20 Best Things to Do in Chincoteague, VA

Chincoteague, VA
EJ-J / iStock.com

The words "beautiful watertown" best describe the small town of Chincoteague.

Located in Virginia's Accomack County, the quaint town boasts a beautiful atmosphere.

With a tiny population and many attractions to check out, it's an excellent spot for a vacation.

Children who grew up watching the movie Misty and reading the book Misty of Chincoteague will fondly remember the Chincoteague ponies mentioned throughout the entire story.

These ponies are originally from this town and the nearby area of Assateague Island.

Want to find out what else this town has in store for you?

These are the best things to do in Chincoteague, Virginia:

Experience Restricted Hunting at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge

Beautiful horse at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge
Jay Yuan / Shutterstock.com

Spread over a massive area of 14,000 acres, Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge is operated by the US government and its Fish and Wildlife Service division.

It is located on the Virginia side of Assateague Island and is especially famous for being home to Chincoteague ponies.

The refuge also houses a variety of wildlife, including waterfowl, which is a part of the restricted hunting.

However, a permit is needed for you to hunt on these grounds.

Turtle at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge
Wildnerdpix / Shutterstock.com

You can also enjoy many outdoor activities like boating, bicycling, fishing, swimming, and horseback riding.

Mopeds and motorized scooters are also allowed on Beach Road, and there are options available for those interested in skateboarding or roller skates.

Camping can also be carried out on the Maryland side of the island.

For those with an aesthetic sense, you can also collect shells from the land, but make sure that you do not use them for commercial purposes.

The wildlife refuge itself is blessed with many ecological features and has several different types of habitats, including freshwater areas, beaches, and maritime forests.

Scenic trail at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge
A and R Photos / Shutterstock.com

The beach is abundant with lots of seaweeds like amaranth, and shorebirds can also be viewed like peregrine falcons.

In the freshwater areas, fishes and waterfowl are very common.

For those with a keen eye and flora, the shrubs are really pretty and include dune grasses and more.

The maritime forest is home to various cute animals like raccoons, fox squirrels, whitetail deer, and more.

This preserve is even more famous because it is also home to a few rare and endemic species like the sika deer, the red fox, the Atlantic horseshoe crab, the black skimmer, and the piping plover.

Go Fishing at Assateague Island National Seashore

Wave crashing at Assateague Island National Seashore
Earl D. Walker / Shutterstock.com

Fishing is extremely popular at Assateague Island National Seashore.

Saltwater fishes are abundant in these areas, and if you have a valid fishing license, you can fish here.

Other than this, you can also enjoy a refreshing swim in these waters.

It's safe as well since the beaches are lifeguarded in both the Maryland and Virginia areas.

Surfing is also allowed but prohibited in these lifeguarded areas.

Moreover, the seashore has a long trail line, and hiking can also be carried out over a mile.

A young woman enjoying the beautiful sight of wild horses at Assateague Island National Seashore
Vicky Faye Aquino / Shutterstock.com

What makes this trail special is that it mixes a variety of geographical features.

There's a marsh trail for half a mile and then a forest trail for another half mile.

The marsh trail has an elevated boardwalk, so you do not have to worry about mosquitoes or bugs.

The forest trail is stunning and shaded by woodlands.

After this, you will come across a dense trail made entirely of sand and spread over three-quarters of a mile.

Sand dunes at Assateague Island National Seashore
eurobanks / Shutterstock.com

You can find various endemic plants of this habitat and a section dedicated to the beautiful Baltimore Boulevard.

You can plan on spending the night here since camping is a great activity to enjoy at Assateague Island National Seashore.

There are as many as 148 campsites available.

Imagine waking up and finding horses grazing nearby on the white sands near the turquoise blue waters.

Explore the Assateague Lighthouse

A distant view of Assateague lighthouse
Harry Powell / Shutterstock.com

Located inside the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, this huge lighthouse can be accessed by road from the island.

It is active even today and helps in the navigation of the US Coast Guard and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

It is 43 meters tall and a beauty to look at.

Front view of Assateague Lighthouse
Adam Parent / Shutterstock.com

The keepers' quarters are also very well-constructed and act as housing in different seasons for different people like volunteers, temporary employees, and more.

Typically painted in alternating bands of red and white, it is conical in shape and stands tall amidst the blue and white skies.

Aerial view of Assateague Lighthouse
Kosoff / Shutterstock.com

There is also an oil house on-site.

The lighthouse is open for public tours only in the summer and on the weekends, so time your visit carefully.

Learn about the History of Chincoteague at the Museum of Chincoteague Island

Exterior view of Museum of Chincoteague Island
Leonard J. DeFrancisci, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located on Maddox Boulevard, the Museum of Chincoteague Island gives an enriching insight into the history and culture of Chincoteague.

It has various artifacts and exhibits that have been kept and preserved over time to give an exemplary insight into its history.

One of its most famous exhibits is a first-order Fresnel lens that was used in the Assateague Lighthouse.

It also has taxidermied bodies of the Chincoteague ponies, Misty and Stormy.

