The West End Mom
The Tides Inn: A Virginia River Escape for the Whole Family
Updated: May 2, 2022
We visited The Tides Inn for the first time, and it lived up to its reputation - it's definitely "Southern Charm along the Chesapeake Bay"! Located in Irvington, The Tides Inn is about an hour and half from Richmond, making it a very easy trip for Richmond families. Since Irvington is part of the Northern Neck, there are also plenty of add on adventures and pit stops you can try while you're traveling there.
Our trip was for two nights, and we left early Friday morning so we could check out Gloucester & Machicomoco State Park. These stops were about an hour and 15 minutes from Richmond. We enjoyed Chick-Fil-A for lunch in Gloucester, and we had plenty of time to hike and explore the newest state park in Virginia. After our state park adventure, we picked up sweet treats at Short Lane Ice Cream, about 5 minutes from the park and on the way to Irvington.
Here's what you need to know about The Tides Inn:
The Tides Inn has a casual, but elevated style, and it sits on the banks of Carter's Creek. The backside of the resort has water views from every spot - the outside dining area of Chesapeake Restaurant, the lawn, the pool, and Fish Hawk. Not all rooms have river views, so if this is a priority to you, make sure you book one with water views instead of garden views.
Tides Inn is celebrating its 75th season - it opened in 1947! They've planned a lot of special events in celebration of their anniversary, and there is something for everyone: couples, families, and even our fur babies (it's pet-friendly)!
We spent most of our time on the recently expanded beach. My kids loved playing in the sand and the shallow water. We also enjoyed grabbing meals at Fish Hawk, the causal dining option on property. Fish Hawk has inside dining, dining at the pool, and dining on the deck. You can even opt to have your food/drinks brought to the beach!
We didn't explore too much off property this trip, but we did have a chance to try Chesapeake Doughnut Co. This is about a 5 minute drive from the resort, and they serve breakfast and lunch. They have delicious donuts & breakfast drinks, and breakfast sandwiches. We enjoyed having the option sit inside and outside.
Here's our weekend itinerary:
~3 pm Check In
Evening Play at the Beach
Dinner at Fish Hawk
Morning Room service for breakfast
Play at the beach & pool
Explore the boardwalk
noon Lunch in our room
2:00 p.m. Chesapeake Gold Oyster Experience (approx. 2.5 hours) Evening Dinner at Fish Hawk
Play at the beach Day 3 Morning Breakfast at Chesapeake Doughnuts
Play at the beach 11:00 Check-out of the Tides Inn
Picnic lunch at the marina
1:00 Cove Cruise
Tips & Tricks:
1. Look for a promotional rate or package deal. Tides Inn honors AAA members, seniors, Military & Virginia residents with a discount. You can also check on Booking.com for discounted rates.
2. Compare rooms. Sometimes it "saves" to get an upgraded room with a mini-fridge. You could stock it with milk & snacks, saving your food & beverage costs.
3. Pack snacks. With every hotel stay, we always aim to have one meal in the room. Food is typically expensive at resorts and kids are always hungry - this saves money & gives you peace of mind.
4. The Fish Hawk Oyster Bar is perfect for families! This is the casual, waterfront restaurant next to the pool and the beach. We loved this spot because you can eat inside the casual restaurant, eat at the picnic tables on the deck, or a staff member could bring it to the pool/beach for you to enjoy there. It just worked really well with little kids!
5. The resort offers complimentary activities. Bikes are available for all guests without a fee- they have 12 inch bikes and up, plus there are bikes with baby seats on the back. They have yard games like cricket and bocci ball, and there are board games in the hall next to the lobby. You can also ride watercraft like kayaks, canoes and paddle boards. The Tides Inn Marina office has maps of Carter's Creek and a guide to wildlife you can see around the peninsula.
6. Bayside Explorer Kids Club is a program created to inspire and entertain children ages 4-12 with supervised activities around the resort and Carter's Creek. Activities such as painting, nature excursions & history tours are from 9am-2pm daily. This is for resort guests only, and there is an additional cost to participate in the programs.
7. Try a ecology experience. The Tides Inn offers two ecology experiences for families- Crabbing: Beautiful Swimmers and Chesapeake Gold Oyster Experience. During these excursions, you will have hands on opportunities to interact with river life, make aquariums, take care of the creek, and sample various seafood options and enjoy nonalcoholic/adult beverages. These are about 2-2.5 hours in length. This costs between $100-$200 per person, and it is open to everyone (not just resort guests).
*To see our ecology experience, click here.
8. Try the cove cruise or the sunset cruise. These are scenic tours of Carter's Creek, and you can learn more about the history of Irvington and the Rappahannock River.
*We also tried this excursion, and I think it is better for older children (7+).
9. Resort guests also have access to the full-service spa and Golden Eagle Golf Course.
10. Maximize your last day. On your check out day, pack all your items in the morning. Then enjoy it as usual- visit the beach, explore the boardwalk, etc. When it gets close to 11, have one adult load the car, while the other adult keeps the kids on the beach or at the pool. This process works really well for us - the kids are happy & occupied, all the "work" gets completed, and we can enjoy our last day. Tides Inn also has bathrooms & a shower by the pool.
*The Tides Inn hosted us on this stay. This page has affiliate links. All opinions are my own.
For more details on this getaway and more Virginia adventures, follow our family on @thewestendmom on Instagram!