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  1. #1

    Default Advice for weekend trip(s) to Chesapeake Bay

    I am spending the summer in Virginia and would like to explore Chesapeake bay, but it's a big area and I only have a limited number of weekends available so I am looking for advice on places to visit. I will be traveling in a campervan and am looking for nice trails/beaches to hike, quiet RV parks that are close to or on the bay, quaint towns to explore, and good seafood (and other eats and drinks) served in relaxed atmosphere. Please send me you advice, favorites, recommendations.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Up and Down Both Sides of the Bay

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    There are plenty of places to visit the entire length of both shores of Chesapeake Bay, although most of it is in Maryland. But let's start with Virginia and work north along the western shore. Just north of Norfolk is the Historic Triangle which includes Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown. Next up, hugging the coast at the mouth of the Potomac is Smith Point where you can grab a ferry over to either Tangier Island (where natives speak in a unique dialect) or Smith Island in the Bay. To continue on up into Maryland, you'd have to go west a bit to cross the Potomac on US-301. If you do so, there are a couple of places that are worth a visit. St. Marys City was the original capital of Maryland, but the real jewel of the western shore is Annapolis, the current capital. There you'll find a great city to walk through with interesting architecture and the U.S. the Naval Academy. You can also cross over to the Eastern Shore (Note the difference: Eastern Shore is capitalized, western shore is not.) of the Bay here using the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. (Another difference to note: the bridge at Annapolis across the middle of the Bay is the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, the bridge at Norfolk across the mouth of the Bay is the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel.)

    In any event working north from the southern end of the eastern side of the Bay, you'd have a number of small towns in the Virginia portion of the Delmarva Peninsula, with the first significant-sized town being the crabbing/oystering/fishing village of Chrisfield in Maryland. You can get to Tangier and Smith Islands by ferry from there as well. Working northward, I'd suggest that you swing to the east a bit and visit three special islands on the Atlantic side of the peninsula - Chincoteague (home to wild ponies), Wallops (a NASA launch facility), and Assateague (a bit of un-developed beach, but crowded on weekends.) Swinging back to the Bay side, there's St. Michaels, home to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, and then you're up to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge again. A bit farther north is Chestertown, another great walking town especially if the schooner Sultana is in port.


  3. #3

    Default Bayside cruising

    Hello Sprinter Fan,

    I have the great good fortune to spend time on and around the Bay. In addition to my friend AZ Buck's fine recommendations, I offer the following:

    Virginia Beach: About 4 miles east of the southern end of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (CBBT) is First Landings State Park. First Landings has old-style Bayside campsites, most if not all of which are shaded by liveoaks and pines, and it's a good 6-7 miles from the madness which constitutes the main tourist Oceanfront section of VB. First Landings is something like 2,700 acres and is laced with foot and cycle trails, linking the Bay itself with backwaters along Long Creek, Broad Bay, The Narrows, and Linkhorn Bay. My wife regularly cycles within First Landings and it's rare she doesn't see at least one bald eagle. The main trail through the park is an old railroad grade, now named the Cape Henry Trail, which emerges on 64th Street, about 25 blocks north of the beginning of the high-rise hotel and condo section of the Oceanfront. The cycle route there follows a fairly protected frontage road to about 40th street, then crosses over to the ocean side where it becomes a bicycle-only concrete/asphalt boardwalk all the way down to Rudee Inlet, 40 blocks which translates to around 4 miles. So, one can get on a bicycle and ride about 4 miles through shaded maritime forest, then around 6 miles on protected cycle paths, and back for a 20 mile ride, or just enjoy a good 6-8 miles of loop foot trails within the forest and along the marshes bordering the backwaters.

    CBBT: When crossing the Bay on the CBBT, be sure to stop at the First Island (South Island). It's the only place to legally stop along the crossing, and it provides a close-up look at commercial and Naval shipping from all over the world, as they pass over the mile-long tunnel connecting the First and Second Islands to reach the ports of Norfolk, Portsmouth, Hampton, Newport News, and Richmond. A cafe and gift shop are located on the First Island.

    Kiptopeake State Park: Just a mile or four up the Eastern Shore from the north end of the CBBT is a nice State Park unit with both open and shaded campsites and walking-distance access to the Bay at the old ferry landing, where a fleet of ferries carried highway and rail traffic across the Bay to Little Creek on the Norfolk side prior to the opening of the CBBT in 1964. The ferry landing pier is still accessible and is now a public fishing pier. The pier area is just 100-200 yards from a series of 7 or 8 WWI-era cargo ships which were sunk to provide a breakwater for the ferry landing, which lacks any semblance of a natural harbor. Oddly enough, the cargo ships were made of lightweight reinforced concrete, so we boaters just call the area "The Concrete Ships" . They're fascinating to look at and are thoroughly populated with seabirds nowadays.

    Cape Charles (town of): The town of Cape Charles is neat and is undergoing something of a revival, with the waterside main business district seeing new shops and eateries all the time. A pleasant Bayside walk and city gazebo runs along the Bay. A short distance north of town lies King's Creek, and I believe there is a commercial KOA-style campground there (Cherrystone?).

    To reach Assateague National Seashore, one must pass by the Wallops Island NASA launch facility. Many don't realize the extent to which NASA launches smaller vehicles from WI, and nowadays there are regular commercial satellite launches there, too. There is a museum and outdoor exhibits.

    Chincoteague: You cross a 2-3 mile patch of salt marsh between WI and the gateway to Assateague, which is Chincoteague. Chincoteague is plenty crowded with tourists accessing Assateague, especially on weekends, and to a completely difficult degree during July's annual pony roundup/auction, when the herd on Assateague is rounded up, culled, and the culled ponies driven across a narrow inlet between Assateague and Chincoteague. Chincoteague has a pretty neat little "downtown" with an old movie theater and a plethora of Mom and Pop bookstores, gift shops, and eateries. I am fairly certain there are campgrounds on Chincoteague, where by bringing your own bicycle or renting one in town, accesses Assateague easily over a short causway and a couple of miles of protected bike paths. You can ride all the way to the ocean beach on Assateague from anywhere on Chincoteague.

    A little south of the turn-off for Chincoteague/Assateague/WI are signs directing you to ferries accessing Tangier Island. I think the crossing distance and time is somewhat shorter from this Eastern Shore port than from the western shore.

    On up in Maryland, as you approach the Bay Bridges near Annapolis, US 301 first crosses Kent Island. On Kent Island are two entirely enjoyable (if a bit rowdy) establishments. Harris Crab House features local steamed blue crabs, and the #1 Jimmies are as big as a small lobster. They're served on picnic tables covered with Kraft paper with a side of cold beer. Next door is Red Eyes Dock Bar, drawing big crowd of rowdy Annapolis, DC, and Baltimore boaters every weekend.

    In Annapolis, the waterside area known as Ego Alley draws boaters ready to strut their stuff along a narrow waterway where they tie up to access restaurants and bars. Weekends there get pretty interesting, just like across the Bay at Red Eyes.

    I'm a lot less familiar with some of the areas along the western shore, but the Piankatank River and Gwynn's Island look inviting, as do some of the tributaries of both sides of the Rappahannock River.

    Enjoy your weekends while in Virginia, and do post some trip reports, won't you?


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Yes, please do.

    Quote Originally Posted by Foy View Post
    Enjoy your weekends while in Virginia, and do post some trip reports, won't you?
    With all that great advice, I imagine you will have wonderful weekend trips / adventures. As Foy mentioned, please come back and tell us about each one. I for one will be very interested, as I am sure others coming to this site would be.

    In fact we have a special forum for this purpose. And of course, we love to see your pictures.


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