Along Virginia’s quaint Eastern Shore, you will find Chincoteague Island, the home of Marguerite Henry’s 1947 Misty of Chincoteague’s novel and the annual Chincoteague Fireman’s Pony Swim.
This tiny dot on the map is definitely known for the novel and Chincoteague ponies, but there is still so much more to see and do. Whether you visit during Pony Week or want to wander the barrier islands another time throughout the year, Chincoteague’s history, beautiful sunrises (and sunsets!), wildlife, the Assateague Island National Seashore and sandy beaches are ready to welcome you.
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Things to do in Chincoteague VA
So, let’s dive into all of the things to do in Chincoteague, whether you are on a day trip, weekend getaway or summer vacation. We’ll also go over the best Chincoteague rentals and hotels, and even a few of our favorite Chincoteague restaurants to check out when you are in town.
Begin your time in Chincoteague, VA by exploring the historic Main Street and the many merchants curating collections in their one-of-a-kind shops.
- Address: 4065 Main St, Chincoteague, VA 23336
Sundial Books is a locally-owned bookstore that has two floors of books to choose from, including books about Chincoteague Island, the Eastern Shore, and of course, the famous Misty of Chincoteague.
- Address: 4086 Main St, Chincoteague, VA 23336
Stop in to Flying Fish to find unique jewelry and gifts. If you drive by at night, you might even catch some of the glass art that is lit from within.
Blue Crab Treasures
- Address: 4080 Main St, Chincoteague, VA 23336
Browse through Blue Crab Treasures and see the unique work from local artists.
Atlantic Shoals Surf Shop
- Address: 6758 Maddox Blvd, Chincoteague, VA 23336
If you are looking for the perfect beach dress, shorts or sandals, Atlantic Shoals Surf Shop is for you. The owner works with designers to bring in the very best in surf wear and clothing at an afforadable price.
There are also locations in Fenwick Island and Bethany Beach, DE.
- Address: 3062 Ridge Rd Chincoteague, VA 23336
- Open: April – October by appointment only
Join Cindy from Chincoteague Step Through Time Tours for a walk through town to learn the history of Chincoteague before you meet up with Billy Beebe at Beebe Ranch to learn first hand about Misty and the Ranch.
Kids under age 10 are free on all Step Through Time Tours, and will love meeting Billy and the ponies on the ranch. The downtown part of the tour can be a bit long for little ones, but Cindy does try to keep everyone engaged and having fun.
Cindy also runs an evening tour filled with pirate lore and legends. Some tales can be a bit scary, but are always family friendly. And really, what kid doesn’t love a good pirate story?
Museum of Chincoteague Island
- Address: 7125 Maddox Blvd, Chincoteague, VA 23336
At the Museum of Chincoteague Island, you will come to know the culture, heritage and people that have called Chincoteague Island home. Plus a whole lot about lighthouses.
The various exhibits throughout the museum are in chronological order and feature fossils, historical church, fire department and business artifacts, and the Assateague Lighthouse first Fresnel lens. They also have a display of shipwreck items that have washed ashore over the years.
You will also find Misty and Stormy, the famous Chincoteague ponies, in one of the displays.
Refuge Waterfowl Museum
- Address: 7059 Maddox Blvd, Chincoteague, VA 23336
The Refuge Waterfowl Museum is filled with wildlife paintings and murals, antique skipjack boats, and an extensive collection of wood-carved wildfowl.
As you explore the museum, stop by and watch resident carver Delbert Daisey at work carving. The museum has a great deal of Daisey’s work on display.
Chincoteague Island Waterman Memorial
- Address: Merritt Harbor
This moving memorial is dedicated to all the lost watermen, those that went out but never came back.
Stroll to the end of Merritt Harbor, where you will encounter sweeping views of the marshes, bay, and a large white cross.
Once at the cross, take time to read the interpretive panels to learn more about the shipping losses, seafarers’ history and the hardships at sea.
