This post contains affiliate links
When you’re looking for a unique experience and a fun place to go for vacation that’s unlike anything you will find elsewhere, consider Assateague Island National Seashore. This large natural sand barrier is famous for the wild horses that roam the beaches, and also has many other great This is a protected area on a long barrier island off the coast of Virginia and Maryland that is well known for its Atlantic beaches and beautiful wild horses.
The horses roam around the island on their own. These are wild horses that survive like they have for hundred of years. The park does not feed them or manage them. The horses will bite if you attempt to reach out for them. There is a law in place that people must stay at least 15 feet away from the wild ponies. There are also very strict rules about feeding the horses. The park does not want the horses to become dependent on people.
The entire island is managed by three official park agencies and there is a lot to see and do. There are the beaches, of course, and there’s also the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. There are dunes, wetlands and marsh island which are all protected for public outdoor recreation. You can go birdwatching, on a kayak tour, or a sightseeing cruise from the island to see all the local habitat. There are over 37 miles of beautiful beaches so there’s plenty of space to enjoy the shore.
If you want to go swimming, but the ocean is a little rough for you or the kids, head to the bay side of the island. The water doesn’t go above my knees and I am 5’2. This is also where the kayaking tours take off from and where you can paddle boarding and wind surfing.
I can not tell you how amazing it is to see these horses walking around the park. The horses hang out in small groups and wonder around. They walk down to the ocean and walk around the beach, and they walk out to the bay side and all over the island.
Fun Fact: Willow loves the story My Chincoteague Pony. It is about a girl who wants to buy a pony from the auction. These ponies come from Assateague Island, on the Virginia side. These ponies are brought to Chincoteague by the fire department and they are swam over across the bay. This practice is still done today. It is how the park maintains a balance and makes sure that there is enough resources on the island to support the horses. I must have read this book 25 times to Willow. She wants to go to an auction sometime.
It’s a year-round destination but the peak season is May through September when the weather is warm for enjoying the beaches and other outdoor recreation. If you come in the off-season, it might be cooler but it probably won’t be as packed.
If you want to stay a while and make the most of your visit, there’s camping available on the island. They offer 141 family sites and 58 of those are walk-to tent sites. This means there is a lot of space for camping and amenities include vault toilets and showers. I love that some of the campsites are right on the beach and the horses will walk right past the camp site. From the camp site, you will also be very close to all of the nearby attractions.
Here are some of the many things to see and do here:
- Assateague State Park
- Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge
- Ripley’s Believe It or Not – Ocean City
- The Boardwalk
- Trimper’s Rides
- Ocean Downs
- Sunset Park
- Museum of Chincoteague Island
- Joly Roger at the Pier
- Assateague Lighthouse
- Baja Amusements
- Oyster Bay
- The Wild Horses
- Tom’s Cove
And much more!
It’s a great vacation for family, people with children, and even those with pets or elderly family members. There’s something for everyone and there are plenty of amenities and accommodations.