Virginia: Assateague Island
If wild horses are your thing, then Chincoteague and Assateague Islands are your mecca. This area is the home of -- and the setting for -- the popular "Misty of Chincoteague" ponies and stories. On the island of Assateague, you'll see bands of these beautiful wild ponies. In addition, there are tiny deer, scores of birds, and lots of marine life. The beach is long and lovely, and showers and bathrooms are available for beachgoers. For best viewing of the ponies, look around the Black Duck Marsh area from observation platforms along Beach Road and Woodland Trail. Pony Penning usually takes place on the last Wednesday and Thursday of July, and the area is usually jammed during that week.
Assateague is a National Park, so it is undeveloped and only camping is allowed. In Chincoteague, however, family-oriented accommodations abound. Check out the Refuge Motor Lodge www.refugeinn.com (888-257-0039 or 757-336-5511) and the Driftwood Lodge www.driftwoodmotorlodge.com (800-553-6117 or 757-336-6557), located closest to the bridge leading to Assateague. If your kids haven't seen any ponies, there are usually some available for petting in the shaded area next to the Driftwood. If you'd rather rent a vacation home, one of the largest rental agency on the island is Island Property Enterprises www.islandprop.com(757-336-3456).