The 8 Best Chesapeake Beaches To Cool Off At This Summer
If you don’t want to drive to Ocean City but you want to plan a beach day for your family, these are our picks for the 8 best Chesapeake Beaches in Maryland! (updated for 2021!)
As the days get warmer and the air gets thick with humidity, many families long to find a great beach to spend the day at. Relaxing in the sun, building sand castles, collecting natures finest treasures, and body surfing in the cool water. This is what a great summer day is made of.
A trip to the Eastern Shore would be fantastic, but you don’t have the time (or money) for a week or even a long weekend at Ocean City. You could get up before the sun and make it to the boardwalk before the hordes descend upon the Atlantic Ocean and claim their spots on the crowded beach. But that sounds exhausting. Ha.
The good news is that there are quite a few super fun beaches much closer to the DC-Baltimore area. The Chesapeake Bay stretches from close to Delaware up North to Point Lookout down South.
These are our top picks for a Chesapeake Bay beach trip your family will love!
1. Betterton Beach (open again in 2021!)
Betterton Beach in Kent County is located near the mouth of the Sassafras River and boasts 300 ft. of sandy beach for swimming and an additional 700 ft. for shoreline access. This beach used to be a big deal when steamboats drew large tourist crowds. Now it is often overlooked, which makes it great for families.
There are a few other reasons to love this beach on the upper bay. For one, there is a high concentration of fresh water flowing into the area, which means that there is not much of a risk from sea nettles (jellyfish). Also, this is one of the few Chesapeake Bay beaches that does not charge an admittance fee.
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2. Sandy Point State Park Beach
Sandy Point State Park could not be more convenient. Located in Annapolis, families can enjoy a rather large sandy beach, that has lifeguard service daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day. There is a bath house, public restrooms, a snack bar, and playgrounds.
There is a small admission charge (between $3/vehicle and $5/person depending on when you go) and during the warmer summer months there is increased risk of jellyfish.
3. North Beach
North Beach has the feel of a coastal beach town, but it is closer and smaller than one of the larger beach areas on the Eastern Shore. The beach has a boardwalk, stores, umbrella rentals, and plenty of parking.
Non-residents of Calvert County must pay a beach use fee at the Welcome Center and get a wristband. The fee for out of county residents is $9 for kids under 12 years old and $17 for ages 12 and up. Kids age 2 and under are free. As with many of the southern Chesapeake Bay beaches, jellyfish can be in the water the warmer the summer gets.
Note: For 2021, North Beach is open for out of county residents, but they have a reservation system. Don’t forget to make a reservation before you head out!
4. Bay front Park (Brownies Beach)
Note: Brownies Beach is not open for out of county residents in 2021. I know, I am crying too… but hopefully they will be open again in 2022!
Brownies Beach is stunningly gorgeous. Equal parts adventure playground and the ideal place for a relaxing day with your family. We spent an amazing day here over Memorial Day weekend and my daughter could not get enough of building driftwood forts, combing for beach treasures, playing in the sand, and wading in the water.
There are a few detractors. Jellyfish definitely make their presence known during the hot days of summer. There is a rather steep fee for out of town and out of county residents ($18 over 12, $10 ages 3-11). Also, this is a more rugged beach so there are no facilities except perhaps port a potties during the summer months.
Still, we had a blast… and the beach fee was a drop in the bucket compared with what we would have paid to drive all the way to Ocean City.
Related: Check out the Kid Friendly Maryland comprehensive resource for parents: Things To Do In Maryland With Kids!
5. Breezy Point Beach
Breezy Point Beach and campground was acquired by Calvert County in the mid-90’s and turned into a public beach and camping location. The beach is really quite nice with 1/2 mile of sandy beachfront, as well as a pier for fishing and crabbing. Also, there are great shark teeth hunting opportunities at Breezy Point.
Weekends and Holidays, Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day
Non-County Residents: Adult (Ages 12 and up): $20; Child (Ages 3 to 11): $12; Senior (Ages 60 and up): $12; Children (2 and under): Free
County Residents: Adult (Ages 12 and up): $10; Child (Ages 3 to 11): $6; Senior (Ages 60 and up): $6; Children (2 and under): Free
There are beach rentals and a snack stand (which takes cash and credit cards).
According to their website, jellyfish start impacting the swimming areas by June. This may limit your ability to swim. However, there are nets on part of the beach that should catch sea nettles.
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6. Matoaka Beach
Matoaka Beach and campground used to be a Girl Scout camp. You can rent primitive cabins or pay $5/day for day use privileges. This beach is a hidden gem. It will be a lot less crowded than some of the other Chesapeake beaches and has excellent shark teeth hunting potential.
Jellyfish will be a problem here during the hot summer months and there is no netting to protect the beach from the jellies invasion.
7. Flag Ponds Nature PArk
Another favorite beach of ours. Disclaimer: we typically go in the late Spring so jellyfish are not a problem. However, in the late summer months the water might be unsafe for swimming due to the nettlesome stingers.
8. Point Lookout State Park
Located and the tippy tip of Southern Maryland, Point Lookout stood vigil during the Civil War. Now you can spend a lovely day playing in the sand and cooling off in the water. Jellyfish are a problem here too but I believe there are nets surrounding the official beachfront (the part with lifeguards).
Point Lookout has plenty of amenities- a camp store, public restrooms and showers. And you can pay a visit to the Point Lookout Lighthouse!
9. Bonus! Gunpowder Falls State Park Hammerman Area
- There are numerous large parking areas.
- There are public restrooms or port-a-potties if the restrooms are closed.
- Open 8 a.m. to sunset April – October; 10 a.m. to sunset November – March; Open year-round, except Christmas Day.
*This is a very popular spot in the summer. If you are planning to visit on a summer weekend day, plan to arrive early.
- Fees: Veterans may enter for free, as well as children in car seats. Weekends and Holidays, Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day: There is a $5 per person service charge ($7 per-person for non-Maryland residents) for entrance into the Hammerman Area. Weekdays, Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day: There is a $3 per person service charge ($5 per-person for non-Maryland residents) for entrance into the Hammerman Area. Off-season (after Labor Day to the Friday before Memorial Day weekend): A $3 per-vehicle ($5 for non-Maryland residents) honor system is in effect.