Virginia’s Northern Neck: Land of Pleasant Living

Virginia’s Northern Neck, the northernmost of three peninsulas extending into Chesapeake Bay, is located between two rivers. To the north runs the peaceful Potomac river, with the historic Rappahannock running along the southern border and spilling into the Chesapeake Bay. For people looking to get away from big city life, Virginia’s Northern Neck provides a sanctuary of tranquility. There is less than one person living in the Northern Neck for every 10 acres of land, with only a dozen traffic lights on the entire peninsula. For these reasons, many people find Northern Neck real estate, with an abundance of waterfront homes for sale, extremely enticing.

Commonly known as “the land of pleasant living”, the stunning area has rich history, many natural attractions, as well as an abundance of recreational activities including boating, fishing, horseback riding, golf, and is a highly prized area for bird-watchers.

Virginia’s Northern Neck is considered by many to be one of the most peaceful places in the area, due to its historic villages, rural charm, and timeless appeal. George Washington, who was born and lived in the Northern Neck, once called it the “Garden of Virginia.”

The History of the Northern Neck

Virginia’s Northern Neck was discovered by John Smith, who described it as “a place heaven and earth agreed better to frame man’s habitation.” It was the birthplace of United States presidents George Washington, James Madison, James Monroe, and U.S. Civil War General Robert E. Lee.

Prior to European colonization, Native Americans had inhabited the Northern Neck for at least 10,000 years. Native American villages thrived on the peninsula’s extensive river and stream network. Rivers such as the Wicomico, Coan, and Nomini are named for the tribes who settled upon their shores.

The peninsula is home to an exorbitant amount of historical sites, such as Popes Creek Plantation- the birthplace of the first President of the United States, George Washington. Washington’s actual house was destroyed by a fire during the American Revolution, and a memorial house was constructed in the 1930s on the now 550 acre national park. Here, costumed interpreters recreate 18th century life on the plantation. Stratford Hall Plantation, Robert E. Lee’s birthplace, is managed to this day as a working farm and includes a functioning mill. These two historic venues are among the 16 museums on the peninsula open to the public for tours.

Recreational Attractions

The Northern Neck is prized for its vast array of outdoor activities. With hundreds of rivers, streams, creeks, coves, and saltwater marshes, water plays a vital role in these activities. Boaters, and recreational and competitive fishermen come to the Northern Neck to experience the 1,100 miles of shoreline.

With 21 Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail sites, the Northern Neck is also a prime location for birding. 6,500 preserved acres provide an unspoiled habitat for over 250 distinct species of birds. Depending on the season, you can see a plethora of songbirds, waterfowl, wading birds, as well as a variety of magnificent butterflies. Also, Celadon Natural Area, spanning 2,500 acres along the Potomac River, boasts one of the largest concentrations of the American Bald Eagle on the East Coast.

Golfers can choose between the celebrated Golden Eagle Golf Club and the player-friendly Quinton Oaks Golf Course, and end with a meal at either of their clubhouses.

Bikers can enjoy one of four Biking Heritage Tours of the Northern Neck, while hikers can partake in an eco-tour of the 733-acre Belle Isle State Park or the 6,000-acre Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

If you are fed up with big city traffic, noise, and over development, then it is easy to see why Virginia’s Northern Neck is an ideal place to get back to roots, breath in the fresh, clean air, and let it all roll off your shoulders.