Along the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, you will find the best Chesapeake Bay beaches, ripe for exploration and relaxation. With an amazing array to choose from, some beaches are large, some are small, others are woodsy, still, others have volleyball nets and great swimming, while others have fossils; all are wonderful places to get out and enjoy the Bay with your family. Map at the end here of the 10 best Chesapeake Bay beaches.
Table of Contents:
- Beaches within 1 hour drive from DC (8)
- Beaches within 2-3 hours of DC (2)
- Map of Chesapeake Bay Beaches
- Beach Gear I Use with My Kids
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Best Chesapeake Bay Beaches Around 1 Hour of DC
1) Sandy Point State Park - Closest Chesapeake Bay Beach to DC
Photo credit Benfelps under Creative Commons License.
Address: 1100 E College Pkwy, Annapolis, MD 21409
Distance from DC: 37 miles, 45 min without traffic
Just past the Chesapeake Bridge, Sandy Point offers a large stretch of sand with gorgeous views of the bay. Bordering the end of a peninsula, the East Beach section is a little less crowded and has a lovely view of the Eastern Shore, while South Beach is the main swimming area and faces the Bay Bridge. Because of its proximity to the shipping channel, it’s not uncommon to see gigantic international cargo ships float by in the distance. Life-guarded swimming areas and full facilities with a great picnic area make this the perfect day trip for families. This park also offers fishing and boat rentals.
2) Flag Ponds Nature Park - Shallow swimming Chesapeake Bay beach
Photo credit: Acroterion under Creative Commons license.
Address: 1525 Flag Ponds Pkwy, Lusby, MD 20657
Distance from DC: 55 miles, 1hr 15 min without traffic
Flag Ponds is a nature preserve formed by a sandbar swirling around an outcropping of land poking into Chesapeake Bay. It’s a gloriously large, sandy beach with a great swimming area that is shallow much of the time, although no lifeguard. This is a great place to hunt for sharks’ teeth and other fossils along the shoreline. From the parking lot, it is an easy ½-mile walk to the beach, with a large picnic area and playground at the top of the hill. Excellent for families, and dogs are allowed with a leash.
3) Terrapin Nature Park - Our family favorite Chesapeake Bay beach!
Photo by Jennifer at FamilyTripGuides.com
Address: 191 Log Canoe Cir, Stevensville, MD 21666
Distance from DC: 43 miles, 55 min without traffic
Nearby Restaurants: Loved Stevensville Crab Shack just 2 mins away. (check ahead of time if open as they close during Winter season)
This was our pandemic haven! Just over the Bay Bridge is Terrapin Nature Park on Kent Island, Maryland. Once you park in the parking lot, you walk 15 minutes to the beach through a forest and marsh. Note: Some seasons, swimming is not allowed. More info in my post here.
4) Matapeake Park (and Clubhouse)
Address: 2010 Sonny Schulz Blvd, Stevensville, MD 21666
Distance from DC: 45 miles, 55 min without traffic
This public park and clubhouse along the Chesapeake offers a public swimming pool, and picnic area. The beach is open daily sunrise to sunset. You can also bring your dog! More details on the current beach conditions here.
5) Breezy Point Beach
Address: 5300 Breezy Point Rd, Chesapeake Beach, MD 20732
Distance from DC: 42 miles, 1hr without traffic
A half-mile of sandy beach offers a wide-open lifeguarded swimming area with restrooms, showers, and a refreshment stand. Just off the beach, you’ll find a nice picnic area shaded by cedar trees, with grills and a playground for the kids. There’s a 200-foot fishing pier, and even a campground for those that want to commit to a night or two. No pets are allowed at the beach.
6) North Beach (Next to the town of Chesapeake Beach)
Address: 9023 Bay Ave, North Beach, MD 20714
Distance from DC: 36 miles, 55 min without traffic
Just returned to North Beach and it was so much fun for my kids! There's a pirate ship playground right on the beach, a nice boardwalk that goes into the Chesapeake Bay, tiny waves and lots of sand. There is a pretty high fee for non-residents. But when we went in early May, there was no fee. I looked on the town's website but couldn't find a date for when the fee is in place. Perhaps Memorial Day?
