Peninsula residents are used to driving across bridges, along rivers and past beaches on busy commutes or when running day-to-day errands. Because of this, the water is part of our everyday lives, but it's easy to take these views for granted.
Outdoor waterfront dining offers residents a setting where they can slow down and take in the beauty of these surroundings that we often fail to recognize.
Here are a few places where you can do that around the Peninsula:
1. The Riverwalk Restaurant
Where: 323 Water St., Yorktown. Info: 757-875-1522 or riverwalkrestaurant.net.
Hours: Open daily. Lunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; dinner 3-9 p.m.; bar 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; happy hour 4-7 p.m.
The Riverwalk Restaurant sits on the York River and provides customers with beautiful scenery, a fun atmosphere, fresh food, specialty cocktails and delicious desserts, Melissa Holdren, office manager of the restaurant said.
"It's beautiful scenery, you're sitting right on the water and the atmosphere is just phenomenal," Holdren said. "We try to set our expectations higher than the customer so that they have a great experience."
The restaurant has indoor and outdoor seating, and while the menu and atmosphere of the restaurant may seem more formal compared to other Peninsula waterfront restaurants, The Riverwalk serves people coming in from a day at the beach as well as people celebrating formal occasions.
"We take a lot of walk-ins from the beach. We know our customer base is mostly tourists in the summertime, so we're definitely open to making sure their visit is one to remember," Holdren said.
The menu offers everything from frutti di mare, grilled Caesar salad, soft-carb sandwiches and linguine and clams, to specialty cocktails like a key lime pie martini and an array of desserts.
"All of our seafood, your oysters and everything, actually comes from the locals around here so we definitely focus on the fresh, regional seafood," Holdren said.
2. Crabshack Seafood Restaurant
Where: 7601 River Road, Newport News. Info: 757-245-2722 or crabshackonthejames.com.
Hours: 11 a.m.-11:30 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-12:30 a.m. Friday-Saturday.
Customers at the Crabshack literally can eat on top of the James River while sitting on the outdoor deck, which extends just over the water so customers can listen to waves lap against the pylons. The restaurant is located at the base of the James River Bridge, next to Huntington Beach and the recently renovated fishing pier.
"They get a magnificent view of the James River," manager Nicky Hionis said of Crabshack diners. "The deck faces west and the sunset is right in the middle of the river."
Hionis described the restaurant to be 50/50 split between indoor and outdoor seating. The Crabshack dishes up steamed shrimp, clams, crab cake sandwiches, burgers and more. It has a full bar.
3. Water's Edge Bar and Grill
Where: One Ivory Gull Crescent, Hampton. Info: 757-864-0336 or watersedgebarandgrill.com
Hours: 4 p.m.-close Monday-Friday; 11 a.m.-close Saturday-Sunday.
Water's Edge Bar and Grill offers 360 degree views of the Salt Ponds Marina Resort from its two-story venue that has indoor and outdoor seating, with a large deck overlooking the marina. Diners can reach Water's Edge Bar by car or by boat.
The restaurant has an extensive menu that features sandwiches, wraps, burgers, pasta, quick bites and traditional seafood. It also features a tiki bar, located next to the restaurant and exclusive to customers 21 and older. In addition to the bar, it also features a pool and outdoor seating.
4. Oyster Alley
Where: 700 Settlers Landing Road, Hampton. Info: 757-727-9700 or hamptonmarinahotel.com.
Diners at Oyster Alley at the Crowne Plaza Hampton Marina Hotel enjoy views of the historic downtown Hampton waterfront. The marina outside the hotel remains active with local boaters and harbor cruises frequently coming and going throughout the day. Oyster Alley offers a large space for covered outdoor seating (there's indoor seating as well that also has large windows to provide views of the marina).
"Our view is amazing. When I first got here, I was just inside and I could see everything," server Vorcinthia Hamilton said. Hamilton now works outside on the patio, where she enjoys the view as much as her customers. "It's relaxing, too, it's not really stuffy. It's casual and it's really laid back."
Oyster Alley serves a variety of oyster dishes such as Rockefeller oysters, grilled oysters and fried oysters along with a variety salads and sandwiches. According to Hamilton, the seafood roll ($12), which was recently added to the menu and contains lobster, crab and shrimp, is one of its most popular items.
In addition to the views and the food, Oyster Alley hosts live jazz Wednesday nights and other live music during the weekend.
