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With so much to do in and around town, it will be hard to fit all of your favorite activities into one or two trips…..so plan on many, many trips. Colonial Beach has been designated as one of the few “Golf Cart Towns”, which means that golf carts may be operated by licensed drivers on most of the streets in town. Visitors can rent carts for the day or for the weekend. The Town Trolley makes site-seeing stops during the summer months and the cost for a ride is truly unbeatable. Of course if you would prefer a sunset horse-and-carriage ride, you will find that is also another available activity.
For antique lovers, or for professional browsers, antique shops are here, there and seemingly everywhere. On the outside of Town you will find that history abounds. You can choose to visit a civil war site, or George Washington’s Birthplace, or the birthplace of Robert E. Lee, known as Stratford Hall Plantation. A nature lover you say! Then how about Westmoreland State Park or Caledon Natural Area? Maybe you just want to relax and soak up our hospitality….you will find that we can be most accommodating. When you choose to visit is up to you…come and enjoy our 4th of July fireworks or come later in the season and enjoy fall sunsets and long cool evenings. No matter when you visit, you will leave with special memories.
Colonial Beach began its existence as a bathing and fishing resort in the nineteenth century. The Town’s location on the Potomac River was an asset in an era, prior to the introduction of the automobile, when travel was slow and restrictive. Most visitors arrived by boat from Washington , D.C. Recreation activities included bathing at the mile-long sandy beach, fishing and boating. It was in this era, the latter part of the 19th century, that Colonial Beach became known as the “Playground on the Potomac.”
Twenty-five years after it had been founded as a vacation and water resort, Colonial Beach became an incorporated town, organizing on February 25, 1892. Colonial Beach prospered as a resort in succeeding years. The lure of beaches and waterfront property started a building boom of Victorian-era homes, summer cottages and large hotels. The most famous of these structures, The Alexander Graham Bell house, still stands today on Irving Avenue as the Bell House Bed and Breakfast.
The subsequent popularity and decline can be tied to transportation and legalized gambling casinos. Traveling by automobile to ocean-side resorts became more and more fashionable and weekend trips replaced the extended vacation which kept the large hotels of Colonial Beach filled with guests. In the 1960s a devastating fire burned the casinos to the waterline.
In more recent times, rapid population growth in the Washington Metropolitan Area helped Colonial Beach regain its appeal as a waterfront resort. Colonial Beach reassessed itself as a community, and sought to encourage managed, high quality growth. Zoning regulations were adopted to promote land use planning and compatible forms of development.
Located roughly equidistant (65 miles) from the major metropolitan areas of Richmond, Virginia and Washington, D.C. the Town is again very attractive to working families, retirees, and many seeking second homes. The renewed interest in the community is evidenced by the increase in the construction of single-family residences and new planned communities.
Tourism is still an important factor in the Town’s growth and popularity. Colonial Beach is only minutes away from the heavily traveled Route 3 “Historic Corridor” which links such attractions as Stratford Hall, George Washington’s Birthplace, Westmoreland State Park, Historic Downtown Fredericksburg and many other popular tourist stops.
Residents of Colonial Beach enjoy a distinctive waterside setting unlike any other Tidewater community. Almost three-quarters of the Town site is enveloped by large expanses of open water, with the Potomac River to the east and Monroe Bay to the southwest. This peninsula setting offers local residents picturesque views and easy access to water recreation. This fun filled Town is still known as “The Playground on the Potomac.”