Located in the Mid-Atlantic region of the US, Maryland is well-known for its 31 miles of beautiful coastline and beaches found along the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. While you probably think of Baltimore when you think of Maryland, this state is also rich in natural resources and lots of sandy shorelines. If you’re planning to visit Maryland, there are several unique beaches to explore. Whether it’s the popular Ocean City area or Breezy Point Beach, your big family will find plenty of fantastic recreational activities and beautiful beaches to enjoy.
Assateague Island National Seashore
This stunning beach is known for its abundance of wild horses that can be seen roaming the dunes and shoreline. The Assateague Island National Seashore has a total of 37 miles of shoreline shared between the states of Virginia and Maryland. The north (Maryland) entrance to the beach is located just eight miles south of Ocean City. This rugged beach offers breathtaking views, unique wildlife, and plenty of recreational activities to enjoy including fishing, swimming, and boating. The beach is open year-round with peak visiting times during the spring and summer months. Waves at this beach can range from rough to mild, with rougher waves occurring during the spring when the weather tends to be extremely windy.
When you visit Assateague Island National Seashore, you can enjoy a wide range of activities including kayaking, hiking, biking, canoeing, and fishing (a permit is required). Most of the beach is managed by the National Park Service, and public restrooms are available at the visitor center. Annual activities are scheduled seasonally and may vary depending on the time of year and current conditions. If you choose to visit the State Park, you can enjoy food and drinks and a hot shower. The National Park portion offers fewer amenities, but they do provide outdoor showers, restrooms, and boardwalks where you can explore as you cross the dunes. Camping is available at both parks if you want to spend the night on the beach. When visiting this beautiful beach, bring plenty of sunscreen and your camera to take photos of the wild horses. Please observe the rules when you see a horse to keep them (and your family) safe.
Betterton Beach is located in Kent County, Maryland at the mouth of the Sassafras River. This beautiful beach is about 15 miles from Chestertown. A five-acre landscaped waterfront part provides you with a large public beach offering 300 feet of frontage for swimming, and 700 feet of shoreline to explore. Betterton Beach has public restrooms and a bathhouse for showering. The beautiful boardwalk spans some 500 feet and includes benches, lighting, and handicapped access. There is a picnic pavilion located on Bayview Bluff with eight picnic tables. Fishing is a popular activity here, and a fishing jetty gives you plenty of room to walk and do a little fishing at the public pier. A public landing is also available if you want to enjoy a day of boating. Waves are generally calm at this beach, but freshwater currents can produce sea nettles in June or July that can make swimming in the Bay difficult. Concessions are available during summer, but there are no lifeguards on duty. Dogs are not permitted on the beach so you may want to leave your pooch at home.
Breezy Point Beach
This beach and campground is located in Culvert County and is open daily from May 1 to October 31. No jet skis, trailers, or boats are permitted within the borders of the park. The beach provides plenty of amenities including public restrooms, a playground area, shaded picnic areas, and grills. With a one-half mile of sandy beach, there’s plenty of room for swimming in the netted swimming area. A 200-foot pier is available for fishing and crabbing. You can camp at the campground during the season and bring your tent, pop-up, trailer, or RV. Waves are generally calm at this beach, but jellyfish are in abundance during the peak of the summer. There is a seven-person maximum per vehicle, but this beach and campground have plenty of parking for visitors. County residents can purchase a family season pass for families up to five, and entrance fees are half-price for residents, too.
Calvert Cliffs State Park
Named for its massive cliffs, Calvert Cliffs State Park features 24 miles of shoreline in Calvert County. This unique beach features a variety of fossils that were exposed when the sea washed along the shore, and then receded and started to erode. This day-use state park includes a recycled tire playground, fishing opportunities, and fossil hunting. There are also 13 miles of hiking trails and tidal marshland. A designated swimming area is available and waves are typically mild, but there is no lifeguard on duty. When visiting, do not swim under the cliffs to avoid the risk of injury from falling rocks or landslides. The park and beach are open from sunrise to sunset, and hunting is available after hours with permission. If you want to bring your pets, they must remain on a leash at all times. No concessions are available, but there are picnic tables and grills as well as a 50-person pavilion you can use with a reservation.
