Create family memories on Virginia’s Eastern Shore

Nature is the best playground. On Virginia’s Eastern Shore, kids can hike trails, play in the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, go fishing, crabbing, clamming, and kayak two pristine coasts. Parks, museums and cultural spots let kids have hands-on fun, like climbing into an astronauts suit at NASA’s visitors center.

Camps will have kids bragging about their summer on the first day of school. There’s a space camp for budding astronauts, a camp filled with science experiments and kayaking adventures for nature lovers and old-fashioned sleepaway camps for the quintessential summer experience.

A waterpark, putt-putt golf, wild pony tours, carnivals, a petting zoo, and movies are big fun for the whole family.

The Eastern Shore of Virginia is a great destination for extended families. Photo credit: Levi Smith

Outdoor Activities

There is an endless number of ways for kids to burn off excess energy while on Virginia’s Eastern Shore and, as an added bonus, many of them let kids experience nature.

Guided kayaking trips let kids be active while learning about local ecology and history from experienced guides. Families can paddle through salt marsh while learning about plants and animals or can kayak along historic waterfronts and learn of historic home and battles fought long ago.

Children can learn about nature in a fun, hands-on way on ecotours lead by entertaining and well-versed captains. These tours allow kids to see everything from wild Chincoteague ponies to birds and sea life up close.

SouthEast Expeditions at Onancock Wharf
It’s easy for kids to get active and enjoy nature’s beauty on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Photo Credit: Virginia Tourism Corporation

At parks across the region kids can explore trails on foot or by bike, see wild ponies, play on pristine beaches and fish, crab or clam.

Kiptopeke State Park, Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge also hold education programs throughout the year.

During the summer Kiptopeke State Park holds daily programs where kids can do things like pull in seine nets and discover sea life or learn to fish and crab.

Informative Fun

Museums on Virginia’s Eastern Shore aren’t stuffy places filled with glass display cases. Kids can interact with history at the region’s small museums. They can explore train cars at the Eastern Shore Railway Museum in Parksley, watch a rocket launch at the NASA Wallops Visitors Center on Wallops Island and check into the Cobb Island Hotel at the Barrier Islands Center.

Learn more about area museums here.

Parents and kids can learn together at museums on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. File Photo

Summer Camps

The natural beauty of Virginia’s Eastern Shore makes it a great place for kids to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life and learn new things. Kids can have the classic camp experience at sleepaway camps tucked into beautiful forests along sweeping waterfronts. They’ll get to hike, canoe, kayak, play sports and swim while building friendships and experiencing nature.

Camps on Virginia’s Eastern Shore go way beyond the ordinary though. At Virginia Spaceflight Academy camps kids can launch model rockets, build robots and get an inside look at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, the Navy’s Surface Combat Center, and a NOAA facility.

Chincoteague Bay Field Station holds camps that will turn kids into researchers. Children from age 8 to 18 can take research cruises, go kayaking and study marsh ecology just to name a few of the hands-on, educational activities. They offer both day camps and overnight camps. There are even camps for the whole family.

ESO Summer Arts Camp (with a Little Bit of Science!) is a wonderful day camp that teaches ages 4-11 about the arts and plenty of science too. Campers will have the opportunity to create art, perform music, and meet local artists and authors. They’ll also explore density, gravity, and outer space.

Camp Trident is lead by a group of Navy SEALs who mentor campers and lead boys from ages 13 to 18 in activities such as marksmanship, physical training, boating, and rappelling.

The slower pace of life on Virginia’s Eastern Shore gives families a chance to slow down and bond. Photo Credit: Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce

Parents and guardians can drop their kids off for a stay at sleepaway camp and then explore all the area has to offer themselves or even enroll their children in day camp during a family vacation to the Eastern Shore.

Learn more about camps here.


In addition to kid-friendly museums and a variety of outdoor activities the Eastern Shore also has plenty of traditional family fun.

On Chincoteague, kids can play at Maui Jack’s Waterpark while parents lounge in the lazy river or relax under a cabana. Families can play put-put, ride bumper boats, race go-carts, and play arcade games at amusement parks. At the Chincoteague Pony Center children can learn more about these famous wild ponies and see them up close.

From Cape Charles to Chincoteague there are attractions, museums and activities to keep families busy. File Photo.

In Chincoteague, Onancock, and Cape Charles, there are old-fashioned, locally owned movie theaters that only show one movie at a time. You won’t find and multiplexes or chains here, just old-fashioned cherry cokes and family entertainment.

Each June and July fireman’s carnivals bring small towns to life with rides, games, live music and food. They provide just the kind of old-fashioned, family-oriented fun that the Eastern Shore is known for.

Learn more about carnivals and other family-friendly events here.

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