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Charming, historic and growing, White Stone, VA sits pretty on the shore where the mouth of the Rappahannock River flows into Chesapeake Bay. The origin of the town’s name is a source of some debate -- there are those that believe that White Stone was named for the stone ballast dumped by the British into the town’s waterways during the Revolutionary War, while some locals claim that the name comes from the large white stone that was used as part of the town’s old milling operations. Either way, there’s no denying that White Stone is beautiful, from the views on the two-mile-long Robert O. Norris Bridge to the wonderfully preserved Pop’s Castle Estate!
These days, White Stone is a small, safe, and family-friendly town, known for its seafood and strong community spirit. You and your pooch can sample some of the former at Willoughby’s Cafe, a pawesome beachfront restaurant that caters to canines at its outdoor tables.
With no designated dog park or even community park in town, you might be forgiven for thinking that White Stone isn’t the most fur-friendly place. It’s true that you’ll need to drive a little to get the best for your buddy, but with a long enough leash, White Stone can be a great base for you two to roam fur-ther afield!
With a vineyard like the pawesomely named Dog and Oyster just a five-minute drive away in Irvington, you’d need to be barking mad not to go for a tasting! The pooch-loving owners of this small winery chose the name to honor the rescue dogs they adopted to protect their grapes (yes, really -- and they do a darn good job of it too). They even have pictures of pups on their bottles! Your own furball is welcome in the tasting room, but it's best to keep them leashed so they don’t distract the working dogs. The Oyster White is excellent, and the local seafood just sweetens the deal.
Scottie Yard Dog Park in Kilmarnock is the closest off-leash area to White Stone, so it’d be a huge faux paw not to visit! This dog run isn’t the largest, but there’s still plenty of room in both the large and small dog areas for a spirited game of catch. There’s a couple of benches for tired owners to sit back and watch their pups play, but be warned -- you’ll need to bring your own bags and water! After you two have worked up an appetite, why not chow down at NN Burger? This furrific little spot does a truly unique crab cake burger and welcomes doggy diners outside.
Among all the historic sites of the Chesapeake Bay region, Fort Nonsense in North is a little-known gem. This Civil War site is preserved to the point where it seems almost untouched, and is famous for being built backwards -- all the attacks came from the opposite direction. The trails around the site make this a pawfect place for you two to stretch all six of your legs, and soak up some history besides! You won’t find any pup-friendly restaurants in North -- or any restaurants, for that matter -- but there’s plenty of places in the park to picnic, so pack a couple of sandwiches!
Many visitors to Belle Isle State Park prefer to pick up a kayak and explore the park by water, but the preserve is also home to some fantastically fur-friendly hiking trails! The pawpular camping destination is a wonderful place to get back to nature, and the trails run through wooded wonderland, by burbling creeks, and along the side of the Rappahannock River. If you decide to stay overnight, you’ll find that wagging tails are welcome at most campsites, but there’s an additional $3 fee for pets. Remember to bring bug spray in the summer, or you and your pooch will be scratching all the way home!
While the scenic draw of this part of Virginia is no doubt the coves and headlands around the coast, most beaches are not suitable for dogs, and there’s a limit to what you and your buddy can enjoy just from looking out the car window. Never mind, though -- the forested areas in the region are almost as majestic! Chilton Woods State Forest Park is a real mutts-visit for nature-loving pooches and owners, and the forest’s trails provide opportunities for both challenging hikes and sedate strolls. Just be sure to look up a trail map before you go!
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