24 Things to Do on Chincoteague Island

Chincoteague has so many fun things to do for the whole family and here we’re going to share some great options. You’ll find some of the best things to do in Chincoteague, as well as some of the lesser known things to do.

In search of some time to relax and spend quality time together, our family of 4 headed to Chincoteague Island.

Source: Chincoteague Assateague Explorer

It was our first visit to the Eastern Shore of Virginia and the area did not disappoint with its abundance of natural beauty and delicious food.

We were lucky and caught beautiful weather on our visit, but Chincoteague and neighboring Assateague have enough to do for visitors both indoors and out.

About Chincoteague Island

Chincoteague Island is a quaint seaside town. Here you will find all of the food, hotels and amenities.

Source: Cowboy Cruise

The access to the ocean though, is located one bridge away on Assateague Island.

This is where the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge is located, home to the famous Chincoteague Ponies.

With great weather, we spent most of our visit here in the Refuge.

Unbeknownst to us when booking the trip we were there for the Fall Pony Round-Up. Twice a year, modern day cowboys round-up parts of the herd to pony pens on the island for vet check ups.

Watching the cowboys and ponies coming down the beach together on a beautiful day was quite a sight! These round-ups are in addition to the famous pony swim, which occurs each July.

Map of Things to Do in Chincoteague

Things to Do in Chincoteague

Most things in Chincoteague are open Spring through Fall but if you’re going early or late in the season, it’s definitely a good idea to check before you go.

Even in the fall you’ll find bike rentals, ice cream shops and mini golf all operating during an off-season stay.

Chincoteague Island is known for fishing and outdoor pursuits like kayaking and boating.

Source: Delmarva Discovery Museum

There are many outlets in town to get you out on the water – wildlife cruises, fishing excursions, and kayaking tours are all possible to arrange here.

Chincoteague has many indoor options for entertainment in case of inclement weather including a movie theater, the Wildlife Refuge Visitor’s Center, Chincoteague Pony Center and lots of fun shops in town including a book store and toy store.

Here are 24 things to do in Chincoteague:

Source: Maui Jacks Waterpark

#1 Maui Jack’s Waterpark

  • 6742 Maddox Blvd, Chincoteague, VA 23336
  • Website

Maui Jack’s Waterpark is a huge waterpark with waterslides, a lazy river, tiki cabanas a concession area and more. Easy to stay cool, catch a wave and enjoy a day of fun here.

There is also a Splash Zone for littone ones in the group. Older kids will enjoy the Banzai Racers and the 3 twisting body slides.

#2 Climb to the Top of Assateague Lighthouse

  • Assateague Island National Seashore, Chincoteague, VA 23336
  • Website

About 1/4 mile from Chincoteague is the Assateague Island. You can walk up a short trail to visit the lighthouse. If you want to climb to the top, there are 175 steps but the view from the top is amazing.

Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The easiest time to visit this is when you go to the the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge (as we’ll share more about below). You’ll access it by road from over the Assateague Channel.

#3 Visit Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge

  • 8231 Beach Rd, Chincoteague, VA 23336
  • Website

The Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge has 14,000 acres of beaches, dunes, marsh and maritime forest to explore.

For a $10 entry fee you can enjoy a walk on the beach, bike or hike the 3-mile Wildlife Loop, visit the lighthouse and climb to the top, explore the Visitor’s Center and of course search for ponies.

Source: U.S Fish and Wildlife Service

#3 Go on a Refuge Trek

  • 8231 Beach Rd, Chincoteague, VA 23336
  • Website

Within the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, you can also opt to go on the Refuge Trek.

This 7-mile bus ride goes along a service road to help you see some of the area’s wildlife including horses, white-tailed deer, sika elk, birds and more. It costs $14 per adult and $7 for kids 12 and under.

#4 Delmarva Discovery Musem

  • 2 Market St, Pocomoke City, MD 21851
  • Website

This small museum packs a lot in! Here you can learn more about the Delmarva indigenous culture and see lots of animals.

You can also watch the naturalists feed the otters which makes for a fun experience. You’ll find the staff friendly and full of information. There are also fun activities for the kids from crafts and even a scavenger hunt.

Source: Delmarva Discovery Museum

And don’t forget to enjoy the touch pools with horse crabs, clams and more.

#5 Iron Pony Adventure Park

  • 4368 Pension St, Chincoteague, VA 23336
  • Website

This high ropes course is great family fun! It will challenge you (in a good way!) as you climb up and across this rope adventure course with 30+ aerial obstacles on 2 levels.

Perhaps the biggest challenge is the pony plunge, a 26-foot high jump!

Source: Iron Pony

#6 Visit the Museum of Chincoteague Island

  • 7125 Maddox Blvd, Chincoteague, VA 23336
  • Website

If you want to learn more about the people, culture and history of Chincoteague Island this museum is highly recommended.

Fun things to see at the museum include models of vessels, items that washed up from shipwrecks, a carver’s workshop and many artifacts from the island.

They even offer a 90-minute history tour around the island.

