The Assateague Island National Seashore, established in 1962, occupies the northern two-thirds of a 37-mile-long barrier island, encompassing a small portion operated as Assateague State Park. ("Assateague" means "a marshy place across.") Although most famous for the small, shaggy, wild horses (adamantly called "ponies" by the public) that roam freely along the beaches and roads, this stunning island is also worth getting to know for its wildland, wildlife (including the beautiful sika deer), and for simply enjoying a pristine ocean-side environment. In summer the seashore's mild surf is where you can find shorebirds tracing the lapping waves back down the beach. There are three self-guided nature trails behind the dunes that encourage exploration of the island's forests and bay-side marshes.
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Things You Can't Miss
Wild ponies, stars of a classic children's book, still run free at Assateague Island National Seashore. Walk on unspoiled beach. Bring bug spray.
Assateague Lighthouse has been guarding Virginia's shores since 1867. Climb the 142-foot tower to catch a glimpse of the ponies.
Daniel Dempster Photography/Alamy
Join Assateague Explorer for a birding tour departing from the Assateague Nature Center to see bald eagles, peregrine falcons, pelicans and more.
Airplane flight etiquette guide to handle rude passenger manners.
Enjoy the boardwalk plus a variety of shops, restaurants and nightclubs, just 20 minutes from the island.
Enjoy breathtaking photos and descriptions of the most beautiful places in America, including Yellowstone Caldera and Death Valley.
You’ll have a fine lunch or dinner at the Drummer’s Café in the historic Atlantic Hotel. The town offers leisurely strolls and quaint antique shops.
Paul A. Souders/Corbis
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