Project Description

Photo by Virginia.org

If you and your BFF are fans of “slow travel”, you’ll love the unspoiled Eastern Shore and its barrier islands. For more than four centuries, farmers have tilled the flat fertile land, growing cotton, soybeans and vegetables and waterman have reaped the bounty of the tidal flats, hauling in nets or traps full of crabs, oysters and clams. Gone are the days when solitary oysterman would make their living from their flat-bottomed boats, and while the pace of life here has remained unspoiled, it has become more sophisticated.

Located on the Delmarva Peninsula and separated from the rest of the state by the Chesapeake Bay, Virginia’s Eastern Shore www.esvatourism.org has the cleanest water on the coast. Only 70 miles long, the peninsula and its islands offer a glimpse into the past—a rural and somewhat rustic region reminiscent of Virginia life in a simpler century—with places like Tangier Island, which is only accessible by boat or plane and the islands of Chincoteague and Assateague where wild ponies still roam. The southernmost tip of the peninsula is part of the Atlantic Flyway https://www.audubon.org/atlantic-flyway —a significant birding destination—and Kiptopeke State Park https://www.dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/kiptopeke is a popular destination for bird watchers.

Play

There are plenty of fun things to do with Fido on the Eastern Shore. Explore the charming town of Onancock www.onancock.org, where restaurants and shops display pet friendly stickers on their front doors or check out the town’s website to find local Yappy Hours and other events. From Onancock, you and your pal can take the ferry www.tangierferry.com  to Tangier Island https://www.virginia.org/cities/Tangier/ —there’s no additional charge for four-legged riders and the island is only accessible by boat or plane—where you’ll really feel like you’re living in the simpler times of the past with generations of Chesapeake Bay watermen. Known as “the soft shell capital of the world”, residents of this island speak with a dialect that harks back to Elizabethan English.

The town of Chincoteague https://www.chincoteague.com/, famous for its annual pony roundup and as the inspiration for Marguerite Henry’s beloved children’s book Misty of Chincoteague—you’ll see a statue of Misty in the center of town— also welcomes pets and their humans. Note, however, that the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and Assateague Island do not allow pets at all—not even as passengers in the car.

Along with Onancock and Chincoteague, Cape Charles https://www.virginia.org/cities/cape%20charles  is also a delightful mix of historic and hip, with eclectic boutiques and quaint inns nestled side-by-side with boutique hotels and coffee shops. The public beach is free and from September (after Labor Day) to April 1st, dogs are allowed on the beach at any time. During high season, they are allowed on the beach before 9 a.m. and after 9 p.m.

Wine lovers will want to pay a visit to Chatham Vineyards https://www.chathamvineyards.net/ on Church Creek. A working farm for over 400 years, Chatham (pronounced chat-em) was named after William Pitt, the Earl of Chatham. The red brick Federal-style house was built in 1818 and overlooks Church Creek. Two generations of the Wehner family have put their expertise into the award-winning Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot vines. Dogs are welcome on this gorgeous property and the winery often hosts special events highlighting the unique tastes of the region: their Merroir & Terroir dinner that pairs the region’s best oysters with Chatham’s wines.

Stay

If you’re looking for accommodations on the Eastern Shore, the tourism bureau  www.esvatourism.org has a pet friendly sorting function. Although there are a few boutique hotels in the region, you’ll find more inns, B & B’s and private rentals. Nearby Kiptopeke State Park offers pet friendly cabins and camping, kayak rentals, dog friendly trails and a pet friendly beach next to their designated swimming beach. And, the Chesapeake Bay KOA Resort in Cape Charles has a beach dog park called Sandy Paws, along with a regular dog park that has play structures and water features.