The memorial is also a great location to watch the setting sun and Wallops Island rocket launches.
- Address: 4254 Main St, Chincoteague, VA 23336
Step into Tryfan Gallery on Main Street to see the fantastic watercolors and pastel paintings of Daniel Thomas.
In many of his paintings, you will see Chincoteague and Assateague as the light and seasons change.
Chincoteague Cultural Alliance
- Address: 6309 Church St, Chincoteague, VA 23336
This non-profit organization organizes over 100 programs each year. Check out their calendar of events to see what classes, workshops, live theater, musical performances, and art shows may be going on for you to enjoy during your time in Chincoteague.
You’ll also notice CCA on murals around town, which they helped put up.
Farmers and Artisans Market
- Address: 6309 Church Street, Chincoteague, VA 23336
- Saturdays from Memorial Day weekend through October
- Wednesday from early June through September
- Hours: 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM
The Chincoteague farmers market offers everything you could imagine from the farm and bay, including eggs, meats, produce, plants, seafood and soaps.
The local artisans also have various crafts, jewelry, attic treasures, artwork and carvings on display.
Don’t miss the live music from 10am-12pm.
Osprey Nest Art Gallery
- Address: 4096 Main St, Chincoteague, VA 23336
The Osprey Nest is home to wildlife artist Kevin McBride. His gallery showcases the Chincoteague ponies and local eagles, fish and other wildlife that call this area home.
The art gallery also has a gift shop that includes work from many local artists and regional artists. Come in and browse Kevin’s work and the decoys, pottery, jewelry, and apparel for sale.
If you need something framed, the staff are more than happy to help.
More Chincoteague Activities
- Address: 6557 Maddox Blvd, Chincoteague, VA 23336
Get out and have a little friendly competition on one of the two miniature golf courses at Surfside Golf.
Try your hand at putting around the Assateague Lighthouse and golf gnomes.
For a more accessible course, try the back 18, while those interested in a more challenging round should head to the front course.
At the end of the match, head to the snack bar for a pretzel, Italian ice or a funnel cake.
- Address: 6528 Maddox Blvd, Chincoteague, VA 23336
The kids will want to spend the day at Funland Amusements, taking in the Refuge Mini Golf, the bumper boats, launch pad and inflatables. Once done with these, test your driving skills on the go-kart track, race to the top of the rock wall, or see who can win in the air-conditioned arcade.
Between the action, grab a refreshing ice cream or tasty funnel cake to build up your energy for the next event.
Chincoteague Island Library
- Address: 4077 Main St, Chincoteague, VA 23336
On a rainy day, you can’t beat little time at the Chincoteague Island Library, which has great views of Main Street and the water.
Year-Round Preschool “Tales for Tots” are available, as well as a number of book clubs you can jump into. Or you know, you could just grab a new read and find a cozy corner.
- Address: 6742 Maddox Blvd, Chincoteague VA 23336
The Island Theater shows the latest movies throughout the year, but during Pony Week, they show Misty of Chincoteague daily.
Maui Jack’s Water Park
- Address: 6742 Maddox Blvd, Chincoteague, VA 23336
Spend the day jumping in the splash park, relaxing on the lazy river, and sliding down the epic waterslides. Maui Jack’s has tiki cabanas when you need to get out of the sun and a concession booth to get all your favorite snacks.
NASA Wallops Flight Facility
For the future astronauts in your party, the Wallops Flight Facility is a must-stop. They have a visitor center where you can learn more about space, rockets and the International Space Station.
Check the calendar to see if they have any rocket launches scheduled during your stay in Chincoteague.
There are great places around the island to watch launches if you can’t make it to the flight facility.
Explore Chincoteague Public Parks
There are a number of Chincoteague Island parks to enjoy throughout your stay. Some are tiny, while others give you loads of room to roam.
