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Today officially marks the end of summer as school starts for our kids but last week we had the opportunity to visit one of our favorite local vacation spots— Chincoteague, Virginia. Just over three hours from Washington, D.C., the town of Chincoteague feels like a world away from our Nation’s Capitol thanks to an abundance of nature, sand, and surf. It’s a place that makes you want to leave your digital devices behind in favor of being in the moment to take in the scenery and truly relax.
Last year we spent five blissful days in Chincoteague, exploring the islands for the first time. We took bikes to explore quiet trails that led to remote parts of neighboring Assateague Island National Seashore, a gorgeous 37 mile long beach with stretches of sand that aren’t accessible by car, and discovered front yard farm stands set up by locals selling tomatoes, corn, and cantaloupe on the honor system.
We set crab pots in hopes of catching some Blue Crabs for dinner, ate oysters pulled straight from the salty waters of the Chesapeake Bay, and had a hands-on sea life expedition adventure with Captain Barry to experience the life of the Chincoteague Waterman. We also wondered what life was like in Chincoteague at the time that Marguerite Henry wrote Misty of Chincoteague, a story of two children who raise a wild pony purchased after the Island’s annual Pony Swim.
At the end of our five days, we left feeling like Chincoteague would become an annual vacation spot for our family but when this summer came around, it didn’t seem like we’d make it back this year. Ideally we wanted to spend 5 days like we had last year but when Choice Hotels offered two nights anywhere we wanted to stay as part of their #VacayGoneCrayCray vacation do-over contest, we knew we’d love to squeeze in a quick trip to Chincoteague at the end of the summer. Last week’s three day, two night trip was just what our family needed to end what had already been a wonderful summer as we look forward to another exciting year.
As we left the DC Metro Area, drove through small towns like Salisbury, and crossed bridges, I felt each breath getting deeper as we approached our destination. I could feel the excitement in the back seat too as the kids talked about favorite things to do, wondering how soon we would hit the beach and when we’d get to visit Island Creamery for favorite ice cream flavors. As we drove over the bridge to Chincoteague, Comfort Suites was right there to greet us as one of the first properties you see on the island.
Last year we rented a condo just down the street so it was a hotel that I had seen before and knew it was in close proximity to all the things we loved about where we had stayed before but I had forgotten that the rooms had balconies overlooking Chincoteague Bay that offered gorgeous vistas of the water.
Balconies come with two chairs and a table, perfect for enjoying breathtaking sunsets or just watching the boats drift by.
The balcony also serves as a great spot for watching kids from afar as they enjoy time in the outdoor pool with Dad! The outdoor pool is just one of two pools on property- there’s also an indoor pool and hot tub. Both pools have kid friendly depths of 3-5 feet.
The spacious rooms provided the perfect accommodations for our family of four but can sleep up to six thanks to a pull out sofa. Rooms also include a microwave and mini fridge, perfect for stashing favorite snacks or chilling drinks before putting them in your cooler for a day at the beach.
Things we loved:
- The accommodating staff. It didn’t matter if we visited the Front Desk in the morning or at night. The staff was always friendly and accommodating to adults and kids alike.
- Free breakfast with long hours.Most hotels that offer free breakfast offer a short 2 hour window so breakfast hours stretching from 6-11 am were a refreshing change especially since our kids were wiped out after our first day there and slept in! I also appreciated the nice assortment of fresh fruit and healthy options like yogurt and oatmeal along with other offerings like eggs, sausage, cereal, make your own waffles, and pastries.
- Little touches like the Guest Appreciation Social. On Tuesdays from 5:30-7 pm, a nice spread is set out for guests. On the Tuesday we were there Comfort Suites staff offered chili, salad, fruit, and crème puffs. As my kids grabbed a couple crème puffs at the start of the social, another couple told us that they were going to go up to their room and enjoy eating this on the balcony as dinner. When we stopped by later on our way out to dinner, I noticed that the almost empty Crock Pot of chili had been refilled and was almost full again. It’s nice that the food is replenished, instead of a first-come, first serve free for all.
- Wide walkway along the water. From our balcony, we loved watching people crabbing and fishing below on the public walkway. Guests don’t need to be concerned about security though since the pools and doors along the water side of the property can only be accessed with a hotel key.
- Two pools. Even after playing at the beach all day, our kids enjoyed use of both pools. I loved sitting at the outdoor pool with the view of the water but once the sun started to go down, they liked going inside to swim in the indoor one with the hot tub.
- Bike racks out front. While we didn’t bring our bikes on this vacation, I did note the availability of bike racks right by the door to the hotel for guests to secure their rides whether bringing bikes from home or renting them on the island.
- Outdoor tables along the water for guest use. One of our favorite places to eat in Chincoteague is Captain Zack’s but despite having outdoor tables, I liked the option of dining al fresco at a table along the water at Comfort Suites while enjoying beer from our mini fridge.
Quirky things to note:
- Charge for using the safe. Usually hotels with safes provide them free of charge with the room so it was a bit surprising to see a $1.50/day charge on the bill for a safe. Upon inquiring about the charge, the staff quickly told us that if we didn’t use the safe, just to let them know at checkout and we wouldn’t be charged. I have no problem paying $1.50/day for a safe but I just hadn’t seen that before at other properties we’ve stayed at.
- Towel cards. Upon check in, you’re issued one card per member in your party. Each card is redeemable for a purple pool towel at the Front Desk. I like that this system can encourage guests to be eco-friendly by reducing excessive towel use but felt badly handing used towels in to the Front Desk, instead of leaving them in our room. We almost left the towels in our room upon checkout but then remembered that failure to turn in the towels to the Front Desk to get our towel cards back to hand in at check-out could result in a $20 per card charge. I have a feeling that if we had let the Front Desk know that our towels were in our room they would have been ok with it but I’m just too much of a rule follower!
When choosing places to stay on Chincoteague, there are many other hotel chains to choose from but it’s easy to see why the Comfort Suites Chincoteague is an award winning property. From the accommodating staff, gorgeous vistas, attention to detail, and well maintained spacious rooms that are family friendly, this is a great place to stay when enjoying time in Chincoteague and Assateague and one we’d absolutely select again for a short stay in lieu of a week long condo rental.
For our Monday-Wednesday stay, we reserved a 1 room suite with 2 queen beds on the water front with a balcony. The cost for 2 nights was $532.01, including tax. Other room options may be available for a lower rate, depending on the type of room and duration of your stay.
While we had another relaxing vacation in Chincoteague, we all know that not all vacations turn out the way you want them to. If you’ve ever had a vacation that wasn’t as enjoyable or relaxing as you had hoped, Choice Hotels hopes you’ll enter their #VacayGoneCrayCray contest by 11:59 pm EST August 27th for a chance to be awarded $10,000 from Choice Hotels for a vacation do-over.Submit your worst vacation experiences for the chance for your tale to be immortalized by YouTube sensations Rhett & Link through their uber-successful Good Mythical Morning show, and to be entered to win $10,000 from Choice Hotels to redo your trip! Good luck! For Official Rules, including prize descriptions, and how to enter, visit www.vacaygonecraycray.com
Choice Hotels provided our family with 2 nights at one of their properties and spending money for a vacation do-over this summer. All opinions are my own and based on our family’s experiences during our stay. The Comfort Suites Chincoteague did not know that I would be writing a review of the property as part of my stay although I did let them know at check out and thanked them for a wonderful stay.