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One Woman's Opinion

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A Day in Urbanna

by Mary Wakefield Buxton

Urbanna, Va.— Every now and then city friends ask me what’s there to do in Urbanna? “Why, have fun, of course,” I always respond.

I have compiled a short list of some enjoyable things to do in my town. It is impossible to list every delight in Urbanna in one column, of course, but the following list offers a few suggestions for fun.

Come to Urbanna, park the car, and take the “Pearl” trolley for a sightseeing ride around town. Urbanna is one of the most beautiful and charming waterfront towns in the nation. The cost is a quarter and it is the best buy in the Commonwealth.

Be sure to visit my favorite store, Bristow’s Store, a real country store with wooden floors that creak when you walk on them. Buy a t-shirt that says “Urbanna” on it so when you return home everyone will know that you are a world traveler.

Have an ice cream cone at Moo’s Diner (my recommendation is mocha chocolate) and then eat it on the bench on the corner. Enjoy watching the friendly natives go by. See if you can wave at them before they wave at you.

Walk down the hill to the town marina on Urbanna Creek and have a seat on a rocker; no charge for rocking, and enjoy the million dollar view. You will see every kind of boat imaginable pass by. Take out pen and paper and make some sketches of Paradise. Be sure to stop at Payne’s Crab House for a fresh crab sandwich on your way back up the hill.

Stop in for freshly-squeezed lemonade at Marshall’s Drug Store and sample the native counter crowd that comes by each day to share news. See if they will include you into their tight-knit conversations. I bet they will.

Marshall’s has a selection of my books on display if you are looking for a good summer read. May I recommend my “Love Stories,” a collection of 36 real life stories about some of the interesting people who live in Middlesex County? There are also stories on some of the famous people who once lived here, such as Pulitzer Prize-winning author Bill Styron, who went to Christchurch School, and General “Chesty” Puller, the most decorated Marine ever, who lived in Saluda and is buried at Christ Church.

Across the street from Marshall’s is Nimcock Gallery and local artist Emily Chowning, who always has some of her own work on display. Down the street is the Library Thrift Shop where you are guaranteed to find the Bargain of the Day.

Close by is Cross Street Coffee where you can sit by the window over coffee and watch the rest of the world go by. Pick up the free real estate listings in the plastic boxes in front of the nearby Realtors’ offices so you can plan which house you want to buy when you move to Urbanna.

Back on Virginia Street you might enjoy Urbanna Republic, Papeterie, Cyndy’s Bynn or the new art gallery in town. For supper, there is Olivia’s, Virginia Street Café, Colonial Pizza and Mojo’s, all of which I recommend.

The library in town is a quick stroll down Grace Avenue. Select a good book or magazine and settle in one of the comfortable reading chairs back in the corner for a good small-town read. May I recommend my all-time favorite book, James Joyce’s “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.”

A block away is the Antique Mall, which is fun to visit. One can find all sorts of treasures in this shop.

If you are in the mood for a game of tennis, there are courts in Taber Park. The swimming pool is open for a fee, if you want to cool off.

I like to walk to Urbanna Bridge, which offers fine views both up and down Urbanna Creek. See if you can spot my lovely loon that summered here last year, and listen for his extraordinary soulful cry. If you have never heard a loon, you haven’t lived!

If you like to look at architecture, stop to admire the Middlesex County Woman’s Club building, which is a colonial building that once housed an Anglican church. I also like to look at Urbanna Baptist Church, a handsome Victorian building around the corner, and the Old Tobacco Warehouse near the waterfront on Virginia Street.

If you feel like taking a walk, head down Rappahannock Avenue to the Rappahannock River, then turn right on Kent. My house, which I call the “Pineapple Palace,” is on the corner. See if you can spot my two golden retrievers “Lord” and “Lady” at the gate in the back yard.

Continue walking until you come to Waterman’s Park. Have a seat and enjoy the river. See if you can see a regatta, or the “Miss Ann” steaming out from the Tides Inn on Carter’s Creek, or even a tugboat chugging upriver to Tappahannock.

Reconnect with Cross Street and you will soon be passing Mayor Moore’s beautiful frontyard garden. Try to identify all his flowers.

Continue walking and you are back in town. The entire trip is less than two miles and is good exercise that will lend you a view of my town.

If you are here in the evening, don’t miss an authentic small-town council meeting. If you are lucky, you will even take in a dog or cat complaint. Pro and con soliloquies depicting local animal behavior (including human!) are always delivered with high passion. Some of my best speeches have been delivered in town hall chambers—high entertainment, absolutely no charge, and democracy at its best.

I hope when you come to Urbanna, you will take the time to explore not just my suggestions, but everything we have to offer. If you run out of time, no problem. Just come back another day and finish seeing everything you missed on the first round.  ©2008

posted 06.19.2008

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