Explore the tiny towns of Virginia’s coast

These four towns have salt air and sun in common, but each offers its own unique and charming waterfront town experience.

Cape Charles
Cape Charles / Photo courtesy of bleung/Adobe Stock

Whether by boat or by land, these four tiny towns on Virgina’s coast are worth visiting.


Located just three hours from Northern Virginia, Mathews is a quaint town on the Chesapeake Bay. Art galleries and studios (like Put in Creek Carvings and the FFFHEX) line the streets of downtown. With 214 miles of waterfront, Mathews has the most shoreline mileage on the Chesapeake Bay and offers kayak and boat tours. It’s also well-known for its lighthouses: New Point Comfort Lighthouse, the third-oldest lighthouse on the Chesapeake, and Wolf Trap, are a staple of Mathews history. The second-smallest county in the state, Mathews doesn’t have any traffic lights, adding to its charm and making it a prime spot for a bike tour.


Surrounded by water, Urbanna is a seafood destination. Located under three hours from NoVA, its aquaculture is part of its appeal, and its annual oyster festival is a major draw every fall. Food, craft beer, art and a parade make up the event, drawing crowds of around 75,000 each year. Urbanna is full of preserved history with signature colonial architecture. Boats dock at Upton’s Point, Urbanna’s marina, which is a stone’s throw from shopping and restaurants.


Known as the boat-building capital of the Chesapeake Bay, Deltaville is the perfect getaway for sailing enthusiasts. Only three hours from NoVA, Deltaville is made up of marshes, waterways and shoreline. Art and seafood festivals and fishing tournaments are major attractions, along with quaint mom-and-pop shops, restaurants, local farmers markets and auctions.

Cape Charles

Nestled on the Eastern Shore, Cape Charles boasts a half-mile beach, its very own Central Park with an idyllic gazebo and a fishing pier. Visitors should make a point to stop at the Cape Charles Harbor and Marina and take a horse-drawn carriage ride around town. Independent boutiques, art galleries and restaurants line the streets (make sure to stop by The Boardwalk and Lemon Tree Gallery and Studio), and beautiful bed-and-breakfasts like the Cape Charles House and Bay Haven Inn make for a popular lodging option for travelers.