WanderLove: A Road Trip From Norfolk to Virginia’s Eastern Shore

<img data-attachment-id="52761" data-permalink="https://blog.virginia.org/2018/07/perfect-picnic-virginia/the-jackspot-at-sunset-beach-2/" data-orig-file="https://virginiadailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/wanderlove-a-road-trip-from-norfolk-to-virginias-eastern-shore.jpg" data-orig-size="1382,921" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"0","credit":"Sarah Hauser, Virginia Tourism C","camera":"","caption":"The Jackspot at Sunset Beach offers a unique dining experience with a front-row view of the Chesapeake Bay. Play cornhole on their deck and enjoy some craft beer as you watch the sunset.\r\rVirginia Tourism Corporation, www.Virginia.org","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"\u00a9Virginia Tourism Corporation","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"The Jackspot at Sunset Beach","orientation":"0"}" data-image-title="The Jackspot at Sunset Beach" data-image-description="

The Jackspot at Sunset Beach offers a unique dining experience with a front-row view of the Chesapeake Bay. Play cornhole on their deck and enjoy some craft beer as you watch the sunset.

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Wanderlust is defined as a strong desire to travel, but here in Virginia, we call that feeling WanderLove. And while travel doesn’t look quite the same this year due to COVID-19, you can still explore Virginia’s endless beauty with an epic road trip! To help you plan your next vacation on the road, we’ll be sharing a few of the most scenic and adventure-filled routes through the Commonwealth, including the best outdoor adventures, restaurants, and lodging options to add to your itinerary.

If you’re feeling a bit stir crazy and are ready to hit the road, join us on a journey from Norfolk to Virginia’s Eastern Shore. A 70-mile stretch that runs between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, the Eastern Shore is known for its pristine beaches, small but charming coastal towns, and delicious seafood. Use this step-by-step guide, following along Route 13, to experience WanderLove for yourself!

**While we have shared COVID-19 alternate hours and closures when possible, please contact individual businesses before visiting, as these details may change at any time. 

ROUTE 13: NORFOLK TO CAPE CHARLES 

43.8 miles, approximately 54 minutes

<img data-attachment-id="47998" data-permalink="https://blog.virginia.org/2017/03/unexpected-spring-break-destinations/chesapeake-bay-bridge-tunnel-at-chicks-beach/" data-orig-file="https://virginiadailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/wanderlove-a-road-trip-from-norfolk-to-virginias-eastern-shore-1.jpg" data-orig-size="1382,921" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"0","credit":"Sarah Hauser, Virginia Tourism C","camera":"","caption":"Chick's Beach, also known as Chesapeake Beach, is a stretch of beaches running two miles from the Lynnhaven Inlet to just west of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.\r\rVirginia Tourism Corporation, www.Virginia.org","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"\u00a9Virginia Tourism Corporation","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel at Chick's Beach","orientation":"0"}" data-image-title="Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel at Chick’s Beach" data-image-description="

Chick’s Beach, also known as Chesapeake Beach, is a stretch of beaches running two miles from the Lynnhaven Inlet to just west of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.

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From Norfolk, follow Route 13 to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, a 17.6-mile toll bridge that spans the Chesapeake Bay and is considered one of the seven man-made wonders of the world. The toll is $18 one way, but a discounted return fare of $2 is available with an EZ Pass if you return within 24 hours.

Once across the bridge, visit Kiptopeke State Park, a waterfront park that has fishing, kayaking, biking, hiking, and many more outdoor recreation opportunities. The park is also a prime spot for birding enthusiasts. The beach is open for swimming during daylight hours and the fishing pier is open 24 hours a day and costs $5 for adults and $3 for children. Kayaks are available to rent on a first come, first serve basis at the park’s boat shed Friday-Sunday 9am-4pm. If there are no kayaks available through the state park, consider booking a kayak tour through Southeast Expeditions, including their guided marsh, barrier islands, and coastal creek tours, or schedule a cruise through Eastern Shore Boat Tours, such as their Sunset Cruise & Dolphins Search, Barrier Islands Explorer EcoTour, or a private tour customized to your interests. In addition to the outdoor activities, Kiptopeke also has cabins, lodges, yurts, and campsites available to rent out if you plan to stay overnight.

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Photo Credit: Adam Lewis, IG account: @adamtlewis

Head to downtown Cape Charles and spend some time perusing the shops within this adorable beach town. Stop into Moonrise Jewelry to pick up unique jewelry for yourself or your loved ones made from eco-friendly materials like colorful fish “leather” sourced from local fishermen, then pick up some sweet treats for the kids at Cape Charles Candy Company or Brown Dog Ice Cream, a beloved local ice cream shop located on Mason Avenue just steps from the beach. Speaking of the beach, you may want to enjoy the views of the Chesapeake Bay from the Cape Charles Beach, a free public beach on the edge of the downtown area (during Phase 3 in the COVID-19 guidelines, social distancing restrictions are in place at Virginia’s public beaches). Before leaving Cape Charles, snap a photo by the beachfront LOVEwork, which celebrates the seaside and agricultural aspects of this Eastern Shore town.

