11 Incredible Things to Do in Cape Charles, VA

This site contains affiliate links, which means that if you purchase something after clicking on one of our links, we may receive a commission.
There aren’t many places in Virginia that offer the same laid-back vibe as Cape Charles. This is a list of the finest things to do in Cape Charles, Virginia, a laid-back beach town on the Eastern Shore.

Cape Charles had always piqued my interest, but I never got around to making the trip to Virginia’s underappreciated Eastern Shore.

The community of just over 1,000 people has a lot to offer, including some of Virginia’s best beaches on the Chesapeake Bay.

Thankfully, it was Cape Charles that provided me my first impression of the area when I arrived. And, of course, I left with a very pleasant impression (and a strong desire to return)!

I could spend a month on the Eastern Shore just doing the things to do in Chincoteague and Cape Charles!

This guide can help you plan a day trip or weekend vacation to Cape Charles if you’re seeking for things to do there. Please offer any suggestions for things to do in Cape Charles, VA in the comments section!

Where is Cape Charles?

Cape Charles is located on Virginia’s Eastern Shore in the south. If you’re going from Maryland or the north and crossing the Chesapeake Bay-Bridge Tunnel, you’ll see signs for Cape Charles and will pass through.

The Virginia town is on the Chesapeake Bay, not the Atlantic, and it is on a peninsula on that side of the bay, surrounded on three sides by water. If you’re on the Eastern Shore, it’s definitely worth a visit!

Fun Things to do in Cape Charles, VA

Here’s a list of fun things to do in Cape Charles that we’ve compiled. Please leave a comment if you have any suggestions that I did not put on my list so that I can check them out next time and so that other readers can add them to their travel plans!

Explore the Cape Charles Historic District

The Cape Charles Historic District is one of the must-see attractions in Cape Charles. In 1989, the National Historic District was surveyed, and in 1991, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

This is a fantastic destination to visit if you want to understand more about Cape Charles’ history. The history dates back to the 1880s when the Delmarva Peninsula needed to convey products and vegetables across the Chesapeake Bay.

The town eventually flourished, but when World War II broke out, many services were interrupted. Around 30 years ago, the ferry service was likewise discontinued.

Cape Charles’ Historic District consists of 526 buildings and three additional constructions.

The Seafood Headquarters (1886), A.L. Detwiler House (1919), Kellogg House (1924), and the US Post Office are some of the most prominent buildings included in the town’s growth and worth seeing (1932).

In addition, public piers and beaches can be found in this area. They’re also quite stunning and well worth a visit!

Relax at Kiptopeke State Park

Kiptopeke State Park is a recreation area in Eastern Virginia that serves visitors to Cape Charles and the Eastern Shore.

Visitors can see a wide range of avifauna in this location (I spotted an osprey there)! The area comes to life during the winter months, when migratory birds congregate.

Since its inception in 1963, the State Park has aided in the research of the Eastern Shore bird population.

Hawks, ospreys, kestrels, and other species can be found in the park. It is, without a doubt, one of Virginia’s top birdwatching spots.

Go Jetskiing

Cape Charles is a great area to visit if you enjoy adventure sports or activities.

The sparkling water of the Chesapeake Bay is ideal for a variety of water sports, including kayaking and jet skiing. At the beach grounds, there are multiple rental shacks for various jet skiing equipment.

Enjoy the beauty of the sunset while water splashes across your face, or look for dolphins if you’re lucky enough to see one.

You can either wait until you arrive in town or contact Poseidon Watersports in Cape Charles ahead of time to hire a jet ski.

View the Cape Charles Lighthouse

From Cape Charles, you can see Virginia’s and the United States’ highest lighthouses, which are both located on Smith Island. This one replaced the former one, which was built in 1828 as a result of a Congressional order.

The new Cape Charles Lighthouse, which was completed in 1864 in a skeleton-style of cast iron, was also built by Congressional Order.

You won’t be able to walk up to the Cape Charles attraction, but you will be able to see it. Although it is no longer in use, it is nevertheless a magnificent site to see.

Visit the Cape Charles Museum (Welcome Center)

The Cape Charles Museum, which showcases the history of the Eastern Shore community, first opened its doors to the public in 1996.

Make sure to include it on your agenda for anyone who wants to get a true experience of this spectacular area in Virginia, including history buffs.

Storyboards, pictures, and other documentation tracing the history of Cape Charles back to the 1880s are used to illustrate the local history of this location.

Steamers, barges, native tools, and different antiquities are among the other exhibits. It will provide you with a wealth of information about what makes Cape Charles such a popular vacation spot in Virginia.

Head to the Savage Neck Dunes State Natural Area

Savage Neck Dunes State Natural Area is the best destination to visit in Cape Charles if you are an offbeat traveller searching for a little free time away from town amidst the grandeur of nature.

Wide-open beaches, infinite ocean, and a fresh wind combine to create Savage Neck Dunes a one-of-a-kind destination.

A Chesapeake Bay beach, migratory songbird habitat, and more may be found on the 298-acre property.

A large population of northeastern beach tiger beetles can also be seen. You can’t just ‘walk over’ to this location because it’s located north of the peninsula where Cape Charles is located.

While this nature park is open to the public on a daily basis, it lacks restrooms, trash cans, and drinking water. In addition, the parking lot has a capacity of only eight cars. Do not park illegally and, whatever you do, leave no trace!

