Coastal Connection: The Tides Inn and Friends of Rappahannock

May 20, 2024

For the last few years, the Tides Inn and Friends of Rappahannock (FOR) have joined forces on numerous initiatives, such as native tree planting, conservation landscaping, and the design and installation of the 18,000-square-foot living shoreline at the resort which improves water quality and aquatic habitat of Carter’s Creek. The waterfront project— featuring 42 new trees, an oyster reef, and a meandering wooden boardwalk that naturally hugs the shore’s edge—was conceived and implemented to help preserve the natural ecosystem, prevent future erosion and runoff and protect local species, including osprey, Eastern oysters, and Atlantic mussels.

Partnership Highlights

A “spat-on-shell” restoration project involves the process in which oyster larvae attach to existing Eastern oyster shells to thrive and flourish. Last year, the resort and FOR launched its inaugural operation using 600 bags of recycled oyster shells, resulting in 880,000 new spat for reefs.  

“In the summer (or when the water hits just the right temperature at 70 degrees), you will see our staff along with Tides Inn ecologist, William Smiley, and oyster restoration specialist, Jen Sagan, on the boat together, dropping the shells in designated spots,” says Brent Hunsinger, Advocacy and Coastal Programs Director at FOR. “The Tides Inn has done an incredible job of connecting the clientele to direct, on-the-ground issues that are going on in the Chesapeake Bay region, and tying people to the place through guest experiences and making it educational and a lot of fun, too. It has been great for the river and FOR.”

Jen Sagan and Will Smiley are pictured relaxing on a bed of recycled oyster shells before getting their hands dirty.


A Joint Effort

Apart from teaming up for numerous restoration projects, FOR’s staff works closely with Smiley and Matt Little, the resort’s horticulturist, on day-to-day operations and voluntourism projects, including shell bagging events using recycled shells culled from on-site eateries, Fish Hawk Oyster Bar and Salt & Meadow. While in residence at the Tides Inn, guests have the opportunity to learn about the local ecology of the Chesapeake Bay region and contribute conservation efforts through ecotourism.

“There’s a twofold volunteer piece,” says Brent. “There are just so many benefits. I would like to emphasize the partnership’s gravity and success; it’s very much a symbiotic relationship and a great balance. You will not find a bigger advocate than me. The work that they have done at the Tides Inn is no small feat.” 

 Learn more about FOR and its effort in the region by visiting the link below.


Evoking A Feeling of Home: Chef de Cuisine Kyle Perkins

March 13, 2024

For Kyle Perkins, Chef de Cuisine for Salt & Meadow, the new signature restaurant at the Tides Inn, his career isn’t just a job, it’s a complete lifestyle. “I picked it, and it picked me back, and I haven’t looked back since,” says Kyle, who attended the New England Culinary Institute and worked at acclaimed restaurants and resorts in Nantucket, Sunriver, Oregon and San Francisco. “It’s a part of me. I love the ability to educate people and display creativity and emotion through a physical object. For me, that object – or medium – is food.” 

Kyle, who grew up in Indiana and later spent his formative years in Quechee, Vermont (about seven miles from Woodstock), admits he was always captivated by food. At a young age, he began helping in his parent’s backyard vegetable garden and experimenting in the kitchen. A few trips to Wee Willie’s in Indiana, a local breakfast spot, also sparked his culinary interest and introduced him to an open kitchen concept. But, after summer stints in eateries spanning a pizza joint, a fine dining restaurant, and a small inn, it became clear this was his path. “Working in restaurants was always exciting for me, as well as entertaining people through cooking food,” explains Kyle. But to see the reactions on people’s faces when they get to eat the food I make, that’s the driving factor for me.”


Apart from heading up new coastal-inspired restaurant Salt & Meadowmenu highlights include line-caught Black Sea Bass from the Bay and Steamboat Wharf Oysters paired with champagne and microgreens from the property’s five-acre farmthe busy chef can be found creating sought-after dinner rolls (inspired by a “soft spot” for King’s Hawaiian rolls with a similar light, airy texture and a bit of crunch on top), or infusing hints of nostalgia with seasonal desserts such as profiteroles with banana pudding ice cream—a spin on a childhood treat made by his grandmother with ice cream and hot fudge.  

