Welcome to Colonial Beach, VA, a charming town nestled in the Northern Neck along the beautiful Potomac River. This historic gem holds a special place in American history, as it proudly claims to be the birthplace of three esteemed Presidents: George Washington, James Madison, and James Monroe!
Colonial Beach offers an array of delightful experiences and attractions for visitors to enjoy. Whether you have a penchant for exploring historic landmarks, savoring the flavors of local wineries, immersing yourself in the wonders of state parks, or simply soaking up the sun and sand on the beach, this captivating destination has something for everyone.
In its heyday, Colonial Beach was affectionately known as the “Playground on the Potomac.” Travelers from Washington, D.C. would embark on scenic boat journeys to indulge in a delightful vacation along the mile-long beach. It’s worth noting that Colonial Beach is the second-longest beach in Virginia, second only to Virginia Beach itself! With its convenient location approximately 73 miles from Northern Virginia and 70 miles from Richmond, this coastal retreat serves as an easily accessible getaway for beach enthusiasts across the state.
So, join us as we explore the 14 best things to do in Colonial Beach, VA, and discover the unique charm, rich history, and endless possibilities that await in this captivating riverside town. Let the adventure begin!
Following are the 14 Best Things to Do in Colonial Beach VA:
#1: Discover the George Washington Birthplace National Monument
No visit to Colonial Beach would be complete without a trip to the birthplace of one of America’s founding fathers, George Washington! Although he later resided at Mount Vernon, he was actually born near Colonial Beach and spent part of his childhood in this region.
Today, the 551-acre park welcomes visitors to explore its grounds, which encompass a Colonial Revival farm, a burial ground, a visitor center, and historic structures. Nature enthusiasts will delight in the park’s 1-mile Nature Trail and bicycling trails, while those seeking relaxation can enjoy picnic grounds and a public beach. This park proudly stands among the notable National Parks in Virginia.
#2: Immerse Yourself in Nature at Westmoreland State Park
For nature lovers, a visit to Westmoreland State Park is a must when exploring Colonial Beach. This park, spanning over 1300 acres in the Northern Neck, holds a place on the National Register of Historic Places and boasts picturesque views along the Potomac River.
Birdwatchers will be delighted by the park’s abundant avian life, including sightings of American bald eagles, ospreys, kingfishers, great blue herons, common terns, green herons, gulls, and waterfowl. Hikers can explore six miles of trails along seven different paths, while families can enjoy the playground, fishing pier, and boat rentals. Additionally, Westmoreland offers camping options with campsites and cabins for a memorable outdoor experience.
#3: Enjoy a Leisurely Stroll Along the Colonial Beach Boardwalk
Just like many waterfront destinations, Colonial Beach boasts its own charming boardwalk, inviting you to take a leisurely stroll along the water and savor the town’s unique offerings. Along the boardwalk, a variety of restaurants and bars await, including the popular Black Pearl Tiki Bar. This beachfront establishment offers a large seating area on the sand, a cozy fire pit, and a stage hosting live performances.
If you’re in the mood for delectable steak and seafood, High Tides on the Potomac restaurant is a must-visit spot. Picnic areas along the boardwalk provide the perfect opportunity to enjoy a relaxing lunch while taking in the beautiful waterfront views.
The boardwalk also features the Ferry Landing Pier, where you can rent bicycles and paddleboards to further enhance your waterfront experience. For those seeking unique adventures, consider booking a fishing charter or a delightful dinner cruise from the pier.
#4: Explore the Colonial Beach Museum
Delve into the captivating history of Colonial Beach by paying a visit to the Colonial Beach Museum. This must-see attraction immerses visitors in the town’s intriguing past, highlighting its significant role during the Civil War and its transformation into a beloved resort destination. Inside the museum, you’ll find engaging exhibits that showcase historical artifacts, photographs, documents, and even antique furniture, providing a glimpse into the rich heritage of this charming town.
#5: Discover the Vibrant Downtown of Fredericksburg, Virginia
Take a delightful stroll through the downtown area of Fredericksburg, Virginia, and explore its unique collection of ten charming shops. From quaint boutiques to artisanal stores, this lively district offers a diverse range of shopping experiences. Browse through a variety of specialty items, handcrafted goods, and locally made treasures, allowing you to find that perfect keepsake to commemorate your visit. Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere and friendly community as you explore the charming shops that make downtown Fredericksburg a delightful destination.
#6: Immerse Yourself in Festivals and Events
Colonial Beach knows how to celebrate! Throughout the year, this lively town hosts a variety of festivals and events that are sure to leave you with unforgettable memories. Don’t miss the Potomac River Festival, held in June, which features a vibrant parade, live music performances, and a dazzling fireworks display. The Colonial Beach Bike Fest and the Annual Jet Ski Races are also popular events that showcase the town’s lively spirit. These festivities provide the perfect opportunity to soak up the lively atmosphere, connect with locals and fellow visitors, and truly experience the vibrant energy of Colonial Beach.