#7 Explore the Island Nature Trail

  • Hallie Whealton Smith Dr, Chincoteague, VA 23336
  • Website

The Islandn Nature Trail in Chincoteague is a 1.4 mile trail where you’ll come across some beautiful wild flowers.

There are two phases of the trail. Phase 1 is paved and walks you through the marsh. Phase 2 tends to be less trafficked. It’s not paved but does have a hard service. What’s nice is the markers along the trail so you can learn about plants along the way.

Note: this is part of the Assateague Island National Seashore so there will be a fee to enter.

Source: All Trails

#8 See the Wild Ponies

If you’re coming to Chincoteague, there’s a good chance you’re doing so to visit the wild ponies.

One of the absolute best ways to see them up close and in their natural habitat is on a guided boat tour. This is a family memory everyone will always remember.

If you visit the North part of Assateague Island (where most of the horses are), there is a chance you’ll even see them right along the road.

Another open is to drive to the beachfront area within the Chincoteague National Wildlife refuge. Here you can walk along and observe the ponies.

#9 Visit the Assateague Island National Seashore

  • 7206 National Seashore Ln, Berlin, MD 21811
  • Website

This protected area is known for it’s beaches (with wild ponies of course!) as well as some amazing and unique trails that go through marshes, dunes and even pine forest.

Not only can you spot wild ponies here, this is also a great place to see bald eagles.

The beach extends for miles with plenty of space to explore. The staff here seem to really enjoy what they do and are very helpful with area knowledge, tips and suggestions. You’ll find many scenic overlooks as you go.

#10 Visit the NASA Wallops Flight Facility Visitor Center

  • 4368 Pension St, Chincoteague, VA 23336
  • Website

Year round visitors to Chincoteague can visit the nearby NASA facility located on Wallops Island.

There is something for the whole family at The NASA Visitor Center offers including free educational programs on the tour. Topics include the solar system, story times, rocketry and more!

Kids will be able to do a whole host of fun activities like playing on computers, buying space food, seeing real rockets and more.

Check the launch calendar here to schedule a visit to coincide with a rocket launch.

Source: Wikipedia

#11 Eat Seafood

  • 4368 Pension St, Chincoteague, VA 23336
  • Website

As you can probably imagine, there are many great places to get seafood in Chincoteague. We recommend Don’s Seafood restaurant and Bills’ Prime Seafood & Steaks.

They are family-friendly and casual but offer some fantastic seafood. Don’s is definitely a tradition in Chincoteague.

Reservations are recommended especially during high season.

#12 Enjoy Some Delicious Ice Cream at a Local Spot

  • 4368 Pension St, Chincoteague, VA 23336
  • Website

There are a few ice cream shops in town. We recommend Ice Cream Island Creamery which was also voted the #1 ice cream in the country according to Trip Advisor.

They have yummy home made ice cream, free wifi, coffee drinks and lots of indoor seating for a chilly night.

You can also check out Mr. Whippy for soft serve including sundaes, cones and shakes.

Before 11am when they open for ice cream, you can also visit for some morning coffee and donuts.

My Whippy has been a favorite in Chincoteague for 50 years.

#13 Explore the Trails

There are so many trails to explore and if you’re looking to switch things up, you can always explore the trails on Bike.

The Bike Depot, which is located at the Refuge Inn, is the closest rental spot to the Wildlife Refuge and nature trails.

There are no reservations so get their early if you visit during the high-season.

#14 Attend the Annual Pony Penning and Carnival

Is is the Island Pony Swim even made famous by the Misty of Chincoteague book (which if you haven’t you should definitely read before going or even while you’re there).

The Saltwater Cowboys roundup the wild ponies and have them swim across the water which is a sight you’ll never forget.

There is also a carnival with rides, games, raffles and of course, plenty of yummy food.

Source: Captain Dan

#15 Take a Guided Boat Tour

Exploring the islands on kayak or even a boat tour is definitely a unique experience.

From April to October, Assateague Island Explorer offers both kayak tours and wildlife cruises daily.

Captain Dan’s Around The Island Tours is also very highly rated as the captain is very knowledgeable and ensures you have a great trip.

#16 Go Birdwatching (Even if you’re not that into birds!)

  • 8231 Beach Road, Chincoteague Island, VA 23336
  • Website

Even if you don’t normally go birding, viewing the birds of Chincoteague can be such a special experience. In fact, the refuge was also ranked second in shorebird diversity.

There can be at least 100 types of birds at any given time so you’re bound to see some birds to remember.

The Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge is a great place to start and you can probably spend all your time here birding.

Note: If you go birding, don’t go during mid-July when the annual Penning event takes place.

The fall and winter months are actually great times for birding.

Source: U.S Fish and Wildlife Service

#17 Catch the Sunrise (or Sunset)

Chincoteague is a great place to see some truly beautiful sunrises and sunsets. The Assateague Channel is a nice place to watch from.

#18 Go Trail Riding on Horseback

Neversink Bay Meadows Farm offers riding lessons for locals but you can also go on a trail ride by horseback and visit their petting zoo too!