Other than this, the museum also focuses on themes like the island’s rich maritime history, the oyster industry, and more.

There is also a section dedicated to the important roles of islanders like lightkeepers and shipwreck rescuers.

Spot Beautiful Horses on Assateague Beach

Wild Horse in Assateague beach
amygofish / Shutterstock.com

Boasting a beautiful and vast expanse of water, Assateague Beach is a treat for the eyes.

During low tides, there are various clams and shells that get washed ashore and make for great additions to your collections.

Deer on the sand dunes of Assateague Beach
Juanita Layne / Shutterstock.com

Another unexpected thing that you'll notice on this beach is the horses that trot about on the sands, which makes for a really endearing sight.

Other wildlife like stingrays and horseshoe crabs are also present in the waters.

A couple walking at Assateague Beach
alafarm / Shutterstock.com

The changing rooms and restrooms are clean and well-maintained.

You can also host a lovely bonfire at night on the beach and have a fun evening while singing and dancing with friends.

Visit the Captain Timothy Hill House

Wooden architecture of Captain Timothy Hill House
Linda Harms / Shutterstock.com

A historic home on the National Register of Historic Places, the Captain Timothy Hill House was built in 1800.

It was later moved to its present location in 1980 after it was about to be demolished.

Set over one and a half stories, it is built with wood and hewn pine planks.

The foundation is made of brick pyre.

The roof is modern, though, and has a steep side gable along with the weatherboard.

There is also a wooden chimney.

What makes it historically significant is that there are carvings of sailing ships near the front door, which shows that it was important during its era.

It is one of the only remaining examples of the log plank style of construction, which still exists in Virginia.

The Captain Timothy Hill House is also said to be one of the oldest houses on Chincoteague Island.

Tour Chincoteague with Spider's Explorer

Boat ride in Chincoteague
The Old Major / Shutterstock.com

The owner of this business, Captain Spider, is an expert in navigation and has been exploring the waterways and Chincoteague for a long time now.

Captain Spider pilots and inspects all his boats, and Spider's Explorer is a member of the Chincoteague Island Charter Boat Association.

They take tours through various places around Chincoteague and Assateague.

The tours have limited seating for up to six people so that you can enjoy the entire experience privately.

Book a tour with them to get a complete and discreet view of all the places worth visiting.

Enjoy one of the most beautiful sunsets you'll ever witness while on a Spider's Explorer boat tour.

Treat Your Sweet Tooth to Ice Cream at Mister Whippy

Mister Whippy's ice cream is definitely worth screaming for.

This outstanding business has been making soft serves for over 50 years.

The ice cream here is really famous and is enjoyed by tourists and locals alike.

It opens every day at 7:00 a.m., when you can also have a great cup of freshly brewed coffee and delicious donuts.

Those only interested in the ice cream can drop in from 11:00 a.m. onwards.

The prices are reasonable, and the amazing flavors include peanut butter, chocolate coconut, chocolate cream, and maple bacon.

Enjoy Fresh Seafood at the Chincoteague Oyster Festival

The Chincoteague Oyster Festival occurs during the month of October and is one of the most underrated things that you can do while you're in town.

It is held to promote the seafood industry every year and features an amazing and delectable variety of oysters.

You can enjoy them in different ways like steamed, raw, or in the form of fritters.

Do try the clam fritters, the clam chowder, and more.

But do not despair if you're not an oyster person, as there are other options as well.

Moreover, if you are visiting during the summer seasons, you can also attend the Seafood Festival, which occurs in May and also has a variety of delicious seafood types for you to eat.

Have Delicious Sandwiches at Sea Star Cafe

Sea Star Cafe is where those who are not much into seafood can visit to enjoy dishes like sandwiches and soups.

They have a fantastic menu consisting of fresh green salads, wraps, soups, and more.

They also have options for vegans and vegetarians.

All the dishes are made with fresh, organic, and locally sourced produce.

Moreover, the owners make all the dishes, so it's like a personal touch and ensures that you have the same great taste whenever you visit.

Painting in watercolors and pastels is the primary focus of Daniel P.T. Thomas' Tryfan Gallery.

One of Thomas' favorite pastimes is photographing Chincoteague and Assateague Island's ever-changing light and shadows.

In the shifting seasons, the bay and refuge are altered by winter snowfall, revealing a rustic sienna of fading marsh grass.

Several well-known island businesses and events have already appeared in his paintings.

There are several pieces of Dan's hometown of Wales and other European cities and landscapes that he has done.

A year-round art gallery, Tryfan Gallery also provides painting workshops.

Visit the Chincoteague Island Waterman's Memorial

This poignant monument honors the memory of all the watermen who perished while on duty.

Explore Merritt Harbor all the way to the end, where you'll find a gigantic white cross and a stunning view of the marsh and water.

You may learn a lot about shipwrecks, mariners, and trials at sea by reading interpretative panels near the cross.

You may also spot some wildlife, such as bald eagles.

Chincoteague Island Waterman's Memorial is a great spot to witness sunsets and rocket launches take place on Wallops Island,

Spend a Fun Day with Family at Funland Amusements

The entire family will have a blast at Funland Amusements.