#7: Indulge in Wine Tasting Adventures
Virginia is renowned for its exceptional wineries, and Colonial Beach is no exception. Take a short drive to nearby wineries like Ingleside Vineyards, where you can embark on a delightful wine-tasting journey. Explore the vineyards, learn about the winemaking process through guided tours, and savor the flavors of Virginia’s finest wines. Additionally, within Colonial Beach itself, you’ll discover a selection of wine shops and tasting rooms that offer an enticing array of wines from Virginia and beyond. Treat yourself to a leisurely wine-tasting experience, allowing your palate to indulge in diverse and exquisite offerings.
#8: Discover the History at James Monroe Birthplace Park & Museum
Immerse yourself in the fascinating life and legacy of James Monroe, the fifth President of the United States, who was born and raised in Colonial Beach. At James Monroe Birthplace Park & Museum, you can explore the remnants of the house where Monroe spent his early years. Although ongoing reconstruction work is underway, the park still offers a worthwhile visit.
The site features a visitor center, a small museum, and picturesque trails that wind through the grounds, allowing you to connect with Monroe’s history and experience the natural beauty of the surroundings.
#9: Indulge in Local Wines at Monroe Bay Winery
Make your way to Monroe Bay Winery, a delightful establishment in Colonial Beach that offers a unique blend of wines and ciders. Set against the scenic backdrop of Monroe Bay, the winery provides a serene atmosphere for wine tastings.
Savor the flavors of their signature wines, such as Chardonnay, Blue Heron White, Traminette, Blue Heron Rosé, and Blue Heron Red. Additionally, Monroe Bay Winery produces a range of ciders, including Pumpkin Spice Cider, Boardwalk Cider, and Hopped Cider. With its picturesque setting, the winery also serves as an enchanting wedding venue.
#10: Explore the Wines at Ingleside Vineyards
A short distance of 13 miles from Colonial Beach lies Ingleside Vineyards, one of Virginia’s oldest vineyards dating back to the 19th century. This acclaimed winery has garnered numerous awards, including the Virginia Governor’s Cup and the San Francisco International Wine Competition.
Embark on a self-guided flight of five wines from their impressive collection of over 20 varieties. For an enhanced experience, take advantage of the opportunity to join a complimentary tour and gain insight into the art of winemaking. On pleasant days, you can relax in the winery’s charming European-inspired courtyard, enjoying a glass of wine paired with delectable cheeses from their gift shop.
#11: Visit the Historic Stratford Hall
Just a stone’s throw away from Colonial Beach, you’ll find the historic Stratford Hall. This iconic landmark holds great historical significance as the ancestral home of the Lee family, including General Robert E. Lee, and the birthplace of Richard Henry Lee and Francis Lightfoot Lee, signers of the Declaration of Independence.
Dating back to the 1730s, the main house invites visitors to embark on guided tours, exploring rooms adorned with artifacts that chronicle the rich history of the estate. From the Kitchen and Servant’s Hall to the Library and Great Hall, each room is adorned with 18th-century furniture, books, and artwork, offering a captivating glimpse into the past.
Take a moment to explore the estate’s meticulously restored gardens, inspired by archaeological records, and meander along the three miles of walking trails that wind through the surrounding woods and hills. You can even stroll along the picturesque beaches that grace Stratford Hall, creating an immersive experience of both history and natural beauty. Don’t forget to visit the Grist Mill, which has been lovingly restored and continues to produce traditional products like grits, cornmeal, and pancake flour, available for purchase at the gift shop.
#12: Indulge in Waterfront Dining at Dockside Restaurant and Tiki Bar
Experience the ultimate waterfront dining at the lively Dockside Restaurant and Tiki Bar. This vibrant establishment offers a unique atmosphere complete with a bourbon bar, a screened-in porch, and outdoor picnic tables nestled in the sandy shores, reminiscent of a tropical getaway right in the heart of Colonial Beach.
With both indoor and outdoor stages, Dockside frequently hosts live music performances throughout the year, creating a lively ambiance to complement your dining experience. Delight in an array of delectable seafood options, including Fried Shrimp, Fried Oysters, as well as a variety of sandwiches and salads. Savor your meal while enjoying the picturesque waterfront views and the cool breeze from the Potomac River.
#13: Engage in Fishing Adventures at the Colonial Beach Municipal Pier
For fishing enthusiasts, the Colonial Beach Municipal Pier is a prime spot to cast your line. Extending 500 feet into the Potomac River, this popular fishing destination offers abundant opportunities to catch Rock Fish (Striped Bass), Blue Fish, Spot, Croaker, Flounder, and even crabs.
Whether you’re an experienced angler or a novice seeking a new adventure, the pier provides a fantastic backdrop for a relaxing day of fishing and enjoying the scenic surroundings. Reel in your catch and relish the thrill of a successful fishing expedition.