Queen Hive Farms is another place for horseback rides. They take you through the woods on a wonderful ride. Definitely a unique experience to ride on the island! There are other animals you’ll be able to see on the farm like goats, fowl, rabbits, etc.

Source: Queen Hive Farms

#19 Visit the Local Farmer’s Market

  • 6309 Church St. Chincoteague VA 23336
  • Website

Every year on Saturdays from the end of May to the end of November, you’ll be able to pick-up local produce, eggs, plants and more, plus handmade jewelry, carvings and other items at the Chincoteague Farmers & Artisans Market.

This is a really fun way to shop local.

#20 Funland Amusements

  • 4368 Pension St, Chincoteague, VA 23336
  • Website

Funland Amusements is a lot of fun for the whole family. With go-karts, mini-golf, bumper boats, arcade, climbing area and more, there is certainly plenty to do.

If you need a break from the beach, this is a fun alternative in Chincoteague. With such a variety, family members of all ages will find something they enjoy.

Source: Funland Amusements

#21 Beebe Ranch Tour

Chincoteague Step Through Time Tours offers a variety of tours usually 90-minutes long with kids 10 and under free. Tours walk through downtown and discuss topics from history, ponies, pirates, shipwrecks and more. Another tour goes through the town and focuses on the book Misty of Chincotegue and ends at Beebe Ranch.

#22 Catch a Movie Inside a Historic Building

  • 4074 Main St, Chincoteague, VA 23336
  • Website

What a unique experience to see a first release movie or even a live performance at the Island Theatre.

During the summer, the theatre shows first-run movies and in the winter classic films are played. Definitely check for theatre shows and events during your trip to Chincoteague.

Source: The Chincoteague Island Arts

#23 Go Fishing

With so much waterfront, Chincoteague is a great place to go fishing!

Some of the best spots to go fishing in Chincoteague are from the piers at Veteran’s Memorial Park and Robert N. Reed Downtown Waterfront Park.

If you didn’t bring your fishing gear with you, visit Capt. Steve’s Bait and Tackle on Down Maddox Blvd. They have everything you could ever possibly need for fishing, clamming and crabbing. Yes, including bait.

#24 Surfside Golf

  • 6557 Maddox Blvd, Chincoteague, VA 23336
  • Website

Take a break from the beach and head to Surfside Golf for a round of mini-golf with the family.

Here you can choose from two 18-hole courses. One is more challenging from than the other. The course is very nicely done, balancing challenge and fun. The views also make it worth it.

Where to Eat

Chincoteague has many traditional restaurants but the places we chose to eat during our stay all had outdoor seating only and lots of family friendly space to roam (but alas, no indoor bathrooms at any of the below eateries).

Check the operating schedule for the off season before heading to any of the following.

  • Woody’s Beach BBQ – pulled pork and ribs are the specialty here. Hammocks and tether ball are available to keep kids entertained while waiting for the food to arrive.
  • Pico Taqueria – AMAZING tacos at this roadside shack. We tested out the fish, oyster, and shrimp varieties and everything was delicious. Homemade lemonade was great too. Bocce ball, hammocks and outdoor Yahtzee were big hits for playing outdoors before and after eating.
  • Captain Zack’s Seafood – fish sandwiches, fish and chips, fried fish platters, steamers etc. Fun outdoor vibe with picnic tables and palapas. Corn hole and tether ball courts for kid friendly entertainment.

Where to Stay

  • Comfort Inn and Suites – This was where we spent our 2 night stay. All rooms had a water view and balcony and there is a spacious indoor pool and hot tub. Breakfast buffet was included as well as all day coffee and fruit in the lobby.
  • Hampton Inn and Suites – Located directly next to the Comfort Inn above. Also has included breakfast and an indoor pool.
  • Refuge Inn – This hotel is located close to the Wildlife Refuge. They have bike rentals on site, indoor pool and horses on property.

When to Go

Summer is the peak season to visit Chincoteague Island. If you visit during this time, keep in mind there will be more crowds and higher prices than other seasons.

There is also the annual Pony Swim event which happens in July and draws a lot of crowds.

Spring and Autumn are a beautiful time to visit as the weather is still nice and there are fewer crowds.

As this is such a scenic place, if you want to enjoy the peace and quiet, go off season if possible and during the week.

What to Bring

A trip is always the most enjoyable when you’re prepared before you go. Depending on the activities you will be participating in, here are some items you’re going to want to bring:

  • Binoculars to see the wild ponies up close
  • Bathing suit
  • Lunch / Snacks / Drinks
  • Camera
  • Long pants and hiking shoes (if hiking)
  • Beach chairs & gear
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug Spray
  • Yeti Coooler

Getting There

Enjoy the quiet of the beach in the fall! Chincoteague Island is a great place for a quick family getaway from the DC area.

Check the Chamber of Commerce’s online calendar for the dates for special events such as the annual Oyster Festival, Pony Round Up and Waterfowl Festival.

Photo of author

OK Editorial Team

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