My AARP Suggested Vacation: Chincoteague Island, Virginia

ChincoteagueEarlier this week I wrote about my experience using the AARP Travel app to research my family vacation. The app suggested Chincoteague Island in Virginia.

The drive to the island took us nearly 4 hours, including a stop for lunch. We stayed at the Rodeway Inn located in the city center of Chincoteague Island. The hotel had varying star reviews, but we spend so little time actually in a hotel room on vacation so I knew it would be OK.  We are an easy-going family and as long as the place had the basics of a pool, breakfast, laundry, and a good location we could try it.

At check-in the hotel staff was very friendly. The adjoining rooms we secured for our family were a good size with double beds, a coffee maker, a fridge, and a microwave. For the price (which ranged from $101 to $135 per night) I felt the hotel was a good value. We enjoyed being centrally located to many of the activities we wanted to do.

Pros of Chincoteague Island Vacation:

1) Just east of Chincoteague Island is Assateague Island. The beach at Assateague Island was lovely and we spent a few days there. The boys got boogie boards and enjoyed riding them into the sea. They also had fun building sand castles. I appreciated how beautiful and clean the beach was and that showers and rest rooms were available.

2) The Assateague Island Visitor center runs a two-hour bus tour of the island. I found the tour interesting, but the lengthy drive after a day by the water put the boys to sleep.

3) Toms Cove Visitor center had a Little Ranger program that included: activities, photos, prints, plants, and paws. My boys loved the pirate puppet show.

4) We rented a boat and went crabbing from Snug Harbor on East Side Road. Seeing the island from the water was fun. It was also an experience to try our hands at crabbing for the first time!

5) The Assateague Lighthouse was fun to climb to the top. Once there we were able to see how the lighthouse is used and operated.

6) Back on Chincoteague Island we ventured to a place called Funland Amusement. Complete with GoKarts, MiniGolf, arcade games and more, it was a vacation oasis. My boys loved the Water Bumper Boats. (Quick tip: make sure you have on your swimsuit before getting into the bumper boats!)

7) The Museum of Chincoteague was very interesting. They ran a treasure hunt which was really fun and we learned a lot of history about the island (including its brush with Hollywood fame!).

8) We had hoped to explore the NASA visitor center on Wallops Island, but because they had no power it wasn’t possible.

9) There were many great family friendly restaurants. The boys’ favourite was Steamers. I’ll be sharing our review about it soon!

10) Every night we saw queues down the boulevard for the Island Creamery. Of course we had to give them a try! It was amazing. I understand completely why this place is rated the #1 place to eat on the entire island.

Cons of Chincoteague Island:

Chincoteague and Assoteague are marsh islands so you have to expect bugs. It is a lot of bugs and they are not nice. If we were to come again I would bring more bug spray.

The town does spray for bugs by truck and by plane sprays several times a month. This keeps the bug population under control for a few days after each spraying. The down side is this spray is strong and I didn’t like being under the spray coming from the low flying plane. There was no escaping the spray and no warning it was coming.

The mosquitoes honestly didn’t bother us much on the beach. What did worry me was something I had never heard of before: sea lice. The locals did not seem bothered by the arrival of sea lice, but I still wanted to do research! According to Safe Sea (who make a product said to protect families against sea lice), “Sea lice
are actually the microscopic larvae of jellyfish and other ocean stingers which contain the same nematocysts (stinging cells) as [their parents].”

I would recommend Chincoteague Island and Assoteague Island. We learned a great deal and it was a good place for children, but take your bug spray and read up on the warnings for sea lice. (Something that would probably benefit you on many destinations!)

Image of Misty Statue by Leonard J. DeFrancisci

vacationJoanne Lang: signature

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