There is no shortage of attractions to enjoy, including go-karts, bumper boats, mini-golf, etc.

It also features a go-kart track to test your driving talents, a rock wall to compete on, and an air-conditioned arcade to play in after these.

Grab an ice cream or a delicious funnel cake amid the excitement to refuel for the next activity.

This is a pleasant option in Chincoteague if you're tired of the beach.

Everyone in the family will find something they appreciate with such a wide range of options.

Have a Splash at Maui Jack's Waterpark

There is a lazy river, several water slides, and more at Maui Jack's Waterpark.

Try the splash park, lazy river, and thrilling waterslides to make the most of your time.

Head to Maui Jack's Waterpark's tiki cabanas and concession stand when you want to get out of the sun.

Having fun and staying cool is a breeze here.

Group members of all ages have access to the Splash Zone.

Meanwhile, the three twisting body slides and the Banzai Racers will appeal to older children.

Purchase Souvenirs at Blue Crab Treasures

Blue Crab Treasures has something for everyone when it comes to unique gifts.

In addition to original works by local artists, the shop has a wide selection of handmade crafts, especially if you are seeking pony-themed items.

You won't find a better assortment of unique t-shirts anywhere else.

In this shop, there's so much to see and do.

The proprietor is extremely polite and helpful when recommending lunch options.

Stop by this shop, as it's a great way to support local businesses and artists.

Other Things to Do Nearby

See a Variety of Aircraft at the NASA Wallops Flight Facility Visitor Center

Display at NASA Wallops Flight Facility Visitor Center
Kelleher Photography / Shutterstock.com

The NASA Wallops Flight Facility Visitor Center is located on Wallops Island, just 10 minutes away from Chincoteague.

At this visitor center, you can look at a variety of exhibits related to aviation and aircraft, like a sounding rocket, a balloon, and others.

In the outdoor area, there is also a rocket garden with aircraft and rockets that were used for research.

Display of a small model aircraft at NASA Wallops Flight Facility Visitor Center
Kelleher Photography / Shutterstock.com

The NASA Wallops Flight Facility Visitor Center's most special exhibit is a full-scale four-stage reentry vehicle that was used to study the Earth's atmosphere at one point in time.

Moreover, the visitor center also offers educational programs about space science, which can be a useful tool to educate kids if you're on a family trip.

It also houses a large area, which is the viewing area for rocket launches.

Outdoor display at NASA Wallops Flight Facility Visitor Center
Kelleher Photography / Shutterstock.com

Some of the other exhibits that you must look at include a moon rock from Apollo 17 and an observation deck.

The kids will love the hands-on interactive demonstrations that are kept here.

There is also the training space suit which was used by an astronaut on Apollo 9.

Witness the Breathtaking Science on a Sphere Exhibit

Science on a sphere in Wallops Flight Facility Visitor Center
Leonard J. DeFrancisci, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located inside the NASA Wallops Flight Facility Visitor Center, this model and exhibit are so special that they deserve a section of their own.

Science on a Sphere is an excellent and interactive project spiritual projection system that was developed by the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

What sets it apart from other exhibits is that the video is shown on a suspended globe and not on a flat screen.

This way, it gives a great view and educational information about climatic changes and more.

Join a Wine Tasting at Bordeleau Vineyards & Winery

An hour away from Chincoteague, Maryland's Bordeleau Vineyards & Winery is spread over a large area and is nestled alongside a creek.

They offer organically brewed wine, and all the grapes they use are hand-harvested and grown in climates similar to those in France.

You can visit this beautiful vineyard and take a walk among the grapevines, followed by a visit to the tasting facility where you can taste a range of delectable world-class wines.

The estate is stunning, and you can enjoy scenic views from here.

The indoor tasting bar is cozy and is open all year round.

Shop for Fresh Goods at the Onancock Farmers & Artisans Market

Farmers' markets are always a great place to visit if you want to buy some local and fresh produce at really great prices.

Forty minutes away from Chincoteague, the Onancock Farmers & Artisans Market here sells variety of local fruits and vegetables that are fresh and sourced directly from farmers.

They also have pottery products that you can purchase to take home as souvenirs.

Have a Beer at 3 Knots Taphouse

While on a side trip to Onancock, you can pay a visit to 3 Knots Taphouse.

Its most notable feature is that it has as many as 30 beers available on tap.

The brews are all perfect and well-blended.

It also has some special brews from Chincoteague's Black Narrows Brewing.

Those interested in nearby brewing houses can also go to Evolution Craft Brewing in Salisbury.

Final Thoughts

Despite its reputation as a popular fishing destination, Chincoteague Island is home to several exciting attractions.

Chincoteague is known for its laid-back vibe and stunning views of the surrounding natural landscape.

There's always something to do in Chincoteague, whether it's lazing on the beach or taking in the sunset over Chincoteague Bay.

Spotted a mistake, have some feedback, or just want to chat with our editorial team? Click here to get in touch.
Find out more about Travel Lens and read our editorial guidelines here.