If you are looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city with its endless traffic snarls, then the Eastern Shore of Virginia may an ideal location for you. Tucked between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, the Eastern Shore is known for its neighborliness, relaxed style of living and access to outdoor activities. Distinguished by small towns, winding waterways, farms and forests, the 70-mile stretch of land brims with history and natural charm. It's a place where generations have lived off the land and waters.
The colonial heritage is an important feature of this area, and historic buildings from as far back as 1644 still stand in Cape Charles and Onancock. The low coastline is carved into innumerable small bays, inlets and tidal creeks. The long coastline coupled with the long growing season and mild ocean climate make agriculture and fishing the major commercial activities. The Shore also draws a certain amount of tourist and resort activity.
On the Atlantic side of the peninsula, you'll find many barrier islands, northernmost of which are Chincoteague and Assateague. Famous for the wild ponies that live on the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, the local Volunteer Fire Department has hosted an annual pony swim and auction called Pony Penning for nearly a century.
Just south is Wallops Island, home to a protected wildlife refuge as well as NASA's Wallops Island Flight Facility. Rockets that support science missions for NASA and NOAA are launched here.
Onancock, where the hospital, cancer center and provider offices are located, is an historic waterfront town located on Onancock Creek and the Chesapeake Bay. Filled with small restaurants, specialty shops, a movie theater and a local stage production company, you'll love the close-knit community vibe.
For a quick tour of the Shore, watch this video from the Eastern Shore of Virginia Tourism Commission will show you what we love about living here.
Things to do
There is something for everyone on Virginia's Eastern Shore.
- One of the best-loved events is Pony Penning held the last week of July on the little island of Chincoteague.
- Sports enthusiasts and beachcombers will enjoy abundant access to water for swimming, biking, boating, canoeing, kayaking, jet skiing, fishing, and crabbing.
- Nature lovers enjoy ambling through the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge, Wreck & Bone Island Natural Area Preserve, and Kiptopeke State Park for bird watching, beach access and nature tours.
- Public oceanfront or bayfront beach access is available on Chincoteague, in Cape Charles and at Kiptopeke State Park near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel.
- The Shore hosts an Eastern Shore Artisan's Trail as well as the Virginia's Eastern Shore Wine Trail that make for fun day trips.
- The Eastern Shore Railway Museum on Cape Charles attracts railroad buffs eager to compare their own antique train collections.
- NASA Visitor Center at Wallops Flight Facility is a great place to learn about rocket launches and astronomy.
- Roadside stands and tiny shops make shopping a leisurely experience.
- Tangier Island, a small island in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay, offers an interesting peek into the past. Accessible by only by boat and isolated from the mainland for generations, the islanders have a unique dialect. Some believe their language resembles the dialect of the original colonists who landed in 1608.
The Eastern Shore of Virginia has a humid, temperate climate.
- Average winter temperature: 40 degrees
- Average summer temperature: 77 degrees
- Annual average rainfall: 42 inches
- Annual average snowfall: 6.0 inches
At a glance
- Average drive time to work: 15-30 minutes
- Population (2010): 45,553
- Median age (2010): 46.5 years
- Median family income (2010): $47,767
- Housing units (2010): 3,364,93
- Primary industries: Agriculture, seafood, railroad, space travel
The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel and the US Highway 13 connect the Eastern Shore of Virginia to the major metro areas of the East Coast. Several airlines provide service from Norfolk International Airport across the Chesapeake Bay.
Distance (from the town of Onancock)
- 75 miles north of Norfolk/Virginia Beach, VA
- 163 miles east of Richmond, VA
- 180 miles southeast of Washington, D.C.
- 200 miles south of Philadelphia, PA
- 7 elementary schools
- 2 combined schools
- 3 middle schools
- 3 high schools
- 1 community college
- 6 workforce and technical centers
- Eastern Shore of Virginia Guide, http://www.esva.com/calendar.htm
- Eastern Shore of Virginia Tourism, http://www.esvatourism.org/es_home/home.asp
- ESVA Chamber of Commerce, http://www.eschamber.com/
- Northampton County Chamber of Commerce, http://www.northamptoncountychamber.com
- Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce, http://www.chincoteaguechamber.com
- Virginia's Eastern Shore Artisan Trail, http://www.artisanscenterofvirginia.org/index.php/home/artisan_trail/C11/virginias-eastern-shore-artisan-trail
- Virginia Tourism Commission, https://www.virginia.org/regions/easternshore/