In my opinion, you may not truly experience and appreciate the island in one full day. You can see the Refuge, and go to the beach, but you will likely focus on the commercial aspects which may turn you off in such a short visit. It's the subtleties that bring people back. If you want to hit and run, try Ocean City, Md., then on to W'burg.
There is so much to do on Chincoteague and neighboring Assateague and Wallops Islands that we would recommend staying 2 days. On Assateague you can enjoy hiking, biking, Assateague Lighthouse, 2 Visitor Centers, wildlife, beach and ocean. On Chincoteague, there are amazing restaurants, shops, art galleries, kids activities, museums, boat cruises, kayaking and more. On Wallops Island, there is the NASA Wallops Flight Facility Visitor Center. For more information and to plan your trip, visit www.chincoteaguechamber.com or give us a call. We will be happy to help you with the details. Safe travels and we hope to see you soon!
1 day will be good, not much but the ocean and parkland
With 14,000 acres of natural wonderland to explore on Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge boasting a pristine, uninhabited beach and over 17 miles of trails to hike and bike where the wild Chincoteague Ponies live, a day will hardly do it. Plan a weekend or week stay to enjoy boat cruises, fishing, superb coastal cuisine and as much retail therapy as you want featuring local artists and artisans. Nature visitor centers located on CNWR, NASA Visitor Center, museums, and so much more. Visit www.chincoteaguechamber.com to begin planning.
I never spend more than 2 to 3 hours there before moving on to the national seashore/ wildlife refuge . Its a nice town but unless its pony penning its not the place you want to spend the bulk of your time. But that's just me and my style of travel.
I agree with those that say to keep the visit short. We stayed one day too long. I think a day or day and a half would have been fine for us. I liked the reserve and beach but for some reason Chincoteague just didn’t resonate with me much. I am not saying it isn’t beautiful or a nice place as there are things we enjoyed. It just didn’t give me that feeling of wanting to spend much time there. I am glad we went once as there are things I valued seeing and experiencing.
Depends on if going to the beach is on your list of things to do/see. Chincoteague is a quaint place to roam Main Street and the the shops, and there is plenty of fine dining, but the beach is away from the commercial side of the town. I would think one day would be pleasant enough if you're not interested in going to the ocean.
Just spent 3 days in Chincoteague:
Day 1 - Drove straight to Chamber of Commerce at the end of Maddox Blvd(straight after crossing bridge) Esther and Teresa were very helpful. Then checked into Island Resort(good location, left off bridge on Main Street, easy walk/Drive to Maddox Blvd(Main Street and Maddox Blvd are the 2 major roads on the island). Got take out from Capt Zack’s.... crab bites and coconut shrimp very good, teen got burger. Lots of food! Took sunset cruise with Daisey’s Island Adventures($35). Fred was knowledgeable and got us close to eagles, horseshoe crab, different birds, oyster/clam fishing, etc. Ponies were not visible due to roundup for Pony Swim. Showed us Assateague and lighthouse as well. Stopped for cookie sundae at BYOC. Kids size was plenty!
Day 2 - Drove over to Assateague($20/car good for week). Went to see ponies in corral for Pony Swim. Took easy hike to Lighthouse. WEAR BUG SPRAY!! Lighthouse was a hike up. Closes -11:45 to 12:30 for lunch. Drove back to Chincoteague and had lunch at Pico’s Taqueria... great tacos! Drove to Community Center at 1:30 to get 2:00 tickets($4) for 1 Hour historic trolley tour (only done Tues/Thurs at 2:00 and 3:15) Must purchase tickets day of. Trolley tour very informative and showed Island layout! After your, tried famous Island Creamery ice cream. Very good! Made diner reservations at The Village. Good broiled or fried seafood combo. Crab dip appetizer. Not inexpensive, but, pleasant atmosphere, friendly service and good portions.
Day 3 - Got up at 5am for annual Pony Swim. Free buses from Community Center take visitors to Memorial Park. Shuttle stop across from our hotel on Taylor and Main Streets. Once there we followed others through the -1/2 mile walk down to the marshy, mosquito-filled swamp...in the pouring rain! Waited about 2 hours for the Pony Swim. Very cool experience but wading through mucky grounds and standing all that time was tough! After the swim, we trekked down the roads to the bleachers in the Carnival grounds (-1 mike?) to wait for the Pony parade into the Carnival pen. Then grabbed early lunch at Carnival and crossed Main Street to catch free trolley(rides started at 11am) back to hotel. Arrived back about 11:45am. Showered, rested then got coffee/pastries at Java on Maddox near Main. Shopped around Main Street then drove on road behind Carnival to see ponies one more time! Ordered dinner delivered from Famous Pizza on Maddox. Yummy Greek-style pizza(great crust!) and tried pickle fries.
If it weren’t Pony Swim and rainy, would probably have rented bikes from bike shop near road to Assateague and explored more. Also, visit beach on Assateague.Great first visit to island!