What I want is for guests to feel at home,” adds Chef Kyle. “Here at the Tides Inn, we attract visitors from all over. I just want them to feel like ‘wow, I’m at home,’ especially with our new restaurant opening later this spring.” 


At Salt & Meadow, Chef Kyle will introduce menu items including line-caught Black Sea Bass from the Bay and Steamboat Wharf Oysters paired with champagne and microgreens from the property’s five-acre farm, overseen by the resort horticulturist. He also works closely with the resort’s ecologist to source the very best local seafood and to ensure sustainable practices, such as oyster shell recycling for the Tides Inn oyster reef. 


From Classroom to Coastal Steward: The Ecological Journey of William Smiley

January 30, 2024

As a junior in high school in Lynchburg, Virginia, William Smiley, ecologist at the Tides Inn, went on a field trip with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation that sparked a lifelong career in science. Years later, after majoring in biology at Washington College and obtaining a master’s degree in Educating for Sustainability from Antioch University, Smiley was hired to teach science at Christchurch School located along the Rappahannock River. There, he launched an aquaculture initiative called Cans for Oysters utilizing funds from recycled aluminum cans to purchase oyster seed. “Students were running a seafood business out of the school waterfront,” says Smiley.

Journey to Coastal Leadership

Four years ago, Smiley left his teaching job in hopes of working at a university, but his path changed course during the pandemic. He ultimately landed a dock position at Rappahannock Oyster Company where he serendipitously met one of The Tides Inn’s co-owners on a facility tour. At the Tides Inn, the busy father of three leads two experiences from mid-March to November named after two tomes penned by late local biologist William W. Warner: Chesapeake Gold and Beautiful Swimmers. “Chesapeake Gold covers the history of oysters in the bay, ecology of oysters, oyster reproduction, oyster restoration, and modern oyster aquaculture,” William says. “It’s a hands-on experience where guests get to be involved in our restoration efforts and experience how oysters are presently being farmed. At the end, they enjoy an oyster roast on the dock. Beautiful Swimmers is named for the Blue Crab [species name is Callinectes Sapidus which means ‘beautiful swimmer.’] Guests go out on the water and pull crab pots and then return to the dock where I steam the crabs and teach how to choose them in a traditional matter.”


Ecology at the Tides Inn

In the winter, William leads an oyster-shucking tutorial covering the basics of oysters and the art of how to prep and open them. He’s also busy working on the future Woodland Trails revitalization plan for guest hiking and biking access, and an oyster restoration project, Spat On Shell, with partner organization, Friends of the Rappahannock. “As an ecologist I get to do work that makes the planet healthier,” he says. “It is very rewarding work. Clean water is the greatest gift to give. I also hope to build stewardship in the people I interact with. Maybe they will go back to where they live and take action. My thought is: don’t think about the whole world, just make your world the world and make it beautiful and abundant.”


Gift Guide: Our Top Picks for the Holiday Season 

December 08, 2023

The annual dilemma returns each holiday season: What to give my loved ones and friends? Gift cards can be simple, but oftentimes, we desire something more thoughtful and memorable. Buying local is a great way to support your community and purchasing “products with a purpose” are an ideal way to give back. 

Responsible for the resort’s adorably adorned boutique, Kristy Thomas, Retail Manager at the Tides Inn, is our gifting guru and has provided some of her favorite items this season. 

Eco-Friendly Gift

Our resort champions environmental causes, restoring its shoreline, developing an oyster reef and partnering with Friends of Rappahannock, a local environmental nonprofit organization. Perfect for your eco-conscious friend, Kristy suggests “Nature’s Best Hope.” 

From author, Douglas W. Tallamy, the book shows how homeowners can turn their yards into “conservation corridors” that nurture wildlife habitats—a simple blueprint for doing good by our environment.

For Her

For your female friend or family member, Kristy points to Barefoot Dreams, a cozy throw perfect for winter nights by the fireplace. Better yet, it’s an easy-care fabric that won’t pill or wrinkle. 

