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Cape Charles and the Eastern Shore

"Located on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay, Cape Charles continues its amazing transformation, recapturing its 1880s glory days when the railroad gave birth to this post-Victorian beauty. " (

We decided to do some last minute "Wandering" for Spring Break and decided to explore the Eastern Shore for 2 days in Cape Charles, VA. This quaint town feels like Mayberry on the water. Now a fishing and agricultural town with a budding artisan community, we were charmed by its unique local shops and antique stores, small art galleries, and the expansive tidal pools at the Bay that were perfect for kid exploring. (My kids had never seen live mussles and oysters before and had a ball looking for them!) We were also fascinated by the unique story of the Concrete Ships!

If you go, be sure to check out:

  • The Hotel Cape Charles for an amazing stay at an unexpectedly modern boutique hotel. Ned (and Roxie the hotel dog) will take great care of you there!

  • The Shanty for great local seafood in a casual waterfront setting

  • The Gingernut Pub for sandwiches and craft beer

  • Brown Dog Ice Cream

  • Cape Charles Station Antiques & Collectibles (Alex was thrilled to score a vintage teal blue feather pillbox hat for her budding hat collection!)

  • Kiptopeke State Park for beautiful beach access to the Chesapeake Bay

  • The spooky and cool Concrete Ships

  • The Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, one of the United States' top five visitor centers. Located at the tip of the Delmarva Peninsula, this area is considered one of the most important avian migration funnels in North America. "Each fall, like colorful clockwork, the refuge is the scene of a spectacular drama as millions of songbirds and monarch butterflies and thousands of raptors converge on their voyage south. On peak days, 100,000 monarch butterflies have been seen on refuge roosts." Our kids were fascinated by the engaging tour guide here.

Cool things we learned:

  • 35 million years ago, a 2-3 mile wide meteor crashed to earth at Cape Charles. The impact cracked the crust of the earth as deep as 7 miles and blasted a crater 85 miles wide, which later formed the Chesapeake Bay.

  • Completed in 1964, the 23-mile Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel was considered one of the "Seven Engineering Wonders of the Modern World."

  • Just as steel had become scarce during the First World War, the Second World War was again consuming the country's steel resources. In 1942, the United States Maritime Commission contracted McCloskey and Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to build a new fleet of 24 concrete ships. (First time we had ever heard this!) They were primarily used as cargo ships. The U.S. government, flush with ships from World War II, no longer needed them years later , and in 1949, officials partially sunk nine concrete ships–the lower half of the hulls below the surface, resting on the bay, the top half exposed above the waterline–in two neat rows roughly parallel to the shore to shield a critical new ferry pier from storm swells.

Planning a Visit Summer of 2014:

  • The Third Annual Tall Ships at Cape Charles Festival is June 14 and 15, 2014. Go and see historic tall ships and skipjacks, encounter roving pirates and costumed re-enactors and even books sails abourd the tall ships! Check it out at

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