There were so many noteworthy adventures on this trip! We visited one of our favorite rest areas, saw wild ponies, and discovered a wonderful dessert food truck. If you want to get into the details, grab a snack and get comfy…this will probably be a long one. But there will be pictures, I promise!

On the Road Again

A Great Rest Stop for Dogs and RVs

If you have an RV, you know it’s not always easy to find a good place to stop along the way. Many parking lots are simply not big enough to get in (and out) of while towing. On top of that, Corona doesn’t like the sound of air brakes, and we sometimes have trouble convincing her to leave the truck at truck stops or rest areas with lots of tractor-trailers.

This trip was our second visit to what is one of our favorite rest stops. If you’re ever in the area, we highly recommend the Eastern Shore of Virginia Welcome Center. It’s located on US-13, northeast of Norfolk across the Chesapeake Bay. The restrooms are clean, and there are a few vending machines to choose from, but that’s not why we like it.

The first thing we noticed about this rest area is the parking lot. There are more than 50 parking spots for large rigs! I imagine there are times when it gets busy, but we haven’t seen it that way, and there is so much parking that it probably wouldn’t matter.

It’s hard to capture the amount of parking in a photo. Check it out on Google Maps!

Second, and more importantly, there is a short trail to the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge right in the parking lot! Less than half a mile away is the historical landmark called Battery Winslow, the bunker that protected the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay during WWII. Talk about a great place to get out and stretch your legs! We usually keep stops fairly short, but here we take the opportunity to get the dogs out for a fun walk.

Learning from Experience

The last time we drove up this way (heading to Ocean City, MD), we went through a tunnel (I can’t remember which one) in Norfolk. There was a guard (policeman?) who stopped us to check that our propane was off. However, it wasn’t enough to say yes. Someone had to get out of the truck and show that it was off. We always travel with our propane turned off, and this time we wanted to avoid having to stop and get out of the RV.

travel tip

When traveling north through Norfolk toward the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, take I-64 W to avoid going through a tunnel and having to get out of your truck/RV to show that your propane is off.

This time, we did a little Googling and determined there are no tunnels on the section of I-64 W where we would be driving. The route took us around the southeast side of Norfolk, and we didn’t have to go through the propane check. At the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, RVs must go through a particular toll lane. The attendant asks about propane, but doesn’t make anyone get out to show them.

The Road of Many Crepe Myrtles

One thing I don’t like about traveling with an RV is how difficult it is to make unplanned stops. I saw so many produce stands and quirky stores I would have loved to stop at. The trouble is, as we’ve already discussed, so many parking lots are not RV-friendly.

For anyone planning a trip who wants to investigate (and for my own notes for next time!), I believe it was US-13/Lankford Highway. Here are a few of the places that piqued my interest.

  • Machipongo Trading Company
  • Quail cove farms
  • Turner Sculpture

If US-13 wasn’t interesting enough already, it also has the most crepe myrtles I’ve ever seen along a road. I didn’t pay attention to how far this went on, but for a long stretch of the road, I saw a higher-than-average number of crepe myrtles. (I have no actual data to back up this claim.)

An Intersection on a Bridge?

The road that connects Chincoteague to mainland Virginia is VA-175. Much of it is a bridge over Chincoteague Bay. Just before reaching Chincoteague, there is an intersection. Yes, an intersection. While on the bridge, you can make a right turn and still be on the bridge. It leads to a very small island with one road and less than a dozen buildings (mainly homes and vacation rentals it seems). Not exactly an exciting find at the end of the road, but as they say, life is about the journey, not the destination. I don’t know how many bridges have an intersection, but until this trip, I had never seen one.

Where We Stayed

Jellystone Park Chincoteague Island
Chincoteague, VA
August 3-6, 2023
Site 301

With a cabin on one side, another in front, and a deep rut next to that, it was really difficult to back the RV into our site. The only reason we were able to get out of the site on our last day was because the people in the cabin across from us had already left. If there had been a car in the driveway, I don’t think we could have made the turn. Our site had all hookups at the back of the site, which was new to us. The water hookup was…not ideal…but it worked.

While the site isn’t one of our favorites, the campground was pretty reasonable otherwise. There are options for tent camping, cabins, and RV sites. There’s a playground and a large grassy area for kids to play and run around. There’s even a small waterpark, and admission is included if you’re staying at the campground.

If you’re a tent camper, this place had some of the most scenic tent areas we’ve seen. You can have a site with sun or shade, and the whole area backs up to the water (possibly Sheepshead Creek according to GoogleMaps).

Near the tent camping area are several picnic tables, a communal firepit, and a beautiful dock. You can just see the Assateague Lighthouse in the distance. I really wished we had a kayak or paddleboard because it was a beautiful place! I believe the campground usually rents kayaks, but they were all out of commission when we were there. We settled for taking dog photos there instead.

Note the Assateague Lighthouse waaay in the distance.
Same dock, but this photo was taken looking back toward the campground.

The dog park is quite sad. It is a fenced square of grass, maybe 20 feet by 20 feet. We don’t really count on the dog park for our dogs, so it didn’t bother us, but it’s something to keep in mind if you want a fenced area to let your dog run without a leash.

