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Day-tripping on Chincoteague

If you are in Ocean City this week, you may notice a couple of changes as you drive down Coastal Highway. The speed limit, normally 40 mph through North Ocean City, has been reduced to 30 mph, and Downtown, the speed limit has also been reduced. This is due to the expected, unauthorized H2Oi Pop-Up Rally.  It is reasonable to expect heavier than usual traffic, noise and strict enforcement of vehicle laws during the week and weekend.

Chincoteague is a bit of a drive for a day trip–about an hour from Ocean City–but if you’re able to set aside the time, Chincoteague is an incredible little island with so much to explore. If you’ve been to Maryland’s Assateague Island National Seashore, the island of Chincoteague leads to Virginia’s section of Assateague that’s similarly rife with beach, nature trails and a view of the famous wild ponies. But Chincoteague isn’t just an island–it’s an entire town. On your way to the beach you’ll pass quaint restaurants and shops, lodging, houses and museums, which is why so many tourists come to Delmarva just for the tiny, charming beach gateway 

BL and I trekked out to the town on an overcast Sunday morning and spent much of the day hoping that the sun would come out. It didn’t. (Until we got home, of course.) Still, there was a healthy amount of visitors basking on the not-sunny-but-still-warm beach and shopping on Main Street, and Chincoteague is a fun place to spend the day rain or shine. Below are a few pictures from our adventure, featuring several places of interest that I recommend any visitor stop to check out. Just remember to bring bug spray! We found out the hard way that the mosquitoes will be in attack mode no matter what the sky looks like. 

Lunch was the first item on our agenda, so we stopped at Maria’s on the way to the beach for salads, calzones and coffee. 

Next up was a trip to the Assateague Lighthouse. A short walking trail leads to the 142 ft. structure, which was first used in 1867 and remains active today. 

Looking out the lighthouse
If you can make the walk up the narrow, intimidatingly tall spiral staircase, do it! The view will be worth it…

Lighthouse view
…Even on a cloudy day. The top of the lighthouse is accessible to visitors seven days a week from June to September (and if you can’t make it to the top, there’s a few more pictures here). 

After exploring the lighthouse, we took shelter from the swarming mosquitoes at the Toms Cove Visitor Center. The Visitor Center has a Touch Tank, a small aquarium with creatures that guests can pick up and examine, including horseshoe crabs and conch shells that shelter a number of marine critters.

Touch tank crab
Have you ever seen the underside of a horseshoe crab? Their bodies are like giant, wet spiders, kind of creepy but really cool. 

Chincoteauge beach
Beach-goers opted to submerge more than just their hands in the giant, outdoor touch tank.

Bear sculpture
But we decided that the beach wasn’t for us on Sunday, so we went to a Chincoteague gift shop called the Brant instead. It’s guarded by a giant, beautiful, bikini-clad bear.

Build a pony
They’ve got a huge selection of just about everything, and the option to build your own pony from scratch. 

Seashell stand
The Brant sells seashells, but someone else had the brilliant idea to sell their seashells by the seashore. Don’t even ask me what her name was.

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