5 Beach Destinations Near Washington, D.C.

5 Beach Destinations Near Washington, D.C. - Between the countless beaches, nature and cultural attractions, Fort Lauderdale has lots to offer families on vacation.

Families, history buffs and political aficionados love to fly into Washington, D.C. to tour the city. But there also is plenty to do outside of the district, too. While hot summer days force many tourists inside, consider heading to the nearby beaches instead. Rent a car from Alamo, and start driving east where the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean are waiting for you!

It’s easy to tack on a weekend getaway when visiting the nation’s capital; you just need to know where to go. We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite beach destinations along the mid-Atlantic coast so you can decide which one is right for you.

North Beach, Maryland

If you want to cool off in the sand without driving to the coast, head to North Beach. The town’s sandy beach is located on the Chesapeake Bay, with a boardwalk that is perfect for letting the kids run out some energy. If you need a few snacks, pick up coffee and some sugary treats at Sweet Sue’s Bake Shop and Coffee Bar. Spend the night just south of North Beach at the Chesapeake Beach Resort and Spa, so you can enjoy all the area has to offer. The town of North Beach hosts fireworks, movie nights, a farmers market, art festivals and live concerts to entertain you when you aren’t dipping your toes in the water or making sand castles.

If you are looking to get on the water, not just in it, there are plenty of fishing boat companies offering day excursions, as well as The Sailing Academy, which offerings classes and workshops for sailing enthusiasts no matter your skill level.

Annapolis, Maryland

Also located on the Chesapeake Bay, Annapolis, Maryland, is one of the closest escapes from the hustle and bustle of Washington, D.C. Although there are no major beaches, you can splash around in the water at Sandy Point State Park, or hop on a boat in the harbor to cruise around.

There are plenty of shops to pop into, places to eat (Iron Rooster is a must for brunch!) and loads of history to explore in the state’s capital, too. Don’t miss touring William Paca’s House and Garden, a five-part Georgian mansion built in the 1760s. Paca was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and the guided tours are perfect for school children studying American history.

Set up camp at the Loews Annapolis Hotel to stay away from the crowds, but still be within walking distance of all of the restaurants and historic attractions.

Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

Visitors often forget just how close Delaware is to Washington, D.C., or how easy it is to get to all of the state’s beaches. The water at Rehoboth Beach is warm in the summer, and the area features a beautiful boardwalk with many hotels, restaurants and amusement park games and rides to keep everyone entertained. Check out the Bellmoor Inn and Spa for a romantic getaway weekend, or book a stay at the Fairfield Inn and Suites with the whole family.  Adults looking to get a taste of Rehoboth Beach should experience an Eating Rehoboth food tour.

Like any beach town, it does fill up on the weekends, so if you can go for a few days during the week, do it..

Ocean City, Maryland

Ocean City, Maryland (not to be confused with Ocean City, New Jersey), is the quintessential east coast beach town. Although you can visit Ocean City as a day trip, the more than two-hour drive can get longer on a summer day if traffic backs up. Book a hotel (the Francis Scott Key Family Resort has a fantastic pirate pool!) and make a weekend of it to avoid day-tripper crowds that flood in for only a few hours on Saturday.

If you are a fan of ice cream, you do not want to miss a taste of Kohr Brothers Frozen Custard on the boardwalk. Like ice cream, this is a sweet, sugary dessert served on a cone or in a cup, but this soft serve-style frozen treat is creamier and even more delicious. We recommend the mint and chocolate swirl with chocolate sprinkles.

If you need a few more thrills, head down to Jolly Roger at the Pier. This amusement park is the perfect spot to be as the sun sets on the beach. Hop on the Ferris wheel, munch on some boardwalk fries and watch the world fade from day to night. 

Assateague Island

Drive out to the National Seashore of Maryland and Virginia to catch a glimpse of the “wild” horses of Assateague Island (Maryland) and Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge (Virginia). These equine island natives are the descendants of once-domesticated livestock that were abandoned and, through decades of survival, have reverted back to a feral state. They survive storms, poor food quality on the barrier islands, mosquitos and the summer heat often found in this part of the country. If you do visit, keep in mind that these are wild animals and don’t approach them too closely – they do bite and kick. Human food is bad for them and can make them very sick, so don’t feed them.

After you see the local wildlife, head to the seashore within the parks. Lifeguards are on duty during designated hours, making it easy for families to have a relaxing day in the water. You can also enjoy crabbing, clamming, shell collecting, surf fishing, kayaking and canoeing. If you would rather stay land-based, there are ample opportunities to go bike riding along the paved trails from Chincoteague to Assateague.

For those looking to spend the night, book a room at the Best Western Chincoteague Island or the Hampton Inn and Suites Chincoteague-Waterfront. The island is also great for camping.

No matter what you are looking for in your beach adventure, these destinations near Washington, D.C., have what you need. Splash in the sand, play a few games on the boardwalk or simply cool off in the surf. Just don’t forget your sunscreen!



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Keryn Means

About the Author

Keryn Means is a freelance writer and the founder of WalkingOnTravels.com, the award-winning site that gives hope to today’s active parents who don’t want to stop their lives; they simply bring their kids along for the ride as they explore the world. You can find Keryn dragging her two boys around the DC area most days and across the globe several times a year.