Visit Westmoreland

Surrounded by water and steeped in history, Westmoreland County is the perfect destination for people who love the lessons of the past and the great outdoors. Visit the places where George Washington, James Monroe and Robert E. Lee were born. And where 115 patriots gathered to sign a document, the Leedstown Resolves, which laid the groundwork for revolution. Enjoy the pristine beauty of the county's 5,450 acres of natural area and 250 miles of shoreline. Relish fine wines made right here from our vines, and fruits and vegetables fresh from our farms. Then rest up for another great day at an historic B&B, a waterfront inn, a modern motel, a vacation cottage or a waterfront campground. We invite you to visit Westmoreland.

About Westmoreland County

About Westmoreland CountyStrategically located between Washington, DC, and the Chesapeake Bay, Westmoreland County is an ideal place for businesses, visitors and residents who want to enjoy big-city access in a friendly, small-town setting. We're rich in history. George Washington, James Madison and James Monroe had roots here. And lying between the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers, Westmoreland offers abundant recreational opportunities along 250 miles of shoreline.

 

Resources

Attractions

Westmoreland’s natural beauty attracts thousands of visitors each year. Come explore our fields, forests and shorelines–and enjoy our agricultural bounty.

Ingleside Vineyards & Winery

Ingleside Vineyards & Winery

Taste award-winning wines, take part in a busy calendar of special events like barrel tastings and “Jazz in the Courtyard,” and tour the grounds of one of the oldest and largest wineries in Virginia.

Northern Neck Bike Trail
Westmoreland County's low traffic counts, gently rolling topography, perfectly situated small towns and beautiful scenery are ideal for cycling. The Bicycle Heritage Tour of the Northern Neck includes the 35- to 50-mile Popes Creek trail, which stops at major attractions.

Northern Neck Wine Trail
The Bordeaux-like climate afforded by the waters that surround the Northern Neck produces great wine, great views and great memories as you taste your way through six vineyards and wineries. Start at Ingleside Winery, right here in Westmoreland County.

Northern Neck Birding Trail
View songbirds, wading birds, waterfowl, bald eagles and butterflies in a Bird Trailmultitude of habitats—salt and freshwater marshes, croplands and open fields—along the 21 Northern Neck sites on the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trails Coastal Area Tour.

Westmoreland Berry Farm 
Pick your own fruits and berries, shop for fresh produce and home-style foodstuffs, spoon up an ice cream sundae and pet the animals at this scenic farm overlooking the Rappahannock River.

Westmoreland State Park
Located on ancient cliffs that command extraordinary views of the Potomac River, the 1,299-acre park offers hiking, fishing, boating, kayaking and swimming facilities—and the opportunity to find fossil shark teeth and watch bald eagles. There are cabins and campsites for overnight stays.

Voorhees Nature Preserve
This Nature Conservancy preserve on the Rappahannock River, adjacent to Westmoreland Berry Farm, has four miles of woodland trails for self-guided walks. Observation points along the way overlook the river, marshes and bald eagle habitat.

Historic Highlights

PresidentsFew counties in America have more associations with famous leaders than Westmoreland County.

Presidents George Washington and James Monroe were born here.

The storied Lees of Virginia lived here, from the only two brothers to sign the Declaration of Independence to the famed general who was one of America’s greatest military leaders.

And it was here in Westmoreland that 115 patriots assembled to sign Richard Henry Lee’s Leedstown Resolves, the document that led to the Declaration of Independence and the birth of our nation.

Step back into history at our many museums and National Register of Historic Places landmark sites.

Westmoreland County’s rich history is ready for exploration at historic sites, museums and beautifully restored colonial homes that are open to the public.

George Washington Birthplace National Monument

George Washington Birthplace

Though the home where Washington was born burned in 1779, you can still visit the original foundation and a replica of the original home, both part of a living colonial farm.

Leedstown - Bray's Church

Once a busy port town on the Rappahannock, all that remains of Leedstown today is what are thought to be the foundations of Bray’s Church, where 115 patriots convened in 1766 to sign the Leedstown Resolves, the forerunner of the Declaration of Independence.

Birthplace of James Monroe

The James Monroe Birthplace interprets our fifth President’s humble beginnings with a newly constructed visitor’s center at the site of his family home and farm. The birthplace site does double duty as a park, with walking and bicycle trails and lots of open space.

Stratford Hall 

Stratford Hall was the home of the storied Lees of Virginia and the slaves who served them. The Great House, grounds and outbuildings–including a working grist mill–are fully restored. There are miles of walking trails down to the 14-million-year-old cliffs on the Potomac River.

The Bell House

Bell houseAlexander Graham Bell used this grand Victorian home on the Potomac River in Colonial Beach as his summer place. It is a privately owned bed and breakfast.

Courthouse Square at Montross

The original Westmoreland County courthouse was built in 1707. Although no longer used in an official capacity, the courtroom is available for special exhibits and cultural events.

Yeocomico Church

Yeocomico Church is the oldest church in the county. Originally built in 1655 of oak timbers sheathed with clapboards, the church was rebuilt in 1706 with bricks fired in a nearby kiln.

Village of Kinsale 

Kinsale is the oldest port on the Virginia side of the Potomac. The Kinsale Museum traces the village's history from its beginnings as a colonial port, through the bustling steamboat days to the present.

