Chances are when you were younger you had to read Misty of Chincoteague in school. This is the story about a wild pony from Assateague Island that was bought on Pony Penning day – a yearly roundup of the horses on Assateague by the Saltwater Cowboys where the horses swim across the bay onto Chincoteague Island and sold at auction. When I found out Assateague and Chincoteague were real places, the childhood girl inside me would not be happy until I visited! 🙂
It wasn’t until a few years ago I actually got to go to Assateague Island, which is split up into sections. Assateague is one long skinny island – Assateague State Park and Assateague National Seashore are on the Maryland side and the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge is on the southern Virginia part of the island. There is no road that goes the length of the entire island, but you can access both sides by bridges. I have only ever been to the Maryland side which offers various forms of camping, kayak and canoe rentals, hiking and biking trails, beaches, bays and WILD PONIES!! What’s not to love? Well if you go in the summer, be prepared for a TON of bugs – all of the biting variety for one. I’m not kidding, the first time I was there I hiked the “Life of the Forest Trail” and literally RAN through it because if I would stop I was immediately swarmed by mosquitos and horse flies – it was unreal! But NOTHING was gonna stop me from seeing those wild ponies! 🙂
The horses have the run of the island and you can literally find them anywhere, wandering through campsites looking for food, walking down the road, and on the beach – I have been there a few times and have yet to see them on the beach, but I hope to one day. I just think that would be amazing.
So we loaded up the car and set off on a weekend road trip to the beach. Assateague Island is fairly dog friendly and I brought JoJo down with me 2 years ago and she LOVED it – she dug a hole on the beach so deep you could only see her bum sticking out – it was hysterical. I knew she would be excited to go back – it’s not every day we get to go to the beach!
We drove straight to Assateague – there is a fee to get into the National Seashore if you arrive by car ($20!!! I don’t remember it being so much last time I was there!) but the pass is good for 7 days. Then you are free to drive up and down the various roads of the island to search for ponies! A lot of them hang out right on the main road, but keep your eyes open because they are always popping in and out of the foliage.
After we were done driving all the roads, we got out for a hike on the beach. Jo was LOVING it! I love going in the off season because there are hardly any bugs and very few people – It’s great!!
Be careful if you bring your dog – there are these little burrs in the grass that really dig into their paws if they run over them! I learned that the first time I brought Jo – and I was barefoot this time and stepped on a few myself – those suckers HURT!
How many pictures can I take of Jo on the beach?? A TON! 🙂 She’s just too cute!
We were not camping on this trip so when we were done playing on the beach, we drove back to Ocean City, MD where we booked a hotel through bringfido.com which is a GREAT resource to use if you like to travel with your dog like we do – you can look up dog friendly hotels, restaurants, and even local activities for dogs. We decided to check out the La Quinta which was built last year and very dog friendly! I was vey impressed – the hotel was immaculate and it seemed like everyone there was staying with a dog! They had a very small strip of grass for the dogs to go potty which was mostly dirt – they told us they have only been open a year and have replaced the grass twice already – haha! 🙂
Once we settled in, we were getting pretty hungry, unfortunately a lot of the dog friendly restaurants were closed for the season – BUMMER! So we went to the boardwalk to walk around for a bit – dogs are allowed on the boardwalk during the off season. A lot of things were closed on the boardwalk too, but we found ICE CREAM – Joey’s favorite! We ended up just getting take out and bringing it back to the hotel.
The next day we headed back to Assateague to search for more horses and play on the beach again before we had to head home – although we didn’t see as many horses as usual on this trip, the weather was perfect and we had a great time! 🙂 Here are a few pictures from our last day there:
On the way out of town I had to stop at the Fractured Prune – they have THE BEST donuts I have ever eaten – all kinds of crazy flavors. While I was waiting for my order a few people walked in, some came over to order and the others sat down – they actually had brought in a dozen donuts from Dunkin Donuts and were sitting there eating them! Maybe they were having some kind of donut competition, but Dunkin Donuts doesn’t even COMPARE to the Fractured Prune.
I will have to visit the Virginia side of the island sometime – I just read that the actual Misty was taxidermied after she died in 1972 and there are a few statues of her on the island. That would be pretty cool to see!