5. Paradise Ocean Club
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, Sunday; 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday.
Paradise Ocean Club is a one-stop shop for people looking to enjoy a day at the beach, a drink by the pool or outdoor waterfront dining, all of which is set at Fort Monroe's former Officers' Club.
"We're a little different than a typical restaurant because we have a full beach club and we have indoor and outdoor dining," owner Baxter Simmons said. "We have about 25 tables on our outdoor deck and we also have an outdoor raw bar."
After paying admission, customers have access to the club's beach, where they can receive service from their lounge chair, the pool and the tiki bar. Visitors do not need to pay an entrance fee to access the restaurant.
There is live music on the weekends, but Simmons says the big draw to the restaurant is the view.
"You're literally sitting right over top of the sand, 100 feet from the water and we have a huge covered roof so everything's fully shaded and if you happen to get a little bit of weather, you can still sit out there in the rain and watch the clouds roll in," Simmons said.
Paradise Ocean Club offers seasonal membership for $200 per person or $400 per family, and non-members can pay a day fee of $10 for adults and $5 for children.
Additionally, Paradise Ocean Club hosts happy hour 4-7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and daily specials throughout the week.
6. Barking Dog
Where: 4330 Kecoughtan Road, Hampton. Info: 757-325-8352.
Summer hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
The Barking Dog may be small, but it makes up for that lack of size with an award-winning menu and quaint location. The restaurant is owned by Gary McIntyre and his partners Sean Pepe and Trish Waclawski.
McIntyre says the vibe is comparable to being in the Outer Banks or Key West. Customers sit at picnic tables on the patio, which is decorated with white lights, trophies, fishing equipment and old license plates.
"It's a funky little joint and that's by design. We don't ever really want to lose that," McIntyre said.
The restaurant only offers outdoor seating and stays open all year with the help of space heaters and clear plastic coverings that enclose the seating area without inhibiting customers from feeling like they are eating on the water.
The Barking Dog sits on the working marina at Sunset Creek, where boats are worked on or seen bobbing in the water. It isn't uncommon to see local boaters or beach-goers stopping by.
"It's a flip flops and shorts type of place and I think that's why the community has really embraced it," McIntyre said.
The Barking Dog recently was awarded "Best Hot Dogs" by Coastal Magazine and advertises it has served more than 50,927 dogs since they opened. In addition to having an array of "specialty dogs," they have other cased meats and sausages, burgers, sandwiches, tacos, wine and a beer list with 38 varieties on the menu.
Patrons can drive to The Barking Dog or arrive via boat, where there are slips available to dock.
7. The Deadrise
Where: 100 McNair Drive, Hampton. Info: 757-788-7190 or facebook.com/thedeadriseva. Old Point Comfort Marina: 757-788-4308.
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily.
Also on Fort Monroe, the Deadrise sits at the Old Point Comfort Marina on the second floor of the marina's office building, providing customers with an overarching view of ships docked at the historic site. It also is owned by McIntyre and his partners Pepe and Joe Illes.
"I think there's a certain integrity to the place," McIntyre said. "It's lean, it's handsome and you're not paying for fine linens and china. It's value driven and by that, I don't mean it's cheap but our goal is to meet people's expectations."
The inside of the restaurant is rustic, modern and nautical.
"We look over the (Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel), the mouth of the river, we have the Wanchese fishing boats, you can see the buildings in downtown Norfolk from here, you can see the coal docks in Newport News," McIntyre said, explaining that these are views people might be used to seeing in traffic where they don't get to enjoy it.
"Here, they're relaxed at a table having a cold beverage and some good food," he explained.
The Deadrise's menu includes tuna dip, fish tacos, burgers and a range of seafood specialties.
Customers may dock their boats outside The Deadrise at Old Point Comfort Marina, but McIntyre recommends boaters reserve a slip in advance.
8. Surf Rider
Where: 105 Rens Road, Poquoson. Information: 757-868-0080 or surfriderrestaurant.com/home
Surf Rider restaurants have been serving the Tidewater area since 1980 when it's first location opened in Virginia Beach. The family-run business now has seven Hampton Roads locations. In Poquoson, Surf Rider has a large deck that provides customers with views of White House Cove Marina.
It also has an extensive menu that includes sandwiches, wraps, burgers, soups, salads, pasta, seafood and a raw bar.