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Visit to Chincoteague and Assateague

Our son had the opportunity to join the Virginia Space Academy on Wallops Island near the NASA facility on the Eastern Shore this summer.  It is a great program and allowed him to actually go on the NASA facility and partake in a number of STEM related activities. As a result, we had the opportunity to visit the town of Chincoteague and the Assateague Island National Seashore.

Town of Chincoteague

We decided to drive up a day early to pick him up so we could see Chincoteague and get a quick visit to Assateague. The town of Chincoteague is quaint and lovely. I am sure many can recall the 1947 children’s book Misty of Chincoteague, which helped popularize the island and town as a tourist destination. It was fairly quiet when we were there, but you could see a large number of houses for rent and a nice downtown area. 

Sunset over a pool and hotel at Chincoteague VA

We ate at the Ropewalk Restaurant, which was right next to our hotel. I don’t think we could have time the arrival any better, as we enjoyed an amazing sunset over Chincoteague Bay, eating seafood and cooling off with some cold drinks.

Assateague Island National Seashore

My wife and daughter did not want to go up to Assateague in the morning, so I headed out on my own.  It was an easy drive of only slightly over an hour to get to the Visitor Center.  I arrived before they were open, but noticed there was a bike rental stand by Assateague Outfitter’s in the parking lot. They also have a location in the National Seashore down bayside drive where you can rent canoe and kayaks.  There is an easily accessible pedestrian/bicycle bridge over Sinepuxent Bay that runs next to Verrazano bridge.  I didn’t have time to walk over it, but it is impressive and a great option to explore the State Park and National Seashore.

Tip: Be prepared to pay an entrance fee into the park, even for a day trip. This includes both the Maryland and Virginia locations.

Consider visiting this park and others on these select Free Entrance days:

I then drove over to the National Seashore and check out the dunes and dip my toes in the water.  Unfortunately, I did not see any horses on my short little trip, but I could certainly see plenty of horse manure on the road and parking lot (watch your step!)  There were several cars/campers in the parking lot waiting for the rangers to go on duty so they could check into their campgrounds. This is not surprising given the summer vacation season. On the whole, this is certainly a great option for a family that is in touch with their camping/relaxing vibe.

External View of Assateague Visitor Center

On my way back, I was able to stop by the Assateague Island Visitor Center and checked out the exhibits.  A stop would not be completed without collecting the National Park Passport stamps.  I did need to ask the Park Rangers for some of the older stamps, which they held in a drawer behind the information counter. Everyone was very helpful as usual.

After a short hike to view the wetland and catch the amazing view left to return to Chincoteague so we could pick up my son from summer camp.

Toms Cove Visitor Center – Chincoteague

Walkway along boardwalk with green vegetation along both sides at Tom Cove Visitor Center

On the southern section of Assateague Island is the Toms Cove Visitor center.  If you are staying in the town of Chincoteague, this will be the closest access point to the National Seashore. After regrouping as a family, we all agreed to take a short trip in so we could see the beach before heading home. (Reminder, there is a fee for entry to the park.) For a summers day, it was fairly busy, but we were fortunate to grab a parking spot close to the entrance.

Tip: On the way to the town of Chincoteague from Toms Cove Visitor Center, stop by Island Creamery for the best ice cream in Town!

The stamping location at Toms Cove was fairly small and required a bit of juggling. In order to stamp on a flat surface with crawling on the floor, I used part of the display shelf next to the stand. It was only one stamp, so it was not a big deal.

Stamping Station at Tom Cove Visitor center

As we walked to the beach, we noticed some other visitors crouching on the walkway. We cautiously approached and noticed the fiddler crabs. If you stay very still, you can see them all come out of their little homes in the sand to scavenge. A little movement and they rush back to safety under the sand. It is neat what you can see when you pay attention and take it slow.


  • As with any tourist area, Chincoteague’s ice cream situation is solid: Island Creamery, and Mister Whippy
  • The sunsets are mind-blowingly awesome!
  • Based on this abbreviated visit, the Roaming Monk clan will certainly be considering a longer return trip to Chincoteague and Assateague Island National Seashore to enjoy what is offered in the area.

Read More: Visit to the Outer Banks of North Carolina for Beach Trip Ideas

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