If you’re an oyster fan and you live in Virginia, you’re one lucky individual. And chances are you’ve heard about the Oyster Trail. This trail allows visitors to enjoy and appreciate oysters from seven different regions of the state. With so many varieties, it’s no wonder that Virginia is considered to be “The Oyster Capital of the East Coast.” Our state is actually the third largest seafood producer in the entire country. The Virginia Oyster Trail is not necessarily a designated route but a grouping of all things oyster-related: restaurants, art venues, lodging, and agri-artisans (including vineyards, breweries, and markets). We’ve gone ahead and selected a few must-see sites from the trail that you’ll love. Who know the world of oysters could have so many things to see, try, and experience?
1. Dog and Oyster Vineyard (Irvington)
Named after the rescue dogs that saved the grapes from wildlife and the featured Chesapeake Bay treasure, The Dog and Oyster Vineyard is a true delight. Since 2012, the site has been hosting the Virginia Wine and Oyster Classic, which features both the top winemakers and chefs.
What an awesome looking spread: fried oyster tacos from Byrd's Seafood Co and local wine.
2. Rappahannock River Oysters (Topping)
The team behind the Rappahannock River Oyster set out to revive their grandfather's oyster company in 2001. They've successfully revived the native Chesapeake Bay oyster. RRO is a wholesale oyster company that also offers demonstrations.
Rappahannock River Oysters opened a noteworthy seafood restaurant in 2011 in Richmond. This company also supplies oysters to the Rappahannock Oyster Bar in DC and Merroir in Topping.
3. Merroir (Topping)
Merroir is a tasting room in Topping that serves its seafood raw or cooked on an outdoor grill. The scenery is lovely, overlooking the waters where the oysters are cultivated. These oysters are one of the most popular items on the menu, pairing beautifully with craft brews and fine wines.
As Merroir mentions on their website, "The Chesapeake affords us a limitless palate within which to create some of the most unique flavors in the world. The sites we’ve chosen represent what, to us, are the region’s signature taste profiles." Well said!
4. Relish Restaurant and Wine Bar (Warsaw)
At Relish, contemporary southern cuisine is sourced with local oysters. An irresistible combination.
Straight from the farm, these oysters are every bit as tasty and fresh as they appear.
5. Waypoint Seafood & Grill (Williamsburg)
The menu at Waypoint celebrates all of the Chesapeake's finest ingredients, dolled up with more locally grown flavors. The chefs and seafood providers work closely together to ensure that their seasonally changing menu is as delicious as can be.
And in case you weren't quite convinced yet, Waypoint's Chef Hans Schadler was named Virginia's 2016 Chef of the Year.
6. Allure Art Center (White Stone)
Not all stops along the Virginia Oyster Trail celebrate oysters by serving them up as something tasty. Allure Art Center features artists whose work is inspired by the Chesapeake Bay and its gorgeous natural surroundings. Sometimes, the oysters themselves are featured in the artwork.
7. Fig Street Inn (Cape Charles)
The Fig Street Inn is a delightful little bed and breakfast that happens to serve up some fine Virginia oysters. The accommodations are elegant and the setting is simply stunning.
What a perfect place for a weekend getaway in a the quaint harbor town of Charles City. The oysters here are supplied by Oyster Farm Seafood Eatery. As you can see...they don't last on plates very long!
8. Waterside Inn (Chincoteague)
The Waterside Inn is definitely a casual hotel/motel, but the views are unbeatable.
There's also a 200-ft. crabbing and fishing pier that allows you to get up close and personal with the sea life.
9. Good Luck Cellars (Kilmarnock)
This family-owned estate winery has been in service since 2004 and is located in the picturesque Northern Neck.
What was once an old sand and gravel mine has been beautifully transformed into the present-day luscious vineyard.
10. Willaby's Cafe and Catering (White Stone)
The business began in 1987 as a catering company out of Urbanna. The cafe began in 1992, and both services still run successfully. These wild-caught oysters are gathered straight from Deep Rock, in the Chesapeake Bay.
The live music is another main attraction at Willaby's, providing evenings of endless entertainment.
With sites as charming, entertaining, and fascinating as these, you can appreciate the Virginia Oyster Trail even if you don’t actually love eating oysters. (But after visiting some of these stops, you might just change your mind.) What are your favorite places for delicious oysters in Virginia?