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 Best Chesapeake Beaches in Maryland! (updated for 2023 and expanded!)
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! These are the best Chesapeake beaches in Maryland!
Chesapeake Beaches in Maryland Near Me!
Check out this great Google Map I created so you know where are the best Chesapeake Beaches in Maryland are located!
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.
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.
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 seniors, $10 for kids under 12 years old and $25 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 2023, 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!
Bay front Park (Brownies Beach)
Note: Brownies Beach is still not open for out of county residents in 2023 and it looks like it might be closed for a really long time. I know, I am crying too… but hopefully they will be open again… at some point.
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.
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.
Let the Kid friendly Maryland app help you plan your day trip!
Figuring out which one of the Chesapeake beaches in Maryland you want to visit is only half the fun! If you want to make a perfect day trip out of it, check out the Kid Friendly Maryland app! Yep, this is day trip planning at it’s best! It’s a premium subscription/membership– but the app pays for itself every month you use it– saving you loads of time and money (especially gas money!).
Click the photo below to find out more!
Matoaka Beach and campground used to be a Girl Scout camp. You can rent either primitive or more glamping type cabins or pay $10/day per person for day use privileges (kids 5 and under are free). 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.
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.
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!
Gunpowder Falls State Park Hammerman Area
The Gunpowder Falls State Park Hammerman Area is really such a treat. It’s an absolutely beautiful area of the park, and unlike the other areas of Gunpowder Falls State Park, the main focus of this area is the super gorgeous beach area.
The beach is relatively nice (although there is seasonal algae) and the beach area has numerous picnic tables, grills, etc… There are also a number of small playgrounds near the beach area and throughout the park.
This is a great beach to visit off season too as the sand is nice and clean.. great for sand play!
Lifeguards are on duty at the swimming area from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. Swimming is permitted at your own risk when lifeguards are not on duty.
- 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.
Elk Neck State Park- North East Beach
Elk Neck State Park in North East, MD is a treasure. The most iconic part of the park is the Turkey Point Lighthouse. The Turkey Point Lighthouse trail is a 1.9 mile loop trail (or you could do out and back directly from the lighthouse). If you do the loop trail, you will find numerous waterfront picnic and small beach areas. It is really such a lovely place to spend the day!
The other super kid friendly area is the North East Beach Area. The beach is a very popular day use area where you can swim, have a picnic, or launch a canoe or kayak. There is also a small playground.
Fort Smallwood Park Beach
This is a great park that was originally part of the coastal fort system. It is situated where the Patapsco River dumps into the Chesapeake Bay.
There is a beach/swimming area, a boat and canoe launch, a great fishing pier, walking and hiking trails, and a nice playground for kids.
Really though, the draw is the access to the water. This is really a beautiful area!
Ferry Park/Rock Hall Beach
This is a fantastic public beach that won’t get as much traffic as some of the other more popular Maryland beaches but it’s really perfect for families!
There are picnic tables, barbecue stands, and pavilions, and some incredible views of the Chesapeake Bay, including some of the best sunset views imaginable.
The Sandbar @ Rolphs Wharf Marina
Located on the Chester river — shallow and calm water. There is a huge bar that serves both alcohol, non alcohol and food (grilled cheese, nuggets, hot dogs, fries, etc).
There is shaded seating and outside sand seating with umbrellas and chairs. You can easily spend the day here!
Matapeake Beach and Clubhouse
Located on the Chesapeake Bay on Kent Island, Maryland, the grounds include a public swimming beach, an outdoor amphitheater, family picnic area and 1 mile trail through the surrounding woods, with views of the Bay Bridge. The beach is open sunrise to sunset daily.
Speaking of sunset– the sunset views here are amazing!
The Café at Matapeake Clubhouse is currently closed. However, outside the Clubhouse, ice cream and beverages will be be available for purchase. Beach chairs and umbrellas can be rented on a first come basis. Cash only.
Ferry Point Park
Ferry Point Park Beach is near the Chesapeake Heritage & Visitor Center (see the separate entry for the Heritage Center). The park has a 530-foot boardwalk, a marsh trail, and a small beach where you can swim. When it’s low tide, kids will love finding shells.
During the summer this spot can get crowded and there can also be horse flies (biting flies), so keep that in mind.
The Strand Beach
Review from a reader! “This little beach is one of our favorites all year. It is right next to the Oxford-Bellevue ferry which you can ride across and check out the Bellevue playground and see St.Michaels. The kiddos can walk right out into the water, it’s shallow for a long ways out. Shells galore, and sea glass when it’s not picked over! You’re also right near some yummy restaurants, a play ground and the Scottish Highland Creamery. You can make a day out of this beach”
Cove Beach Park
Here is a hidden Maryland beach. I almost feel a little guilty about this one.. because it really does feel.. hidden and unspoiled. So— I share it here and beg you not to spoil it! 😀
Cove Beach Park in Bivalve is a blink and you miss it public beach on the Nanticoke River… it’s just down the street (literally) from Roaring Point Park.
The beach had gorgeous fine sand and a very gentle slope out in the water.. so great for younger kids.
There are a few picnic tables, a port-a-potty, and parking for probably less than 10 cars.. which means you will pretty much have this beach to yourself.
