Blake Walsh

21 Best Things to Do in Chincoteague, VA

  • Published 2023/04/04

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 initially from this town and the nearby area of Assateague Island.

Do you want to discover what else this town has in store for you?

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

Try Restricted Hunting at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge

Beautiful horse at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge

Jay Yuan /

Spanning a massive area of 14,000 acres, Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge operates under the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

It is located on the Virginia side of Assateague Island and is mainly famous as the home to Chincoteague ponies.

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

You need a permit to hunt on these grounds.

Turtle at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge

Wildnerdpix /

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 options are available for those interested in skateboarding or roller skates.

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

You can also collect shells from the land but are not allowed to use them commercially.

The wildlife refuge has many ecological features and habitats, including freshwater areas, beaches, and maritime forests.

Scenic trail at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge

A and R Photos /

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

In freshwater areas, fish and waterfowl are ubiquitous.

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

Beautiful butterfly collecting nector from a yellow flower at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge

Anne Katherine Jones /

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

This Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge is even more famous because it is home to rare and endemic species.

See the sika deer, the red fox, the Atlantic horseshoe crab, the black skimmer, and the piping plover.

Vibrant sunset at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge

Paul Brady Photography /

Go Fishing at Assateague Island National Seashore

Wave crashing at Assateague Island National Seashore

Earl D. Walker /

Fishing is the main activity at Assateague Island National Seashore.

Saltwater fish 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 also safe since these beaches in Maryland and Virginia employ lifeguards.

Surfing is also allowed except for the areas with lifeguards.

Moreover, the seashore has a long trail line, and hiking can take over a mile.

A young woman enjoying the beautiful sight of wild horses at Assateague Island National Seashore

Vicky Faye Aquino /

What makes this trail special is that it mixes various geographical features.

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

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 encounter an overgrown sand trail over three-quarters of a mile.

Sand dunes at Assateague Island National Seashore

eurobanks /

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

You can spend the night here since camping is an excellent activity 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.

Wild horses on the shores of Assateague Island National Seashore

amygofish /

Explore the Assateague Lighthouse

A distant view of Assateague lighthouse

Harry Powell /

Inside the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, the Assateague Lighthouse can be accessed by road from the island.

Today, the 43-meter-tall tower continues to navigate the US Coast Guard and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Front view of Assateague Lighthouse

Adam Parent /

The keepers’ quarters are well-constructed and act as housing in different seasons for 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 /

There is also an oil house on-site.

The Assateague Lighthouse is open for public tours only in the summer and on the weekends, so schedule your visit accordingly.

Learn Local History 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 preserved over time to give a good insight into its history.

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

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

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

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

Spot Beautiful Horses on Assateague Beach

Wild Horse in Assateague beach

amygofish /

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

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

Deer on the sand dunes of Assateague Beach

Juanita Layne /

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

Wildlife, like stingrays and horseshoe crabs, are also in the waters.

A couple walking at Assateague Beach

alafarm /

The changing rooms and restrooms at Assateague Beach 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 /

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 scheduled for demolition.

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

The foundation is made of a brick pyre.

Carving of a ship in an old wooden plank at Captain Timothy Hill House

Acroterion, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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

There is also a wooden chimney.

It is historically significant because there are carvings of sailing ships near the front door, which shows that it was necessary 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 /

Captain Spider is an expert in navigation and has been exploring the waterways and Chincoteague for a long time.

He pilots and inspects all his boats; Spider’s Explorer is a Chincoteague Island Charter Boat Association member.

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 with a Spider’s Explorer boat tour.

Treat Your Sweet Tooth at Mister Whippy

Mister Whippy’s ice cream is worth screaming for.

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

The ice cream here is 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.

Mr. Whippy’s fantastic flavors include peanut butter, chocolate coconut, chocolate cream, and maple bacon.

Enjoy Fresh Seafood at the Chincoteague Oyster Festival

The Chincoteague Oyster Festival occurs in October and is one of the most underrated things you can do in town.

It promotes the seafood industry annually and features an incredible and delectable variety of oysters.

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

Try the clam fritters, the clam chowder, and more.

Do not despair if you don’t like oysters, as other options exist.

In the summer, you can also attend the Seafood Festival, which features various delicious seafood types for you to eat.

Join the Chincoteague Oyster Festival!

Grab Delicious Sandwiches at Sea Star Cafe

Sea Star Cafe is where people who don’t like seafood can enjoy dishes like sandwiches and soups.

They have a fantastic fresh green salad, wraps, soups, and more menu.

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.

Their personal touch ensures you have the same great taste when visiting Sea Star Cafe.

Visit the Chincoteague Island Waterman’s Memorial

The poignant Chincoteague Island Waterman’s Memorial honors the memory of all the watermen who perished while on duty.

