Thinking about visiting Chincoteague with pets? While it’s a great place to road trip to, it’s important to note that the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, the main attraction, strictly forbids pets even in cars. There is one trail and one park that are pet-friendly in town, but otherwise your pet will be eagerly awaiting your return at your accommodation. So it’s important to choose a good spot and the pet-friendly choices are limited, particularly if you have a large dog like I do. However, the pet-friendly accommodations that are available are surprisingly pet-friendly, fully expecting you to leave your pet there unattended as you go exploring. There are a couple of good-looking bed and breakfasts that seem amiable, but space is limited and neither were available the week I visited. I settled on renting a pet-friendly VIP Island Rentals property and it was a great choice! The property was comfortable, clean and well-stocked and the ladies who run the operation were friendly, organized and very easy to do business with.
Chincoteague has a disproportionate number of dining locations for its small size, including two ice cream shops that were surprisingly packed with bikers there for bike week on my visit. I confess though that I didn’t sufficiently explore the food scene. My rental was exceedingly comfortable and happened to be within walking distance of what quickly became my favorite food source on the island – Gary Howard Seafood, Inc. An authentic shop with a tiny storefront selling fresh, local seafood – raw or cooked on demand into delicious, abundant and cheap carry-out meals. I just couldn’t resist returning time and again for the latest catch and heaps of Chincoteague oysters that I learned to shuck on my own. I did try Bill’s Seafood Restaurant for a late breakfast one morning. It seemed to be a popular destination for locals and tourists alike and with good reason, lots of choices, good food and efficient staff. Slightly less impressive was my lunch at Don’s Seafood Restaurant whose portions were large and food good, but whose service left a lot to be desired. And then there was the Chincoteague Inn Restaurant that I desperately wanted to try if for no other reason than to sample it’s waterfront view, but three different stops at three different times of day found it closed. Nonetheless, there are literally dozens of restaurants to choose from, as well as several small seafood shops and a well-stocked grocery store. You certainly won’t starve!
There are several boat trip options as well, but I was on a quest for one that appeared to focus most on a laid-back nature experience. I settled on Chincoteague Cruises and was not disappointed. The captain was highly knowledgable about local natural and human history, as well as current issues. He knew when to speak and when to just step back and let the scenery impress, giving plenty of time for oohing, ahhing and photography.
Your pet may not get to explore all the sights of Chincoteague, but there are certainly a few options. And importantly, there is comfortable lodging with understanding hosts there to ensure a pleasant stay.
Here’s more information on the bolded items from above in order of their appearance in the text:
- Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge – http://www.fws.gov/northeast/chinco/
- Chincoteague pet-friendly trail – off Hallie Whealton Smith Drive
- Donald Leonard Park (pet-friendly) – across from Chincoteague Combined School on Main Street
- Channel Bass Inn – www.channelbassinn.com
- Garden and Sea Inn – www.gardenandseainn.com
- VIP Island Rentals – www.vipislandrentals.com
- Gary Howard Seafood, Inc. – www.garyhowardseafood.com
- Bill’s Seafood Restaurant – www.billsseafoodrestaurant.com
- Don’s Seafood Restaurant – www.donsseafood.com
- Chincoteague Inn Restaurant – www.chincoteagueinnrestaurant.com
- Chincoteague Cruises – www.chincoteaguecruises.com