and head over to one of the resort restaurants which highlight coastal culinary concepts. For lunch, enjoy the breeze off Carter’s Creek poolside while you eat at the Fish Hawk Oyster Bar. The tuna poke bowl with mixed greens, seaweed, ponzu, edamame, radish, avocado, and sesame seeds was refreshing on a balmy afternoon. Another winning selection was the Baja fish tacos with red cabbage slaw, avocado, crema, and tomato. Diner Cathy Poungmalai particularly relished the unexpected Chesapeake twist of soft shelf crab on a BLT, all with service with a smile from Joey.
Stellar starters in the elegant Chesapeake Restaurant & Terrace with a view of the marina include burrata and local melon, estate berry reduction, and blood orange with grilled peaches as well as tuna crudo with charred avocado purée, grapefruit, and pickled habanero pepper. Standouts among Executive Chef Terrence Doyal’s entrées include halibut with heirloom tomatoes, chickpeas, capers, olives, baby kale, and a sherry vinaigrette and the succulent Virginia filet mignon, accompanied by whipped celeriac root potato purée, vegetable du jour and beurre rouge. For a sweet treat, the strawberry brown butter cake with chantilly cream does not disappoint. One unique feature of the restaurant is the historical wooden liquor lockers dating back to when Irvington was a dry town. Nowadays you can enjoy local wineries, even at the Dog & Oyster micro-vineyard at the nearby Hope & Glory Inn and Triple V Farms, a little further afield.
“It’s the quintessential Chesapeake Bay vacation getaway,” says Cathy Poungmalai of Falls Church. “It’s ideal for a romantic escape, alone for a quiet respite, business meetings, a weekend away with friends or family get-togethers.”
The Tides keeps families coming back for generations. Christine Dolan of Arlington can relate. “I first went to the Tides Inn when I was young with my parents and sister. My mother would come to the Tides Inn on her parents’ classic Chris Craft boat and had many fond memories of the resort. Another time my husband and I trailered our 20’ boat and took our children for several days. We had a fabulous time exploring the resort, the marina, and the local waterways by boat. The Tides Inn has always been a very special place to me – it has moved me every time I have gone there.”
In fact, one of the most delightful experiences of this Chesapeake adventure was to see a group of young children on the beach, excited to encounter marine life at the shore. Their ecstatic smiles and happy shouts of discovery said it all. The Tides is a place to make memories.
The Tides Inn
480 King Carter Drive
Irvington, VA 22480