Small Town Travel Series:
Things to do in Onancock, VA (Eastern Shore)
Onancock, VA (pronounced O-NAN-cock) is a tiny town located on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. The historic, coastal small-town charm will make you fall in love instantly. As a coastal community, Onancock’s wharf is the happening spot to be in town. With so many unique things to do and see, I was not surprised to hear the huge amount of people who say they come back to this area year after year. So I hope you enjoy my take on “The Best Things to do in Onancock, VA.”
We enjoyed a delicious dinner outside overlooking the water at Mallard’s when we first arrived in town. And the next day we went kayaking through Burnham Guides, a kayaking and adventure tour company located at the wharf. Onancock is certainly an ideal location for nature and adventure lovers.
In addition, I was overly pleased with our stay at the quaint bed and breakfast that I chose, called Spinning Wheel. While the building itself may appear older than some of the other inn’s in town, I don’t think many places could have beat the welcoming and hospitality that we felt at Spinning Wheel. Thom (the owner and host) was absolutely outstanding and he made us feel right at home… just as one should in such a small town.
However, it is ABSOLUTELY worth noting that you have to cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel to get to the eastern shore from the mainland of Virginia! There is an $18 toll to get onto the bridge-tunnel (each way + they accept credit cards). So please make sure you realize this and are not deathly afraid of bridges or tunnels before making your way to the area. In reality, you have nothing to fear – everything is extremely safe. But don’t say I didn’t inform you! 🙂
- Check-in at Spinning Wheel Bed and Breakfast
- Explore downtown Onancock
- Dinner on the Wharf at Mallard’s
- Delicious complimentary breakfast at Spinning Wheel
- Check out Burnham Guides for kayaking and sightseeing tours
- We took part in their Pints and Paddles Tour, which is made up of half of the time kayaking with Burnham Guides and the other half is made up of winery, brewery, and sightseeing visits through The Ugly Oyster Company.
- Relax and Regroup at the B&B – enjoy a glass of wine on the front porch
- Dinner at Blarney Stone Pub
- At leisure/check-out
Spinning Wheel Bed and Breakfast
As I previously alluded to, I adored my time at The Spinning Wheel Bed and Breakfast. Thom, the owner, was easy to talk to and made us feel welcome in his home throughout our entire visit. The home has a very historic feel, as it is a bit older – but everything about it is charming, clean, and felt “at home.”
We stayed in the “Rose Room,” which is located upstairs. It had everything we needed to feel relaxed and welcome. But of course, we didn’t spend much time in the room anyway. When we were relaxing at the B&B we were enjoying the rocking chairs on the spacious front porch.
In addition, the Spinning Wheel B&B is dog-friendly. Actually, Thom has a three-legged dog named Chudleigh. And this was simply another win for The Spinning Wheel in my opinion. I love going to any business with a dog on site.
When we first arrived in Onancock, it was around 9pm and we were starving! So this excellent meal could not have come at a better time. Mallard’s is located at Onancock’s Wharf, so their outside seating overlooks the water. In my opinion, the view and atmosphere can’t get much better than that. The food was outstanding! Everything tasted fresh and well-prepared.
- Firecracker Shrimp, panko-crusted butterflied shrimp served with a sweet chili sauce*****
- Braised Beef Short Ribs, in a rich demi-glaze with mashed potatoes and green beans*****
- Johnny Mo’s “All Crab” Cakes, lump crab cakes held together with love and served with roasted garlic mashed potatoes, seasonal veggies, and sriracha aioli****
**Stars indicate my personal favorites on a scale from 1-5**
Pints and Paddles Tour
We were so thankful to be able to take part in the Pints and Paddles Tour. This tour is a collaboration between two different local tour companies: Burnham Guides and The Ugly Oyster Company. Burnham Guides starts the tour at their location at the Wharf in Onancock with a kayaking tour of the bay. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable and made sure that we felt safe and comfortable before we got into the kayaks! Kayaking the bay was a beautiful experience and I highly recommend it!
Later, The Ugly Oyster Company picked us up and took us towards Cape Charles. Our first stop in the (nicest) van (that I’ve ever ridden in) was at Chatham Vineyards for a tasting. We all know that I love wineries – but rarely do I take part in a wine tasting where I truly love every wine. But Chatham Vineyards gets that award from me!
Our second stop was in downtown Cape Charles, where we were able to walk around for an hour and a half to shop and explore the town. And our third stop was at Cape Charles Brewing Company. The staff at Cape Charles Brewing Co. was great and I enjoyed a flight of their beer and an order of buffalo chicken tenders!
The Blarney Stone Pub
We enjoyed our second dinner in town at The Blarney Stone Pub. The owner and staff were very kind to us and the atmosphere is great. It truly does have an Irish Pub vibe, and it’s a great place to end an evening of exploring the Eastern Shore! Located downtown, it is only a short walk from The Spinning Wheel B&B.
- Bacon & Cheese Waffle Fries*****
- O’Casey-dillas, quesadillas with grilled chicken and served with mild & sharp cheddar cheeses, avocado, sour cream, and salsa****
- Corned Beef Ruben Pannini, thinly sliced premium meat, tangy sauerkraut, and our sriracha thousand island dressing on grilled Jewish rye***
**Stars indicate my personal preference on a scale from 1-5**
I hope you’ve enjoyed my take on the best things to do in Onancock, VA! I absolutely adored the town and would love to return at a later date and explore even more of the Eastern Shore of VA. Onancock certainly makes the cut for “The cutest small towns in VA.” I can’t wait to be able to produce the entire list at the end of 2019!
Please reach out if you have any questions about the area or specifics about what I did during my time in Onancock. Follow along with my adventures in real-time on Instagram and/or Facebook!
And a huge thank you to The Town of Onancock for sponsoring the post!
Until next time,
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6 thoughts on “Small Town Travel Series: The Best Things to do in Onancock, VA (Eastern Shore)”
Love mallards. Been there many times. Chatham winery is just ok. Been to better ones. The Chesapeake bay bridge tunnel is not the same. They closed the gift shop and restaurant half way thru. That was the best part of going there. I know they are doing construction, But still. Oh well, that is how things go.
Hey Kathie- so this kayaking- do you need to be in super good shape do you think to participate? How long did you kayak for?
Hi Sue – I will day my arms did get very tired but no you don’t have to be in excellent shape. My mom was with me and there were people of all ages and shapes in our group! – we kayaked for about an hour and a half I believe.
Loved the article but disappointed with zero mention of the MANY art galleries the town.
I appreciate your feedback! I was only able to speak of the things I personally experienced! There is always more to do in any given area! Best of luck!