The Tides Inn is a waterfront resort situated on a tributary of America’s most important estuary, the Chesapeake Bay. Just two hours from Washington, DC and one hour from Richmond, the Inn offers warm hospitality in a beautiful, natural setting featuring a beach and Living Shoreline. Seventy guest rooms and suites welcome the outdoors in with views of the water, shorelines and gardens. A twenty-seven–slip overnight marina welcomes sail-in guests.
Let’s Begin with the Eastern Oyster
During your time at the Tides, we invite you to deepen your connection to the waterways through a series of eco-conscious experiences. Under the direction of our resident ecologist, hands-on activities include learning about the role Eastern oysters play in the ecosystem and the exploration of how the flora and fauna of a shoreline live in harmony, from stately Blue Herons and delicate Lined Sea Horses to Widgeon Grass and Spartina Alternaflora. Our home base for these fun and enriching opportunities is the boardwalk and Eastern oyster reef at the Living Shoreline.
The Tides Inn Waterfront Restoration Project
Our $3.6 million shoreline restoration project features a “living shoreline” along Carter’s Creek, beach restoration, hands-on educational programming and community partnerships.
Formed where fresh water flows into the Atlantic Ocean, the Chesapeake Bay serves as a vital resource and habitat for over 3,200 species of plant and animal life, both on and off the water – these include 2,700 types of plants, 348 species of finfish, and 173 species of shellfish.
The health and sustainability of the Chesapeake today is threatened by decades of mismanagement. But change is within our power. How we care for the land adjacent to this irreplaceable bay can make a significant impact on the future of the Chesapeake and the species on which we rely.
Forests, wetlands, and underwater grasses provide food and shelter to wildlife, serve as natural water filters, and improve the wellbeing of communities.
Today, Eastern oyster populations in the Chesapeake are at a fraction of their historical population size. Eastern oysters and their vertical reefs once grew so prolifically that they posed navigational hazards to early explorers sailing in the Bay. By the early 2000s, decades of pollution, habitat loss, over harvesting, and disease had reduced the Eastern oyster population in the Bay to as low as one percent of historic levels.
Through the thoughtful management of harvests and the restoration of reefs, Eastern oysters are making a comeback. Though restoration is far from complete, there are already notable improvements in the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay.
The Tides Inn waterfront project included:
- 18,000 square feet of new living shoreline
- Eastern Oyster reef
- 42 new trees
- The preservation of approximately 30 old-growth trees
- The addition of 10,600 shoreline plants and 10,900 upland plants
- 1,300 linear feet of boardwalk along the water’s edge
As the new wetlands filter the water and provide a natural habitat for birds, aquatic life and other species along the shoreline, new ecology tours have been added, including “Beautiful Swimmers,” a Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab experience, and “Chesapeake Gold,” featuring our area’s famous residents, Eastern oysters.
From the project’s beginning until its completion a year later, the Tides captured footage to illustrate the project’s environmental impact. Please view the short film below.
On July 15th, 1947, the Tides Inn opened to the public with the vision to be “the finest thing that could be developed and still keep the rural atmosphere”. The Tides soon established itself as the “Virginia Family Resort”.
In the early 1940s, the land on which the Tides Inn now sits was known as the Ashburn Farm. Halfway between Baltimore and Richmond and eleven miles from the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, the farm was nestled along a safe harbor called Carter’s Creek.
Before the bridges existed that now allow access to this area, commerce trade was done primarily by steamboat. When these boats encountered challenging weather conditions, they would pull into Carter’s Creek to ride out the storms. The waterways were also bustling with the region’s legendary watermen, casting for fish and pulling up Eastern oysters.
The property was later sold to the Stephens family, whose matriarch, “Miss Ann,” watched the activity on the water and wanted to help by providing captains and crew with warm meals and a soft place to rest their heads. The Tides Inn was born in 1947.
When the Tides Inn opened, Lancaster County was a dry county, and guests would bring their own liquor to enjoy. If guests showed up empty-handed, they could embark on a Whiskey Run — aboard the Tides’ own 127’ Miss Ann – to the neighboring county, where they could purchase whiskey and return to the Tides, where they would store it in a liquor locker. These handcrafted wooden lockers continue to adorn the walls of our Chesapeake Restaurant.
A Nod to Our Past
Over the years, word spread of the kindness shown by the people who worked at the Tides and it became well-known to boaters that if they needed a good meal, some rest and a safe harbor, they would be welcomed.
Decades later, the Tides Inn is still known for warm hospitality and a deep sense of place. Under the thoughtful stewardship of the current owners, an appreciation for life lived on the water’s edge continues with a commitment to tidal restoration, ecological and horticultural programming, educational enrichment, water sports, and above all, hospitality.
On July 15, 2022, the Tides Inn celebrated its 75th anniversary.