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Photo Credit: Adam Lewis, IG account: @adamtlewis

Restaurants, Breweries, Wineries, & More

The Jackspot at Sunset BeachA beachfront restaurant that serves local seafood, burgers, sandwiches, and more. The Jackspot is known for their signature cocktails and live music performances held most weekends during the summer months. 

Deadrise PiesItalian small plates, entrees, and handmade pizzas; indoor and patio seating during posted business hours, curbside pickup and delivery also available during COVID-19. 

Sting-Ray’s RestaurantSting-Ray’s is a fresh, locally caught seafood restaurant that is known for their crab cakes and Angus Beef steaks. 

The Oyster Farm at Kings CreekUpscale seafood restaurant with views of the Chesapeake Bay. Reservations recommended due to limited seating in compliance with COVID-19 guidelines.

Cape Charles Coffee HouseCommunity staple restaurant and coffeehouse in the middle of downtown Cape Charles open for breakfast and lunch. Limited seating in compliance with COVID-19, also offering curbside delivery. 

Buskey Cider on the BayOnly cidery on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, Buskey Cider is crafted from 100% Virginia apples grown in Nelson County. Open with limited indoor and patio seating during COVID-19. 

Cape Charles BrewingFamily-owned craft brewery in Cape Charles that also serves a small menu of tasty brewery fare. Currently offering limited indoor seating on a first come, first serve basis as well as two shaded patios for outdoor dining and 18 picnic tables spaced widely to allow for groups of ten or less.

The ShantyFresh local seafood is the focus at the Shanty, located right along the docks at Cape Charles Town Harbor. Currently following COVID-19 Phase 2 restrictions with no bar seating available. 

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Hotels, Resorts, & Other Lodging

Sunset Beach ResortNewly renovated hotel with one of the largest private beaches on the Eastern Shore. Amenities include pet-friendly rooms, an on-site restaurant with a beachfront patio, and two outdoor pools. 

The Northampton HotelOriginally a Victorian home, this stunning property has been transformed into a boutique hotel in the heart of Cape Charles with panoramic views of the Chesapeake Bay. Rooms all have private balconies that make the most of the beachfront location.

Hotel Cape CharlesOverlooking the town’s harbor on Cape Charles main road, Mason Avenue, the Hotel Cape Charles is a modern, pet-friendly lodging option on the Eastern Shore. Most rooms have private balconies with views of the water, and a back deck is open to all hotel guests.

ROUTE 13: FROM CAPE CHARLES TO ONANCOCK 

37.8 miles, approximately 47 minutes

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Photo Credit: Julie McCool, IG account: @funinfairfax

Leave Cape Charles and head north on Route 13 to Onancock, a 1680 Colonial port town on the bay side of the Eastern Shore. For outdoor activities, rent kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and bikes through Southeast Expeditions at Onancock Wharf, located inside the historic Steamboat Ticket Office. Opt for a guided tour to learn more about Onancock’s extensive history and unique coastal environment, along with the diverse wildlife that live in the region. Burnham Guides also offers bike, paddleboard, and kayak rentals and hosts paddling tours out of Onancock, including a Moonlight/Stargazing Paddles Tour that gives you a front row seat to the sunset on the Chesapeake Bay followed by a serene paddle under the stars.

Restaurants, Breweries, Wineries, & More

The Island House RestaurantOverlooking the picturesque Wachapreague Harbor and the barrier islands of the Eastern Shore,the restaurant specializes in fresh local seafood, burgers and choice Black Angus steaks.

Kendalls Kountry KitchenFresh, local seafood and Soul food. Known for their country-style breakfasts.

Anointed Hands BakeryBakery with a wide selection of handmade cupcakes, muffins, danishes, cakes, rolls, biscuits, and more. 

Mallards At the WharfOnancock’s only waterfront restaurant, serving casual lunch and relaxed upscale dinner.

Charlotte Hotel & RestaurantAward-winning restaurant within a boutique hotel serving creative American cuisine made from fresh produce, seafood, and other locally-sourced ingredients. 

Chatham Vineyards & WineryFamily-owned waterfront winery that operates on the historic Chatham Farm. Currently open daily with outdoor seating safely spaced to follow social distancing procedures.

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Photo Credit: Sam Dean, IG account: @sdeanphotos

Hotels, Resorts, & Other Lodging

Charlotte Hotel & RestaurantSmall upscale boutique hotel just four blocks from Onancock Creek.