What We Did

Dog Walking

Chincoteague doesn’t have much in the way of dog-friendly hiking trails. We either walked around the campground or went to the Island Nature Trail not far from the campground. According to All Trails, the trail is dog-friendly, but at the time we were there, only the trail on the same side of the road as the parking lot appeared to be dog-friendly. The entrance across the road had a No Dogs Allowed sign. The portion we walked was a nice, but short, loop. There were a few trash cans along the route (always a plus for those walking with dogs!). To increase the length of the walk for the dogs, we walked along a paved walking path along the road.

Assateague Island

Of course, we took a trip to Assateague Island to see if we could catch a glimpse of the wild ponies the island is known for.

For those traveling with pets, it’s important to note that pets are not allowed on Assateague Island, not even in your car. There’s also an entrance fee per vehicle ($10 daily; $25 weekly).

We followed signs for the Woodland Trail for the parking lot and then followed signs for the Pony Overlook trail once we were walking. Sadly, we saw no ponies. What we did see was mosquitoes. More than I’ve ever seen in my life. If you plan to do any hiking there, be sure to wear bug spray. Lots of it. There is a sign about poison ivy, ticks, and mosquitoes on the island, so they do try to warn you. There are several other trails on the island, so there are plenty of hiking opportunities.

We took a short drive to the Herbert H. Bateman Educational And Administrative Center on Wildlife Drive. If you’re a wildlife nerd like me, you’ll have a great time. In addition to all the informational exhibits, they have a small gift shop.

We came back the next day to visit the beach. This is when we finally saw the ponies. They were quite a ways away, but it was still beautiful to stop and watch them graze for a bit.

We’ve visited beaches in several states (MD, NJ, NC, SC, and FL), but this beach day made an impression. We have one of those beach umbrellas that you basically screw into the sand to stand it up. We’ve used it several times without issue, but today we were unable to get it more than maybe 5-6 inches into the sand. It was too hard and the umbrella wouldn’t go any further. We ended up piling sand up around it, which worked, but it was odd. We tried more than one spot, but maybe we should have walked 30 feet away and tried again?

The other thing that made an impression was the waves! The water was really rough the day we went. We usually go in the ocean far enough to be past the point where the waves are breaking, but I didn’t even get that far. I imagine it’s not always like that, but we didn’t make it back for another beach day this trip.

travel tip

For a day on Assateague Beach, go early or be sure to pack your patience in your beach bag. When we arrived at the entrance booth around 9:00, there were two lanes open and only a few cars in front of us. When we left around 10:30, traffic was backed up about a mile down the road.

Maui Jack’s

We did visit Maui Jack’s waterpark. The general public can buy tickets to get in, but entrance is included when you stay at the campground. They have a lazy river, a decent kids’ area/splash pad, and several slides. They also have a bar/grill and concessions area. We didn’t get any food, so I don’t know how that is, but overall the waterpark was fun. Since it was included in our stay, it was definitely worth visiting.

Where We Ate

Chincoteague Diner & Restaurant
Burgers are our go-to option when eating out, but I wouldn’t recommend them if you eat here. They looked and tasted like Bubba burgers, and the fries were undercooked. In hindsight, I wish I’d gone with breakfast for dinner. It’s served all day and looked like it would have been good.

Island Creamery
This place was voted best ice cream in USA Today’s 2023 Readers’ Choice Awards.
It was good ice cream, but we aren’t sure what makes it so exceptional. It definitely wasn’t the best ice cream we’ve had. Jesse got cookie dough with sprinkles and I got oreo. Again, it was good, but not great.

AJ’s on the Creek
If you’re looking for a delicious, expensive meal, this is the place. We would have loved to sit on the patio, as it looks out over a little waterway, but the patio and main dining room were a bit out of our league. Instead, we ate at their bar/lounge, which offers a slightly different menu. It’s a separate room with bar seating as well as regular tables. They have burgers on their brunch menu and the bar menu, so that is what we went with. They were delicious!

BYOC (Build Your Own Cookie)
Tired of the usual dessert options? In addition to ice cream and milkshakes, BYOC has edible cookie dough and, my favorite, cookie sundaes. You choose the cookie, the ice cream, and the topping, and they do the rest. Did I mention the cookie is warm? In my opinion, this one is a must if you’re in the area.


Something that becomes obvious fairly quickly on Assateague is that the wildlife aren’t as wary of people as they are in other places (at least, the rabbits and squirrels aren’t).

I noticed it first with the squirrels. I wanted a photo because they looked different from the Eastern Gray Squirrels I’m used to. It was surprisingly easy to get one because they let me get much closer than I expected before running away.

Later we saw a rabbit on the path. It too was content to sit and watch while I took first one photo, and then another (when I realized he wasn’t leaving so I had more time).

In case you were wondering, the squirrels are in fact different. They are Delmarva Peninsula Fox Squirrels.

Our trip across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel was a wildlife nerd’s dream! Big coastal bridges are usually exciting for spotting osprey, but this was unlike anything I’d ever seen! I counted at least a dozen one way. It was also a neat way to watch seagulls because they frequently fly over the water at just the right level so you can see them out of the truck windows.

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