Virginia: Chincoteague Island
Only seven miles long and three miles wide, Chincoteague Island is a tranquil hidden gem brimming with flora and fauna and the famed wild Chincoteague ponies. Each July, “saltwater cowboys” from the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company herd a couple hundred wild ponies from Assateague Island to Chincoteague Island for an auction. The annual tradition, which started in 1925, attracts tens of thousands of people who come to watch the ponies bob in the water as they swim across the channel. During the rest of the year, you can see these feral horses graze in the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, which includes 14,000 acres of beaches, salt marshes, maritime forests, and dunes. After you’re done biking, hiking, kayaking, or hang gliding around the island, be sure to stop by Island Creamery and order a scoop of house-made Wallops Rocket Fuel (chocolate ice cream with cinnamon and chile pepper) or Java Jolt (strong coffee ice cream with brownies and chocolate-covered espresso beans). Still hungry? Why not try foraging for your own lunch — clamming and crabbing are both popular activities with locals and tourists.