Start South & Head North
Not far from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel on the Shore’s main thoroughfare Lankford Highway, discover a vintage farmer’s grader shed now home to Pearl Market, a buffet for palate and eye. Find organic veggies, guest chef menus for lunching, gourmet goodies that can include hand harvested sea salt from the Barrier Island Company. And art, art, art! Every Saturday through October 30 from 9 a.m. to noon.
A short drive up and off the highway to Cape Charles, it’s not your father’s cup of joe. At Cape Charles Coffee House skilled baristas create a rich taste experience under ornate tin ceilings in the historic bayside town. Freshly prepared breakfast and lunch also served.
A different brewing find are the handcrafted beers at the family-owned Cape Charles Brewing Company. The menu makes the choice of local seafood, like rockfish tacos and can’t-be-beat burgers a delicious dilemma.
Time to feed your soul at the town’s art venues like the Lemon Tree Gallery and check out the next performance at the Palace Theatre. It’s a feast of shopping at an array of boutiques including the locally designed and handcrafted wearable art at Moonrise Jewelry and the global “gifts that give back” at Voiajer, where your purchases help artisans lift their communities out of poverty.
Continuing “up the road” as locals say, you’ll find along the highway a groovy spot to catch a foodie seafood break. The Great Machipongo Clam Shack sells its namesake local shellfish, oysters and crabmeat. Worth a try is its own Bayside Seafood Cake, a delish blend of local crab, fish, shrimp and scallops. Check out the regional cookbooks.
Back to the water in the 1680 harbor town of Onancock, a new welcome mat is waiting. A branding effort that embraces its vivid past with its current vibe, come delight in a little slice of nowhere else. Feasting options include traditional fish and chips at The Blarney Stone Pub and renowned donuts at The Corner Bakery. So too is cutting edge culinary sourced from farmers and watermen at restaurants like The Charlotte Hotel & Restaurant and Maurice. Lovers of local art will find a nirvana of galleries and studios.
Further north on an island known for its storied ponies, Chincoteague is a surprise of cultural opportunities. Your go to guide is the Chincoteague Cultural Alliance. Experience serial offerings like Music on the Porch, Third Thursday Theatre and Story Swap. And there is the marvelous meld found at the Farmers and Artisans Markets. With live music peruse foodie offerings of pickles, jams, salsa, shellfish and uncommon artisan wares like cutting boards, upcycled jewelry, and driftwood sculptures. (Saturdays through October, Wednesdays through September) Adding to its funky, beachy feel are the island’s fun food trucks along with a range of popular restaurants where seafood plucked from the surrounding waters is a staple.