Being an adult is hard.
We work too much, have too little family time, try to squeeze in the dishes and laundry (and nearly never bother to fold it) — and we look forward all year to treasured time away to just relax and forget about things for a while.
Sometimes, you need more than an annual vacation. You need to head off for a weekend of peace and quiet — and that’s exactly what I got when I visited a little gem of a home in a jewel of a town, and both worked together to make my dream getaway.
After all, vacation is for taking that time we rarely take for ourselves, spending actual quality time with our spouse or the kids (because choking down McDonald’s in the car on the way to soccer practice is not quality).
But we all know that one or two weeks a year is not enough to cure what ails us. We need to refocus, to unwind, to take a breath of fresh if even just for a short while.
That’s what’s so great about the fairly new trend of vacation rental homes, available for booking for both short and long stays.
They provide a fantastic alternative to staying in a hotel — where you’re constantly telling the kids to keep it down, to stop jumping on the bed, to give you some space because you just know there’s a high probability they’re driving guests in adjoining rooms crazy.
I recently had a rare semi-open weekend and told my husband that we needed to get away with the last kid we have at home. And staying in a vacation rental home for the weekend was the perfect situation.
To be honest, I don’t get out much. I’m an introvert, a homebody, a potential recluse a decade or two down the road. So I always prefer the off-the-beaten-path, the peaceful and serene. On the water is a definite plus. Not a lot of people around? Even better.
Now, I grew up in Virginia, and I’ve been pretty much everywhere in the state. Or at least I thought so, until we took off for a quaint little town off the Chesapeake Bay that I’ve likely passed through unnoticed but never took the time to explore.
That was a big mistake, one I’m so glad I remedied by visiting Mathews, Virginia and a vacation rental that I’ve been daydreaming about ever since.
Mathews County is quiet and quaint, the second-smallest county in Virginia. When we arrived in the heart of town to stock up on a few supplies for the weekend, every single person we came across was friendly and welcoming. (In fact, for this introvert, I found they definitely like to talk a lot!)
If you love history, this is a great town to visit. Mathews County was established in 1791, named for a Revolutionary War Colonel who became Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates.
For more than a hundred years prior to that, pioneers were finding it the perfect place to settle as it’s surrounded by abundant waterways for fishing and farming.
With its rich background, there are obviously a lot of historic places to visit and explore, and it’s only around an hour’s drive to Virginia’s Historic Triangle of truly pivotal areas of our nation’s birth — Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown.
During our stay, we did some sightseeing in Williamsburg, but seven-year-olds are not typically very interested in lots of walking around in a town full of “dead people’s homes,” a direct quote from my child.
She was much more interested in getting back to the home in which we were staying for the weekend, and although I love seeing all the historic sights, I was with her on this one.
So let me tell you about this amazing vacation rental. It’s my dream home, in fact.
Built in 1885 (swoon!), this pristine renovated farmhouse is perfect for a weekend away with extended family, a girls’ weekend, or just for a couple of parents like us to relax with tons of space (Huge rooms! High ceilings!) and activities right on the property.
I was in heaven just exploring the house with its beautiful woodwork, built-in bookcases full of every genre, and local art pieces — and sitting by the water with my coffee in the morning and glass of wine at night while watching the many blue herons flying just feet away. Did I mention heaven?
My husband was thrilled with the big-screen TV and comfortable sofa in the expansive sitting room. It adjoins a large sunroom with water views on all sides, the sunlight pouring in from wall-to-wall windows.
With two masters and two other bedrooms — one with bunk beds for the kids — we had a hard time choosing our rooms for the weekend. It was no contest for me, as the downstairs master contains French doors that open toward the water’s edge.
The beds are so luxurious, you don’t really want to get up. Except there’s so much to explore and do on the property and in town.
And, oh, the kitchen. It’s usually the heart of the home, and certainly is in this farmhouse. It’s bright and sunny, complete with a breakfast nook full of windows overlooking the water — and you’ll actually want to cook while you’re there.
I’m known for buying a million types of dishes and kitchen gadgets, but to call this kitchen well-equipped is an understatement. The home’s Vrbo listing says it comes with an “extensive assortment” of kitchen items, and that is no exaggeration.
Seating for infants and toddlers to safely dine with you is even provided.
In fact, the entire house is like that — no detail has been overlooked in planning for guests of every age.
There are the aforementioned books for any reader — from children’s classics to romance novels to Tolkien — magazines, board games for young and old, playing cards, you name it.
And then a hidden surprise: The garage includes an upstairs game room with a ping-pong table, Foosball, and a giant beanbag chair that my daughter claimed as her spot. It’s reminiscent of the “rec rooms” my generation grew up with — a fantastic touch.
But probably our favorite stash of activities was found in the garage itself. There are plenty of lawn games to choose from for outdoor family time, but as the home is located on the water with a large dock, it’s a prime spot for fishing and crabbing.
Because women like to repeat themselves, no detail has been overlooked.
The garage is stocked with fishing poles and gear, crab traps and nets, even varying sizes of life jackets and an extra fridge for your bait. The local hardware store provided us with a bag of chicken necks, and we spent hours pulling up blue crabs.
I dreamed of Saturday night dinner, picking crabs I caught myself at the huge dining table in the sunroom. Mallets, table coverings, and every other tool you may need for this experience are also provided, as well as extensive instructions on how to catch, prepare and store your fresh catch.
My dream dinner did not come to pass, however, due to the fact that my daughter thought the crabs were “too adorable to eat.” She vowed she would disown me if I put them on the dinner table. But it didn’t detract from the fun we had catching and releasing them all afternoon.
On one of our mornings there, we explored downtown Mathews, with an assortment of little shops selling local artwork and vintage finds.
A highlight is a visit to Sibley’s General Store, also the town’s Visitor’s Center. There’s a little maritime museum in the back and a friendly staff (more talking!) happy to offer information on everything you can do in the area.
If you want to take advantage of the stunning kitchen (or you don’t catch any keepers), there are several places to purchase fresh seafood. The annual Seafood Festival was taking place the weekend we visited, but we chose to order shrimp from a local hangout and eat by the water back at our own little retreat.
In 2017, most of Mathews’ town center was declared a historic district following a community petition.
It’s a relief to know that this beautiful area will be left somewhat untouched by modern reality, and that you can stay in an exquisite home that takes you back to a bygone — and simpler — era.
That’s really what my family took away from this weekend — a feeling of peace and community that left us wanting to go back. Soon.
I’m already nagging my husband about it.
Don’t miss out on an opportunity to visit this stunning home in this friendly little town with year-round activities for the whole family. You won’t regret it. To view the Vrbo listing, click here.