Summer is when the heat really turns up in the District of Columbia. The city turns into a swamp that even Kermit the Frog would find hot and sticky. Tourists crave an escape, and there’s no better place for a getaway then one of the best beaches near D.C.
If you want a calm beach, visit one of the towns around the Chesapeake Bay to cool off with the kids on a hot summer day.
Are you looking to surf the closest beaches? Head to the coast, which is about a two hour drive from the city. The Delaware beaches, Maryland beaches, and beaches in Virginia are all under three hours (depending on traffic) from on which beaches near Washington, D.C. you want to visit.
Maryland Atlantic Ocean Beaches
Maryland may not be the Caribbean, but it does have over 3,100 miles of sandy shoreline. Enjoy the sun, sand, and surf at one of the Maryland beaches below. If you’re visiting during the summer, plan for a few extra days to hit the coast.
Ocean City Maryland
- Address: 1st – 27th Street, Ocean City, MD
- Distance from DC: 140 miles / 2 hours 50 minutes
- Website for events
With 10 miles of sand, movies on the beach, entertainment, and even an amusement park, there’s no reason not to go to Ocean City.
For nearly 150 years, families have been enjoying this East Coast resort town.
The beaches are open from 5:00 AM – 10:00 PM and are pet-friendly from October – April.
Assateague Island National Seashore
- Address: 7307 Stephen Decatur Highway, Berlin, Maryland 21811
- Distance from DC: 140 miles / 3 hours
A trip to the beaches on the undeveloped Assateague Island offers a chance to see the wild ponies that call the island home. Assateague Island has two miles of beaches perfect for surfing, swimming, fishing, beachcombing, or sunbathing the day away.
Canoers and kayakers will enjoy exploring the secluded alcoves along the bay side of the island.
The campground offers both primitive and electric sites if you’re interested in extending your stay. This National Seashore has sections in both Maryland and Virginia.
Chesapeake Bay Beaches in Maryland
North Beach and Boardwalk
- Address: 5th Street and Bay Avenue, North Beach, MD 20714
- Distance from DC: 40 miles / 1 hour
- Open: Memorial Day weekend – Labor Day weekend
Spend the day along the Chesapeake Bay shores exploring the sandy beach, bench-lined boardwalk, and the bay’s refreshing waters.
For those who like to spend the day fishing instead of lying in the sand, a long fishing pier sits towards the beach’s southern end.
The flower-lined boardwalk is about five blocks long and is pet friendly.
If you’re visiting the beach with children, head to the south end. When the kids need a break from the shore, they can play at the nearby ship playground.
There is a fee to enjoy this beach. Stop at the Welcome Center and get your wristband before heading to the water.
Calvert Cliffs State Park
- Address: 10540 HG Trueman Rd, Lusby, MD 20657
- Distance from DC: 60 miles / 1 hour 15 minutes
At Calvert Cliffs State Park, begin your day with a terrific hike and try your hand at fossil collecting. Afterward, swim the afternoon away at the natural bay beach.
Breezy Point Beach
- Address: 5300 Breezy Point Rd, Chesapeake Beach, MD 20732
- Distance from DC: 42 miles / 1 hour
Make a weekend of camping, crabbing, and swimming at Breezy Point Beach. The 200-foot pier is great for those who wish to idle away the day fishing and crabbing, while the sandy beach offers a traffic swimming area.
This half-mile beach has it all. You can even come across prehistoric shark teeth while scouring the beach.
Rocky Point Park
- Address: 2200 Rocky Point Road, Essex, MD 21221
- Distance from DC: 60 miles / 1 hour 15 minutes
- Fishing, picnicking, and boating – year-round sunrise to sunset
- Swimming – Memorial Day weekend – Labor Day weekend 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
At the mouth of the Middle and Back rivers, the 374-acre park offers expansive views of the Chesapeake Bay, Craighill Light, and Hart-Miller Island.
Spend the day enjoying one of the upper Chesapeake Bay’s loveliest beaches or take to the water on canoes, kayaks, or jet skis.
Hart-Miller Island State Park
Address: Rocky Point – Inner Boat Ramp, Rocky Point Rd, Essex, MD 21221
Distance from DC: 60 miles / 1 hour 15 minutes
From the Inner Boat Ramp at Rocky Point, boat owners can head two miles across the northern Chesapeake Bay to the 1,100-acre Hart-Miller Island State Park. Moor your boat on the western shore and enjoy the 3,000-foot sandy beach.
