15 Summer Weekends, Trip #4: Beautiful Landscapes, Rich History, and Wild Ponies.

We’re back with the scoop on how to maximize your summer fun with nearby escapes for an easy getaway. This week for Trip #4 of our 15 Summer Weekends, 15 Summer Trips series we’re headed to a gem that’s just a 7-hour drive from Charlotte located on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Our destination of choice is the beautiful Chincoteague Island.

Image by Gary Young

This serene island features stunning vistas, wild ponies, glimpses of the Milky Way, occasional dolphin and bald eagle sightings, a National Wildlife Refuge, and more. Free from board walks, traffic jams, and high rises, Chincoteague Island is a wonderful escape where you’ll enjoy unspoiled beauty, tranquil beaches, and a mild year-round climate. Want a glimpse of this idyllic island now? Checkout views from these webcams supplied by their Chamber of Commerce.

To make planning your getaway super easy, we’ve curated information about Chincoteague Island including the best places to stay, where to eat, and fun upcoming events – you’ll find the scoop below.

What is Chincoteague Island?

Located on the northeastern tip of Virginia’s Eastern Shore, the barrier island is a tiny fishing village connected by bridge to Assateague Island where the famous Chincoteague ponies live in the National Wildlife Refuge. With the release of the 1961 Twentieth Century Fox movie Misty of Chincoteague, the town experienced an increase in tourists but remains a hidden gem for many to this day.

Where should you stay?

Once you arrive on Chincoteague Island, we recommend staying at one of five places: The Refuge Inn, The Marina Bay Hotel & Suites, Island Manor House, Miss Molly’s Inn, or Island Vacation Cottages.

If you love a B&B feel complete with historic rooms, afternoon tea, and gourmet breakfasts, plan to stay at Miss Molly’s Inn or Island Manor House. If you find yourself having a hard time deciding between the two, book Miss Molly’s Inn if you’re excited to stay in a part of the island’s history – the Twentieth Century Fox movie that put Chincoteague Island on the map is based on an award-winning children’s book written by Marguerite Henry while she stayed at Miss Molly’s Inn during the late 1940s.

For hotel style lodging, book The Refuge Inn or Marina Bay Hotel & Suites. What’s the difference between the two? A lot, actually! Marina Bay Hotel & Suites is part of Choice Hotels Ascend Collection and is located directly on the water while The Refuge Inn is a family owned 70-room escape with great amenities like on-site wild ponies, an EV charging station, a dry sauna, and complimentary breakfast.

Finally, if you’d like your own space (like an Airbnb or VRBO) book your stay at one of the island’s vacation homes through Island Vacation Cottages.

What are the best places to eat?

As a small fishing village, seafood is Chincoteague Island’s oldest claim to fame and its oysters are no exception – they’re shipped worldwide for their unique, salty flavor. Whether you’re enjoying Chincoteague Oysters on the half-shell or single-fried, these are the best restaurants around town:

Image by AJ’s On the Creek

AJ’s On the Creek for upscale dining with scenic views.

Sea Star for gourmet food like wraps, salads, soups, and sandwiches including vegetarian and vegan options. Their real food (nothing fried!) can be enjoyed to-go or at one of their outdoor tables.

Pico Taqueria for outdoor dining at a yummy taco truck featuring local ingredients and fresh flavor combinations.

Cosa Pizza for hard to come by wood fire pizzas – pre-order yours early during the day you’d like to enjoy it because this food truck runs out!

Anything else to keep in mind?

Yes! This island has a lot of annual events and festivals. To plan your trip around things like the Chincoteague Oyster Festival (held on October 9, 2021), the annual Pony Swim (postponed until 2022), the Chincoteague Blueberry Festival (held July 22-24, 2021) and more be sure to checkout the island’s robust events calendar.

Weather is usually phenomenal – temperatures stay in the 60s/70s during the evenings and in the 80s during the day throughout the sweltering summer months of June through August. So, if you’re looking to escape the heat but still hit the beach, Chincoteague Island is a wonderful option.

For additional fun things to do during your trip, we highly recommend: a boat tour with Captain Dan, viewing a NASA rocket launch, and kayaking with Assateague Adventures.

Image by Assateague Adventures

We’ll be back next week with more handpicked destinations to fill 15 incredible summer weekends. Until then, follow us @adventuredesigned for more travel tips and inspiration.

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