- Robert Reed Downtown Park: Main St, Chincoteague, VA 23336
- Veterans Memorial Park: 7470 Memorial Park Dr, Chincoteague, VA 23336
- Toms Cove Park: 8128 Beebe Rd, Chincoteague, VA 23336
- Jessie R. Watson, Sr. Memorial Park: corner of Main Street and Cleveland Street
Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge
The Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge is home to about 150 ponies, migrating birds and butterflies, sika deer, and many other mammals and waterfowl.
Head to the beach for a day of sunshine and sand, where you may have to share it with a pony or two.
Bring your crabbing net, string and a chicken back to try your hand at catching dinner. Check restrictions for keeping crabs.
If you are not into crabs, but clams are your thing, try a little digging at low tide.
- Cost: Free (you will need to pay the National Park entrance fee to get on the grounds though)
- Open: April – November weekends
- Hours: 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM and 12:30 – 3:00 PM
Climb the 175 steps to the top of the Assateague Lighthouse to get a view of the island. This is also a great little trail for young hikers to tackle and feel like they accomplished something.
Wild Beach stretches for 11 miles and includes Toms Cove Hook, Assawoman, Metompkin Island.
Many of these beaches are only open during certain times, but if your timing is right, it is worth the trek to one of these out-of-the-way havens.
Chincoteague Bike Rentals
One thing you will notice in Chincoteague, especially in the Wildlife Refuge, is everyone is on bikes. This is for good reason– Wildlife Trail in the park is pretty long (more than 3 miles), so bikes can get the whole family around the park without too much whining.
It’s super easy to rent a bike or E-bike to explore the island from a number of vendors on the island.
The Bike Depot
- Address: 7058 Maddox Blvd, Chincoteague, VA 23336
- Open: Easter – Thanksgiving
The Bike Depot not only has adult and children’s bikes, but tandem cruisers, kiddie carts, adult tricycles, tag-a-longs and bikes with child seats.
Address: 6354 Highland Park Dr, Chincoteague, VA 23336
With an e-bike from Riptide, you can traverse the island on a bike and not even get tired from paddling! While some may call this cheating, if you want to see a lot of the island, we just call it smart.
Chincoteague Festivals and Events
Easter Decoy and Art Festival
- Address: 6733 Maddox Blvd, Chincoteague, VA 23336
- Dates: First weekend of April
Discover the history of decoy carving as you stroll past the exhibits and booths of local and national decoy carvers.
Chincoteague Seafood Festival
- Date: First Saturday on May
Enjoy fresh and delicious local seafood dishes like little neck clams, raw and fried oysters, clam chowder, clam strips and fritters, and steamed shrimp.
Old Fashion 4th of July Fireworks
Date: July 4th at 10pm
Enjoy a good old-fashion firework display courtesy of the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Department to celebrate the birth of the United States of America.
Chincoteague Volunteer Fireman’s Carnival
- Dates: Weekends starting the last weekend in June through the end of July
The Chincoteague Volunteer Fireman’s Carnival, part of the annual Pony Swim, has lots of rides, games, terrific food, and pony pens where you can see the ponies up close.
Come back the following day and attend the Pony Auction, where you can purchase one of the ponies to take home.
Hang around until Friday and watch the ponies that remain swim back to Assateague Island.
Chincoteague Pony Swim
- When: 4th Wednesday in July
Mark your calendars for the 4th Wednesday in July. This is when you can watch the Saltwater Cowboys lead the wild ponies from Assateague Island, across the channel, and onto the fairgrounds padlock.
The swim usually happens between 7am and 1pm, all depending on the low tide time.
How to watch the Pony Swim
If you want to view the ponies swim across the channel, be prepared to get your spot early and head to the marshland near Pony Swim Lane.
After the pony swim, head to Main Street where you can watch the ponies head to the carnival corral.
Chincoteague Island Blueberry Festival
- Address: 6155 Community Dr, Chincoteague, VA 23336
- Date: Late July, Friday through Sunday
The three-day Chincoteague Island Blueberry Festival is the Eastern Shore’s largest arts and crafts event.
The days are full of entertainment, blueberries and delicious foods.
