Chincoteague Again

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.

Daisey's Nature Cruises

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.

Chincoteague Pony Center
Chincoteague Pony Center

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.

Chincoteague Pony Farm, Pasture at Refuge Inn
Chincoteague Pony Farm, Pasture at Refuge Inn

Dinner: grilled flounder at Don’s, followed by an amble down Main Street to shop a bit, and dessert at Island Creamery on Maddox.

Home of the Ponies Island Creamery

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.

Assateague Lighthouse

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.

Assateague National Seashore
Reading Misty of Chincoteague

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.

Stormy and Misty
Methodist Hymnal at the Chincoteague Museum
Chincoteague Museum

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.

Captain Timothy Hill House
Captain Timothy Hill House

We tried Mister Whippy ice cream for a snack, and got a picture of our new Fiat with their old ice cream truck.

Mister Whippy ice cream truck and Fiat 500

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.

Island Theater
Misty's hoofprints in the sidewalk outside Island Theater

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.

Woodland Trail
Woodland Trail
Woodland Trail

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.”

Marsh Trail

On the way back we dropped by Refuge Inn again to feed the ponies one more time.

Chincoteague Pony Farm, Pasture at Refuge Inn
Chincoteague Pony Farm, Pasture at Refuge Inn

One pony sniffed my phone.

Pony sniffing at phone camera

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.

Daisey's Nature Cruises
Daisey's Nature Cruises

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.

Daisey's Nature Cruises

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.

Chesapeake Breakfast Casserole at Bill's Seafood Birthday Cake and Cotton Candy Party ice cream at Island Creamery

Bye, Chincoteague! We had fun.

Assateague Lighthouse Island Creamery lighthouse replica
Chincoteague Pony Farm, Pasture at Refuge Inn Daisey's Dockside Nature Cruises

Full Chincoteague trip photoset here.