Friday, June 30, 2017

Things To Do On Chincoteague With Children - Part 1

When I write about things to do on Chincoteague Island in Virginia, I must make it clear that these items include things to do on and in the waters surrounding both Chincoteague and Assateague Islands in Virginia, as well as some wonderful places to visit on the nearby mainland of Virginia.  The island of Chincoteague is, due to it's very nature, tied to the water and marine life.  The portion of Assateague Island located in Virginia is both a seashore and a wildlife refuge - Assateague National Seashore and Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge (which, confusingly, is located on Assategue, not Chincoteague).   People live on Chincoteague Island; people visit Assateague Island.
     As a former teacher of kindergarten and third grade, as well as being an assistant in high school classes, and being a step-mother and grandmother, I know very well that each child is unique, each has his/her own interests, and that attention spans can vary wildly - pretty much the same as adults.  As a parent, you know your child's likes and dislikes and attention span.  I am providing a list of multiple items that you can do with your child while on the islands of Chincoteague and Assateague.
  * If you have never visited the island before, the first thing that I recommend that you do is - open all of your vehicle's windows (weather permitting) as you go around Pump House Turn on 175, having passed the NASA Visitor's Center, and once you see the causeway and bridges that will lead you to Chincoteague.  If it's high tide, you can smell the salt air and listen to the calls of the gulls and other waterfowl.  If it's low tide, you'll be hit with the very distinctive smell of Chincoteague marsh mud, along with the smells of salt water, salt air and the sounds of local wildlife.   Also, be aware of turtles on the causeway and try to avoid them - they are precious usually only one son or daughter will survive to reproduce.
  * Depending upon where you are staying, your choices immediately multiply upon arrival.  People visit for a great many reasons, and it depends upon your interests as a group, as to what you do. If you're staying at a hotel/motel or residence with a pool, and either are afraid of the ocean, or don't like to be sandy, then the pool is the best place to swim, period.
   * Once you have checked into your residence for the visit, I suggest that you visit the Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce, where friendly island natives will answer your questions, and can provide brochures and information on just about everything on the island.  You can also visit their website -  and get up-to-date information.
   * Chincoteague has been the home of people who make their living on the water since the late 1600s (when my family arrived there) - the people are called watermen, and they fish, shrimp, crab, clam, oyster, and now aqua-farm for their livelihoods.  Up until 1920, people lived on Assateague, and horses, cattle, sheep, goats and pigs had free range there.  We also hunted ducks and geese and deer there.  In 1921 most of the village of Assateague was moved by raft and barge to Piney Island and the East Side of Chincoteague.
    If you are interested in learning about sea life and the ecology of the waters surrounding Chincoteague and Assategue Islands, the best thing you can do is take an eco-tour with Barry Frishman.  Captain Barry's Back Bay Cruises is a hands-on experience for young and old (or if you prefer to sit back and just watch, that's OK, too), and each time you go out with him you have a different experience.  Since the waters, shoals, sandbars and tumps are always in flux, you never know exactly what you'll see and/or do.  Barry is an experienced waterman, a previous tug boat captain, has been a Red Cross volunteer around the world, has a huge crew of grandchildren, and is a well-known artist, as well.  He is an extraordinary man, and his excursions never fail to delight - many people return for his cruises each summer.  His website may be found at:   and he is also on Facebook at:
    Captain Barry is a must do each and every time I revisit my old home.
  * Bike all over the islands - bring your own or rent one by the hour, day, or week.
  * Hike the trails on Chincoteague and on Assateague.
  * Go to the beach - swim, sunbathe, collect shells, fly a kite, picnic.......
  * Visit the Museum of  Chincoteague     ( )
  * Birding - the CNWR is on the Atlantic Flyway, and over 300 species of birds may be seen over the course of the year.  Last year, the Fall Flight Index estimated that over 90 million ducks passed through the area...
   Much, much more tomorrow.

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