Chincoteague Island. On the United States’ eastern coast, just off the Virginia shoreline, this small haven lies nestled beside Assateague Island.
I was first introduced to the island as a child through Marguerite Henry’s novel Misty of Chincoteague. Years later my family spent a weekend there. Entranced by the island, we planned another vacation the following year. We again found ourselves enjoying this little haven twelve months later, this time in the light of July Fourth.
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What was it that drew us there time after time? Chincoteague had found a place in our hearts—the quaint town, the beautiful sister island, and most of all… the Fourth of July!
Four Reasons for Chincoteague on July 4th:
1) Perfect PONIES
Everywhere on the island my family experienced this theme of PONIES. While my little brother could have cared less about the “silly horses,” they enchanted me.
Nearby Assateague Island is home to the Chincoteague Wild Ponies. Each year in late July, the ponies are rounded up on “Pony Penning Day” and swum across the channel.
On the main island, I explored tourist stops containing numerous pony souvenirs. The Chincoteague Pony Center gave me a chance to meet beautiful ponies and learn more about them. By the end of the week, my entire family utterly adored the delightful creatures.
2) Charming Community
The quaint little town of Chincoteague has the feel of the sixties despite the intrusion of fast food. I investigated the little shops lining Main Street, discovering hidden treasures. As a special treat my family would stop at Island Creamery or pick up fresh seafood. Jus’ Bikes offered bikes and scooters for the entire family, which were ideal for touring both islands.
While the week allowed us to do several activities, Chincoteague offered many that we didn’t have a chance to take advantage of: kayak tours, miniature golf, riding lessons, and more! We spent the week in a charming canal front cottage, one of the many offered on the island for a reasonable price.
3) Assateague’s Attractiveness
Not only is Assateague home to wild ponies, but it also contains a stunning wildlife preserve only a short distance from Chincoteague. My family fully explored the hiking and biking trails, catching glimpses of wild ponies, tiny deer, and herons, as well as the red and white lighthouse. The entire island is protected as national seashore, and gives tourists a chance to explore the wildlife as well as play on sandy beaches with challenging surf. The park allows one to relax by viewing peaceful marshes or lying on the beach.
4) Fourth Festivities
Starting Independence Day, the Fireman’s Carnival runs every weekend through Pony Penning Week. Nightly the carnival grounds fill with locals and tourists. Rides, entertainment, seafood and bingo abound.
July Fourth on Chincoteague holds some of my most treasured memories. My whole family eagerly devoured deep fried oyster fritters, topping them off with funnel cake doused in powdered sugar. The old lady at the register laughed with us as if she was my grandmother, and you could hear the numbers being called out from the bingo tent where anyone could join in. We felt completely at home.
The night ended with the bang! of fireworks. Twenty minutes of display carried with them a sense of community and wonder. Exhausted but content, my family walked to our rental house, ready to sleep and take full advantage of the following day.
Chincoteague—home to my favorite memories. It was quaint, affordable, entertaining, and absolutely beautiful.
The one downside to this vacation? My parents wouldn’t let me take a pony home.
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