Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel The 21-mile engineering marvel transports you above and through the breathtaking beauty of the Bay, the perfect introduction to the Eastern Shore’s coastal charms. On Sea Gull Pier fish or dine/shop at the new venue. Be immersed in spectacular bird-watching on the man-made islands by permit. 757-331-2960.
Eastern Shore of Virginia Welcome Center Come sit a spell on our porch just seconds from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel [east side Rt. 13/Lankford Hwy]. Here you’ll get the Eastern Shore lowdown on a slow down vacation. The gazebo-styled center is staffed by professional travel consultants eager to share discounts, info, maps and more. The Wildlife Refuge’s display will reveal the many natural treasures you can experience during your stay. And a work of local art is the stunning ES floor medallion created by artisan David Crane, of Seafire Ceramic. www.davidcrane.esva.net.
The Welcome Center is a project of the ES of Virginia Tourism Commission.
Eastern Shore of Virginia NATIONAL Wildlife Refuge Out the Welcome Center’s back door find the Shore’s pristine backyard. Stretch your legs on the butterfly trail, take in the nature museum, bird watching, kayak launch, and seaside vistas atop an old WWII bunker.
Kiptopeke State Park Near the cape is a bay beach escape, wild-style. Camp in beautiful cabins, hike, bike, go boating, fish the pier, or recline on sandy beaches.
Cape Charles At the southern tip of the peninsula the Cinderella town continues its amazing transformation, recapturing its 1886 glory days when the railroad gave birth to this Victorian beauty. B&Bs, a boutique hotel and cottage/resort rentals make staying here a pleasure along with the downtown shopping. Full service European day spa and nearby guided horseback trail rides on a waterfront estate add to the offerings. Eateries include a posh waterfront restaurant, casually chic coffee house, Irish pub, bistro, and old fashioned soda fountain. Cape Charles Museum provides a fascinating look back. The Art Deco Palace Theater spotlights local, regional and national talent. Bay Creek Resort and Club’s upscale marina with shops and restaurant flank the northern side of town. On the southern side its two nationally ranked golf courses designed by golf legends Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer intersect along stunning water vistas. Resort rentals are also available. Get on track with the vintage Bay Creek Railway dining excursions. Sunsets are serene on the town’s quiet mile-long beach, catch a sail or fish the pier. (See listings-Scenic Cruises on page 45)
EYRE HALL GARDENS, CHERITON: One of Virginia’s finest and best-preserved colonial homes provides idyllic strolls through one of the country’s oldest gardens, circa 1800. Entrance RT 13 west side between Cheriton & Eastville. 3215 Eyre Hall Dr.
Eastville The historic Courthouse Green and the nation’s oldest continuous court records lend a genteel sense of history to this pretty porch community. A restored inn serves up gourmet lunch and dinner using local produce and seafood. Unique shopping experience at two art galleries including redesigned thrift store finds transformed into whimsical furniture and a porch filled with colorful glass art. Site of Northampton County Chamber of Commerce office 757-678-0010 northamptoncountychamber.com
Machipongo Just further south at the historic former “poorhouse farm” is the intriguing Barrier Islands Center. Though the Eastern Shore’s chain of seaside barrier islands are mostly deserted now, the museum preserves through relics and guided tours the fascinating tales of those who once called these shifting sands home. 757-678-5550. On East side of RT 13 awaits a funky, locally roasted coffee & sandwich shop. Nearby on the scenic banks of Church Creek Chatham Vineyards offers tours/tastings and Kayak Winery Tour.
Franktown Another fine winery can be found passing through the west side of Nassawadox. Follow the grape signs to Holly Grove Vineyards. Tours/tastings by appointment only. 757-442-2844 See page 32.
Nassawadox Along east Rt. 13 is an Italian restaurant—a locals’ favorite and gallery gift shop. On west side find the Great Machipongo Clam Shack seafood and live music venue. The hometown pharmacy is noted for its fun gift selection.
Exmore & Willis Wharf Enjoy the little downtown which includes a cozy café bakery, antique shops and retro-real diner. [Legend has it there’s a stool Elvis once rested his blue suede shoes on.] Lodging at centrally located hotels is available on the town’s Rt. 13 frontage. On the waterside find Willis Wharf, a secluded seaside village and aquaculture capital raising clams and oysters.
