Summer, the long-awaited season is here. Most Marylanders and those from surrounding States visit the Eastern Shore summer after summer, creating lasting family memories. Occupying half of an entire condo building with your extended family, picking into blue crabs smothered in Old Bay, standing in-line for Thrashers French Fries drenched in malt vinegar, and spending the entire day on the beach – getting rocked by the sometimes unforgiving Mid-Atlantic Ocean – is a right of passage from the summer’s of our youth. There are days worth of activities for singles, families, and kids to choose from in Ocean City and the northern beaches of Dewey, Bethany, and Rehoboth in Delaware.
My fondest memories as a child were playing arcade games on the boardwalk and putt-putt golf at night with my cousins and sister. I swear Ocean City has to lead the country in the most miniature golf courses per capita. No?
But, beyond the games, vacation junk food, and the crowded beaches lies a protected Seashore just 8 miles down the road. I am a firm believer that 9 times out of 10, most public lands that are protected by the U.S. Government is worth a visit. There is a reason why it is designated special, and Assateague Island National Seashore just beyond the development and commercialization of Ocean City is one of those places.
5 Reasons You Should Include Assateague Island to Your Ocean City, Maryland Family Vacation
5. You can enjoy a slice of the natural landscape of the Eastern Shore. There are 37 miles of pristine beaches, salt marshes, coastal bays, and pine forests to explore.
4. The National Seashore protects the feeding and migratory habits of shorebirds. There are 320 species of birds that visit the Island. Bird Watchers will be pretty happy about that!
3. Swim, kayak, fish, clam, crab, walk nature trails, bike, and camp, and take a ranger-led guided tour on Assateague Island. There is a lot to do.
2. Tour a Lighthouse that was completed in 1867. To reach the lighthouse you have to enter the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge on the Virginia side. There is an extra fee for Lighthouse tours.
1. Wild Ponies! No one is certain how these ponies arrived on the island, but it is recommended to take a kayak tour or wildlife cruise to make sure the best chance at seeing some of the 300 Wild Horses that live on Assateague and Chincoteague Islands.
Our visit to Assateague was a quick one, but my little ones enjoyed splashing in the bay, looking for crabs and fish, and viewing the wild ponies. It only took 33 years to get there, but I would make a visit to Assateague a part of any Ocean City visit – just bring bug spray and sunscreen – and DON’T FEED THE HORSES!!!
Are you heading out on a Family Vacation this Summer? Whether flying or driving, make sure you get my FREE Family Travel Guide that takes you through all my tips from Flying with Little Ones to Having a Safe & Sane Road Trip with Your Family + a Packing List.