Assateague Island National Park
Assateague State Park


Activities


Even if you camp at Assateague Island National Park or Assateague State Park for a week or more at a time, you'll never run out of fun things to do!

Each time we visit the island we try to experience something new. 

Wild Ponies Enjoying the Morning Surf at Assateague Island National Park

Wild ponies enjoy the beach in the early morning at Assateague Island National Park before the inevitable heat and bugs force them to take cover on this summer day.


Things to Do on Assateague Island


Biking

Biking is a wonderful way to explore the island. It's fun for both families and individuals.

We bike every day when we camp. It's a great way to see the sunset over the bay in the evenings.

If you bike into Assateague Island National Park, you don't have to pay an entrance fee!

Enjoying the Woodland Trail at Assateague Island National Park

National Park - Maryland District

In Maryland, Assateague Island National Park has a four-mile-long bike path that runs from one end of the park to the other.

This path can be accessed from the mainland as well - just start at the Barrier Island Visitor's Center and head over the bridge to connect to the bike path. 

National Park - Virginia District

In the Virginia District, there is a bike path that will take you from Chincoteague Island over to Assateague Island.

There are four additional trails once you get there:

  • Wildlife Loop, 3 1/4 mile long
  • Woodland Trail, 1 1/2 mile long
  • Swan Cove Trail, 1/2 mile long
  • Black Duck Marsh Trail, 1 mile long

Assateague State Park

There is a very nice, wide bike trail that runs the entire length of the park. It also can connect to the National Park's bike trails if you wish for a longer ride, or you can ride a dedicated path up over the main bridge from Assateague Island to the Maryland mainland. This path takes you over the bay (beautiful!) and right into the Barrier Island Visitor's Center parking lot.


Surf Fishing at Assateague Island National Park


Fishing

Fishing in both the bay and the surf is popular among individuals and families.



Crabbing

for the feisty (and delicious) Maryland Blue Swimming Crab

Our favorite bayside activity! Sometimes easy, sometimes challenging, but whether you throw them back or keep them for dinner, it's a lot of fun!

We always make time for crabbing. Watch your fingers though! (I learned the hard way)

Blue Crab I Caught on Assateague

Clamming

Time to get your feet wet! All you need is a basket, a clam rake and water shoes.


Canoeing or Kayaking

Assateague Island is beautiful from the ocean - but exploring it from the Sinepuxent bay gives a new, equally gorgeous perspective.

The State Park offers guided canoe and kayak tours as well.


Birdwatching

Assateague Island National Park is a popular destination for bird enthusiasts. I've always wanted to visit in the springtime to see what all the fuss is about! It's on my ever-growing Assateague to-do list.


Wildlife Viewing

Assateague's famous wild ponies are always strutting their stuff in plain sight, but there's many more creatures that call this island their home.

For a real treat, venture over to bayside and be amazed at the abundance of life thriving in the saltmarsh.


Hiking

Take a walk down the beach or explore the nature trails. It's a great way to see all the different ecosystems of the island.

Assateague Island National Park has many trails that are fun and educational for families to enjoy.

Maryland District Trails:

  • Life of the Dunes, 1/2 mile long
  • Life of the Forest, 1/2 mile long
  • Life of the Marsh, 1/2 mile long

Virginia District Trails:

  • Service Road, 7 miles long
  • Swan Cove Trail, 1/2 mile long
  • Black Duck Marsh Trail, 1 mile long
  • Freshwater Marsh Trail, 1 mile long
  • Lighthouse Trail,1/2 miles long
  • Wildlife Loop, 3 1/4 miles long
  • Woodland Trail Loop, 1 1/2 miles long


Swimming

Probably the most popular activity on Assateague Island is taking a dip in the Atlantic Ocean.


Over Sand Vehicle Driving

Explore the lesser-known parts of Assateague Island in your truck or SUV. If you are feeling ambitious, why not drive all the way to Virginia? Just remember to stay above the high tide line!

Interpretive Programs at the Nature Center

There are too many programs and activities to list here. Assateague State Park does a wonderful job of hosting activities that both adults and children will enjoy.

All interpretive programs are posted weekly on all the bathhouses as well as in the ranger station. Visit the Nature Center between D and E camping loops for more information.

Many are free and the rest are very affordable.

  • Arts and Crafts

  • Yoga on the Beach

  • Clamming, Crabbing and Fishing Classes

  • Sandcastle Building Contest

  • Tie-Die Tuesday

  • "Ranger Programs" for children of all ages

  • Wildlife-Based Exploration Programs


Ranger Guided Programs

Assateague Island National Park provides educational and fun ranger-guided programs in both the Maryland and Virginia districts. Contact the park directly for current program listings and information. 


Barrier Island Visitor Center

This isn't your grandma's visitor center! Assateague Island National Park just unveiled a brand new, beautiful visitor center located just before the Verrazzano Bridge entrance to the National Park's Maryland District and Assateague State Park.

There are aquariums, educational exhibits, film showings and a touch tank (my favorite!). Inquire about the park's many interactive programs, look at pictures and read about each wild pony. Don't forget to browse the gift shop and book store before you leave! Much of the profit goes directly back to the park and to the ponies.

The visitor center is open all year from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, except on Thanksgiving and Christmas days. It can be reached at (410) 641-1441.


What's our favorite thing to do on Assateague Island?


Of all the years we've been camping on Assateague, the thing I still look forward to the most is taking a long, slow walk on the empty beach first thing in the morning when the sun comes up.

My husband and I carry our freshly percolated coffee, take our sandals off at the top of the dune, and walk in the foamy water that eases up onto the shore with each crash of a wave.

To this day, it is still my most favorite and cherished activity. Our dogs enjoy it too!

Don't forget your camera! Things we often see on our morning beach stroll:

  • Dolphins swimming up and down the coast

  • Pelicans flying overhead

  • Fishing boats heading out to sea

  • Wild ponies enjoying a dip in the ocean, playing on the beach or snoozing in the warm rays of the rising sun

  • Various birds digging up their breakfast from the sand
A Beautiful Sunrise at Assateague Island National Park

Even if you're not a morning person, you really should get up in time to see the sun rise over the ocean at least once. Trust me, it's worth it!


Share Your Assateague Experience

What's Your Favorite Thing to Do on Assateague Island?

Help others discover the joys of Assateague Island by sharing your favorite activities! If you would like, please include up to 4 pictures of yourself, family, or friends enjoying the activity. Don't forget to share why this particular activity is your favorite, or describe the story behind your picture(s). Note that if you upload more than one image, they will appear as clickable thumbnail images in your submission.

What Others Enjoy Doing on Assateague Island

Click below to see what others enjoy doing on Assateague Island

Night Walks on the Beach & Ghost Crab Hunting 
Night walks on the beach. Our kids love ghost crab hunting! Everything about Assateague is awesome! Such a magical place!

Click here to write your own.


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Related Links

Assateague Island National Seashore

Assateague Island State Park

Assateague Camping