#14: Shop to Your Heart’s Content at Peddler’s Market
For a delightful shopping experience in Colonial Beach, head over to Peddler’s Market. With over 80 vendors to explore, this bustling marketplace offers something for everyone and every budget. Immerse yourself in a treasure trove of boutique shops that showcase a wide array of goods, ranging from furniture and home decor to art, pottery, crafts, collectibles, antiques, sports memorabilia, gifts, books, toys, and much more.
Browse through the diverse offerings, discover unique finds, and indulge in some retail therapy. Peddler’s Market ensures a memorable shopping excursion, where you can uncover hidden gems and take home cherished mementos of your time in Colonial Beach.
Free Things to Do in Colonial Beach VA
Looking for some free activities to enjoy in Colonial Beach, VA? Look no further! Here are some fantastic options to make the most of your visit without spending a dime:
- Swim and Sunbathe at the Five Beaches: Colonial Beach is home to five beautiful beaches that are absolutely free to enjoy. Take your pick from North Beach, Downtown Boardwalk Beach, Irving Avenue Beach, Castlewood Beach, and The Pointe. Bask in the sun, take refreshing dips in the water, and relish the natural beauty surrounding you.
- Take a Stroll Down Colonial Beach Boardwalk: Enjoy a leisurely walk along the Colonial Beach Boardwalk, soaking in the picturesque views and vibrant atmosphere. Explore the charming shops and restaurants that line the boardwalk, including notable spots like High Tides on the Potomac Restaurant and Black Pearl Tiki Bar. Immerse yourself in the beachside ambiance and make unforgettable memories.
- Visit James Monroe Birthplace Park & Museum: Discover the birthplace of President James Monroe and delve into his life and legacy. Explore the grounds, take in the serene surroundings, and enjoy the lovely paths that wind through the park. Immerse yourself in history and gain insights into the remarkable contributions of this influential figure.
- Explore the Museum at Colonial Beach: Delve into the history of Colonial Beach at the town’s quaint museum. Learn about the unique heritage and captivating stories that have shaped this charming community. Engage with informative exhibits and gain a deeper appreciation for the town’s rich cultural tapestry.
- Experience the Art at Jarrett Thor Fine Arts: Indulge your artistic side at Jarrett Thor Fine Arts. Explore the captivating displays showcasing various forms of fine art, including impressionist, abstract, collages, and photography. Immerse yourself in the creative energy and let the art transport you to new realms of inspiration.
✅ What makes Colonial Beach, VA special?
Colonial Beach, VA holds a special place in American history as the birthplace of three Presidents: George Washington, James Madison, and James Monroe. It was also famously known as The Playground on the Potomac, attracting vacationers from Washington, D.C. and Richmond, VA.
✅ Does Colonial Beach have a boardwalk?
Yes, Colonial Beach boasts a charming boardwalk that stretches along the waterfront. The boardwalk features a variety of shops, restaurants, and hotels, offering a delightful atmosphere for leisurely strolls and enjoying scenic views.
✅ Can visitors swim in Colonial Beach, VA?
Absolutely! Colonial Beach offers the perfect opportunity for swimming. The town boasts a beautiful beach with designated swimming areas, and lifeguards are present to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.
✅ Is there an admission fee for Colonial Beach, VA?
No, visiting Colonial Beach, VA is free of charge. Visitors can explore the town, enjoy the beach, and indulge in various activities without any admission fees. It’s a wonderful destination that welcomes everyone to experience its beauty and charm without any additional costs.
✅ Is Colonial Beach, VA Safe?
Colonial Beach, VA has a crime rate roughly similar to the national average. The chance of experiencing violent crime is one in 656, while property crime occurs at a rate of 10 per 1,000 residents.
As we come to the end of our exploration of Colonial Beach, VA, we hope this guide has provided you with a glimpse into the town’s rich history, vibrant attractions, and delightful experiences. From the birthplaces of esteemed Presidents like George Washington and James Monroe to the scenic beauty of Westmoreland State Park, the charming boardwalk, and the flavors of local wineries and dining establishments, Colonial Beach offers a diverse range of activities for every visitor.
Now, we invite you to take action! Share this blog with your friends, and relatives, and on social media platforms. Let them discover the hidden gem that is Colonial Beach and inspire them to embark on their own unforgettable journey. Together, let’s spread the word about this captivating destination and encourage others to explore its wonders. Whether it’s a weekend getaway or a longer vacation, Colonial Beach is sure to leave a lasting impression on all who visit.
So, don’t wait! Share this blog and let the world know about the 14 best things to do in Colonial Beach, VA. Let’s create a wave of excitement and inspire others to experience the history, nature, culture, and pure enjoyment that awaits in this charming riverside town. Happy travels and happy sharing!