I stayed on Chincoteague Island back in April for the NASA Social Antares launch event, but didn’t really get to see as much of the scenery as I’d have liked. This summer Amy and I hopped back over to get the full summer beach-and-pony experience for a few days — and break in the new car with a nice trip to the shore.
- Full Chincoteague trip photoset.
- Sea Shell Motel
- Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge (FWS)
- Previous visit to Wallops/Chincoteague + photoset
First stop after checking in to the Sea Shell Motel: ponies! There are two good places to see penned Chincoteague ponies: Chincoteague Pony Center on Chicken City Road, which also has an extensive souvenir shop; and Chincoteague Pony Farm’s Pasture at the Refuge Inn, closer to Assateague Channel and Maddox Blvd, right between the inn and the McDonalds.
Pony Center had a little pony foal who was still wobbly on her feet, while Refuge Inn has little corn dispensers; a quarter gets you a handfill of corn you can drop in feeding troughs to give the ponies a treat.
Next day we visited Assateague Lighthouse, an easy quarter-mile walk up a paved path from the Beach Access Road. Unfortunately the lighthouse is still closed for restoration so we couldn’t enter, but after this summer the fully restored structure should be good as new.
Next stop, the beach on Assateague National Seashore, where we lay on the sand and alternated between dipping into the very cold Atlantic and reading about Misty of Chincoteague — on the very beach where the famous book starts. We also walked up and down the beach a bit, wondering if we could see ponies, but it was just sunbathers and beach umbrellas as far as we could go.
After lunching on salads at Chincoteague Diner we visited the Chincoteague Museum, where one can see not just artifacts and photos from the history of the Island, but the lovingly taxidermied bodies of Misty the Pony herself, alongside her foal Stormy.
There was enough time left in the day to visit the historic Captain Timothy Hill House. Though the house was closed, one could still peer in through the windows.
We tried Mister Whippy ice cream for a snack, and got a picture of our new Fiat with their old ice cream truck.
Later on, dinner at Saigon Village, the Vietnamese restaurant across Main Street from Island Theater, where Misty the Pony’s hoofprints sit in the cement, alongside her signature scrawled by Marguerite Henry.
Next day was our last day on the island but there was time enough for a couple of trail hikes through the Wildlife Refuge. First we tried going down the Woodland Trail to the Pony Overlook, but couldn’t find any ponies — though we did see a few bunnies and got bitten by lots of mosquitoes.
Next we parked at the Wildlife Loop and tried the Marsh Trail, which didn’t have any Pony Overlooks but did have nice panoramic views of Snow Goose Pool, or what the Fish and Wildlife Service calls a “moist soil management unit.”
On the way back we dropped by Refuge Inn again to feed the ponies one more time.
One pony sniffed my phone.
Before lunch we had time to go on a boat ride with Daisey’s Cruises, which took us around the island, close to Wallops, and through Assateague Channel. In addition to the vistas of the islands we managed to see a few distant wild Chincoteague ponies, an eagle perched on a pole, and the penned underwater crates used to grow oysters and clams to edible maturity.
The boat captain had a uniquely interesting Chesapeake accent, something of a mix between a far Northeastern Newfoundland brogue and a deep South Virginian drawl.
The boat ride ended, our Chincoteague trip was almost at an end, but there was time enough for a quick crab casserole and one last trip to the Island Creamery for some ice cream.
Bye, Chincoteague! We had fun.