Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Places: Beach Vacation

There's something to be said for finding one of those rare places left that has character. My family has been going to the same beach since the 1980's and it's one of the only places I know of untouched by Starbucks and shopping plazas, boardwalks and fast food chains. Well, to be fair, they do have one McDonalds, but that's been there as long as the island so I consider that particular set of golden arches part of the island's charm.

It's called Chincoteague Island, VA. In the small, mostly retired, town is a feeling of what my dad calls "unpretentiousness" which is really refreshing. It makes no attempts at flash or flair, much like it's laid-back citizens. In fact, it wallows in it's genuine antique feel. It's crafty and quaint without having to try, and just a conversation with anyone hanging around a dock will give you a little insight into the ups and downs a beach town like this will have over the years between recessions, dry spells, and hurricanes. Nevertheless, it keeps coming back in a refreshing blend of old favorites and new additions to the island. 

Our favorite things to return to, besides the beach, are the small mom and pop places to nosh on some great old-fashioned ice cream and gourmet sandwiches. Restaurants here tend towards diner style toward the beach and mix in some higher end seafood options farther inland. The beach itself is actually located inside the Assateague Wildlife refuge, known for it's wild pony population that sometimes gets spotted roaming the beaches on hot days. The refuge keeps the beachfront free of the boardwalk atmosphere and gives this place a natural feeling that colors the whole town as a place that--while it might be taken over by Mother Nature someday--will not bend to this century's corporate interests. 

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