From One Grey Day, a cashmere pullover knit with an easy crewneck and raglan armholes. She’s sure to love this soft, mid-gauge pullover. 

For Him

From Peter Millar, the Suffolk Quilted Travel Coat is made from water-resistant quilted fabric – great for the man in wintry weather. 

Why Kristy loves it: The interior is fleece-lined and features six pockets—super functional and ideal for the active gentleman. 

Wheat Apparel’s Henley is a guy’s go-to for layering this season, says Kristy. What’s more, Wheat Apparel’s collections are designed to look effortlessly chic.  

Buy Local: Virginia Made Gifts

Starting right here in our own hometown, Mr. Crosby’s nephew continues the spicy, satisfying taste of this authentic sauce,” remarked Kristy. Northern Neck Sauce has become a fan favorite of hotel guests at the Tides Inn – a splendid condiment for seafood dishes. 

For the Marks Family, peanut farming in Virginia has been passed down through the generations. The original home on their farmland was named “Belmont” and dates back to 1790. Implementing environmental practices to nurture the land, the Marks preserve a way of life while producing delicious peanuts and nut mixes. 

Gifts for Kids

“Our best-selling items for kids are these ‘plushies’ from Jellycat, and we have an array of holiday-themed ones this year,” says Kristy. Jellycat combines luxurious fabrics with quirky designs that are sure to be your little one’s new best friend.

After visiting Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay region, children can explore their creativity with an eeBoo Under the Sea sketchbook and jumbo color pencils. With a chunky shape, the pencils are fun to hold and inspire little hands to draw their favorite aquatic creatures – maybe a Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab or Eastern Oyster. 

More Gift Ideas

Still can’t decide? Purchase a Tides Inn gift card by calling our boutique at 804-438-4440—or to order the aforementioned items. Orders are shipped the same day via two-day UPS, Monday through Friday.  Orders placed on Saturday and Sunday will be shipped first thing Monday morning. 

Lastly, for the mindful friend, what a better gift than to donate to a local charity, such as our environmental partner, Friends of Rappahannock. A donation contributes directly to projects in our region that improve water quality and educate the next generation of river stewards.  

A Lifelong Passion for Art: Theresa Schneveis, Resident Artist

October 25, 2023
Art workshops and painting classes at the Tides Inn

As a young girl, Theresa Schneveis, the resort’s resident artist, spent countless hours combing the woods near her home in Medford, Wisconsin in search of twigs, rocks, and seepods. “I grew up very tied to nature,” says Theresa. “I spent a lot of time exploring forests, picking up treasures, and enjoyed learning about how the world we live in works.”

The Kilmarnock, Virginia resident, who went on to major in ceramics at University of Wisconsin-River Falls, found her passion to become an artist at an early age. “From the age of 18 months, I’ve been drawing and doing literally any creative project available to me,” says Theresa. “I’ve always wanted to do this. I feel extremely lucky that I grew up knowing my calling right away. There’s times I wish I was interested in being a doctor or lawyer or something, but in the end I’m glad I went with my heart and not my head.”

Winter Art Workshops

Now, Theresa, who teaches art classes such Pottery on The Wheel, Painting and Pinot, and newly launched Watercolor and Mimosa (a watercolor course aboard a river cruise), believes in the importance of fostering individual creativity and making art fun. “One of my major goals here is to show people that art isn’t scary, and it’s not just for people that are ‘good’ at it,” says Theresa. “Unfortunately, I can’t make classically-trained artists of everyone, but in order to do that you need a good base, which is what I like to offer. A good base means being open to create, willing to try new things knowing you’ll fail, having an inquisitive mind. I love teaching classes because I give students permission to play, to experiment, and to be okay making something ugly—because it happens to everyone, even me.”

This winter at the Tides Inn, Theresa will offer a wreath-making course using plants culled by the on-site horticulturist such as Golden Cedar, Virginia Pine, eucalyptus, and holly. She’s also leading a brand new candle-painting class utilizing colored melted wax. “It’s so fun to be able to customize candles for the season,” says Theresa.

