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Visitor Guide

Three Day Getaway: Explore the Shore

MuseumThere is plenty to see and do on the 70-mile peninsula that makes up the Eastern Shore of Virginia. From south to north the region’s charming towns and villages have a growing numbers of hotels, B&BS, shops, restaurants, art galleries and studios, and outfitters to take you exploring on land and water. Six public beaches range from deserted stretches accessed only by boat or a hike, to the drive-up convenience of a beautiful beach on a barrier island. One of America’s primary shellfish producing regions, enjoy oysters and clams at local seafood shacks and upscale bistros. Whether you approach from the north or the south, use this itinerary to help you explore the shore and plan your next trip. 

Day One: Upper Shore

Morning

Chincoteague Island National Wildlife Refuge: Home to Chincoteague’s famous wild ponies, boasts a life guarded beach, a non-lifeguarded beach that is a favorite for surfers, a beautifully restored lighthouse and a system of nature trails. This is a favorite spot for birders and nature lovers. With a nearly 20 miles of white sand beach, Assateague Island is perfect for long romantic walks or beach hikes.

Lunch

Once you’ve worked up an appetite, chose from dozens of restaurants that serve up something for every palate, from fresh caught seafood to downhome cooking, and upscale chef-prepared specialties.

Afternoon

Cruise the Island: Take a boat tour around the island which will give you views of the wild ponies, beautiful sunsets and wildlife that can only be seen by boat.

Shop Downtown: Stroll Chincoteague’s historic downtown, which is lined with shops where you can buy everything from beach supplies, to boutique clothing, books and local art.

Dinner

Getting a taste of the salty, fresh oysters that Chincoteague is known for is a must while on the island. From raw bars to seafood shacks, oysters are found on just about every menu in town.

Island Creamery: No trip to Chincoteague is complete without a stop at the Island Creamery. Voted number one in America this ice cream parlor home makes all of their ice cream in small batches.

Call It A Night

You can wake up on the water, sleep under the stars or find your home away from home in a local hotel, campground, vacation rental or B&B. Expect local charm everywhere.

Day Two: Middle Shore

Morning

Janet’s Café: Head south to Onancock, a small harbor town on the Chesapeake Bay, for a hearty breakfast at Janet’s. This tiny and kitschy eatery is a local favorite thanks to its generous portions and delicious dishes. The orange French toast is a best seller.

Explore Onancock’s Downtown:  This quaint harbor town is lined with antique stores, boutiques and galleries. Spend your morning taking in the local sights, while hunting for the perfect treasure to take home.

Ker Place: This late 18th century federal plantation home is filled with artifacts that recount the Shore’s long history.
OR
Take a Kayak Tour: SouthEast Expeditions’ guides will provide you with all the gear and guidance you’ll need to take a paddle around Onancock Creek.

Lunch

There are nearly a dozen options for lunch in Onancock, from an Irish pub, a pizza parlor, an upscale café, to a seafood shack right on Onancock Creek  – enjoy the great view and watch the yachts dock while you lunch.

Turner Sculpture: Turner Sculpture creates bronze sculptures using a modernized version of a 5,000 year old process. They produce everything from waterfowl to African animals in their foundry.

Blue Crab Bay Company: Visit the 24,000 square foot facility where Blue Crab Bay Company produces and sells great gifts -- coastally inspired gourmet foods, snacks, drink mixes, seasonings, pottery and other take-home treasures.

Dinner

Wachapreague: Head south to Wachapreague on the Atlantic side of the peninsula, just a short drive from Onancock, and one of the towns on the Eastern Shore where you feel closest to the sea, the restaurant has great views of the wetlands and waterways that surround the town harbor and protect the Virginia Eastern Shore’s coastline. They serve up delicious seafood, burgers and comfort food.

Call it a Night

Head back to Onancock and spend the night at one of the town’s charming bed and breakfasts, or at The Charlotte, a boutique hotel.

Day Three: Lower Shore

Breakfast

Exmore Diner: Head south to Exmore and the Exmore Diner, a local favorite. With the affordable prices and the sleek silver dining car design the Exmore Diner will make you feel like you’ve traveled back in time. With big breakfasts like biscuits and gravy, French toast and omelets you won’t walk away hungry.

Morning

Barrier Islands Center: The Barrier Island Center preserves the history of those who lived on Virginia’s barrier islands. This museum captures a lifestyle that is gone forever. The building that houses the museum once served as an almshouse. After taking in a history lesson stop by the museum’s gift shop, which is stocked with locally made, artisan wares.

Lunch

Machipongo Trading Company: Just across Route 13 from the Barrier Islands Center sits the Machipongo Trading Company. This coffee shop serves up paninis, wraps and locally roasted coffee. They also carry a wide array of craft beer, specialty foods and local goods.

Afternoon

Eastville Courthouse Green and Buildings: Eastville’s courthouse has the oldest continual court records in the country, dating back to 1632, and the Declaration of Independence was read on the Green in August of 1776.

Eyre Hall Gardens: This historic private residence has public gardens which are among the oldest in the country, dating back to the 1800s.

Cape Charles: Head south to Cape Charles and explore the historic downtown, which is dotted with boutiques, restaurants, galleries and specialty food stores. Finish your afternoon with a walk on the town’s peaceful half-mile public beach.

Dinner

The Shanty: This shabby chic seafood shack serves up delicious and innovative dishes. Diners can chow down on everything from local oysters on the half shell to Kogi beef tacos and a prosciutto and crab panini.

Brown Dog Ice Cream: End your night on a sweet note with a scoop of ice cream or an ice cream popsicle from Brown Dog Ice Cream. Flavors range from classics like chocolate to the exotic Makers Mark and maple.

Lights Out

Lay your head down at a bed and breakfast in the town proper, a vacation rental at nearby Bay Creek or Kings Creek Marina, or a beautiful boutique hotel.