22 Best Things to Do in Cape Charles, VA

Cape Charles, VA
ButtermilkgirlVirginia / shutterstock.com

Located in Northampton County in Virginia, Cape Charles is a town that offers a lot of sights and sounds to its visitors.

It has a unique culture that integrates both its rich natural blessings and its long and exciting history.

Given these, a trip to this town is an experience everyone needs to have.

To maximize your time in this region, check out the best things to do in Cape Charles, VA.

Visit the Cape Charles Lighthouse

View of Cape Charles Lighthouse
Acroterion, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A site you should include in your must-visit list is Cape Charles Lighthouse.

You can find this structure in a place called Smith Island within the town.

Many people know this lighthouse for being the state’s tallest one and the country’s second-tallest lighthouse.

The structure you will see when you visit this attraction is a replacement of the original that a Congressional Order built-in 1827.

This newer structure still retains its historicity as the Congressional Order built it in 1864.

They utilized a skeleton style of constriction and used cast-iron to make the replacement.

While the lighthouse has stopped its operations, it remains a popular and gorgeous site to see while in Cape Charles.

Explore Cape Charles’ Historic District

Similar to many places in the state, Cape Charles enjoys the privilege of having an interesting history.

As such, a must-visit place here is the town’s Historic District.

This place is both beloved by locals and recognized by the country.

You can find this local treasure on the National Register of Historic Places since 1991.

When you stroll through this area in town, you can discover interesting facts about Cape Charles’ history.

This rich history dates back to the 1880s when there was a need to transport goods across the Chesapeake Bay from the Delmarva Peninsula.

When you go to this historic district, you can check out up to 526 buildings along with three structures.

Some of the places you should head to include the Seafood Headquarters, Kellogg House, and the U.S. Post Office.

Learn About the Region at Cape Charles Museum and Welcome Center

Supplement your trip around the Historic District by going to Cape Charles Museum and Welcome Center.

Established in 1996, this not-for-profit center aims to preserve the town’s history and its surrounding region and share it with the public.

It also aims to spread awareness about how culturally diverse the place is.

At this site, you will find a collection of historical artifacts and structures.

You will also find the preserved oral history that the center safeguards to pass to future generations.

Visitors will also find documents and historical documents representing significant aspects of life here in the past.

Learn more about the region by spending some time exploring this attraction.

Hire a Jet Ski at Poseidon Watersports

Given its proximity to bodies of water, this town offers many opportunities for water-based activities.

If you want to try out a thrilling activity, head over to Poseidon Watersports and hire one of their jet skis to sail in.

Go through the water in this exciting water vehicle while witnessing the beauty of nature around you.

If you’re lucky, you might even be able to spot Dolphins in the water.

Apart from jet skiing, you can also go paddling and kayaking.

Appreciate the Outdoors at Savage Neck Dunes State Natural Area

You will find many chances to appreciate the local landscape at Cape Charles.


If you love the outdoors, check out Savage Neck Dunes State Natural Area.

You can come here if you want a place to discover without having to deal with any hassle.

You can find fantastic beaches that meet the ocean in this area, with a cool breeze blowing through.

This place has an area over 298 acres, featuring a Chesapeake Bay beach and the habitat of songbirds migrating, among others.

If you happen to be a fan of insects, you may find a large population of northeastern beach tiger beetles within this site.

You can also find three hiking trails here, so don’t hesitate to follow them and discover majestic outdoor sites.

Have Fun at Cape Charles Beach

Daytime view of Cape Charles Beach
bleung / Shutterstock.com

If you want to have some fun under the sun, head over to Cape Charles beach.

Here, you can do a lot of outdoor recreational activities at the beach.

You can go swimming or sunbathing while visiting here.

This place has become popular thanks to its beauty and pristine waters.

The waters of Cape Charles Beach
Bruce Emmerling, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It’s also spacious, so you can easily have a picnic and relax while you’re here.

Apart from the water sports and the relaxing ambiance, you can also witness one of the best sunsets in Cape Charles by visiting this beach.

Spend a day here, and have an amazing beach day.

Go Bird Watching at Cape Charles Natural Area Preserve

Every type of traveler will love visiting Cape Charles Natural Area Preserve.

Here, you have a lot of opportunities to explore the beauty of nature in this part of Virginia.

When you visit, don’t forget to explore the incredible ecosystem that exists here.