Savage Neck Dunes Natural Preserve has three hiking paths. Additional information on Savage Neck Dunes Natural Area Preserve can be found in this state-provided guide and fact sheet.

Stop into Lemon Tree Gallery and Studio

Lemon Tree Gallery and Studio is a haven for artists of all kinds. In this location, you may see the charming setting as well as various entertaining events.

It is without a doubt one of the best spots to visit in Cape Charles for people looking to get away from the beach and the natural world for a while.

The events at this Clelia Sheppard-owned art studio and gallery change every week to keep the audience entertained. You can also engage in some self-expression by attending live workshops and lectures with artists such as Bethany Simpson and Thelma Peterson.

Enjoy some limoncello and chocolate pastries while channelling your inner artist and taking in all that Cape Charles has to offer on a lovely afternoon.

While you’re still on the Eastern Shore, it’ll transport you to the Amalfi Coast!

Take a Stroll at the Cape Charles Natural Area Preserve

Virginia has wonderful vacations for all types of visitors, and one thing we excel at is ‘nature.’ If you enjoy learning about Virginia’s various ecosystems, this natural area should be on your itinerary.

The Cape Charles Natural Area Preserve is a 29-acre preserve with a diverse range of coastal vegetation and animals. You’ll encounter some interesting bug species, such as tiger beetles.

During the fall season, this preserve serves as a natural habitat for various migratory species, making it a popular place for bird watching in Virginia at that time of year and throughout the year.

During the winter, keep a look out for various groups of waterfowl. There are almost 240 different bird species recorded here!

Once there, you’ll find a long boardwalk that winds its way through numerous natural communities, including the Maritime Loblolly Pine Forest, before reaching a bluff with spectacular views of the Chesapeake Bay.

Due to the sensitivity of the ecosystem, there are no amenities and beach access is forbidden.

Try Local Craft Beer at Cape Charles Brewing Co.

Mark Charles, his brother Chris, and their mother Deborah founded this Cape Charles brewery, and it has been a local favourite ever since!

The beer is handcrafted just for its customers. The tasting room/pub is also adorned with all of the wooden and handcrafted items, creating a cosy and vintage atmosphere.

Some of the beers available at Cape Charles Brewing Co. are named after Virginia’s islands.

Seaside Sour, Capetoberfest, and Fisherman’s Island are just a few of the popular beers available in a glass or growler.

They also organise a number of events on-site, so check out their website to see what’s going on if you’re visiting Cape Charles in the spring, summer, or fall.

Have a Seafood Feast at Shanty Restaurant

Don’t forget to have dinner at Shanty while you’re on vacation in Cape Charles! Shanty serves you some of the best seafood in town, as well as a lovely environment.

Their clam chowder is wonderful! While listening to the sound of the water and birds, enjoy a wonderful supper with fresh catch on the beach.

At Shanty, there’s always something going on in a variety of locations, from live entertainment to special cuisines to dockside seats… It’s a must-visit restaurant and dining experience in Cape Charles!

On Fridays, stop over for their ‘Buck a Shuck,’ where you may sample fresh bay oysters on the half shell!

Go Golfing at Bay Creek Resort and Club

Bay Creek Resort and Club, located on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, is a perfect escape where you can play a round of golf at one of the top courses on the Eastern Seaboard.

The Cape Charles resort spans 1,720 acres and includes a 27-hole golf course created by Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, as well as a private beach where guests can enjoy swimming, fishing, coastal hiking, and a variety of water sports.

To be clear, this is a living community. However, the golfing is excellent, and the resort offers a variety of other activities for tourists.

What to Do in Cape Charles – Recap

Here’s a quick rundown of the above-mentioned activities to do at Cape Charles:

  • Historic District of Cape Charles
  • Kiptopeke State Park is located in Kiptopeke, New York.
  • Jetskiing is a fun activity.
  • The Cape Charles Museum and Welcome Center is located in Cape Charles, Virginia.
  • Cape Charles Lighthouse is a lighthouse on the coast of Virginia.
  • State Natural Area of Savage Neck Dunes
  • Restaurant in a shack
  • Preserve of the Cape Charles Natural Area
  • Lemon Tree Studio & Gallery
  • Cape Charles Brewing Co. is a brewery in Cape Charles, Virginia.
  • Bay Creek Resort and Club is a private club located in Bay Creek, Florida.

Where to Stay in Cape Charles

Travelers can stay in a number of places in Cape Charles, and here are some of our favourites. Please note that everything on this list is within walking distance of Cape Charles’ beach and historic centre.

Cape Charles Airbnb Rentals

There are several great Airbnbs in Cape Charles, Virginia to choose from for your trip. A couple of the highest-rated ones are listed here. If you’re staying on the Eastern Shore farther north, check out our guide to the top Airbnbs in Chincoteague.

  • Bay Breeze on Tazewell (nightly rates start at $175)
  • The Salt Box (nightly rates start at $195)
  • The Minnow Studio (nightly rates start at $185)
  • Rental for a large family (from $183 per night)
  • HGTV Beachfront Bargain: Liberty on the Bay (from $324/night)

We hope you enjoyed this list of beautiful, historical, and delicious things to do in Cape Charles, Virginia. It’s one of my favorite weekend getaways from Richmond, Virginia, and I think you’ll enjoy it as much as I do!

Please leave a comment below if you have any questions or want to let us know about more great places (and new positions!). Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *