IMPORTANT: Sandy Point is currently open (Spring 2023), but no life guards are on duty. Swimming and boat ramps are open. 24-hour fishing access, the beach opens at 7 am daily
* Sandy Point (also known as Sandypoint), entrance admission fees, are listed below *(3/19/23)
Central Marylanders are often faced with a choice during the summer–trek out to Ocean City or the Delaware shore or go to one of the closer in Chesapeake Bay Beaches. If you don’t have time or money to head over to the Eastern shore, there are definitely a few popular beaches in Anne Arundel and Calvert County.
I’d say that among the most popular Chesapeake destinations are North Beach, Chesapeake Beach, Flag Point, and the one everyone knows – Sandy Point State Park.
The park is open year-round. As of this writing, it is only closed on Christmas Day.
Getting to Sandy Point and Hours of Operation
The street address for the park to put into your phone or navigator is:
1100 E College Pkwy, Annapolis, MD 21409
1-800-830-3974 / 410-974-2149 (Office) General Information
Hours of Operation are 7 am to sunset. Fishermen and boaters may have 24-hour access.
Entrance Fees and Sandy Point State Park Information
There are entrance fees (see below) that are paid either using coins (quarters or dollars) or credit cards (Visa/Mastercard).
See below for park entry costs (Updated for Spring 2023).
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Sandy Point, which opened in the 1950s, is located just to the western side of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge which looms over the beach. One drawback of Sandy Point beach is that you may encounter some of the beach traffic you’re hoping to avoid by not going to Ocean City.
To get to Sandy Point, you head down Route 50 towards the bridge but exit (exit 32) shortly before you reach it to get to College Parkway.
Just plan your visit with the potential for traffic in mind, and most days, you’ll be able to get there without much of a delay. In case you were wondering, a section of the beach is supervised by lifeguards from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays, and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends and holidays, Memorial Day to Labor Day.
As a state park, there is an admission fee which, as of March 2023, Sandy Point State Park entry for Maryland Residents is:
- Summer Rates (May 1 – September 30th):
- $4 per person admission fee on weekdays.
- $5 per person admission fee on weekends and holidays.
- Off-Season Rates (October 1 – April 30th):
- $3/Vehicle (As opposed to PER PERSON during the summer!)
- More information about costs and discounts:
- Children buckled in a child safety seat (infant and small children in a car seat or booster seat) are free.
- Costs are a few dollars more for non-Maryland residents. Rates may increase for holidays or special events.
- Military and their dependents and disabled people get in for free–you have to present proper ID to get these free passes to Sandy Point.
- You can also buy a season pass or buy a Golden Age Pass for around $10 if you’re older than 61. Here are a few more details: If you plan to go often, you probably want to consider getting a season pass. Golden Age Passes are available for purchase for people age 62+ –with it, you’ll get free admission (and unfortunately, the National Park Service Eagle Passes aren’t accepted).
- The cost for out-of-state residents to enter the park is slightly more. I don’t have the exact amount right now, but maybe a dollar or two above the in-state cost.
As mentioned above, those with a Maryland Park Service Disability Pass get in for free. When you get a season pass, they give you a magnetic card to get you into the park, as the entry gates typically aren’t staffed. Aside from those passes, these automatic toll machines accept exact change only in the form of $1 coins and quarters. Alternatively, you can use a credit card: MasterCard and VISA are accepted.
Be aware that sometimes, especially on certain holidays, the park can fill, and they stop letting people in. That can be disappointing because there aren’t any comparable nearby beaches. If that happens to you, I can only suggest taking a ride to downtown Annapolis and taking in the sites, or if you have your heart set on the beach, take about a 1-hour ride down to North Beach and hope for the best.
The beach isn’t perfect, but it is an excellent way to spend the day with kids. As mentioned earlier, there are lifeguards on the beach during the summer months from 10 am to 6 pm. Snacks and concessions are available for sale at the beach. They also have showers and restrooms available.
Aside from going in the water or hanging out on the beach, there are also opportunities for crabbing and fishing (for licensed fishermen and people aged 16 or under). You can stand on rock jetties for fishing or rent a 16-foot motor boat/bring your own small craft. Fishermen enjoy 24-hour access to the park during certain times of the year.
Jigging and chumming are effective ways of catching striped bass at Sandy Point–especially if you’re there in the early morning hours. If you like hiking, there is are several excellent trails that take you through marshland and a planted pine forest. It is a great way to see wildlife like birds and turtles.
Pets are allowed in the park only during the off-season times of the year. Dogs must be leashed.
[Looking for things to do with kids in Maryland? See my list of ideas.]
Sandy Point might be a place to consider for group outings or parties. For large parties, they have shelters available for rental that can hold up to 300 people. Note that even if you rent a cover, your guests still have to pay to enter the park. You can pre-pay for each person, but you’ll also need to give them their entry tickets before they arrive at the park.
Note that this is the only place alcohol is allowed in the park, and you MUST get a permit if you intend to serve drinks. Also, you are NOT allowed to have amplified music at Sandy Point. Another vital consideration for groups is that everyone entering the park must pay separately. Youth and scouting groups can also reserve a campground area.
Another essential thing to note is that Sandy Point is a “trash-free” park. What that really means is that it is up to the visitors to collect their trash and take it with them.
There aren’t any trashcans in the park. Related point–you can bring your dogs to the park during the off-season, but you are expected to clean up after them.
People ask me what I don’t like about Sandy Point. We’re lucky to have a close-in, convenient option, but it isn’t the same as Ocean City. The sand is different, the bottom of the bay feels different to walk on, and there seem to be more creatures that bite and sting (Both flying creatures and lots of jellyfish some years–especially when the water starts getting warmer).
Another issue is that the beach itself can get dirty sometimes. Anyway, I do like it, but sometimes it makes me wish for O.C. On most days, given a choice, I would rather trek out to North Beach, which tends to be better maintained for sunbathers and swimmers.
Other Popular Attractions Near Sandy Point
If you have time left in the day after you leave Sandy Point, you may want to visit some nearby attractions in Annapolis or Kent Island. Here are some suggestions:
- U.S. Naval Academy: A prestigious military institution that trains and educates future naval officers. You can take a guided tour of the campus and see the historic buildings, monuments, and museums. Including the Naval Academy Chapel…see below:
- Naval Academy Chapel: A beautiful chapel that serves as a place of worship for the Naval Academy community. You can admire the architecture, stained glass windows, and organ of the chapel. You can also see the crypt of John Paul Jones, the father of the American Navy.
- Paca House and Garden: A historic house and garden that belonged to William Paca, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and a governor of Maryland. You can take a guided tour of the house and explore the two-acre garden that features native plants and a fish-shaped pond.
- Maryland State House: The oldest state capitol in continuous legislative use and the only state house ever to have served as the nation’s capital. You can see the Old Senate Chamber, where George Washington resigned his commission as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, the original copy of the Maryland Constitution, and other historical artifacts.
- Banneker-Douglass Museum: The official museum of African American heritage in Maryland. You can learn about the history and culture of African Americans in Maryland through exhibits, programs, and events.
- Annapolis Maritime Museum: A museum that celebrates the maritime heritage of Annapolis and the Chesapeake Bay. You can see exhibits on oyster harvesting, boat building, naval history, and environmental education. You can also enjoy waterfront views and activities such as kayaking, sailing, and fishing.
- Kent Island: The largest island in the Chesapeake Bay and one of the oldest English settlements in Maryland. You can enjoy hiking, biking, birdwatching, fishing, boating, and golfing on the island. You can also visit historic sites such as the Stevensville Historic District, the Cray House, and the Old Stevensville Bank.
- Pennsylvania Dutch Farmers Market: A market that offers fresh produce, baked goods, meats, cheeses, candies, and other products from local Amish and Mennonite farmers. You can also enjoy breakfast or lunch at the market’s restaurant. The hours are limited, but it might be a great place to get breakfast or lunch on your way to the beach!
- Patapsco State Park – Go hiking and enjoy some wonderful views. Patapsco State Park covers multiple counties (including Howard and Baltimore County) and has several areas with different personalities, including Cascade Falls near BWI Airport.