Perfect. Sublime. Relaxing in the sun. Yep… check this place out!
Roaring Point Park
Roaring Point Park is not exactly hidden… but it might as well be since it’s a full 1.5 hours from Kent Island, 1 hour from Cambridge, and even 30 minutes from Salisbury.
You have to work for this beach 😀 but it’s soooo worth it!
The sand is so fine, the beach area is rather large, and there is a gentle slope into the river.. so great for kids!
The only thing you need to watch out for is tree stumps in the sand and water. Not sure why they are there.. probably erosion… but their presence is so cool… it’s worth the extra caution.
Pack a picnic lunch and head out and you will practically have the beach to yourself!
I am not sure about jellyfish… Roaring Point will probably get them in July… so if you are out then just be careful.
Also— I thought the beach wasn’t crowded, but apparently it can get crowded on the weekend.. so arrive early (or late late afternoon) if you visit on the weekend!
Deale Island Beach
Another fantastic beach and day trip idea! Deal Island Beach and Deal Island Historic District are absolutely worth the trip! To get to the beach, turn right at the boat marina once you cross over the bridge.
The sand is very fine with a gentle slope into the water. The tide is gentle and the sunsets are quite amazing!
Raccoon Point Regional Park Beach
This is another great beach option on the Eastern Shore! A great west facing beach that isn’t crowded, fine sand, great sunsets, and more!
This county parks facility includes a strand of bayside beach, kayak/canoe soft launch, pavilion (available for rent) with bbq grill, and portable toilet facilities.
I stopped to enjoy the breathtaking sunset at Crisfield’s Wellington Beach. The beach itself is gorgeous… great sand, picnic tables, and a pirate ship playground!
There are restrooms and a rinse off station. Beach access is free! 🐕🦺 dogs are allowed on this beach!
And!! The swimming are is netted to prevent jellyfish! How awesome is that?!
Town Foot Log Park/Beach
Located in historic Charlestown, this is a small but completely lovely park! It’s a small beach/waterfront park that is literally the backyard to neighborhood houses! (note: the backyard of these houses are private property)
The beach is very lovely though… and peaceful!
Elm’s Beach is a great location for families. The beach is a fairly good size, there are picnic tables, a large playground, and opportunities to go crabbing and fishing.
Greenwell State Park Beach
Greenwell is a state park full of hiking trails, a small beach, and a fishing pier. It’s a working farm, so you’ll see various field plants like corn growing and being harvested. The Greenwell Foundation also hosts open barns on most first Saturdays of the month in the mornings where you can visit the horses inside the barn and feed the goats as well.
Greenwell has equestrian programs as well as summer camps children are sure to enjoy. Jellyfish and seaweed are an issue on the beach in the late summer months, but you can spend hours playing at the beach in the earlier months.
Myrtle Point Park
The road leading to Myrtle Point Park is between the California Wawa and the Solomon’s Bridge, and is a great spot to go hiking with beach stops along the hike. After entering the park, you’ll choose between turning left and venturing off on a wooded hike, or left and parking closer to one of the beach fronts.
If you choose to go straight to the beach, you’ll park a short walk through the woods away, and have access to portable restrooms and a handful of picnic tables before the beach. The tables fill up fast on busy days, though. The beach is not large, but has a great view of the Solomon’s bridge.
Your kids will feel like they’re going through the jungle walking through the bamboo path along the way. If you decide the beach is too crowded, you can enter the hiking trails right on the other side of the parking area.
Kentmorr Restaurant and Beach
2023 Update: The original owners decided to retire after 30 years (happy retirement!) and it is unclear what the new owners will decide to do with the beach. It sounds like they are aiming for a soft opening of May 2023 and it appears beach access will be private (presumably just for patrons of the restaurant). Stay tuned for details when they open up!
The Kentmorr Restaurant and Crab House in Stevensville has a beach! The dock side and Chesapeake Bay restaurant is a fantastic idea for a family friendly outing… and it won’t be as crowded as many public beaches in the area.
Why? Because the beach area is private and meant for patrons of the restaurant or Dirty Dave’s Tiki Bar. On the weekends and holidays you have to reserve a spot on the beach and can keep it (they provide an umbrella for you) from noon until they close. During the week you still have to pay a nominal fee but don’t need a reservation.
And if you want the crab shack experience, make a reservation in the restaurant! We loved our day here. Highly recommend it!
Many people consider Tangier Island in Virginia as the most beautiful Chesapeake Bay beach. However, you have to take a boat to it. For a beautiful Chesapeake Beach that is accessible by car, my top picks are Cove Road Beach, Raccoon Point Beach, and Deale Island Beach.
You can swim in the Chesapeake Bay but be careful, especially with kids. You shouldn’t swallow water from Chesapeake Bay beaches just in case there are contaminants. Also, at some point in the summer (typically around July), jellyfish will be present in the waters so you have to be careful not to get stung.
Some of the best free Chesapeake Bay beaches are Betterton Beach, Cove Rd. Beach, Roaring Pt Beach, Crisfield-Wellington Beach, Deale Island Beach, Raccoon Point Beach, Rock Hall Beach, and The Strand Beach.
The typically arrive when the water warms up, typically by July– but they could show up before July. Once jellyfish, also known as sea nettles, arrive, they will stay until October.