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

You may learn about shipwrecks, mariners, and trials at sea by reading interpretive 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 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, including go-karts, bumper boats, mini-golf, etc.

It also features a go-kart track, a rock wall, and an air-conditioned arcade.

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

Funland Amusements is a pleasant option in Chincoteague if you’re tired of the beach.

Everyone in the family will find something they appreciate with many options.

Make a Splash at Maui Jack’s Waterpark

Enjoy a lazy river, several water slides, and more at Maui Jack’s Waterpark.

Try the splash park, lazy river, and thrilling waterslides to maximize your time.

Head to Maui Jack’s Waterpark’s tiki cabanas and concession stand to escape 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.

Take a Hike along the Island Nature Trail

The Island Nature Trail is one of the best places to explore in Chincoteague without leaving the township.

The trail is only a little under a mile long, an excellent track for beginners with a rustic and serene atmosphere.

You will see marshlands with creeks and tall grass and various wildlife.

Moreover, you can bring your dog to the Island Nature Trail.

This trail is along Hallie Whealton Smith Drive, near the township’s public school.

Get Active at Veterans Memorial Park

View of the Veterans Memorial Park

Leonard J. DeFrancisci, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Veterans Memorial Park is one of the few parks in Chincoteague with unlimited access to its scenic waters near the Atlantic Ocean.

It is a haven for water activities like kayaking and fishing; you can also spot the lighthouse from the pier.

View of the Veterans Memorial Park

Leonard J. DeFrancisci, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Besides, Veterans Memorial Park is also a terrific spot for basketball and tennis.

It also has a playground for the kids.

This park is along Memorial Park Drive.

Enjoy a Scenic Lunch at Etta’s Channel Side

Etta’s Channel Side is one of Chincoteague’s prettiest and most popular restaurants, thanks to its waterfront views.

Besides its waterfront location, it also features a lovely aesthetic with feeders for its resident hummingbirds.

Its food is just as memorable as its location and interior.

Try the mouthwatering crab cakes, hush puppies, steaks, pasta, and other American and Italian classics.

Etta’s Channel Side is along East Side Road, a few minutes from Veterans Memorial Park.

Roll a Strike at Libertino Lanes

Exterior view of the Libertino Lanes /

Stop by Libertino Lanes for some bowling with your friends and family.

It might not be an extensive facility, but this bowling alley will do the job.

Moreover, you can also enjoy top-notch service from the competent staff.

Besides bowling, Libertino Lanes has a video game arcade and a snack bar.

This spot is along Willow Street.

Go on a Culinary Adventure at AJ’s on the Creek

AJ’s on the Creek is another unmissable restaurant in Chincoteague.

This restaurant takes classic seafood dishes to new levels of flavor and creativity.

Its vast selection of alcohol also helps create an intimate atmosphere for romantic dates.

Try their stuffed flounder, scampi platter, and seafood bouillabaisse.

AJ’s on the Creek is the perfect place for special dinners, thanks to its flavorful food, stellar service, and warm ambiance.

Other Things to Do Nearby

See Aircraft at the NASA Wallops Flight Facility Visitor Center

Display at NASA Wallops Flight Facility Visitor Center

Kelleher Photography /

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

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

The outdoor area also has a rocket garden with aircraft and rockets used for research.

Display of a small model aircraft at NASA Wallops Flight Facility Visitor Center

Kelleher Photography /

The NASA Wallops Flight Facility Visitor Center’s centerpiece is a full-scale four-stage reentry vehicle used to study the Earth’s atmosphere.

Moreover, the visitor center also offers educational programs about space science, which can educate kids on a family trip.

It also houses a large viewing area for rocket launches.

Outdoor display at NASA Wallops Flight Facility Visitor Center

Kelleher Photography /

Some other exhibits 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.

You can also check out the training space suit used by an astronaut on Apollo 9.

Exhibit at NASA Wallops Flight Facility Visitor Center

Kelleher Photography /

Shop for Fresh Goods at the Onancock Farmers & Artisans Market

Farmers’ markets are always great places to buy social and fresh produce at great prices.

In Onancock, Virginia, the Onancock Farmers & Artisans Market sells a 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.

Stock up on fresh ingredients at the Onancock Farmers & Artisans Market, 38 minutes from Chincoteague.

Grab a Beer at 3 Knots Taphouse

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

Its most notable feature is its 30 beers on tap.

The brews are all perfect and well-blended.

It also has some unique brews from Chincoteague’s Black Narrows Brewing.

Enjoy an ice-cold beer at 3 Knots Taphouse, 38 minutes from Chincoteague.

Final Thoughts

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

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

Discover the best things to do in Chincoteague, Virginia!

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