In November and December, Theresa hosts a number of family-friendly art workshops the aforementioned Holiday Wreath Making class, a Gingerbread House Workshop, Holiday Card Making and Holiday Ornament Making in which guests create an ornament from clay, paint a pre-made one or utilize local materials, such as oyster shells and crab claws.


When do the Leaves Change in Virginia?

October 03, 2023
a forest with changing leaves

Planning a getaway to Virginia is never a bad idea, but if you’re hoping to visit when it’s particularly scenic and magical, fall is the time to go. Between the crisp and cool weather and brilliant orange trees, the autumn setting at the Tides Inn creates the perfect place to kick back and unwind.

In order to catch the hues of the season when they are bright and alive, it’s important to keep tabs on when the leaves change in Virginia. Matt Little, horticulturist at the Tides, says that the peak of fall foliage in Irvington is typically around Halloween.

At the end of October, most residents and visitors can expect to see vibrant varieties of red, yellow, and orange. Here’s what else you should know before planning your trip.

Use Local Resources

Before you book a flight or head on a road trip, be sure to check out the annual fall foliage report. Created by the Virginia Department of Forestry, this report shares a forecast map that displays when the prime leaf peeping time will be in each area of the state.

This year's forecast was recently released and shares that the ideal time to spot foliage in Irvington will likely be in late October to early November. Keep in mind that if you’re traveling along the western side of the state, the peak of fall foliage will occur in early to mid October.

For more details, you can download and save the map here.

fall foliage

Good to Know

If you time your stay in Irvington just right, you’ll be greeted by brilliant orange Maple Trees as you drive up to the Tides. “About half of the trees on our property have leaves that will change color in the fall,” says Little. The other half, like evergreens, will stay lush until the first frost.

Another important factor to keep in mind is that the time the trees become bare can also vary from year to year. “The leaves are sometimes off by mid-November and sometimes they hang on until January,” Little explains. “We are so variable here that it’s hard to pinpoint an exact week.”

Your best bet for spotting the seasonal colors is to follow the guidance listed on the Virginia Department of Forestry fall foliage forecast. Whether the leaves are intact and ready to show off or they’re starting to flake off of their branches, an escape to the Tides Inn is always worth the trek.

fall leaves in the water

Best Leaf Peeping Spots (and their distances from the Tides Inn)

  • Dameron Marsh Natural Area Preserve (14 miles)
  • Hickory Hollow Natural Area Preserve (11 miles)
  • Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge (27 miles)
  • Belle Isle State Park (21 miles)
  • Forest Trail or Garden Tour (at Tides Inn)

12 Ways to Celebrate Fall in Virginia

September 14, 2023
fall colors on the water

Virginia is a picturesque spot for a fall getaway, whether you’re seeking some solo time or you’re traveling as a family. From the vibrant autumn colors to the quaint coastal plains, visitors coming to the Tides Inn can enjoy all of the iconic fall activities that Virginia has to offer.

Nestled in the Northern Neck region, the warm fall colors are typically on display on our grounds from mid to late October. If you’re planning a trip on the western side of the state, be aware that the foliage season starts earlier in the month.

With a special crispness to the air, traditional fall activities in Virginia will leave you with core memories that will last a lifetime. From pumpkin patches to picnic baskets, road trips and cozy cider tastings, you will find all of this and more near the Tides this fall. Here are 13 ways to celebrate during your stay.

Urbanna Oyster Festival

Hosted November 3 and 4, the iconic Urbanna Oyster Festival is a buzz-worthy event for tourists and locals alike. Venture just across the Rappahannock to indulge in the flavors of Virginia’s beloved shellfish. The occasion also boasts a parade, live music, food and an oyster shucking competition.

This year, you may catch a round-trip ride across the Rappahannock River on the Tides Inn Water Taxi. This exclusive offer for guests of the Tides Inn allows you to avoid the traffic, parking fees and stress of driving. The cost for a roundtrip ticket is $40 per person. To reserve, please contact our Concierge Team at 804.438.5000 or

Colors of Fall Helicopter Tour

This season is for new experiences and exploration. For the fall lovers who can’t get enough of the fiery foliage, consider a helicopter tour to take in nature’s most vibrant time of the year. From the bright colors of the mountains to the yellow hues near the bay, a helicopter tour is sure to leave you in awe of all Virginia has to offer.

