A Bird-Watcher's Paradise
Begin your wildlife-viewing tour while you are still driving over open water across the 17.6-mile Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel that connects Virginia Beach to the Eastern Shore.
Stop at the pull-off where a man-made island provides a perfect resting and feeding spot for loons, red-breasted mergansers, harlequin ducks and the occasional king eider. This is one of the best birding spots in the state, especially during winter months!
You won't want to miss one of nature's greatest spectacles each September and October at the tip of the Eastern Shore. Millions of birds, from raptors to warblers, use this area to refuel and rest before setting out to cross the Chesapeake Bay and continue their journey south for the winter.
At Kiptopeke State Park in Cape Charles, spotting 15 or more species of warblers in one morning is common, and trails and viewing platforms facilitate birding.
Directly across Route 13 is the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge, another excellent birding site, especially during the fall migration. You can hike a trail that winds through a wooded area and ends at a great salt marsh vista. Or leisurely tour the captivating educational displays at their visitor's center, and bird-watch in comfort from the inside, using spotting scopes to watch birds on the refuge through a full-length window.
Tour Cape Charles, established in 1884 when the New York, Philadelphia and Norfolk Railroad extended its line from Philly to Norfolk. Stroll along the seawall to experience the magnificent view of the Chesapeake Bay, and browse through the local specialty and antique shops.
Travel north midway up the Eastern Shore to Onancock in Accomack County and hitch a ride - from Memorial Day to mid-October - aboard a ferry for a day's cruise to Tangier Island. Located in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay, this tiny island community will carry you into the past. You can spend a couple of quiet hours roaming Tangier's beaches and marshes as well as listening to gulls and oystercatchers overhead.
Travel north on Route 13 to Accomac for a walking or driving tour. You'll discover more restored colonial architecture than any other place in the USA except for Colonial Williamsburg.
Further north on Route 13, stop in Parksley and visit the Historic Railway Museum. Here you'll find the golden age of the railroad on the Delmarva Peninsula well-preserved and exhibitied.
Farther north off Route 13, near the Virginia-Maryland line, are Chincoteague and Assateague - islands of wild pony fame!
At the end of July is the annual Pony Swim and Auction. The ponies are rounded up by saltwater cowboys to swim across the channel. It's an adventure to see these ponies who have been memorialized in Marguerite Henry's children's classic, Misty of Chincoteague.Visit the Chincoteague Pony Centre anytime!
Don't miss touring the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, where you can hike, bike or drive trails and pause at marshes to view a blue heron or white egret fishing next to a wild pony during the summer. Or see a cloud of snow geese settling into a pond in the winter!
Allow some time for shopping in many of the arts and crafts shops on Chincoteague Island.
If your tastes run to wildlife-watching by canoe or kayak, several guides in town offer rentals and eco-tours.
Then, cross over to Assateague Island National Seashore where you'll experience some of the East Coast's most beautiful beaches. Perhaps you'll catch a glimpse of a rare piping plover skittering along the shore.
Last Updated: 10/30/2015
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