Assateague Island is accessible from Maryland or Virginia. Both have unique offerings.
The Maryland side has a state park as well as a National Park. It also has a wonderful new visitor center with great displays and a very informative film with beautiful cinemetography. You can walk from the visitor center down a path along the bay to an historic house in a lovely setting. The house was recently refurbished and is now open for tours.
Across the bridge, The Maryland state park costs less to get in and offers big restrooms with flushing toilets and private showers, a well-stocked store and an ice cream parlor and fast food kitchen (hot dogs, burgers, fries, sandwiches, etc.). It also has a nice deck outside to sit and eat while looking over the beach. You can walk north from the state park and see the bay on one side and the ocean on the other. If you go to the National Park side in Maryland, you drive a few miles further and pay about $15 to get in (they no longer let you pay a single day fee but require you purchase a week pass). The bathrooms are essentially outhouses and the showers are outside (usually with a long line). There are some nice hiking trails and great camping here though (bring bug spray).
The quaint picturesque town of Berlin is about ten miles inland from the Maryland parks, and offers really great restaurants, really nice gift and antique shops, and an awesome glass blower.
The Virginia side of Assateague is accessed through the touristy town of Chincoteague, which also has a FEW nice restaurants and shops, but a lot of tacky places and loads of kids and tourists (Mcdonalds right next to the park entrance).
However, Once you get through Chincoteague to the Virginia side of the National Park, there is a wonderful lake to walk or bike around, and an historic lighthouse and many nature trails. The beach is much smaller than the Maryland beach.
We prefer the Maryland side, less crowds, bigger beach, better facilities on the State Park area, and Berlin is always wonderful. And we always stay at our favorite booklovers b and b in Maryland.
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