Virginia and Maryland's Eastern Shore is made up of small, rural communities, beaches, historic homes and museums, nature and wilderness opportunities and attractive old towns and downtowns. The Eastern Shore offers kids plenty of activities and events, especially in spring and summer, when families head to the beach.
Maryland's Eastern Shore has lots of museums catering to children and families. The African American Schoolhouse Museum (no website; Route 297, St. James-Newtown Road, Worton, MD 21678; 410-810-1416) dates back to 1890 and showcases African American history and contributions in Kent County. The C&D Canal Museum (now website; 815 Bethel Road, Chesapeake City, MD; 410-885-5622) showcases early C&D Canal artifacts and history and is free of charge to the public. The Kent County Museum (kentcounty.com) is dedicating to preserving and showcasing Kent County's rural heritage and features agricultural equipment, horse-drawn wagons and a granary. Call ahead to find out about museum schedules.
The Cape Charles Museum and Welcome Center (smallmuseum.org) is dedicated to preserving Cape Charles' heritage and showcases items such as water vessels, postcards and old photographs. The Tangier Island History Museum (tangierhistorymuseum.org) provides information about Tangier's history as well as a nature trail, water trail and free use of kayaks and canoes. The Chincoteague Natural History Association (piping-plover.org) has several things kids might enjoy, such as a light house, planned children's activities, interpretive programs, a gift shop, wildlife tours and art shows.
In Maryland, Martinak State Park, Pocomoke River State Park, Elk Neck State Park and Forest, Eastern Neck Wildlife Area and Janes Island Park all offer hiking, bird and animal-watchin, and camping opportunities; most parks also offer canoeing and kayaking. In Virginia, outdoor activities include visits to the Assateague Island National Seashore, the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge, Kiptoke State Park, Savage Neck Natural Area Preserve, the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail and of course, Chincoteague Island, famous for its wild ponies.
Maryland's Ocean City, with it's 30-block boardwalk, and its family-friendly beach, restaurants, shops, and activities, fills up in summer and on holiday weekends, so its advisable to reserve hotel rooms or campsites a couple of months in advance. Virginia's Eastern Shore beaches are less touristy, and include the mile-long Chincoteague Island Beach, the small Cape Charles Beach, Tangier Island Beach and the barely visited and secluded Barrier Island beaches. Don't forget to lather the kids with sunscreen and pack the beach towels.