Unsurprisingly, agriculture remains the backbone of most of this region, but the lifestyle is decidedly laid back. Fishing, boating, and other water activities are popular, and it’s no surprise given the Tidewater area is divided by the James, York, and Rappahannock rivers.
Encompassing the region east of Richmond, Virginia’s Tidewater is known for its rich farmland—with crops ranging from tobacco to peanuts—its rivers and waterways, forests, and history. Consisting of Gloucester, Mathews, Middlesex, Westmoreland, Northumberland, Lancaster, York, Charles City, James City, Essex, and King and Queen counties, the region has been at the center of American history since the era of colonial settlement.
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Restored to its original appearance through initial funding by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. in the 1930s and 1940s, Colonial Williamsburg consists of more than 300 restored and rebuilt historic buildings, including the Governor’s Mansion, Capitol, and Bruton Parish. Bordered by one of the nation’s oldest universities—The College of William and Mary—Colonial Williamsburg attracts history lovers from around the world.
Mostly located along old Route 5 between Richmond and Williamsburg, more than half a dozen antebellum homes along the James River are open to the public for tours. Among them are Berkeley (home to the first Thanksgiving in 1619) and Sherwood Forest (former home of President John Tyler).