Overview

Virginia’s Northern Neck is the northernmost of three peninsulas on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay, bounded by the Potomac River on the north and the Rappahannock River on the south. Encompassing Lancaster, Northumberland, Richmond, and Westmoreland counties, the Northern Neck is one of the most historic regions in Virginia and the birthplace of three of the first five American presidents, along with other prominent families that helped form the nation.

The agriculture, forestry, and fishing industries play a large role in the local economy; generations of watermen continue to harvest rockfish, blue crabs, and the famous Virginia oyster from the waters surrounding the peninsula, and family produce farms are still flourishing. Tourism is also a significant source of economic activity in the region, as visitors are attracted to the natural resources, history, and heritage of the Northern Neck.

A wide range of businesses thrive in the region, including sawmills and timber-based companies, precision machining and circuit board manufacturing, oyster aquaculture, fishing reel manufacturing, trailer machining and assembly, wineries, breweries, agricultural crop services, and security training.

Only a short drive from Mid-Atlantic metropolitan areas, Northern Neck residents can reconnect with nature and history in one of the best-kept secrets along the Eastern Seaboard.

Download regional profile

Location

Located just northeast of Richmond, toward the Chesapeake Bay, the Northern Neck’s primary roads system efficiently connects to major interstates and the Richmond, Virginia Beach, and Northern Virginia metropolitan areas. The navigable Rappahannock River provides many locations for deepwater shipping facilities, as well as easy access to the Chesapeake Bay and The Port of Virginia in Hampton Roads.

Northern Neck

 

  • Four-lane highways in the region increase connectivity to major interstates and markets: Route 3 traverses the Northern Neck from Westmoreland County to Lancaster County, and Route 360 enters the Northern Neck outside Warsaw and ends in Northumberland County. Westmoreland County is 15 miles from Route 301 and about 40 miles from I-95 in Fredericksburg.
  • The southeastern towns of the Northern Neck – Irvington, White Stone, and Kilmarnock – are about 40 miles from I-64 near West Point.
  • Freight rail service is provided by Norfolk Southern, offering a wide range of reliable and efficient shipping options/
  • The Port of Virginia, offering the deepest harbor on the U.S. East Coast, is located approximately 60 miles southeast.
  • Two regional airports provide general aviation services, and commercial air service is available from Richmond International Airport (RIC – 28 miles), Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport (PHF – 36 miles), and Norfolk International Airport (ORF – 61 miles)

Livability

The Northern Neck has 1,109 miles of tidal shoreline along the Potomac River, Chesapeake Bay, and Rappahannock River, along with their tributary creeks and smaller rivers, providing a haven for boaters and water enthusiasts.

The region has emerged as a popular vacation and retirement destination due to its quality of life and accessibility to Richmond, Norfolk, Northern Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Colonial architecture, small-town charm, bed & breakfast inns, nine wineries, 17 museums, historic sites, marinas, and retail shops are among the valuable assets that attract visitors to the area.

A population of 50,000 supports a robust workforce of more than 23,000, serving the range of businesses that support the region’s industry base. The Northern Neck Technical Center provides comprehensive technical education, and the University of Mary Washington Small Business Development Center and Rappahannock Community College Workforce Development Center both offer customized training to teach individuals in the region hands-on skills for immediate application in the workplace.

Seafood

The Northern Neck’s natural attractions include national parks, state parks, and agritourism. Colonial Beach, Westmoreland State Park, Rappahannock River National Wildlife Refuge, and many other locations provide water access for fishing, boating, and yachting. 

A number of historic sites related to the nation's founders are open to the public, including the George Washington Birthplace National Monument. Christ Church, one of the oldest colonial churches in Virginia, has been restored and maintained as a museum.

The Tides Inn, overlooking Carters Creek in Lancaster County, is a magnificent resort destination, recognized with dozens of industry awards. Recreational activities include golf, tennis, croquet, a full-service spa, three restaurants, and river cruises.