The drive into Chincoteague (pop. 2,941; pronounced “SCHINK-a-teeg”), a low-key fishing village, takes you across miles of glowing gold and blue marshlands through a gauntlet of quirky billboards advertising local motels, restaurants, and sportfishing charters. This mix of natural beauty and tacky tourism aptly reflects the character of the town, which is totally dependent upon summertime visitors but seems to wish that we’d all just leave and let the locals go fishing.

A small bridge along Hwy-175, which runs 11 miles east from US-13, drops you at the heart of town, where casual seafood restaurants line the streets.

Among the many places to stay are several nice B&Bs and a handful of standard motels like the friendly and central Birchwood Inn (3650 Main St., 757/336-6133, $49 and up).