Wachapreague Known as the “Little City by the Sea” and “Flounder Capital of the World,” this town of 250 residents shines with small town friendliness. Its setting along emerald green marshes is the scene stealer. Marinas provide an active charter fishing fleet, boat slip rentals, bait and tackle shop, boat and kayak rentals to explore the pristine barrier islands. If eating fresh seafood with amazing water views is your thing, stop on by or stay at in-town lodging. Freshly renovated Island House Restaurant and Wachapreague Inn (See ad on page 13) are both under exciting new ownership. Family fun can be had each summer at the nostalgic Wachapreague Carnival.
Melfa Along Rt. 13, check out the visitors’ center at the Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce (757-787-2460). At the Accomack County Airport (757-787-4600) fly-in for a Shore visit or seek a bird’s eye view of our beautiful coastlines with an aerial tour. Inside the Accomack Airport Park, Blue Crab Bay Company offers award-winning regional specialty foods and gifts. Buses welcome.
Onley Just minutes north on Rt. 13 experience the internationally acclaimed bronze wildlife sculptures at Turner Sculpture.
Onancock Voted COOLEST SMALL TOWN in America, by Budget Travel Magazine, it’s also known for welcoming guests and their pets with “Yappy Hour” and other pet-friendly accommodations. With a petite harbor, this charmer chartered in 1680 displays its esteemed history at Ker Place, a circa 1800 Federal style house museum. The small town sophisticate harbors the most restaurants on the mainland from gourmet bistros to an Irish pub, and an intimate wine bar. Dinner and a movie take on a delightful twist with (a far cry from the multiplex madness) the retro movie theater or theatrics at the North Street Playhouse. Enjoy shopping opportunities for art, antiques and garden and home furnishings. The wharf provides safe harbor for visiting boaters, fishing charters, and kayaking tours. A boutique hotel and welcoming B & Bs make extended stays more than tempting. onancock.org
Tangier Island ESPN found one of the last watermen’s outposts a perfect spot to film commercials as unique as the tiny Chesapeake isle. From Onancock sail back in time where islanders speak in an endearing sing-song Elizabethan twang. Visitors can enjoy the fresh bounty at several of the island’s home-style restaurants. Rent bikes or Tangier taxis—golf carts—to cruise the car-less isle. The new Tangier History Museum & Interpretive Cultural Center and self-guided history walk give insight to the island’s enduring heritage. Pristine sandy beaches are excellent for relaxing. Take a Waterman’s Tour with a Tangier captain and discover the island’s legendary soft-shell crab “farms” (Contact Chesapeake House 757-891-2331). Free kayak rentals and mapped water trails bring you to secluded vistas. Come twilight, rock on the porch of a B & B and listen to the creatures of the marsh softly serenade the island. For more information gotangierisland.com
Parksley Norman Rockwell would have loved this vestige of small town America. The meticulously restored railroad station—home to the charming Eastern Shore Railroad Museum—is situated in the 1885 town square surrounded by quaint shops and a pair of restaurants. 2 miles west off Rt. 13, 20 minutes south of the Maryland line.
Bloxom Mediterranean flavor flows from a Victorian-era farm—home to Bloxom Winery—a mile west of Rt. 13. Memorial Day thru Dec., Fri.-Sun. 757-665-5670.
NASA Visitor Center at Wallops Flight Facility Near Chincoteague Island discover what has been going on since 1945 at one of the oldest launch sites in the world. No spacecraft needed to have an astronauts-eye-view of the planets and moons at the new Science On a Sphere Theatre. A six-foot-diameter globe provides stunning visual effects from real scientific data. The animated sphere seems to float in space—just as an astronaut would see the Earth!
Chincoteague Island America’s Best Beach Town” –AOL TRAVEL is the family resort famed for its wild ponies, but with all it has to offer it’s far from a one-horse town. Shopping in the pedestrian-friendly downtown ranges from decoys to dresses, antique to art. Second Saturday Art Strolls are popular evening events April–Dec. Fresh off the dock seafood is found in a variety of restaurants. Lodging is equally varied from family-owned motels to charming B & Bs. See the island from the water with expert guides. A 1945 movie theatre is a place to catch a flick the old-fashioned way. Unspoiled beaches and nature trails along with the Assateague Lighthouse provide outdoor adventures on the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. The 86th Annual Pony Swim & Auction is July 28-30, sponsored by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company. For more information stop by the helpful Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce Visitors Center located on Maddox Blvd circle. 757-336-6161, chincoteaguechamber.com