ESCAPE KEYS: Va.'s Eastern Shore

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

GETTING THERE: Go east on Route 50 to Route 13 south to Cape Charles (about four hours), or go south on Interstate 95 to I-295 south to I-64 east across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel to Route 13 north to Cape Charles.

WHEN TO GO: Anytime except winter. Fall migration attracts bird-watchers. Several popular outdoor festivals are also held in fall. The Eastern Shore of Virginia Birding & Wildlife Festival (757-787-2460,, featuring nature workshops, birding field trips and boating excursions, is Sept. 18-21. The Lure of the Shore Festival (757-787-8268,, with regional artisans and seafood served from watermen's boats, is Sept. 13.

WHAT TO DO: Outdoor activities are the main draw. Outfitters include Southeast Expeditions in Cape Charles (877-225-2925 http://) and Broadwater Bay Ecotours in Exmore (757-442-4363, The Serenity of Cape Charles (757-710-1233, offers sunset cruises.

Wineries include Chatham Vineyards in Machipongo (757-678-5588,, Holly Grove Vineyards in Franktown (757-442-2844, and Bloxom Vineyards in Bloxom (757-665-5670,

WHERE TO STAY: Cape Charles House in Cape Charles (757-331-4920,, $120 to $200 a night) is a restored Colonial Revival home filled with family heirlooms and run by two former Sears executives. My trip cost $530 for two nights' stay and a full-day guided kayaking expedition for two. For more bed-and-breakfast choices: Virginia's Eastern Shore Bed & Breakfasts,

Kiptopeke State Park in Kiptopeke (800-933-7275, offers camping, yurts, trailers, cabins and lodges, ranging from $24 for a basic tent campsite to $2,226 ($2,004 for Virginia residents) for a six-bedroom lodge during high season; taxes extra.

PLACES TO EAT: The Machipongo Trading Company in Machipongo (757-678-0005) serves coffee, breakfast and lunch, and features local products; salmon panini are $6.45 each. The Great Machipongo Clam Shack in Nassawadox (757-442-3800, is the "home of eat and drive seafood." Sandwiches are $7. Eastville Inn in Eastville (757-678-5745, is the place for fine dining; entrees from $14. For local food products to go, head to the Blue Crab Bay Co. in Melfa (800-221-2722,; the Sting Ray Bloody Mary Mixer for $8 is excellent.

INFORMATION: Eastern Shore of Virginia Tourism Commission,757-787-2460,; Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge,757-331-2760,

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