Skipjack "Virginia W" 

This 1904 wooden Chesapeake Bay workboat is such a rare example of a Virginia-built skipjack, it’s on the National Register of Historic Places.

Northern Neck of Virginia Historical Society Librar (Westmoreland County Genealogy)

The Society maintains a collection of materials for genealogical and historical research at the Westmoreland County Museum.

Prehistoric Era

beachOver 10,000 years ago, glacial melting caused sea level to rise, flooding the ancient Susquehanna River Valley to form the Chesapeake Bay. The Potomac River carved its course into sedimentary rocks that are from 6 to 14 million years old, forming distinctive cliffs. At Westmoreland State Park, you can see mollusk, shark and fish fossils embedded in the strata.

Native Americans

Paleo-Indians were the region’s earliest inhabitants, dwelling in the area between 13,000 and 8,000 BC. 
By the time English colonists arrived in the 1600's, the natives had established villages along the shore. You can view related artifacts at the Westmoreland County Museum and Kinsale Museum.

Birthplace of a Nation 

George WashingtonWestmoreland is best known for its Revolutionary leaders. In 1766, Richard Henry Lee of Stratford Hall wrote the Leedstown Resolves. Considered the forerunner of the Declaration of Independence, these resolutions were the first organized resistance to British tyranny. Among the signers were six Lees, five Washingtons and Spence Monroe, father of President James Monroe. Richard Henry Lee and his brother, Francis Lightfoot Lee, later signed the Declaration of Independence.

George Washington took command of the Continental Army and was later elected the nation's first president. George Washington's Birthplace is now a 538-acre national monument located on Popes Creek between Montross and Oak Grove.

Our fifth president, James Monroe, also was born in Westmoreland County. A visitor’s center at the farm where he grew up, near Oak Grove on State Route 205, now is open to the public.

A Nation Divided

When the Civil War broke out, Westmoreland found itself on the dividing line between the North and the South. Robert E. Lee turned down command of the Union armies, refusing to "take part in an invasion" of his homeland. Instead, he returned to Virginia to command the Confederate forces. His beautifully preserved birthplace and boyhood home, Stratford Hall, has a vast library, exhibits and programs about the Lees of Virginia.

Steamboats & Summer Resorts

The first regularly scheduled steamboat stops in the county began in 1855 at Kinsale. In 1893 the Colonial Beach Improvement Company was formed to build a steamboat wharf and summer resort. Soon people from nearby cities were flocking to the white sandy beach. Inventor Alexander Graham Bell's father, A. Melville Bell, owned one of the most impressive homes in Colonial Beach.

Today, visitors are still drawn to the county for its history, its water and relaxed, rural lifestyle. To learn more about the history of Westmoreland County, contact or visit the Westmoreland County Museum.

 

Lodging & Dining

InnThe innkeepers of Westmoreland County offer everything from modern, convenient hotels and motels to accommodations rich in character. Stay on the water. In a log cabin. At a grand Victorian mansion. On the grounds of a gracious colonial plantation. Or even in a restored waterman's cottage.

Just-caught crabs and fresh-picked corn and berries are just a few of the dishes you'll find at a wide selection of restaurants and the small town cafe where locals gather for good food and the news of the day.

Lodging

Visit the Northern Neck Tourism Commission and the Colonial Beach Visitor's Center for a comprehensive listing of places to stay and eat.

County Museum

The oldest museum in the Northern Neck was established to display Charles Willson Peale's 1768 portrait of William Pitt, the British Parliamentarian behind the repeal of the Stamp Act. Exhibits and programs present and interpret Westmoreland County history from pre-colonial times to today.

Displays include:

  • artifacts discovered at the sites of Indian settlements and early plantations,
  • full-length portraits of key figures in the County's early history, and
  • items associated with Presidents Washington, Madison and Monroe.

Genealogical Research

The museum houses the Northern Neck Historical Society Library, an extraordinary genealogical research resource. The collection includes Northern Neck vital records, family histories, reference works, military histories, church and cemetery guides, Northern Neck town and county histories, immigration lists, census records and microfilm of the Northern Neck News from 1879-1939. You may conduct research at no charge during regular business hours. There is a nominal fee for photocopying.

Children's Program

Children's Program

Children love TimeTravelers, a statewide program of the Virginia Association of Museums. Students get a passport when they join the program and have it stamped each time they visit one of the 350 eligible places or events in Virginia–including the Westmoreland County Museum. Participants earn T-shirts, patches and other gifts as they accrue stamps.

The Presidents’ Garden

Gardeners will enjoy the museum’s Presidents’ Garden. It was the first garden in the region designed by Charles Gillette, one of the premier landscape architects associated with the restoration and re-creation of historic gardens in Virginia and the upper South from the 1920’s to 1960’s. The formal design features marble busts of George Washington, James Madison and James Monroe by Attillio Picciarilli, the same sculptor who carved the Lincoln Memorial.

Membership

The museum does not charge for its services, but accepts contributions and welcomes new members. Membership includes a 10% discount at the Museum Store, invitations to museum events and the museum’s quarterly newsletter, The Resolves. The Patriot level of membership includes special library privileges, exclusive exhibit previews and excursions to other historical and cultural sites. Click to learn more about membership options and to join now.

Hours of Operation

Monday – Saturday, 10:00 am - 4:00 pm

Contact Information

Westmoreland County Museum and Library
43 Court Square
P.O. Box 247
Montross, VA 22520
804-493-8440
wcmuseum@verizon.net