Find more opportunities for Blueberry Picking in Virginia
Chincoteague Oyster Festival
- Date: Early October
- Hours: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Spending the day at the Chincoteague Oyster Festival means a day of fritters, oysters, clams and shrimp.
Live bands fill the festival with music and there is always an Extravaganza Raffle where winners will win various tickets, lodging, meals, and apparel.
Take a Northern Over Sand Vehicle Access Road and explore remote areas of Assateague Island.
Saltwater Pony Tours
- Address: 2246 Curtis Merritt Harbor Dr, Chincoteague, VA 23336
Join Saltwater Pony for a scenic two-hour cruise in a 24’ tri-toon boat. The trip takes you into the island’s shallow waters in search of eagles, dolphins, osprey and the Chincoteague ponies.
Step Through Time Tours
Step Through Time offers four different walking tours around the Chincoteague area.
- 9am: Learn about the history and ponies as you walk through the historic downtown.
- 7am: Discover more about the local shipwrecks, pirates, and ghosts that haunt the area.
- 1pm (Wednesdays and Saturdays): Learn more about the Chincoteague ponies, then head to the Beebe Ranch
- 3pm (Tuesdays): Join the tour to sample four of Chincoteague’s fares and learn more about the local seafood industry.
Assateague Adventures Kayak Tours
- Address: Memorial Park Dr, Chincoteague VA, 23336
Paddle along with owners Jess and Steve as they talk to you about the area’s history and folklore as you search out Assateague wildlife.
Assateague Explorer Kayak Tours
Take a 2-hour Daisey nature cruise to view ponies in their habitat.
Enjoy a leisurely scenic boat trip or paddle your kayak in the calm waters of Assateague, where you will be on the lookout for ponies and eagles.
Daisey’s Island Cruises
If you love seafood, Chincoteague is the place for you to indulge. There is also plenty of pizza, sandwiches and ice cream. While we normally rent and make a lot of our own meals, there are a few spots you should definitely visit.
Island Creamery is THE place to get homemade ice cream in Chincoteague, VA. Get in line and order a milkshake, sundae or just a cone of your favorite flavor.
Get the cream-filled donuts. Period.
Oh, and then grab a Rise Up espresso drink from. thecoffee counter. They also have soft-serve, but for me, it’s all about the donuts.
Black Narrows Brewing Company
Pop in for a tasting, a four-pack or a crowler of one of the many beers Black Narrows has on tap. There are picnic tables on the deck and in back, or you can pull up a stool inside.
Places to Stay in Chincoteague VA
Chincoteague is full of quaint inns, campgrounds and hotels. Choose between staying in town, on the water, or in a woodsy environment.
If you are going to vacation during Pony Week, especially a Chincoteague vacation rental, plan on making your reservations a year in advance.
Chincoteague Camping and Glamping
Chincoteague Island KOA Resort
- Address: 6742 Maddox Blvd, Chincoteague, VA 23336
The Chincoteague Island KOA resort offers camping on the water, primitive camping, safari tents, cabins, bungalows and even RV rentals.
The campground is full of amenities to keep the whole family entertained. Kids love the pools, playgrounds, jump pillows and activity center. Your dog will be begging for you to take him or her to the dog parks.
Look out for themed weekends, when even more fun breaks out across the campground.
Toms Cove Park
- Address: 8128 Beebe Rd, Chincoteague, VA 23336
- Open: March – November
Along the Assateague Channel, you will find Tom’s Cover Park. Choose between camping in the woods or along the waterfront.
The campground can accommodate RVs up to 45 feet and has sites with full hookups. You can connect to the Wi-Fi at the recreation facility.
When not off sightseeing, enjoy the indoor rec center, swimming pool and playground.
Best of all, Tom’s Cove Park is pet-friendly.