If you want to extend your time in this off-beat paradise, you can camp along the beach, play golf at the waterfront Rocky Point Golf Course, or hike the 8 miles of trails, including the 1.8-mile Long Trail Loop.
There are even free bike rentals at the South Cell Thursdays – Sundays from May to September.
- Address: 2010 Sonny Schulz Blvd, Stevensville, MD 21666
- Distance from DC: 50 miles / 1 hour
Within sight of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, the Matapeake Beach on the Eastern Shore offers calm waters, a great fishing pier, excellent walking trails, and a shady picnic area.
This beach is pet-friendly and even has a separate dog beach.
While in the area, take time to visit the restored 1930s ferry terminal, which is now the Matapeake Beach and Club House, or dine on crabs at Stevensville Crab Shack.
Point Lookout State Park
- Address: 11175 Point Lookout Rd, Scotland, MD 20687
- Distance from DC: 80 miles / 2 hours
Jutting out into the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay, Point Lookout State Park offers guests a lovely beach and fishing pier.
This historical site was once home to a Confederate prison camp. Visit the museum and monuments to learn about the area’s past.
More State Park Beaches in Maryland
Sandy Point State Park
- Address: 1100 E College Pkwy, Annapolis, MD 21409
- Distance from DC: 40 miles / 50 minutes
Enjoy a day of hiking, swimming, or fishing at Sandy Point State Park. For bird watchers, the Atlantic Flyway is a prime location for spotting birds and other wildlife.
Mark your calendar to head to the park in September for the Maryland Seafood Festival.
Hammerman Beach – Gunpowder Falls State Park
- Address: Middle River, MD 21220
- Distance from DC: 55 miles / 1 hour 15 minutes
Gunpowder Falls State Park is a vast park that has a beautiful swimming area and beach for relaxing, swimming, kayaking, and paddle boarding.
Deep Creek Lake
- Address: 898 State Park Rd, Swanton, MD 21561
- Distance from DC: 175 miles / 3 hours
Deep Creek Lake is a manmade lake with 69 miles of shoreline.
Spend the day swimming or sunning on the beach, or rent a boat and head out on the water.
If you’re a thrill seeker, try Adventure Sports Center International’s whitewater course.
Cunningham Falls State Park
- Address: 14039 Catoctin Hollow Rd, Thurmont, MD 21788
- Distance from DC: 66 miles / 1 hour 15 minutes
Head to Cunningham Falls State Park in the Catoctin Mountains, with its three swimming areas around Hunting Creek Lake.
The park is a great place to spend the weekend or do an overnight trip since you can pitch your tent and camp. While in the area, be sure to visit the spectacular 78-foot waterfall.
Read our Cunningham Falls State Park guide
Rocky Gap State Park
- Address: 12900 Lake Shore Dr, Flintstone, MD 21530
- Distance from DC: 130 miles / 2 hours 10 minutes
For a lakefront getaway, head to Rocky Gap State Park. Here you’ll find hiking and bike trails, fishing, and a lot of fun at the public beaches.
Begin your day by golfing or hiking up Evitts Mountain to take in the fantastic views before relaxing the afternoon away on the beach. In the evening, head to the lakefront casino. You can then spend the night at the resort or camp out in the park.
Delaware Beaches written by Keryn Means
Rehoboth Beach Delaware
- Address: 20-38 Henlopen Ave, Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971 (Deauville Beach parking)
- Distance from DC: 125miles / 2 hour 45 minutes
When you aren’t in the water at Rehoboth Beach, you can listen to free concerts all summer long at the Rehoboth Beach Bandstand. The mile-long boardwalk is filled with restaurants, shops and entertainment that will keep you busy year-round, while just a bit inland you’ll find plenty of hotels, motels and vacation rentals.
Don’t miss Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, even when traveling with the kids. The pub-inspired menu is delicious and parents can indulge in a beer or booze flight. It’s walkable from the beach and area lodging, so you don’t have to worry about driving either.
Dewey Beach Delaware
- Address: Dewey Beach, DE 19971 (at least 3 access points off Coastal Highway)
- Distance from DC: 125miles / 2 hour 45 minutes
You’ll find Dewey Beach just south of Rehoboth and north of Delaware Seashore State Park. Of course you should check out the beaches, but don’t miss Lighthouse Cove at Dewey Beach on Rehoboth Bay.
There are a few hotels and resorts on this strip of beach, but the lodging is mostly vacation homes, so make sure you look into rentals.