The Inn at Onancock Bed & BreakfastHistoric pet-friendly bed and breakfast located in Onanock; amenities include a three-course breakfast, a wine hour in the evenings, and a staff that can make arrangements for activities within the town, including tours and reservations. 

ROUTE 13: FROM ONANCOCK TO CHINCOTEAGUE ISLAND

32.1 miles, approximately 43 minutes

Continue your journey along Route 13 heading North with Chincoteague as your final Eastern Shore destination. If you’re looking for a secluded beach for fun in the sun, plan a detour to Saxis, a small coastal town on the Chesapeake Bay.

Otherwise, head towards Chincoteague Island, an outdoor paradise on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Here, you can explore Chincoteague Island National Wildlife Refuge on foot, bike, or by vehicle (check their website for specific route restrictions, as some roads and trails are for foot traffic only). Don’t miss out on taking the guided tours provided by the refuge, where you may get lucky and spot their world-famous wild ponies. Want a little more aquatic adventure in your vacation? Book a guided boat or kayak tour with Assateague Explorer Pony Watching & Wildlife Cruises for a chance to see the wild ponies in their natural environment as you paddle the inlets of the shore.

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Another of the most popular activities within the refuge, the Assateague Lighthouse, is currently closed due to COVID-19, but you can still snap photos of the lighthouse from the exterior.

Further north on the same barrier island as the national wildlife refuge, Assateague Island National Seashore is the perfect place for a beach day. You’ll spot all kinds of protected wildlife, including migratory birds, on the beach, and with no private homes or businesses spanning the length of the beach, it’s a peaceful spot to relax by the Atlantic Ocean.

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For a family-friendly day of excitement within the town of Chincoteague, take the kids to Maui Jack’s Waterpark (note that the slides and many other parts of the park are currently closed because of COVID-19, and the park is only open at 50% capacity until further notice). To commemorate your trip, take a photo at the oversized LOVEwork Adirondack chairs (pro tip: this scenic spot is even more stunning during sunrise or sunset, so plan your visit then for truly breathtaking pics!).

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Photo Credit: Julie McCool, IG account: @funinfairfax

Add in a little history to your road trip at the Captain Timothy Hill House, built circa 1800 and the oldest house on the Eastern Shore. The tour not only teaches you about the historic elements of the structure, but also some of the eerie ghost stories associated with the home.

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And finally, for those science-loving individuals, the NASA Wallops Flight Facility should definitely be on your itinerary. The Visitor’s Center is temporarily closed due to COVID-19, but check their launch schedule before your vacation to see if you’re lucky enough to catch a rocket mission!

Restaurants, Breweries, Wineries, & More

Bill’s Prime Seafood & SteaksA staple to the Chincoteague community since 1960, Bill’s is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, although most well-known for their dinner menu featuring local seafood and steaks. In addition to dining in, they are currently offering curbside pickup and local delivery in response to COVID-19.  

Island CreameryIce cream shop with over 36 flavors of homemade ice cream, sherbet, sorbet, sugar-free ice cream, and frozen yogurt, served in freshly baked waffle cones. Also have a selection of ice cream cakes.

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AJ’s on the CreekWaterfront restaurant open for lunch and dinner where you’ll find freshly prepared seafood and a range of beef, poultry, and vegetarian entrees. 

Sandy Pony DonutsFood truck in Chincoteague with a menu of over two dozen custom donut flavors. 

Pico TaqueriaGourmet taco restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating that provides an artisanal take on Mexican fare. Due to COVID-19, the indoor seating is currently closed and masks are required while waiting in line and ordering, along with social distancing requirements for outdoor seating. 

Mister WhippySoft serve ice cream shop that also serves coffee and donuts during morning hours. 

Black Narrows Brewing CompanyCraft brewery using locally sourced ingredients such as heirloom corn and oyster shells to create unique brews. 

Hotels, Resorts, & Other Lodging

Channel Bass InnA converted historic home that dates to 1892, the inn is pet-friendly and surrounded by stunning gardens. Each day, afternoon tea is served along with fresh-baked scones. 

Key West CottagesColorful one- and two-bedroom cottages on the Chesapeake Bay in the heart of downtown Chincoteague Island. Access to shared indoor and outdoor pools, a hot tub, and fitness center. 

Miss Molly’s InnCharming Victorian home on Chincoteague Island originally built in 1886 is now a beautifully-restored inn. 

Marina Bay Hotel & SuitesModern hotel inspired by the Eastern Shore’s sand, sea, and sky. Private deck overlooking the harbor, outdoor pool, and restaurants on-site. 

Snug Harbor Waterfront CottagesOne-, two-, and three-bedroom waterfront cottages along Snug Harbor are pet-friendly, with fully-equipped kitchens and tropical-inspired decor. 

Looking for even more inspiration for your coastal getaway? Use our Three-Day Vacation Guide to Virginia’s Eastern Shore to add even more fun to your trip!