This preserve spans more than 29 acres.

It features many of the area’s unique and fantastic flora and fauna.

Additionally, this place also acts as a natural habitat for some migratory bird species at certain types of the month.

They say more than 240 different bird species were spotted from this area.

So, make sure to bring your birdwatching binoculars when you visit here.

It’s an outstanding place that lets you appreciate the outdoors even more.

Head to Kiptopeke State Park

Sunset at Kiptopeke State Park
Virginia State Parks staff, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Nature-lovers can rejoice when they head over to Cape Charles as there exist many opportunities to appreciate the great outdoors.

If you want to do so, you can visit Kiptopeke State Park.

Before becoming a state park, the place served as the northern terminal for the local ferry service from 1949 to 1964.

A Man Walking at Kiptopeke State Park's boardwalk
vastateparksstaff, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

At the park today, you can participate in a lot of fun recreational activities outdoors.

Here, you can access the shoreline of the Chesapeake Bay, head over to the beach, and relax.

You can also catch a glimpse of migratory bird habitats.

If you fancy camping, you can book a yurt or a cabin.

Daytime view of Kiptopeke State Park
vastateparksstaff, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Spaces for RV camping and tent camping are also available.

You can also go fishing while visiting this state park.

Don’t forget to check this place out if you’re in town.

A bird flying over the waters of Kiptopeke State Park
CRScalise / Shutterstock.com

Discover the Beauty of the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge

The marshes of Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge
Dominic Gentilcore PhD / Shutterstock.com

Cape Charles has been blessed by beautiful nature.

Many of its tourist attractions are nature preserves that protect the local flora and fauna found in this region.

The Virginia National Wildlife Refuge stretches to a part of this beautiful town.

The Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge features many protected landscapes, including marshes, freshwater ponds, grasslands, and forests.

Abandoned boat on Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge marshes
Steve Cunningham / Shutterstock.com

This attraction also serves as the habitat to as many as 300 species of birds and more than 80,000 raptors.

If you plan on visiting this place, you can head over to Sunset Beach Resort, which also offers its visitors excellent beach access.

If you want to explore the waterways of the refuge, you can also hire a kayak to travel around.

Play a Game at Bay Creek Resort and Club

Vacation calls for a lot of fun, and one way to have it is by playing a round of golf with your closest buddies.

While in Cape Charles, you can head over to Bay Creek Resort and Club to do so.

The course here has a design made by several renowned golfers.

It offers golf games that are both challenging and fun.

Have the Chesapeake Bay and Plantation Creek in the background as you test your golf skills against your peers.

Going here ensures having an exciting game and a memorable day.

Hang Out at Cape Charles Brewing Company

When you visit this great town and want to hang out like the locals, head over to Cape Charles Brewing Co.

Brothers Mark and Chris Marshall own the place, which started with their passion for brewing beer at home and fishing.

Apart from amazing-tasting beer, the place also serves delicious, fresh seafood, which attracts its loyal patrons.

They feature more than 15 beer types on tap, all barrel produced on site.

The place also regularly changes the featured beers depending on the season and on what’s popular among its customers.

For a great hangout place for drinks on your holiday, head over to Cape Charles Brewing Co.

Order a Drink at Cape Charles Coffee House

A historic establishment you can visit in Cape Charles is the Coffee House.

It has earned the reputation of providing the best breakfast around, so you may find it worth it to go here early in the day.

The place first opened its doors in 1910 inside a historic building that has been refurbished, featuring striking art deco styles.

Here, you can relish in high-quality coffee drinks partnered with filling, sumptuous breakfasts.

Stop by this place and see why people keep on coming back.

Dine at Shanty

View from Shanty restaurant
David Broad, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

When people think of Cape Charles, one restaurant that comes to their minds is Shanty.

The place offers some of the tastiest meals in the entire town.

If you eat here, you need to try out their famous clam chowder and dishes made with fresh seafood.

You can find this place in a building that provides an incredible ambiance.

Its decor helps elevate your dining experience.

Additionally, the restaurant hosts a slew of events and live shows here, so you definitely won’t be bored while eating here.

When in town, visit Shanty for an outstanding dining experience.

Have Fun at Central Park

Aerial view of Central Park
Kyle J Little / Shutterstock.com

If you want to find a place to relax or to meet up with your travel group, consider heading over to the town’s Central Park.

Apart from having great park amenities that you can use here, you can also find many fun outdoor activities that you can do here.