Bethany Beach, Delaware
- Address: Campbell Pl, Bethany Beach, DE 19930 (Bethany Beach parking)
- Distance from DC: 131miles / 2 hour 50 minutes
Bethany Beach was one of the first beaches I ever visited after we moved back to Washington, D.C. I loved how quiet and family friendly the downtown area and boardwalk were for my kids. The hotels and rentals were easy to book and of course, there was mini golf so my youngest was happy.
While there aren’t too many stellar restaurants in town, there are just enough options to enjoy for a weekend visit. You can also head south to Ocean City, MD, or north to Rehoboth for more options.
I love wandering around all of the little shops in town and relaxing on the beach when we visit.
Find more Things to do in Bethany Beach, DE
Lewes Beach Delaware
- Address: 206 Bay Ave, Lewes, DE 19958
- Distance from DC: 122 miles/ 2 hours and 35 minutes
Lewes Beach is family friendly, and the perfect day trip from Rehoboth or Bethany Beach. The beautiful beaches of Cape Henlopen State Park are located right next door, so you’ll have plenty of space to explore.
The town of Lewes adds a perfect amount of charm to your beach trip. As the first town in the first state in America, Lewes has a lot history, plus really cute boutique shops, restaurants, and bed & breakfasts and inns.
It’s the perfect spot for a couples getaway. But don’t worry parents, kids will be happy playing on the cannons in town too.
Delaware Seashore State Park
- Address: 25039 Coastal Hwy, Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971
- Distance from DC: 128 miles/ 2 hours and 45 minutes
If you want to know where the surfers go, check out Delaware Seashore State Park just north of Bethany Beach. I love this beach for seashell hunting, jumping in the waves, and getting away from the tourist attractions of other local Delaware beaches.
The state park covers 2,825 acres of natural bliss, but does have some modern amenities you might need for a day trip to the beach.
There is a publicly accessible beach club with changing rooms, showers and even a little snack stand. Just across Coastal Highway you can book a camping spot to spend the night with your tent or RV.
Visitors have access to the marina and boat launch for kayaking in the bay, fishing, and even crabbing.
Cape Henlopen State Park
- Address: 15099 Cape Henlopen Dr, Lewes, DE 19958
- Distance from DC: 121 miles/ 2.5 hours
Just north of Rehoboth and next to Lewes, DE, you’ll find Cape Henlopen State Park, a coastal preserve on an old military base. While the park is 5,193 acres on Cape Henlopen in Sussex County, only a fraction is actually beachfront.
Take time to visit the Seaside Nature Center, Cape Henlopen State Park Nature Center, and Cape Henlopen State Park Public Beach. There are several trails through the park, including the Gordons Pond Trailhead. The area has restrooms and a bath house for those camping or just spending a day in the park.
Beaches in Virginia
Assateague Beach – Assateague Island National Seashore
- Address: Assateague Beach, Beach Rd, Chincoteague, VA 23336
- Distance from DC: 175 miles / 3 hours 25 minutes
At the quaint Virginia section of this National Seashore, you’ll be able to sink your toes into the white sand, spot wild ponies, and hike to the top of the Assateague Lighthouse for a panoramic view.
Remember to pack a picnic lunch and a pair of binoculars to see the dolphins and migratory birds up close.
Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge
- Address: 8231 Beach Rd, Chincoteague, VA 23336
- Distance from DC: 170 miles / 3 hours 15 minutes
Considered one of the most beautiful Atlantic Coast beaches, the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge has a sandy barrier island with multiple beaches. Check out the recreational beach, Toms Cove Hook, and Wild Beach. Each of the beaches has lifeguards on duty during the busy summer season.
Spend some time crabbing, clamming, beachcombing, surfing, and keeping an eye out for birds, ponies, foxes, and dolphins.
The recreational beach is open year-round and has an interpretive facility and programs.
Wild Beach stretches 11 miles from D-Dike to the Maryland-Virginia border. You’ll have to hike to this beach since vehicles are not permitted.
Hike ten miles by the ocean at Toms Cove Hook or drive along the Over-sand Vehicle Zone to Fishing Point.
Part of this area is closed between March 15 and August 31.
Virginia Beach Oceanfront Resort Area
- Address: 1st – 40th Streets, Virginia Beach, VA 23451
- Distance from DC: 210 miles / 3 hours 20 minutes
Virginia Beach is a popular tourist spot where you can enjoy the beach, a 3-mile long boardwalk, and an array of historical and entertainment venues along the Atlantic Ocean. With a variety of hotels and restaurants lining the oceanfront, it’s a convenient beach to visit.