Pine Grove Campground and Waterfowl Park
- Address: 5283 Deep Hole Rd, Chincoteague, VA 23336
- Open: April – December
The Pine Grove Campground is family-owned and perfect for the waterfowl lover. The 37-acre campground and park offer campsites amongst yellow pines and six ponds where you can see over 50 types of waterfowl.
Tentrr Glamping at the Pony Pines Farm
- Address: Temperanceville, VA
Just west of Chincoteague, you will find The Stand, Creek Side, and Birches.
Each secluded Tentrr Glamping campsite offers a tent that sleeps up to six, heating, a picnic table, chairs, a camp toilet and sun shower.
Tall Pines Harbor Campground
- Address: 8107 Tall Pines Ln, Temperanceville, VA 23442
- Open: March 1 – November 1
Stay a night or two at Tall Pines Harbor at one of the bay front, water-view, primitive waterfront sites, or in one of the cabins.
For those with an RV, you can choose between no hookup or full hookups. No camper? No problem, rent a 33’ or 37’ RV for your stay.
This family-oriented campground is along the Pocomoke Sound with sites that are both shaded by tall pines and unshaded.
The kids in your group will enjoy spending the day in Splash Park. For time out on the water, rent a kayak, paddle board or canoe for some great water fun.
Chincoteague Inns and Cottages
Miss Molly’s Inn
- Address: 4141 Main St, Chincoteague, VA 23336
- Book It
You will find Miss Molly’s Inn, a 5-bedroom Victorian Bed and Breakfast, along the historic Main Street. All the rooms are individually furnished and have a private bathroom.
Begin your day with a deliciously prepared three-course breakfast before taking off on one of the beach cruisers or a beach bag of beach paraphernalia for a day of water fun.
The restored bayside house is the perfect place to relax the evening away as you sit in a rocking chair on one of the five porches watching life go by and the busy bay.
Oh, Miss Molly’s Inn is also where Marguerite Henry wrote her famous book Misty of Chincoteague in 1946. You can even book the Marguerite Henry Room.
1848 Island Manor House
- Address: 4160 Main St, Chincoteague, VA 23336
- Book it
The elegant Island Manor is steps away from Chincoteague’s shops, restaurants and waterfront. The inn offers nine individually furnished rooms in stately, whimsical, beachy or romantic themes, and most have an adjoining bathroom.
Besides your room, take time to explore and experience the common areas where you can play games, read or enjoy a glass of wine. The courtyard offers an outdoor place to relax amongst the flower while listening to the fountain.
Begin your day in the dining room, where you will enjoy a gourmet breakfast.
After a long day on your feet exploring the area, come back to the inn and take advantage of the onsite massage rooms.
Key West Cottages on the Chincoteague Bay
- Address: 6125 Poplar St W, Chincoteague, VA 23336
- Book it!
The five Key West colored cottages are private homes where you have the room to stretch your legs, watch the setting sun over the bay, have full kitchens, and enjoy hotel amenities like hot tubs, pools and fitness centers next door.
The Waterview and Waterfront cottages are one-bedroom homes with queen beds. The Oyster Cottage is a two-bedroom home with a king and queen bed.
Chincoteague Vacation Rentals and Hotels
Sometimes, you just want to be pampered at a hotel or have more space in rental. Check out the best rates on hotels and vacation rentals in Chincoteague Island, VA.
Find the best prices on rooms and rentals on Stay22
- Hampton Inn and Suites Chincoteague-Waterfront: Indoor pool, free breakfast and water views
- Refuge Inn: Family owned inn with an indoor/outdoor pool
- Marina Bay Hotel & Suites, an Ascend Hotel Collection: Tripadvisor Travelers Choice
- Best Western Chincoteague Island: Family-friendly suites with a pool
- Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Chincoteague Island Waterfront: Suites and family rooms on the water
Looking for more? Search for a great deal on Booking.com!
Chincoteague VRBO properties
- Miss Molly’s Inn
- Key West Cottages on the Chincoteague Bay
- Family Tides Vacation Rental on Chincoteague
- Historic Landmark Home once owned by Actress Linda Lavin