I’ve been itching to to take a day trip to the beach since the weather started warming up back in April. Being new to the area, my first inclination was to look into visiting Virginia Beach, but I decided a four hour drive twice in one day would be pushing it with Lil’ Man. After perusing the net for nearby beaches, I was immediately attracted to the slightly closer location of Assateague Island. The island offers visitors access to beaches along the Atlantic Ocean as well as well as the Chincoteague Bay. It was still a three hour drive, but it was well the six hours total in the car.
The island is split between Maryland and Virginia and is comprised of state parks as well as a national park. We spent the majority of our time on the beach, but took a drive through the national park and we agreed that the bay side was quite beautiful (although very crowded). Also, nothing beats the wild ponies. They are gorgeous and I am pretty sure they know it. I think the photos speak for themselves.
Note: I recommend talking to your children prior to visiting the island about keeping their distance from the wild ponies. These are wild animals and they are capable of causing injury to tourists.
While Lil’ Man enjoyed collecting sea shells, making sand castles and running away from the waves, our little trip was a great opportunity for him to learn about some of the local wildlife. Lil’ Man was able to identify the ghost crabs scuttling across the beach and my husband saw what was left of a horshoe crab after venturing off beyond a sand dune (according to him it was a “crab battlefield” so I opted to keep Lil’ Man away from that area).
My husband even found some tiny clams emerging under the surf. This was a great moment for my son as he loves Pixar’s animated short film Piper which depicts a baby sandpiper learning how to hunt for clams.
While Lil’ Man was disappointed that we didn’t see any dolphins, we did get to see quite a few animals. We were able to observe the following:
- Ghost Crabs
- Piping Plovers
- Wild Ponies
Plan Your Visit
If you are looking to visit a beach near the Washington D.C. area, I can’t recommend this one enough. There are entrance fees for each of the state parks as well as the national park (visit links below for more information). With our military I.D., we were able to enter both the state park in Maryland and the national park for free. Members of the military and/or their dependents can acquire an America the Beautiful annual pass at the entrance of the the national park. You can also enter the state parks for free by foot or bicycle.