Plan Your Day Trip on the Jamestown Ferry and to Surry Seafood Company

In addition to being a free, scenic, and beautiful trip across the James River, riding the Jamestown Ferry is a chance to reimagine when the first colonists arrived on the same shores of the Virginia peninsula over four centuries ago. Captain John Smith and the earliest group of settlers navigated the James River and set foot on land at Jamestown, putting down roots in the same area now preserved as Historic Jamestowne.

During your stay at our historic Williamsburg bed & breakfast inn, plan a day trip and drive 10 miles along the Colonial National Historical Parkway to Jamestown, where you can visit historic sites, board the ferry across the James River, and enjoy a delicious lunch or dinner on the other side at the Surry Seafood Company.

Historic Jamestowne signage - visit this place via Jamestown Ferry

Crossing the James — Powhatan Roots, Jamestown History, and How/When the Jamestown Ferry Operates

Operated by the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Jamestown Ferry is free to ride either in a vehicle or as a pedestrian, with trips around the clock, 365 days a year. Pets must stay in your car during the roughly 20-minute ride across, but you can get out of your vehicle to stand at the boat’s edge, enjoying the water passing below. Boats leave every 30 minutes, so a ride is always available without much of a wait, and their schedule runs more often (every 25 minutes) during the morning and evening commuting windows.

You’ll ride on one of four currently operating ferries, each with a name that reflects the area’s history. Powhatan references the Native American tribe that has made their home along coastal Virginia for thousands of years. In addition to being masterful at fishing the waters, they also farmed maize, melons, beans, and other crops in the fertile land near Jamestown Island. Another ferry is named Pocahontas, after the daughter of Chief Powhatan, who established a relationship with the first colonists, welcoming them to their ancestral land.

Before or after your ferry ride, visit the recreation of an authentic Powhatan village at the Jamestown Settlement, where you can see the type of canoes that they carved by hand and used to cross the same James River waters that you will cross. Also, look out for the Old Church Tower, located on the Jamestown coastline and visible during your ferry ride – it’s a rare structure dating back to the early 17th century when Jamestown was the first capital of the colony and marked the location of Historic Jamestown where you can see the archaeologists digging the original site. This was the location of the first representative government in America before Williamsburg became the capital in 1699).

Surry Seafood Company – Enjoy a Meal on the Bank of James River Gray’s Creek.

After you land at the Surry County dock on the opposite side of the James River, head a couple of miles down the road to Surry Seafood Company, one of the best up-and-coming seafood-focused restaurants in the area. Two brothers took ownership of the riverside property in 2018, bringing their expertise from their early days running a family eatery in Smithfield, another Virginia river town. In addition to serving excellent versions of classic eastern seaboard dishes like fresh crab (lightly fried or mixed in a delectable dip), fish and chips, and oysters Rockefeller (made with James River oysters, of course, and topped with bacon), their menu also has ribeye, grilled chicken, and burgers for those who aren’t in the mood for seafood.

Open every day for lunch and dinner starting at 11 am, freshly prepared seafood will be just moments away after you step off the ferry. Their massive outdoor deck is a prime spot to grab a meal and enjoy the sweeping river creek views, especially at sunset. If it’s a hot summer day, sip on one of their signature “adult slushies,” spiked lemonade prepared with muddled strawberries, or for the more adventurous, an oyster shooter – a flavor-packed shot glass filled with beer, cocktail sauce, tabasco sauce, and a fresh James River oyster! Plan to catch the sunset and live music every Wednesday night from 6-9 pm, with the music outside on the deck during the upcoming summer months.

A woman doing glassworks at The Glasshouse - visit this place via the Jamestown Ferry

On your way to Historic Jamestown, stop at the Glasshouse, a fully-functioning glass-blowing shop where artisans create glassware in the same style as the first colonists. A part of the Colonial National Historical Park, the current glassmaking shop stands on the same spot where archaeologists discovered the original glass furnaces used by the first wave of colonists to arrive in Jamestown. Although the unsuccessful long term, their early attempts at glassmaking utilized local sand from the banks of the James River as their glass (silica) source, yet another way that the river’s bounty served them well. The Glasshouse Gift Shop is the perfect place to find unique and handmade souvenirs to remember your stay in Historic Triangle.

Book our Jamestown Room, ride the Jamestown Ferry, and explore the history and gorgeous scenery of the James River!

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