When people ask me where I’m from I don’t think they’re prepared for my answer. 95% of the time they’ve never heard of it and a few are scared to even try to pronounce it. I live on a little island in Virginia named Chincoteague (sheenk-oh-tig). When I tell people where I’m from they usually respond with “Oh, what’s around you?” I give them the most honest and descriptive answer I can: “Water.” I’m on an island so naturally the only thing immediately around me is water, if I named off any of the towns they still wouldn’t know what I was talking about. I was born in Nassawaddox, grew up in Accomac and Bloxom. See, you’re scratching your head, arching your eyebrows and saying “uh-huh.”
Despite being in such a remote location, Chincoteague Island was voted AOL’s #1 beach town in 2010. Besides our beach though, Chincoteague boasts many more features for locals and tourist alike.
What to do on Chincoteague
If you’re a nature lover you have to come here! The nature aspect of the island is probably one of the most prominent features of Chincoteague. On Chincoteague you’ll find the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge which is a great place for the entire family to visit to learn about and watch the amazing habitat we have here. While here on Chincoteague you’ll experience many of nature’s majesty’s: Bald Eagles, Herons, Cranes, Egrets, Deer, Black Squirrels and, of course, the wild ponies.
There are several ways you can experience Chincoteague’s nature aspect.
- Take a guided boat tour with the family during the day or with your partner after sunset for a more romantic setting.
- Take your family and friends on one of the many nature trails available where you never know what you may see (just remember the bug repellent!)
- Rent bikes (or use your own) to traverse the island while staying fit and getting your exercise in. There are designated bike trails and paths so you don’t need to worry much about traffic.
Chincoteague is part of the rural Eastern Shore of Virginia which is well known for our seafood. Living on Chincoteague there is no short supply of seafood and almost any restaurant you visit will have some type of seafood on the menu. Don’t worry though, if seafood isn’t your ideal food they serve up other stuff too.
Please Your Taste Buds
There are tons of places to eat on the island; some better than others. When you’re on Chincoteague these are the places you must eat at:
- The Village. A small sit down restaurant specializing in seafood dishes. They have an extensive wine list and non seafood courses as well (there’s also a decent children’s menu – my son recommends the burger!)
- Famous Pizza. If you like pizza, pasta and/or subs this is the spot for you! Dine-in, carry out or delivery; they make sure you’re eating how you like to. My personal favorite from here is the Chicken Parmesan dinner. Dameon recommends the Brew City Fries and Famous Dog (a jumbo hot dog with cheese and bacon)!
- Ray’s Shanty. While not on Chincoteague Ray’s Shanty is my absolute favorite place for seafood. They have Manhattan Clam Chowder (you wont find that many places here) that’s to die for. If you go to Ray’s you have to order the scallops – they melt in your mouth.
- The Island Creamery. You wont find dinner being served here but you’ll find the most delicious homemade ice cream and baked goods you’ve ever put in your mouth. Boasting tons of flavors the Island Creamery is the place to take the family to enjoy sweet desserts.
Chincoteague has tons of features for the family to enjoy play time. There are 2 mini golf courses, an arcade, bowling alley and more. Take your family on a hands on museum tour to show them what living on an island is really about.
If you’re looking for the night life scene there are several bars with live music playing nightly. While you wont find huge nightclubs like you would in the city, you will find lively scenes with laughter, music and dancing.
If you want to try your hand at fishing, crabbing or clamming there are businesses that are happy to assist. Rent a boat, grab some fishing line and enjoy a relaxing fun filled day on the water. You can also charter a boat if you’re not much of a captain yourself.
You’ll also find a YMCA equipped with exercise equipment. We don’t have a pool at the YMCA here, but you’re surrounded by water!
Want to see what Chincoteague Island has to offer without having to navigate yourself? We’ve got you covered with the Island Trolley! Hop aboard the Pony Express and be taken back in time with the 1 hour guided historic tour of the island.
If you and your family have always wanted to go horseback riding you’ve come to the right place. Chincoteague is widely known for our wild ponies and Pony Penning week so it’s only natural we teach others to ride. You’ll find the Chincoteague Pony Center to be the go to spot for riding lessons, pony rides and even shows. While you’re there be sure to check out the Memories of Misty Museum. Misty of Chincoteague is a story your kids will love.
We have several small shops that carry the latest fashions and beautiful decor. You definitely want to stop by the Village Mall to take back some memories.
Depending on what time of year you visit, you may be able to catch one of the many annual festivals held here on Chincoteague including:
- Annual Chincoteague Island Blueberry Festival
- Annual Chincoteague Daffodil Festival
- Easter Decoy and Art Festival
- Chincoteague Seafood Festival
- Captain Steve’s Flounder Tournament
- so many more!
