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  • Writer's pictureMatt Carter

Assateague Island (Maryland & Virginia)

Updated: Jan 6, 2019

Assateague Island National Seashore is a 37-mile island off of Maryland and Virginia that is famous for the wild-horses that roam its shores and having one of the best beaches on the East coast. It is the perfect long-weekend beach getaway, just hours from New York City, with activities for folks of every age.

History of the Island

dAssateague is one of the largest mid-Atlantic barrier islands - that spans 48,000 acres across Maryland and Virginia. The National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources collectively manage the island to ensure its ecosystem is well maintained.

The wild horses that abound throughout the island have been residents of Assateague for hundreds of years, originally descended from domestic horses who survived a shipwreck in the late 17th century. The horses roam wild on the Maryland side of the island (where you can camp), while the Virginia side of the island offers visitors the chance to go horseback riding on domesticated horses all year round

Getting There

It's about a four hour drive from New York City, with no public transportation available on the island. You can drive towards Ocean City, MD and enter the park from the north; full driving directions are available on the National Park Service's website.

Where to Stay

Visitors to Assateague could spend just a day enjoying the island, but camping on the island for at least a night is highly recommended in order to take advantage of all the activities and wildlife-spotting the island has to offer. During the summer reservations go very quickly, so be sure to plan ahead (you can book as far as six months ahead on the NPS website). Sites are $30 per night and are available on and off the actual beach -- both will require you to pack extra strength, super duty, XL bug repellent (consider a bug suit if you're extra sensitive as the bugs are no joke)


The island has activities for people of all ages -- you can walk around the island's beautiful boardwalks to bird watch, go fishing, swimming, kayaking or paddle boarding. The island has a couple of places to pick up snacks, but make sure you pack plenty of food and drink for your stay; otherwise you'll have to drive out to one of the nearby markets or restaurants.

Plan ahead and enjoy your trip to Assateague Island!

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