Are you longing for the sand between your toes and the soothing sound of waves crashing? If your answer is a resounding ‘yes’, then look no further than the charming beaches of Maryland and a few in Delaware. From bustling boardwalks to serene seashores, here’s my round-up of the top five Maryland beaches plus the bonus Delaware Beaches that are just begging to be your next day-trip destination.
- Ocean City
Ocean City is the quintessential Maryland beach destination. With a seemingly endless coastline, the promise of sunshine, and waves fit for both surfing and serene floating, it truly encapsulates the spirit of summer. The jewel of the town is undoubtedly its three-mile long boardwalk that bustles with activity, from food vendors serving up Maryland’s famous crab cakes to charming beach shops. There’s no charge to enjoy the beach or the boardwalk, making it a wallet-friendly outing for the whole family. Find more information about Ocean City here.
- Assateague Island National Seashore
This wild beach wonderland, located about 20 minutes south of Ocean City, offers visitors a unique experience. You might even cross paths with the island’s famous wild horses! The beach is open year-round, and a 7-day pass is available: $25 per vehicle or $20 per motorcycle. If you’re arriving on foot or a bike, I believe it is free. Check the fees here and learn more about Assateague Island National Seashore here.
- Sandy Point State Park
Sandy Point State Park, located near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But, its close proximity to Annapolis and availability of picnic spots, hiking trails, and fishing piers make it worth considering. The entrance fee ranges from $3-5 per person during the summer season. Read my full review of Sandy Point State Park.
- North Beach
A mere 30 minutes from Annapolis, North Beach is an ideal day-trip destination. It’s got a charming public beach with a lovely boardwalk and picnic spots. Visitors must pay an admission fee, and there are some rules and regulations to follow. Find out more about North Beach here.
- Rocky Point Beach
Stepping away from the oceanfront, Rocky Point Beach and Park is located on the Chesapeake Bay in Baltimore County. Offering more than just a beach, there’s plenty of grassy areas for picnics, a playground, and stunning views of the bay, especially at sunset. The water is calmer here than on the oceanfront beaches, making it a great spot for families with young children. There’s a small entrance fee: something like $5 or $6 – see the current fees on this page. You can learn more about Rocky Point Beach and Park here.
- Rehoboth Beach
Rehoboth Beach, while technically across the Maryland line in Delaware, is a treasured destination for many Marylanders and hence deserves a mention. This bustling beach town is popular for its lively boardwalk, lined with eateries, shops, and even an amusement park that makes it especially family-friendly. The beach itself is clean and spacious, providing ample room for beachgoers to spread out and enjoy the Atlantic waves. There’s no fee to access the beach, but do remember that metered parking is enforced from May through September. Discover more about Rehoboth Beach here.
- Bethany Beach
Just a stone’s throw south of Rehoboth, Bethany Beach, also located in Delaware, is a quieter but equally beautiful beach option. Known as one of the “Quiet Resorts”, Bethany offers a serene beach experience, with a less crowded coastline and a relaxed atmosphere. It’s perfect for those who are looking for a laid-back beach day. There’s a lovely boardwalk and a town center with unique shops and restaurants to explore. Beach access is free, but keep in mind that parking is paid during the summer season. Check out more about Bethany Beach here.
- Cape Henlopen State Park
Cape Henlopen State Park, nestled on the Delaware coastline, is more than just a beach; it’s a full-blown nature reserve with walking and biking trails, a nature center, and campgrounds. However, the beach itself is not to be overlooked. Its expansive sandy shores offer room for everyone, and the water is calm and perfect for swimming. An iconic feature is the WWII observation towers overlooking the sea, offering an intriguing glimpse into the past. You’ll want to double-check, but I believe the park charges an entry fee: $10 for out-of-state vehicles and $5 for in-state. Find out more about Cape Henlopen State Park here.
So, my beach-loving friends, take your pick and remember: no matter which beach you choose, a day by the shore beats just about any day inland. Happy beaching!
[Looking for a list of fun things to do with kids in Maryland?]