Rest and Relax
When you experience Chincoteague you’ll never want to leave. It’s a beautiful island and beach town where you don’t need to worry about traffic, mischief or getting lost. While you may not be able to relocate here permanently you can find great accommodations to make you feel like you’re home while you’re here.
- The Anchor Inn. Positioned on the water, your stay at the Anchor Inn starts with friendly faces and ends with friendly faces. They have a beautiful pool and a view of the Chincoteague Channel sunsets that will take your breath away.
- The Waterside Inn offers one- of- a- kind accommodations, exceptional customer service and a beautiful waterfront setting on the Chincoteague Bay.This unique family owned and operated Inn features all waterfront rooms with private balconies, a heated waterfront pool, a private marina, fishing pier and many more upscale amenities. The hotel is within walking distance to historic downtown including many shops and restaurants. We are located within a short driving distance to the unspoiled beaches of Assateague Island and Nasa Wallops Flight Facility.
- The Refuge Inn is within walking distance of the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and only minutes from the beaches of the Assateague Island National Seashore. Nestled in whispering pines, the Inn is open year round and offers comfortable rooms and suites with private decks, balconies or patios, an indoor/outdoor pool, whirlpool, sauna, exercise room, sun deck, and a guest laundry. In addition, we have bicycle rentals, a gift shop, hibachis, and picnic areas. And our meeting room is ideal for small conferences.
Inns and Bed & Breakfasts
- Cedar Gables Seaside Inn. Sail the Chincoteague bay, window-shop an eccentric storefront,sleep-in or just bake in the sun, it’s all up to you. Taste the fruits of Eastern Shore life at an Inn of Distinction. Where Chincoteague charm meets dreamlike luxury. Bask in life’s simple pleasures with personal pampering reserved only for special memories. No expense has been spared to invest in the comfort of our guests.
- The Watson House. Built in 1898, this home is the island’s finest example of Chincoteague Architecture. It was the home of one of the islands most successful entrepreneurs. The Watson family was wealthy by Island standards of the day. These folks were watermen, merchants, herders and farmers and successful in all regards. The Watson House is the closest Bed & Breakfast to the Ocean Beaches of Assateague Island.
Cottages & Vacation Homes
- A Baywatch Cottage. Built in the early 1990’s, A Baywatch Cottage is a waterfront Cape Cod style cottage/house on the northern end of Chincoteague Island, facing Oyster Bay on the south, a salt marsh estuary on the north, the owner’s house to the east and an open pony pasture to the west. This location is very popular with visitors who like to be away from traffic and near nature. It is quiet and relaxing.. Some of the famous Chincoteague Ponies graze just outside the split rail fence surrounding the yard. Geese, ducks, ospreys, shorebirds, songbirds, bunnies, and deer, frequent the area.
- All Season Waterfront Homes. These waterfront homes are located on the northeast side of Chincoteague Island. There are deep water docking facilities to moor your boat, and you can go crabbing just outside of your door. You have swimming pool privileges at Pine Grove Campground, which is within walking distance from both houses. Each house has three bedrooms and two baths. They also include central heat and air, a dishwasher, washer and dryer. Both houses have 1700 square feet of living area, a large deck cable TV, a VCR, and a stereo. Rents Saturday to Saturday only, Memorial Day to Labor Day, with a minimum of three days before Memorial Day and three days after Labor Day.
- Deep Hole Creek Waterfront Vacation Rentals. A stunning waterfront setting combined with impeccable accommodations… Eureka!, Epiphany and Morning Song are three luxury waterfront rental houses on Deep Hole Creek overlooking Little Oyster Bay and Assateague. They all have deep water docks for swimming, boating and crabbing. They are two miles from the bridge to Assateague and the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, and about a mile to the shops in town.
- Maddox Family Campground offers a Swimming pool, Playground, Pavilion, Grocery store & RV supplies, Gift shop, Recreation hall, Laundry room ,Four modern bath houses with hot showers, Propane filling station, Dump station, Duck pond and Storage area.
- Tom’s Cove Campground. With three fishing piers, boat ramp and marina, Tom’s Cove Campground is well equipped to handle all your fishing needs. While Dad is out fishing, the kids can spend their time in our clubhouse playing video games, pool, or just listening to the jukebox. Meanwhile, Mom can lounge away the day working on her tan on the deck of our large swimming pool. Campers and non-campers alike can enjoy our large country store stocked with souvenirs, gift items, t-shirts, fishing tackle and camping supplies. They also have a grocery section to fill your needs.
If you’re planning your next family vacation, coming to Chincoteague would be a memorable experience for all. We’re a small island in the Chesapeake Bay where nature is abundant and the scenery is beautiful. We have something for everyone and what you’ll take away from visiting is priceless!