Cherry Beach is located in Sharptown, just 15 minutes from Salisbury, Maryland. This recreational beach offers a boat ramp, fishing pier, and large pavilion with picnic tables. There is a playground available for the kids, and many people enjoy the park’s horseshoe courts for a little competition. Boating is allowed at this beach and they offer access for motorized boats as well as for kayaks and canoes. There are plenty of hiking trails at Cherry Beach and they offer public restrooms and ample parking at Cope Bennet Park, just a short stroll away. Lifeguards are on duty during summer, and pets are permitted as long as they are on a leash.
Chesapeake Beach is a great choice for large families with plenty of things to see and do. Located in Calvert County, this beach is popular with Washington, DC residents who want to enjoy a getaway from the city. The beach offers a water park with eight water slides and a children’s activity area, and a public beach that’s open during daytime hours. Chesapeake Beach is a popular fishing spot with chartered fishing trips as well as piers and a marina. Waves are mild to moderate at this beach, and it may be closed during times of inclement weather. A snack bar, picnic tables, and public restrooms are available as well as showers. When visiting, be sure to bring your sunscreen and an umbrella as there are no shaded areas along the beachfront.
Elk Neck State Park – North East Beach Area
Located to the North East of Elk Neck State Park is a beautiful beach area where you can enjoy a day of canoeing, kayaking, and swimming. This Maryland beach offers swimming access to the Susquehanna Flats of the Chesapeake Bay with shallow water and mild waves. Please note there is no lifeguard on duty at this beach. You can also launch a canoe or kayak at the hand-launch area. Enjoy a nice lunch with the available picnic tables and grills. A restroom with cold showers is also available. Feel free to bring your pet, as long as they’re on a leash. Pets are allowed on the sandy beach portion between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day.
Hart-Miller Island state Park
This beautiful state part is located in Baltimore County on the Chesapeake Bay near the mouth of the Middle River with a 3,000-foot sandy beach that’s only accessible by personal boat. The state park offers safe mooring and includes opportunities for camping and other fun activities. Nature lovers appreciate the environment at Hart-Miller Island, which is home to large flocks of migrating birds. Feel free to come and bike, swim, or bird-watch, or just feel free to relax and enjoy a day of sunbathing. Water and restrooms are available from May through September. Free bicycle rentals are available as well as bird guides and binoculars. During summer, enjoy a soda, snack, or snowball at the concession stand. The island closes at sundown unless you’re a registered camper.
Ocean City is Maryland’s most popular beach, located between the Atlantic Ocean and Isle of Wight Bay. This resort town and beach offers endless things to do including boardwalks, amusement rides, great restaurants, and festivals throughout the year. Feel free to swim in one of several designated swimming areas, with waves ranging from medium and mild to roaring, depending on the weather and time of year. Most public beach areas have lifeguards, and public restrooms are available in several locations. You can surf, boat, paddleboard, kayak, or take a guided boat tour at Ocean City. There are plenty of things to do here including guided tours, museums, amusement rides, and much more. A variety of festivals take place in Ocean City throughout the year including Winterfest, Sunfest, and Springfest. It’s best to check the beach’s website for the latest updates regarding entertainment, festivals, and accommodations.
Sandy Point State Park
Sandy Point State Park is located near the town of Annapolis, Maryland on the Chesapeake Bay. This beautiful 786-acre beach offers fishing, crabbing, swimming, and boating. A boat launch is available seven days a week from 7:00 a.m. until sunset. Enjoy swimming at the mile-long public swimming beach with beach chair and umbrella rentals available. There are also restroom and shower facilities with new landscaping and a new Bay-themed playground for the kids to enjoy. Feel free to fish along the designated beachfront area or the jetty, as well as from the fishing and crabbing pier at the marina. A designated grassy picnic area is available with 12 shelters for rent by reservation only.