If autumn by the sea is more your style, turn your attention east to Virginia’s Eastern Shore (visitesva.com). It’s probably not the first destination that springs to mind when you think of LGBT-friendly travel. But Governor Northam’s home base is a surprisingly progressive place with a thriving queer population and many LGBT-owned and allied businesses.
Plus, you can drive the entire length of the Virginia Eastern Shore in about two hours. It’s perfect for a day trip or a weekend getaway characterized by great dining, eclectic antiquing and shopping, and exhilarating activities.
For seafood (and all food) lovers, start your visit at Chincoteague’s 47thAnnual Oyster Festival (chincoteagueoysterfestival.com) on October 12. Founded to mark the hallowed arrival of oyster season, the event draws visitors from all over the mid-Atlantic. You don’t have to be an oyster lover to find something good to eat! Come enjoy clam fritters, clam chowder, shrimp, hot dogs, hush puppies, Boardwalk fries, and a cold beer.
Get your hands dirty on a boat tour of the waters surrounding Chincoteague with Captain Berry’s Back Bay Cruises Expeditions (captainbarry.net). But be prepared to get wet. On this cruise, you’ll dig for clams, pull crab pots, and haul in a trawler net to see what delights King Neptune has to offer.
Run with the wild horses and take a tour with Assateague Explorer’s Pony Express (assateagueexplorer.com) nature tours. You’ll be assured at least a glimpse of the famous equestrian population.
Be the captain of your own ship and drift away on one of Southeast Expeditions’ kayak tours (southeastexpeditions.com).
Be the pilot of your own spacecraft with a visit to the NASA facility at Wallops Island (nasa.gov). Check their web site for a schedule of rocket launches and time your visit for a truly unforgettable experience
Shop ‘til you drop at the hundreds of unique retail opportunities on the Shore (visitesva.com). You can spend an entire day exploring the small towns and antique stores, flea markets, farmer and fish markets, art galleries, and specialty boutiques located on or just off the main highway.
Where to Stay
The charming Garden and Sea Inn (gardenandseainn.com) is just a few miles from Chincoteague. Transgender-owned and operated, the Inn is actually comprised of one modern home and two historic farm houses that date to the 1800s. The Inn is pet-friendly and sits on five gated acres of land, so there’s plenty of room walk the dog.
If the sound of gentle waves luring you to sleep each night is your groove, Key West Cottages (chincoteaguekeywestcottages.com) in Chincoteague is your spot. This charming row of modern pastel-hued cottages line the waterfront in the heart of downtown. Each cottage has a full kitchen and waterfront views, and all are in walking distance of the town’s restaurants, shopping, and attractions.
Where to Eat and Drink
When visiting the ocean, you want a taste of the ocean, and the Eastern Shore’s dining scene does not disappoint. The Island House Restaurant in Wachapreague (theislandhouserestaurant.com) has it all: fresh local seafood, award-winning Eastern Shore crab cakes, and a gorgeous view of Virginia’s barrier islands. Bring the boat. Slips and fuel are available.
Experience dockside dining a la the Keys at Mallards at the Wharf in Onancock (mallardsvamd.com). Johnny Mo the musical chef serves up his “all crab” crab cakes, famous jalapeño mussels, and mouthwatering filet mignon. You might even catch him strumming his guitar for guests!
Or head south to Cape Charles for a bayfront fine dining experience at Oyster Farm at Kings Creek (theoysterfarmatkingscreek.com), a casual oyster/raw bar and cocktail lounge. Flip flops and shorts allowed. Astounding sunsets are provided.