chincoteagueponieSeeing the wild ponies of Chincoteague, Virginia was first on the agenda as soon as we arrived and checked into the hotel. We found out quickly that this was easier said than done! Luckily, there was a great reception staff at the hotel and they guided us in the right direction.

Ever since I read Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry when I was a little girl, I have been fascinated with Chincoteague, Virginia and the wild ponies. It has been on my list of places to visit for as long as I can remember. I finally got my opportunity this past week.  These are some great places to spot the ponies in Chincoteague.

To see wild ponies, first head to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. There are a few parking pull-offs on Beach Road, but we didn’t have much luck here. The ponies were too far away to see even with my amateur telephoto lens. Instead, take a walk along the Woodland Trail. About half a mile into the trail, there is a pony viewing spot. Just as we arrived at the viewing spot, a huge herd of about 30 ponies came galloping out of the trees for a water break. The entire time we stood there, my kids and I were mesmerized by the wild ponies. You can sign up for a tour of the wildlife refuge and the opportunity to see more wild ponies at the Visitor Center. The tours are at 10 and 4. If you are interested in this tour, be sure to sign up for it early because they fill up quickly.

To get more of an up-close encounter with the ponies, the receptionist at our hotel said to head to the McDonald’s! When we realized she was serious, we drove out to the McDonald’s on Maddox Boulevard. Right next door to the McDonald’s is a pony pen that had seven or eight ponies and four newborn ponies. For a quarter, you can get corn feed out of a dispenser and feed the ponies. The children enjoyed this so much that we made two separate trips to the pony pen!

If your little ones would prefer a slow pony ride, riding lessons, or a pony show, the Chincoteague Pony Center is the place to stop. Pony rides are pricey at 6 dollars for three spins around the pen. According to the Chincoteague Pony Center, the descendants of Misty reside here.

On July 28, 2010, some 40,000 visitors will wait to see the Annual Chincoteague Wild Pony Swim and Pony Penning.

Photo courtesy of lynnmwillis.