9 kid-friendly activities in Cape Charles

Visit the LOVE sign. Head to the town’s beachfront at the intersection of Bay Avenue and Mason Avenue to check out Cape Charles’ famous LOVE sign, creatively composed of materials that reflect what the Eastern Shore is all about — from a tractor tire to kayaks. After you take a family photo, your kids will love climbing on the letters!

Go shell-hunting on the Barrier Islands. Taking a boat ride is thrilling in itself, but the shells you’ll find at your destination will give your kids a souvenir they’ll treasure for the rest of their lives.

Man and little boy riding a jet ski on the sea

Search out the Little Free Libraries. Because kids need beach reads, too! You’ll find at least three of these free library boxes around town, including one conveniently situated on Bay Avenue right beside the beach.

Rent jet skis. Got an adrenaline junkie in your family? Older kids will love the thrill of racing across the Chesapeake Bay on a jet ski. You’ll find local rentals available through Poseidon Watersports at the Town Harbor. 

Go shopping on Mason Avenue. With a candy store, kids’ store, and welcoming boutiques stocking plenty of toys and games, Mason Avenue is just as fun for kids as it is for their parents.

Take a carriage ride. Golf carts may be the preferred mode of transportation in Cape Charles, but if you’re looking for something a little bit different, try a carriage ride. Your family will love the feeling of going back in time while traversing city the historic district by horse and buggy.

Social distancing is still recommended in the name of public health and safety. Luckily, it’s not too hard to do that on Virginia’s expansive Eastern Shore — and still have a lot of fun in the process. With charming Cape Charles as your home base, here are five off-the-grid excursions where you can stay socially distant while making memories with your nearest and dearest.

Pretend that you’re on a deserted island at Savage Neck Dunes. This natural area preserve, a few minutes north of town feels like a world away. Savage Neck Dunes is known for its outstanding Chesapeake Bay beach, dune, and maritime forest communities, with three trails winding through nearly 300 acres. Look for rare migratory songbirds, tiger beetles, or just search for shells on your own quiet stretch of sand.

Kayak alongside the Ghost Ships at Kiptopeke. Head to Kiptopeke State Park for one of the most unique experiences on the Shore: kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding around nine partially sunken concrete ships known as the Ghost Fleet. You’ll often see dolphins as well as migratory and nesting birds around the ships. You’ll need to bring your own kayak or paddleboard.

Take a hike through the Cape Charles Natural Area Preserve. Craving a break from the beach? Discover the beauty and tranquility of the maritime loblolly pine forest at this natural preserve just outside of Cape Charles. A wide boardwalk leads you through several natural habitats on the way to an overlook beside the Bay. 

Look for birds at the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge. The location of this Eastern Shore refuge — right at the tip of the Delmarva Peninsula — creates a unique migration funnel for birds that results in some spectacular bird-watching, particularly in the fall. Stop by to see millions of songbirds, raptors, and butterflies converge as they fly south.

Explore the gardens of Eyre Hall. Mosey through some of the oldest gardens in the country, dating back to 1800. You’ll find ancient boxwood and gnarled crape myrtles towering over winding paths surrounded by brick walls brought as ballast from England. Allow yourself to be transported to another time as you’re drawn deeper into the gardens — we all could use a bit of healthy escapism now, couldn’t we?

When you’re craving a drink in Cape Charles, your biggest challenge may just be choosing between all of the options that local businesses have on offer. Whether your preferred beverage is coffee, beer, or moonshine, there’s sure to be an option to wet your whistle. Here are a few of the best things to drink in Cape Charles.

Packages of coffee placed on a shelf in store

Coffee from Eastern Shore Coastal Roasting Co. Start your day with a healthy jolt of caffeine from the Eastern Shore’s favorite coffee roasters. ESCR specializes in ethically grown products that are custom blended and roasted to order. Pick up a bag to make at home at Gull Hummock Gourmet Market, or grab a freshly brewed cup at Peach Street Books.

Close-up view of two glasses of beer and two plates of French fries and sausages on a restaurant table outside

Beer at Cape Charles Brewing Co. Named one of Virginia’s best breweries by readers in Virginia Living’s annual Best of Virginia poll, Cape Charles Brewing Co. is a family-run business with an impressive line-up of brews. Choose from locally inspired options like the Nor’Easter Pale Ale, Smith Island Oyster Stout, and Bayside Belgian Farmhouse Ale. 

Close-up view of three colorful cocktails placed on a bar

Cocktails at Cape Charles Distillery. You don’t have to leave the Shore for an upscale cocktail bar experience — Cape Charles Distillery offers top-notch cocktails made with hand-crafted local spirits. Grab a seat in their always-bustling tent for a craft cocktail, or pick up a bottle of their flagship bourbon, whiskeys, moonshine or vodka. It’s no wonder they won for Best Distillery and Best Cocktails in Eastern Virginia in Virginia Living’s 2020 Best of Virginia poll.

Cider at Buskey Cider on the Bay. A quick stroll from the beach, Buskey’s expansive deck is the ideal spot for a few sandy, post-beach rounds of refreshing cider. Sample a few of their creative flavors with one of their flights, or grab a pint of Watermelon Rosemary, Guava Hop, or Blueberry Pancake cider. Once you’ve settled on a favorite, be sure to snag a four-pack to take home.

Wine from Chatham Vineyards. Take a little road trip to scenic Chatham Vineyards, located just a few miles north of Cape Charles. This working farm has been in operation for four centuries, most recently serving as a high-density, European-style vineyard. Would you rather arrive by water? Book a spot on Southeast Expedition’s “Paddle Your Glass Off” kayak tour for a relaxing creek paddle that ends at the vineyards.

There are so many different ways to explore Cape Charles — and one of our favorites is driven by the tastebuds.

This small town offers an impressively robust culinary landscape, with unique flavors that you’ll find only on our little slice of the Eastern Shore. Stick with us, and we’ll show you how to get to know Cape Charles through some of its most delectable food.

Female pastry chef in front of three pieces of cake placed on cake holder

Start the Day with Something Sweet. A busy day at the beach requires proper fuel, so treat yourself to an indulgent pastry from one of our bakeries — or sit down to a full breakfast. The Bakery on Mason and Coastal Baking Co. have been known to see lines out the door as happy customers wait patiently to get their fix of scones, sticky buns, and muffins.

For a sit-down experience, grab a seat on the patio at the Cape Charles Coffee House for pancakes and prime people-watching, or head to Rayfield’s Pharmacy for a budget-friendly breakfast with the locals. Don’t miss out on the latest addition to the Cape Charles breakfast and lunch scene – The Northampton Hotel – offering homemade specialties on the porch or inside!

Don’t Skimp on Lunch. Mid-day is a great time to enjoy the shady picnic tables (and beer selection) at Cape Charles Brewing Co. — their clam chowder is award-winning for a reason and their burgers are some of the best in town. Stop by Kelly’s Gingernut Pub for classic Irish cuisine in a cozy setting, or return to any of our recommended breakfast spots for equally enjoyable lunchtime fare.

Close up of a restaurant table with two dishes, with harbor in background

A Dinner to Remember. For authentic Italian cuisine and a romantic vibe, visit Ambrogia Caffe & Enoteca. Or wrap up your day with a view of the water — The Shanty, Hook @ Harvey, and The Oyster Farm Seafood Eatery are all waterfront spots known for their fresh seafood and sunset views. Or order some Deadrise Pies to-go and take your pizza party right to the beach!