Fees for Non-Residents:
(Residents are free and Calvert County Residents are reduced)
Adults Ages 12-54 - $25.00
Children Ages 3-11 - $10.00
Children 2 and under - Free
Seniors 55 and up - $9.00
Active Military - $9.00
7) Calvert Cliffs State Park
Photo by Famartin under Creative Commons license.
Address: 10540 H G Trueman Rd, Lusby, MD 20657
Distance from DC: 58 miles, 1hr 15 min without traffic
Named after the large orange-ish dirt cliffs, Calvert Cliffs is another great spot to go hunting for ancient sharks’ teeth and other fossils. The beach is located where Greys Creek enters the bay, offering a beautiful eastern view. It is a bit of a hike to access the beach – a 1.8-mile “Red Trail” path beginning at the top of the cliff through the woods and down a ravine to the beach. This beach features the Matoaka Beach Cabins that provide accommodation and day use of the beach. There are a couple of picnic tables, and pets are allowed.
Additional Kid-Friendly Options Nearby Solomons, Maryland:
- #6 on Road Trips Blog Post shares our whole day!
- Annemarie Sculpture Garden & Children's Nature Play Area
- Calvert County Maritime Museum (and Lighthouse you can go inside!)
8) Downs Park Public Beach
Address: 8311 John Downs Loop, Pasadena, MD 21122
Distance from DC: 45 miles, 1hr without traffic
- Awesome playground! Canoe Launch Dog Beach
With a gorgeous view of Chesapeake Bay, Downs Park is tailor-made for strolling and simply taking in the views. Located on the northern tip of Bodkin Neck, it’s not a swimming beach, although there is a section where your pooch can go for a dip. Rather, bring your kayak or canoe if you want to get out in the water. The park has picnic areas with grills, a large playground, and several walking trails.
Best Chesapeake Bay Beaches Within 2-3 Hours of DC
9) Point Lookout State Park
Photo by Famartin under Creative Commons license.
Address: 11175 Point Lookout Rd, Scotland, MD 20687
Distance from DC: 83 miles, 1hr 45 min without traffic
Lovely state park between the Chesapeake Beach and the Potomac River with a lighthouse, park, trails and camping. 2023 note: The Lighthouse, Nature Center and Civil War Museum are currently undergoing renovation. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources website has the most up-to-date info.
10) Crisfield’s Wellington Beach
Address: 111A Sunset Cir, Crisfield, MD 21817
Distance from DC: 174 miles, 3 hours without traffic
This beach in Somerset County Maryland has a fun playground ship on the sand and is free admission. There is sand, picnic tables, and a small pier into the ocean.
Map of the Best Chesapeake Bay Beaches
Beach Gear we use on the Chesapeake Bay
Below are the items I always bring in our beach bag:
Love the certified Upf 50+ rating, neck veil, and no closure- closure. My kids use these throughout the summer since they were babies. 1 hat lasted 4 years!
My favorite swimsuits are Simple Joys by Carter's. They are UPF 50+ and have a mock turtleneck. My kids don't overheat in them but also don't burn. I get these each year.
And a girl's style and there are tons more styles.
I really like the ThinkSport Kids Safe Sunscreen 50 SPF. It is a little white casting but I like that it is water-resistant but still a mineral formula. There is also a ThinkBaby version for 6 months and up.
Best Chesapeake Bay Beaches in 2023
- Sandy Point State Park
- Flag Ponds Nature Park
- Terrapin Nature Park
- Matapeake Park (and Clubhouse)
- Breezy Point Beach
- Chesapeake Beach and North Beach
- Calvert Cliffs State Park
- Downs Park Public Beach
- Point Lookout State Park
- Crisfield’s Wellington Beach
There are so many great beaches near Washington DC that I asked 5 fellow local bloggers to share their favorites! This blog post are all their best tips for things to do, kid-friendly spots, restaurants, and hotel recommendations for fun in the sun.