A Photo Essay of a Coastal Gem: Colonial Beach, Virginia

Colonial Beach, one of my all time favorite small towns, is a Virginia gem – and is not very well known, even among Virginians. The town resides along the Potomac River and boasts a beach, boardwalk with shops, waterfront restaurants with live music, cafes, a newly opened brewery, and two wineries.

Colonial Beach came about as a town first settled by the great-great grandfather of James Monroe. James Monroe himself was born in the town, as was the first president of the United States, George Washington. Both are commemorated by the Monroe Foundation and National Park Service respectively, and have great historical sites to visit. As well, Alexander Graham Bell maintained a summer house in the town, which is now the Bell House Bed and Breakfast.

IMG_0420Set along the coast of the Potomac River, Colonial Beach possesses the second largest beachfront in the state of Virginia. In the late 19th century, the town emerged as a popular bathing and fishing destination, earning it the nickname of the “Playground on the Potomac”. Extensive construction of houses, summer cottages, and hotels occurred at this time.

The town today takes advantage of its waterfront location with a boardwalk with restaurants, food trucks, and shops, as well as a public beach and municipal pier.

IMG_0403The Tide’s Inn, a former residential house built in 1905, is just one of the former homes in the town that has been converted into a bed and breakfast. Having stayed at the Tide’s Inn before, I recall peaceful mornings with a cup of coffee on the front porch.

IMG_0407Local art has also been commissioned in recent years around the town, like the well-known “Love” sign on a golf cart, and sea and historical related murals on various buildings around town.

IMG_0416Colonial Beach is a golf cart community, meaning you can drive a golf cart rather than a car around town! Custom Cartz is a business in town that sells customized golf carts, and also provides golf carts for daily, hourly, or weekly rentals.

IMG_0404There’s also a lively food and drink scene. Colonial Beach Brewery opened this year, and the town also offers various waterfront restaurants with live music, two of my favorites being Hide Tides on the Potomac and Dockside Restaurant.

A unique feature of Colonial Beach is that the low-water mark line is where the boundary of Virginia and Maryland meet, and since gambling is legal in Maryland and not in Virginia, Riverboat on the Potomac was built. As you enter the Riverboat you are in Virginia, but once you walk past the entrance, it becomes Maryland, so you can gamble!

IMG_0431There are two wineries in town which help make up part of the Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail – Ingleside Vineyards and Oak Crest Winery. On a hot day recently, I enjoyed a tasting at Ingleside Vineyards and relaxing in their outdoor courtyard while sipping on a glass of chilled rosé.

IMG_0406Colonial Beach is home to several other quaint places, like Nancy’s Ice Cream Shoppe, the Tides Inn Market, and the several art galleries that are around town.

Whatever your interests may be – food and drink, history, or simply sunbathing, Colonial Beach will have something to make your trip special.

Have you been to Colonial Beach? What are you favorite beach towns?

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11 thoughts on “A Photo Essay of a Coastal Gem: Colonial Beach, Virginia

    1. Yes, that’s what I love about the town so much. You can go from relaxing on the beach or at a winery, to dancing to the music to at one of the bars, to exploring American history – all in one day! 😀

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  1. At the far end of the Northern Neck is a quaint fishing village, Reedville. You should visit and stay at GrandView B&B.

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    1. I’ve actually been to Reedville briefly because I took the ferry over to Tangier Island. I didn’t see too much of the town though so I’d love to visit again!

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  2. Wonderful beach. great idea that is very helpful. All pic is very lightly. I am impressed by your picture. can you tell me which camera you use on your shoot? I will wait for your reply. Thanks for sharing your great post.

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    1. Hi Martina – I wish I could say I use a professional camera, but I actually just use my iPhone at the moment! I’ll get around to getting a ‘real’ camera soon. 🙂

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