Assateague Island National Seashore | ASSATEAGUE ISLAND VISITOR CENTER

Assateague Island National Seashore Visitor Center

Assateague Island National Seashore Visitor Center

LOCATION

The Assateague Island Visitor Center in Maryland is Assateague Island National Seashore’s main visitor center. It is located on the mainland off of Highway 611 just before crossing the bridge to Assateague Island.

11800 Marsh View Lane
Berlin, MD  21811

OPERATING HOURS

  • Daily from 9 AM to 4 PM
  • Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas days

Times can always changes, so before making travel plans be sure to get the latest schedule on the National Park Service’s Operating Hours and Seasons web page for Assateague Island National Seashore.

AMENITIES

  • Ranger-staffed information desk where you can pick up a park brochure
  • Sign up for daily Ranger-led activities
  • Park film
  • Exhibit area
  • Book and souvenir store
  • Restrooms
Inside the Assateague Island Visitor Center at Assateague Island National Seashore

Inside the Assateague Island Visitor Center at Assateague Island National Seashore

Book and souvenir store inside the Assateague Island Visitor Center at Assateague Island National Seashore

Book and souvenir store inside the Assateague Island Visitor Center at Assateague Island National Seashore

RANGER PROGRAMS

During the summer season the park offers Ranger-guided tours and other activities, including clamming lessons, kayak tours, surf fishing, and educational talks. Activities vary from day to day and some cost money. A listing of the current activities can be found on the park’s Ranger Guided Programs web page. You can sign up for the activities at the Visitor Center.

PARK FILM

The 20-minute film Wild Horses of Assateague Island is shown every half hour, or on demand if visitation is slim the day you arrive. It is suitable for all ages, and kids will love it due to the horse subject matter (at least my daughter would).

EXHIBIT AREA

The Assateague Island Visitor Center has an exhibit area comprised of information panels, actual artifacts, and interactive displays. One exhibit of interest is that on the history of the island. Many of the small villages had disappeared by the 1930s, and during World War II the current Assateague State Park area (just north of National Seashore) and the land just north of the Virginia / Maryland state line was use for target practice by Navy bombers.

Starting in the 1950s, a massive project was hatched to develop the island with homes, hotels, marinas, and shops. The town was to be called Ocean Beach. The Maryland section of the island was divided into plots, and a sales campaign was launched to sell off the land. Streets had been marked with signage and some homes had even been built when a massive storm hit the area on March 6, 1962, destroying nearly the entire development. After this, the plan was abandoned. Thus, the storm inadvertently saved the island from development and made it possible to create the State and National parks of today. Assateague Island National Seashore was created three years after the storm in 1965.

Exhibit on the human history of Assateague Island at the Assateague Island Visitor Center, Assateague Island National Seashore

Exhibit on the human history of Assateague Island at the Assateague Island Visitor Center, Assateague Island National Seashore

Other exhibits are on activities available at the park, shipwrecks, how weather affects the island, the different ecosystems that can be found from the bay to the ocean, and former lifesaving stations on the island, including a display of coins and other items found on shipwrecks in the area.

Exhibit on the natural history of Assateague Island at the Assateague Island Visitor Center, Assateague Island National Seashore

Exhibit on the natural history of Assateague Island at the Assateague Island Visitor Center, Assateague Island National Seashore

The Assateague Island Visitor Center also has a marine Touch Tank with animals you can pick up, including a horseshoe crab and shells with their animals still living inside. Two aquariums featuring fish from the area are also on display.

Touch tank with horseshoe crabs and conch shells at the Assateague Island Visitor Center, Assateague Island National Seashore

Touch tank with horseshoe crabs and conch shells at the Assateague Island Visitor Center, Assateague Island National Seashore

Shell with critter inside (photo taken at the Toms Cover Visitor Center)

Shell with critter inside (photo taken at the Toms Cover Visitor Center)

SCHEDULING YOUR TIME

To see and read all of the information in the exhibit area takes about an hour, though most people will not spend that much time. I would still allow an hour at the Visitor Center, which factors in the 20-minute film, time to talk with the Rangers to see what there is to do, and a half hour for browsing the exhibits.

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Last updated on September 19, 2023
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