Chincoteague and Assateague Islands, Virginia

During the time we were preparing for our trip to Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown, we were also reading the book Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry.

6927832: Misty of Chincoteague, 60th Anniversary Edition Misty of Chincoteague, 60th Anniversary Edition

Misty is about a Chincoteague boy who participates in the annual wild pony roundup on Assateague. The wild ponies can still be found on Assateague and my boys were dying to see them.

The boys knew that Chincoteague and Assateague were both barrier islands just off the coast of Virginia, and they begged to add that as a stop on our trip. We were already 10 hours from home in Williamsburg; the trip to Chincoteague was just 3 hours further. It seemed like a perfect opportunity to take advantage of their excitement and create memories that would last a lifetime.

We had to cross the huge Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel to get to Virginia’s eastern shore.  This bridge tunnel is known as one of the “seven engineering wonders of the modern world.”  Once across, we still had quite a ways to go to reach Chincoteague, which was accessible by crossing a small bridge.

All lodging and restaurants are on Chincoteague.  We stayed at the Best Western, which is the hotel nearest Assateague Island National Seashore.  It was reasonably priced and the rooms were very clean and nice.  There was a free breakfast daily, with waffles, eggs, bacon, biscuits, cereal, pastries, yogurt, fruit, bagels, and juice.  The hotel had bikes available for rent, though none were small enough for our preschooler, and other bike rental shops were closed since we went during the off season.

It was easy to drive around the refuge.  Chincoteague and Assateague are both very small, with basically one  main road through both.

I’m so glad I listened to the boys and took the time for this “side trip”, which turned out to be a highlight of our vacation.  We went to see the ponies, but ended up also seeing lots of shorebirds.  For this birdwatching family, that was a huge plus.

It was fun to walk along the beach, climb the dunes and see the ocean.

There are two visitor centers on Assateague and both were very educational.  We caught several glimpses of the ponies from the car, and even stumbled upon two wild ponies while walking along one of the trails.  It was nerve wracking and a little too close for comfort for me, but the boys were enthralled.  It was very special to be so close to them!

Having read all three books, it was also a highlight for us to sit in the hotel after a busy day and watch the movie Misty, which was filmed in Chincoteague and Assateague.  There were copies of this re-released 1961 DVD for rent and for sale at a local video store.

If you head to Chincoteague, don’t miss out on Famous Pizza or Island Creamery.  The pizza at Famous Pizza was homemade and delicious, as well as very reasonably priced.  Island Creamery had dozens of flavors of homemade ice cream.  Our 7 year old is already planning to take his children to Island Creamery one day!

Many things were closed since we were there off-season, including the Beebe Ranch and Pony Farm.  We weren’t able to see the now-captive ponies, which are Misty’s direct descendents.  That was fine with us, though.  Just as at Yorktown, we preferred seeing the “real thing”, out in the wild.

If you’re a fan of the Misty books, or heading to Chincoteague, the Misty of Chinoteague Foundation has a great educational website for kids.  

These books are not available in the public domain, so I don’t have them on My Audio School.  Instead, we purchased these audiobooks from Audible.com.  The boys listened to the first one before we left, and the two sequels filled the long hours on our drive to Virginia.  Now they want to read everything by Marguerite Henry!  I just brought her book Benjamin West and his Cat Grimalkin home from the library, and we have Justin Morgan had a Horse on CD.  Both will undoubtedly be “devoured” soon!

Comments

  1. We went to Assateague two summers ago and loved it as well. We camped right at the beach and the ponies would walk right through the camp ground. One morning we went to the beach and saw them walking along the beach. (Here is a link to one of our days there, if you are interested. http://bergspot.blogspot.com/2008/09/camp-bergenholtz-day-8-morning.html
    I agree, a wonderful place.
    -Phyllis

  2. That is a great looking field trip! We will have to check it out while we are stationed in Virginia.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I’ve enjoyed reading through your travels. We’ve been to Yorktown and Jamestown and Williamsburg often and love it, but we’ve never made it to Chincoteague – despite having several horse lovers. We’ll have to get there someday. It looks beautiful and off season is probably more fun too.
    Sue

  4. I am so envious. We read the Misty books two years ago. Visiting would have been heaven for my horse loving girl. We are headed to Kentucky in a could of days and will be visiting their famous Horse Park in Lexington.
    Blessings
    Diane

  5. Beautiful…there are so many wonderful things to do in Virginia.

    htttp://polwig.com

  6. How VERY COOL! We just finished listening to Misty, Dill is reading the sequel and I recently found the movie at Goodwill for 88 cents. It is terrific. I hope one day we can visit there too. It sounds wonderful!

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