Here, you can go ziplining for a thrilling adventure at the heart of town.

If you want to relax, you can just take a stroll through the well-maintained greenery and take in your beautiful surroundings.

You can appreciate the natural landscape of Cape Charles and its surrounding region even more by seeing it from a different angle.

If you want to do so without facing your fear of heights, you can visit At Altitude Gallery.

People know about this place for its unique exhibit.

It features a collection of photos taken by Gordon Campbell.

What makes them unique is that his photos are of the area, taken from a bird’s eye view.

All of his photos show the awe-inspiring natural landscapes of the region, as seen from above.

While you’re in Cape Charles, check this gallery out.

Another place of creativity in Cape Charles is Lemon Tree Gallery and Studio.

It serves as an art haven for all the artists who visit it.

Apart from a charming display of masterpieces, you can also let your creativity loose here.

You can check out and participate in their many events, workshops, and classes hosted by the Studio.

After expressing yourself, you can indulge in amazing desserts by trying out their limoncello and chocolate confections.

It’s an interesting place to visit when you’re in town.

Taste Signature Drinks at Cape Charles Distillery

Virginia's breathtaking mountains and beaches, their home state, inspire Cape Charles Distillery's commitment.

Everything they do is centered around utilizing high-quality regional goods and honoring Cape Charles' illustrious past, which helped build the eastern shore.

At Cape Charles Distillery, they combine locally farmed grains and maize with pure natural spring water to capture the spirit of both.

For the production of their handmade alcoholic drinks, they only use the best Virginia-grown resources.

Drop by and taste their signature bourbon, whiskeys, moonshine, and vodka.

Order the Famous Chicken at Royal Farms

"Fresh local produce, served promptly" has been the Royal Farms trademark since 1959.

You may get everything you need there day or night, including breakfast, luncheon, snacks and drinks, dinner, gasoline, and diesel fuel.

Customers can choose to stay in the dining area or purchase their food to go.

The freshest and never frozen chicken at Royal Farms is one of the most well-liked food items.

Rather than using trans fat oil, their chicken is pressure-cooked and simply breaded.

Additionally, they manufacture their hand-sliced and breaded western fries from Idaho potatoes.

Other popular offerings include all-day sandwiches, cold and warm subs, wraps, veggies, Colombian coffee, organic juices, and side dishes.

Purchase Items at Drizzles

Come enjoy delicious tastes at Drizzles, a premium olive oil, and balsamic shop.

Getting near retirement, June and John founded Drizzles in 2011.

They were passionate about distributing the finest olive oils and balsamic vinegar available.

Sea salt, peppercorns, freshly roasted single-origin coffee grounds, packed olives, dipping oils, gift items, and regional art are just a few of the gourmet goods offered by Drizzles.

Visit their store to sample their delicious tastes and take in the heavenly scent.

Relax and Spend the Night at Hotel Cape Charles

The distinctive and lovely Hotel Cape Charles is located on Virginia's Eastern Shore.

A pleasant and open environment with plenty of natural daylight has been created by attempting to balance the historical journey of this amazing structure, which has served as a hotel for more than 100 years, with modernity and architecture.

You may unwind in a Risom chair, take in harbor sights from your glass balcony, or ask the front desk staff to set up an eco-tour to a nearby animal preserve.

Their Hotel Cafe and Wine Bar serve a light breakfast with free locally and freshly roasted coffee and fresh organic granola.

In addition, you may buy seasonal foods, baked goods from your area, and beverages.

Grab a Book at Peach Street Books

Peach Street Books contain thousands of brand-new, slightly worn books.

The book store has made an effort to include everything you would be looking for in between books, including classics, science fiction, contemporary fiction, nature books, and a surprisingly sizable selection of historical nonfiction.

You might want to peruse the bookcases for yourself because it's a varied collection of best-sellers and undiscovered treasures.

Their top-notch secondhand books are offered at half or less of the going wholesale rate.

Everyone may benefit from the lower pricing on new books chosen by neighborhood book clubs.

You may also visit their renovated cottage and have a drink from their kitchen!

Final Thoughts

The town of Cape Charles is blessed in two ways: it’s surrounded by awe-inspiring natural treasures while enjoying a rich historical background.

When you visit this place, you can see how its unique cultural identity integrates these two aspects.

Consider going to Cape Charles for your next holiday.