Experience Onancock

A little slice of nowhere else.

Captain John Smith sailed from Jamestown in 1608 to chart the Chesapeake Bay. When Smith first discovered Onancock, he was so struck by its beauty that he called it “the Gem of the Eastern Shore.” Onancock is a treasure trove of hidden gems just waiting for you to discover! Art, music, museums, live theater, cinema… Enjoy quiet moments in flower filled gardens, discover native plants and wildlife along footpaths and water trails, picnic in a 350 year-old town square and dine at water’s edge by the light of a deep gold sunset. Onancock is alive with entertainment, social events, family activities, parades and joyous holidays! A fun-filled getaway in a scenic setting with a friendly, small-town ambience.

“From the docks to the shops”, Onancock is a compact, pet-friendly, walkable, water-town. Though small in area, the downtown boasts a disproportionately large inventory of amenities. The wharf offers new floating boat slips to accommodate those traveling by boat. Kayak paddling adventures tailored to fit any age or skill level, and several sailing charters provide visitors access to the creek and the bay beyond. The ferry to Tangier Island affords the opportunity for a day trip back in time to a waterman’s community where folks still speak with an old English accent. Wander a few blocks into town to discover a nature trail maintained by master naturalists that meanders along the shore at the headwaters of the creek and is alive with birds and water fowl.  

Shoppers browse for treasures in antique shops, galleries and unique specialty stores. History buffs visit Ker Place the Federal period mansion in the center of town and the Waterman’s Museum at the Historic Onancock School. Families plan an evening around first-run movies at the Roseland Cinema, or the latest production at the North Street Playhouse, the only year-round live theater on the Shore. Local musicians entertain guests as they dine outdoors in streets that have been closed to traffic on the weekends.

Footloose foodies are delighted to discover that downtown Onancock has 7 eclectic restaurants, a fine food and wine emporium, a bakery with regionally famous donuts and a weekly local-foods farmers’ market. A short 3 block walk uptown transports them to another interesting specialty foods shop, an ice cream parlor, two more restaurants and a deli. There is something for every palette from sushi to bangers & mashers, fine local wines to local craft beer, divine orange glazed French toast to unequalled crab cakes. Add to this the summer and fall Salsa and Pie Contests at the Farmers Market, the annual “Crab Crackin” at historic Ker Place and “Champagne & Oysters” at the Historic Onancock School, and food-lovers can’t help but return again and again!

Located at the heart of the Eastern Shore, Onancock is an ideal home base for half-day side trips to the beaches, museums and shops in Chincoteague, Cape Charles, Parksley, Exmore and many more places of interest.