Dameron Marsh Natural Area Preserve

Searching for a tranquil excursion that will take you to one of the most significant wetlands along the Chesapeake Bay? Your drive will showcase Virginia’s fall foliage if you didn’t get enough from the Tide’s new nature trail.

The preserve is known for its vast wildlife and marsh-bird communities. Enjoy the fresh air and keep your eyes peeled for a variety of critters. If you enjoyed the peaceful marsh walk, consider stopping by Hickory Hollow Natural Area Preserve, Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge or Belle Isle State Park next.

The Spa

A new season offers a new reason to prioritize yourself. The fall represents a shift in direction—the days get shorter and darker, and the air gets crisper and cooler. We slowly shift into cozy weather and say goodbye to long summer nights. Unwind and fall into this new season with a self-care day by booking a service at the Tides Inn Spa. Detoxify and hydrate your skin with a body scrub or treat yourself to a Himalayan Salt Stone Massage.

Live Music at Camp Irvington

The warmth of the fire pits underneath the glow of string lights creates the perfect setting to enjoy a fall sunset and live music. A new addition to our town of Irvington, Camp is casual yet inviting—the ideal spot to unwind on your getaway. As far as entertainment goes, a variety of musicians play every Saturday and Sunday. Grab a blanket and get cozy as you relax under the stars.

Carter's Creek Sunset Cruise

After exploring all that Irvington and the surrounding area has to offer on foot, take in the stunning coastline views by setting sail on a cruise at the Tides. Rich with history, our Sunset Cruise will educate you on the background of Carter’s Creek as you take in the sweeping waterfront views, of course complete with a glass of wine.

8 Shires Colonial Distillery

Located in the Triangle of Williamsburg, Virginia, 8 Shires Distillery embodies the history of distillation from the Colonial American Period. 8 Shires is known for using historic recipes and ingredients for their small craft batches. Stop by for a sip or partake in a behind-the-scenes tour to experience the production up close and personal. After all, nothing says fall quite like bourbon.

Garden Tour

Bike to the Tides Inn Farm and enjoy a tour of the pollinator gardens, vegetable garden and Bee Meadow with our horticulturist, Matt Little. A seasoned expert on all things trees and plants, Matt can comment on the changing leaves, the growth of pumpkins and gourds and how the shift in weather impacts our beloved bee population. This 30-minute experience is the perfect afternoon activity for adults and kids alike.

Saude Creek Vineyards

Virginia is home to nearly 300 wineries, so there is certainly no shortage of local varieties to explore. Several wine festivals take place throughout the fall months, offering visitors and locals a chance to sample the seasonal best.

Saude Creek Vineyards is only a 40 minute drive from the Tides Inn, and once you arrive, the hillside tables will surround you with beautiful foliage. Head to the vineyard on the weekend and you can enjoy bites from The Scottish Pig, a local food truck favorite.

Ditchley Cider Works

Ditchley produces more than 50 varieties of ciders from apples grown directly on the property. In addition to cider, this small, veteran-owned and operated farm produces pork, beef and poultry products. Set on a picturesque property that includes orchards, pastures, wooded areas and over two miles of natural shoreline, this is a hidden gem located just under ten miles from the Tides. On your way back to the Inn, indulge in the fall flavors that come to life in the freshly made ciders.

Holly Fork Farms

Family-friendly activities that will transport you to your youth can be found at Holly Fork Farm. From hay rides and scavenger hunts to harvest vendors and fresh veggies, this is the perfect pumpkin patch and picnic pavilion for your whole crew to enjoy.

Visit a Historic Site

Virginia is home to several historic sites, one being Historic Christ Church and Museum, which is just a 5 minute drive from our property. The 1735 church is a landmark that is in near-original condition and is considered as one of America’s greatest buildings. Two other spots to check out include the Steamboat Era Museum and Mary Ball Washington Museum where you can discover, learn and explore more about the history of the area surrounding the Tides.