By Cristina Fletcher
I’m not a Deep Creek native but I married into a native family. My husband and his family have lived in Brentwood since the 50s and their family is entrenched in this part of Chesapeake.
I’ve lived here for ten years now and though it took some time for it to grow on me. What really cemented my love for Chesapeake is that the people that live in this area are 100% authentic and they are quick to embrace you and treat you as one of their own. It takes a village, and Deep Creek is lucky enough to have an incredibly supportive community of connected families who have known each other for generations and are always there for each other, judgement free.
My friend Anna, whose last name is scattered up and down the Creek in different branches of her family tree, once told me, “I smoked one cigarette in my whole life, and by the time I got home from the park, my parents already knew about it.” Deep Creek may not be known for its hoppin’ club scene or its 5 star restaurants, but what makes it special is the amount of character in the people that live here and the amount of love they hold for their friends, family and neighbors.
Here are some of my favorite things to do and see in Deep Creek:
Things to Do:
Lots to do at this charming park. Bring the kids and some lunch and post up at the play area. There are always friendly folks here to chat with and the climbing wall and purple dinosaur are a big hit with the kiddos. The playground is fun but what makes this park special is its walking trails. They are well-marked with information on the surrounding trees and plants and they lead to an elevated arched bridge that overlooks a picturesque marsh area on the Dismal Swamp Canal. It also has observation decks to watch the boats go through the locks and there are horseshoe and volleyball courts as well as a canoe put-in.
Get home-grown veggies from this family-run nursery that’s been a part of Deep Creek for 60 years. The staff is knowledgeable, the plants are high-quality and with the beautiful outdoor koi pond and large selection of material, it’s a beautiful place to while away the afternoon. The free popcorn and the kid’s digging area is a great draw for families and they usually have fun, free events on weekends and holidays. The model train exhibit that runs through the nursery at Christmas is a local favorite. A peaceful, gem of a place.
A great place to recharge your soul. Follow the Dismal Swamp Canal down Route 17 about three miles to the feeder ditch where there is a lock, and self-operated winch and rail, which can pull boats up to the lake. This campsite is only accessible by water so put in a canoe stocked with your gear and head due west past the dam to the other side. Paddle a short distance (about 3.5 miles) to Lake Drummond until you find the swath of grass in the swamp and set up camp. Obviously, go before mosquito season sets in. There’s limited space and it’s first come, first served, so head out early. Bring your firewood with you as there’s not much to be had at the campsite. It’s a tranquil, blackwater paddle and one of only a handful of truly secluded campsites in Hampton Roads. Also, it might be haunted by an Indian Princess, so there’s that…
“But Oft, from the Indian hunter’s camp
This lover and maid so true
Are seen at the hour of midnight damp
To cross the Lake by a fire-fly lamp,
And paddle their white canoe.”
This one is brand new and has quickly become a hot spot on the weekends because the ball fields are booked through baseball and soccer season. Lots of covered picnic areas, a wonderful playground and bike path. The restrooms are clean and there’s a busy dog park that’s great for making sure Fido gets worn out and properly socialized.
Thrift Store City
You have a bevy of thrift stores to choose from in Deep Creek but this one wins hands down. I’m a thrift store pro and this place is my favorite. It’s worth going just for their jewelry selection but I consistently leave this place with treasures.
Gorgeous nature trail with beautiful views. Great for running and very dog friendly. There are a few kayak launches and there’s lots of interesting wildlife and some interesting art to check out.
I’d be tarred and feathered if I broadcasted the location of The Cove but get in good with a Creeker who owns a boat in the summer and you’re guaranteed to land here. Offer to buy gas and Bud Light Limes and you’re in. A redneck oasis where you can cool off during the dog days of summer in the sweet-tea colored water. Bring cornhole, decent country music and an outdoor grill and you’ll be the life of the party. Watch out for the rope swing – many ankles have been broken at low tide and be extra careful wakeboarding near the pylons, accidents have happened there as well. This is a leave no trace event. The owners of the property have shut down the partying in the past because people were making a mess. Clean up after yourself to keep the party going.
Places to Eat:
A local’s favorite. Catch up on the neighborhood gossip at the Creek Grill. Bring your mom. Get French fries and a burger and post up at the counter for a while. The waitresses are chatty and will tell you how sweet your kids are and they’ll mean it. You’ll run into your neighbor and their mom there too. Grab some old-fashioned candy on the way out for dessert.
Cool down during our 100 degree summers and grab a flavored snowball! My kids always order the blue-raspberry because it turns their tongues alien colors. Throw in some blue shark gummies for added smiles. This place is packed during its peak season so it’s more of a hangout spot than a quick in and out place. Meet up with a friend with kids and chill for a bit.
This place is a hidden gem and right over the Portsmouth line but so good it’s worth mentioning. Authentic Vietnamese and family-run, their egg rolls are seriously amazing and not your run-of-the-mill, strip-mall Chinese variety. “Small rolls of tofu, prawn, giant mushrooms and vegetables wrapped in thin rice paper and deep fried until crisp. Served with lettuce leaves and fish sauce with shredded carrot and slices of daikon radish.” It’s my absolute favorite take out place in the wintertime when everyone seems to be a bit under the weather. Their Pho is the best in the seven cities and a sure-fire cold remedy.
Crossing into Grassfield here, this new spot has quickly become popular with every Deep Creek demographic. A great place to meet friends on Thursdays when their drink specials draw the fun crowd. Family friendly and any place with cheese curds makes it on my list.
C & B is a perfect place for a low-key weekend breakfast. The prices are great and the food is classic southern diner. Keep it simple with bacon and eggs over-easy and a cup of coffee or ease that Friday hangover with whatever combo is on the specials board. Add a peanut butter and banana milkshake for the win.