Fodor's Expert Review Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge
Virginia's Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge occupies the southern third of Assateague Island, directly off Chincoteague Island. (The northern two-thirds, part of Maryland, comprise the Assateague Island National Seashore.) Created in 1943 as a resting and breeding area for the imperiled greater snow goose as well as other birds, this refuge's location makes it a prime place for birding. It also protects native and migratory non-avian wildlife, including the Delmarva fox squirrel, which inhabits its interior pine forests. A 3.2-mile self-guided wildlife loop is a great introduction to the refuge. Bike or walk it; it's open to vehicles only between 3 pm and dusk.
The famed Chincoteague ponies occupy a section of the refuge isolated from the public, but they may still be seen in the distance from a number of spots. Swimming, surf fishing, picnicking, and bicycling are all available on the island.