Enjoy a small town, coastal Thanksgiving this year on a quaint seaside island where wild ponies and wintering waterfowl are the main attractions. Restaurants will serve both traditional Thanksgiving dinner and delicious items from their regular menu. The Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge will also host their annual Waterfowl Weekend November 26-29 offering a special opportunity to explore the Service Road to view the North Herd of Chincoteague Ponies and the wildlife migrating along the Atlantic Flyway or that call Assateague Island home.
As we enter this “Season of Thankfulness” and holiday gift-giving, let us remember to support small businesses and “Shop Local” this season. Chincoteague Island offers artisan galleries, specialty boutiques, and unique food and gift shops to please even the hardest to shop for person on your gift list. Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday deals are sure to please!
While shopping, stroll through town to enjoy the beautiful Christmas decorations adorning the island. Evening brings all the decorations to life as they light up for all to enjoy. Be sure to visit the large tree and displays in Robert N. Reed Downtown Waterfront Park. A photo op in the decorated LOVE Chairs is a must and will make for the perfect holiday cards to send to family and friends!
The Eastern Shore of Virginia Artisans Guild Tour goes virtual this year, so be sure to find some quiet time in your house or hotel to browse the wares of talented local Eastern Shore artisans for that unique and treasured piece.
Opportunities for giving, classes, and events continue into December:
- December 1st is Giving Tuesday, so please consider making a charitable donation to a local non-profit to help bring some holiday cheer.
- Chincoteague Police Department will be collecting new, unwrapped toys to make the holidays extra special for children in the community during their Annual Toy Drive.
- Chincoteague Cultural Alliance will hold special holiday classes in December on wreath and ornament making.
- Island Community House will host a Holiday Open House and Ribbon Cutting on December 5 featuring local artisans and refreshments.
- Museum of Chincoteague Island revives its Christmas Tree Village and Gathering of Island Gnomes December 10th-12th for family-friendly fun.
Ring in the New Year on December 31 at the Pony Island Horseshoe Drop & Costume Promenade where a large horseshoe drops at midnight in Robert N. Reed Downtown Waterfront Park. There is no better way to welcome in a new year than overlooking the Chincoteague Channel. Let the festivities of 2021 continue Chincoteague style with a dip in the Atlantic Ocean at 1:21pm on January 1 at the Polar Pony Plunge. Both events are hosted by Christmas by the Sea.
Please remember that as we enjoy this season of thankfulness and holiday fun, we must still keep everyone’s safety in mind. Masks are required at all events and social distancing guidelines are in place along with frequent hand washing or sanitizing. Current state guidelines are available on our COVID-19 Updates page.
Visit www.chincoteaguechamber.com for a complete list, details and updates of all events happening this holiday season or contact the host organizations directly. Spend a few days relaxing, shopping, dining on delectable coastal cuisine fresh from local waters, and recharge your batteries as you experience a Chincoteague Island Christmas.
Discover your love of Chincoteague Island and our small town charm with this fun-filled two-day itinerary. History, coastal cuisine, shopping, Chincoteague Ponies, nature trails and time on our brackish waters will have eager to plan your next visit before you even finish packing your suitcases and head back across the causeway.
Breakfast at your hotel, B&B, rental house or campground or at one of our restaurants or pastry shops to get you started.
Visit Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and Assateague Island National Seashore
- Hike/bike (rentals available from one of several bike rental shops on Chincoteague) over 17 miles of trails through the 14,000 acres of CNWR
- Watch the world famous Chincoteague Ponies lazily graze on the salt marsh grasses as bald eagles fly overhead
- Swim/surf fish/paddle in the Atlantic Ocean. Inland and offshore charters are also available. Be sure to pick up supplies at our bait and tackle shops
- Beach comb the miles of sandy beach on the VA portion of Assateague Island
- Rent a beach chair and umbrella from a beach outfitter and spend the day relaxing at the beach with your feet buried in the sand
- Explore the Herbert H. Bateman Educational Center and Tom’s Cove Visitor Center for interactive exhibits, junior ranger programs and more
- Deer and duck hunting is also available during the fall and winter seasons
Picnic on the beach with a boxed lunch from one of our fabulous eateries.
Visit Assateague Island Lighthouse circa 1867 and climb its 175 stairs to an amazing view from the top deck. Open limited days in season.
Visit the Museum of Chincoteague Island to learn the lore of the land and the riches of the seas: including First Order Fresnel Lens from the original Assateague Island Lighthouse and Beebe Ranch exhibit featuring the preserved Misty and Stormy made famous by Marguerite Henry in her 1947 children’s book, Misty of Chincoteague.
Enjoy a refreshing treat at one of our famous ice cream parlors.
Shop the eclectic boutiques, art galleries, book stores, and antique shops located in Historic Downtown and around our island. Unique, one-of-a-kind treasures await you in every store. Visit a local decoy carver to learn about the art of carving and its importance to the islands.
End the day with a relaxing boat cruise around the islands and capture an amazing sunset over the Chincoteague Bay. Specialized eco-tours, pony watching and wildlife tours are also available.
Dinner at one of our fine restaurants or food trucks feasting on fresh from the water clams, world-famous Chincoteague Oysters, or the “catch of the day” (red drum, flounder, rockfish, or tuna).
After breakfast, rent a kayak/canoe and peacefully paddle the Assateague Channel’s calm waters on your own or with a knowledgeable tour guide. See songbirds, turtles, bald eagles, osprey, egrets and herons. An occasional otter or dolphin may surprise you! View the Seaside Water Trail Map for areas to explore.
Enjoy more shopping time with a latte or sweet treat from one of our delightful food specialty shops.
Lunch at one of our great restaurants followed by a visit to NASA Wallops Flight Facility Visitor Center to learn about the fascinating programs the base has been active in for the last 75 years. Interpretive exhibits, NASA gift shop, real rockets outside, spacesuits and more. Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket launches to resupply the International Space Station occur several times per year and can be seen from locations on Chincoteague Island.
Enjoy a quiet moment at one of our beautiful waterfront parks. Try your hand at crabbing after a quick visit to a local bait shop for supplies. Be sure to stop in Robert N. Reed Downtown Waterfront Park in Historic Downtown and capture memories in our huge Adirondack LOVE Chairs.
Explore Chincoteague Island with a guided walking tour or self-guided Historic Walking & Biking Tour to learn about our rich history, historic buildings and tales of the past.
Attend a performance, festival, class or other special event to fully immerse yourself in a Chincoteague Island experience. Every season brings new opportunities to learn, enjoy and savor all that the islands have to offer.
Bring your visit to a close with dinner, a beach stroll, and a breathtaking sunset!
Check our events calendar for other special lectures, programs and events happening throughout the year.
Please note that some of these activities are seasonal or have been affected by the pandemic. Please contact the Chamber office or the business directly for availability.
Explore other Chincoteague Island Itineraries and Trails