The boardwalk has several playgrounds, an amusement park, and shops.
During your day of sun and fun on the beach, rent a chair or umbrella, check out plenty of food vendors steps away from your beach blanket, or rent a bike to help you explore the area. Lifeguards are on duty between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
You’ll find public beaches north and south of the resort area. Find a legal parking spot and take any public beach walkway to the beach for a less crowded beach environment. However, these beaches will not have lifeguards or other amenities.
- Address: 920 Vanderbilt Ave, Virginia Beach, VA 23451
- Distance from DC: 210 miles / 4 hours
South of the oceanfront and across the Rudee Inlet Bridge, you’ll find Croatan Beach.
Croatan Beach is about a mile long and much quieter than the boardwalk area.
If you are a surfer, you’ll find many other surfers here as well as two designated areas to surf.
There are lifeguards, bathrooms, and showers at the beach. There is a fee to park.
- Address: Sandfiddler Road Virginia Beach, VA 23456
- Distance from DC: 220 miles / 4 hours 15 minutes
Far from big fancy hotels and busy boardwalks, Sandbridge Beach is lined with large vacation homes. It offers visitors five miles of peaceful sandy beaches and massive dunes covered with sea oats.
The beach is perfect for a lovely stroll, soaking in the sun, or just relaxing away from the hustle and bustle.
There are few options for food, shopping, and entertainment in the immediate area, so bring a picnic lunch and plenty to drink for your day on the beach. Better yet, rent one of the homes for your beach stay so you can walk to the beach whenever you want.
This part of the beach is dog-friendly. During the summer months, leashed dogs can be on the beach before 10:00 AM and after 6:00 PM. During the off season, they can be on the beach at any time.
North End Beach
- Address: 70th – 88th Streets, Virginia Beach 23451
- Distance from DC: 210 miles / 4 hours 10 minutes
At the northern end of Virginia Beach’s oceanfront, where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Chesapeake Bay, you’ll find residential neighborhoods.
Each street has a beach walkway that leads to the water. There are no facilities, and parking may be a challenge.
However, if you rent a house in this area, you will find a much quieter beach and a chance to walk to the two lighthouses at the point.
Leashed dogs can be on the beach before 10:00 AM and after 6:00 PM during the summer. During the off season, they can be on the beach at any time.
- Address: Hawthorn St, Colonial Beach, VA 22443
- Distance from DC: 65 miles / 1 hour 45 minutes
With a 2 ½ mile beachfront along the 6-mile wide Potomac River, Colonia Beach is a charming destination to enjoy the sun, fish, people-watch along the boardwalk, or enjoy a delicious dinner at a riverfront restaurant.
The beach is pet-friendly between October 1st and March 31st.
Belle Isle Beach
- Address: 1 Belle Isle, Richmond, VA 23225
- Distance from DC: 110 miles / 1 hour 50 minutes
Within the Belle Isle Historic Park, you’ll find one of Richmond’s most unusual beaches.
Belle Isle is not a typical sandy beach, but has flat rock shores that absorb the sun’s warmth and are great for lying out in the sun.
With swift-moving water, there is no swimming, but you can enjoy the landscape, hiking trails, or just dipping your toes in the refreshing water.
- Address: 2205 Jamestown Rd, Williamsburg, VA 23185
- Distance from DC: 160 miles / 2 hours 40 minutes
When you’re visiting Williamsburg and the Jamestown Settlement and want a beach break, head to the Jamestown Beach. It’s located in the beachfront park and has lagoons to wade and swim in, a fishing area, observation pier, concession stand, restrooms, and a picnic area. However, it does not have lifeguards.
For those who would like to get out on the water, kayaks are for rent during the summer.
The park is free to visit, but there is a fee to park unless you are a Williamsburg or James City County resident.
The park is pet-friendly.
- Address: Water St, Yorktown, VA 23690
- Distance from DC: 165 miles / 2 hours 45 minutes
While visiting historic Yorktown, extend your stay by visiting the two-acre public beach.
The beach may be small, but it’s excellent for families and has restrooms, a fishing pier, picnic tables, and various restaurants nearby.
There are paddleboard and kayak rentals available, along with a chance to get on the York River for a historic boat tour or sunset sail with Yorktown Sailing Charters.
If parking is not available near the beach, find a public lot and hop on the complimentary shuttle to take you to the beach.
Westmoreland State Park – Fossil Beach
- Address: 145 Cliff Road, Montross, VA 22520
- Distance from DC: 75 miles / 1 hour 45 minutes
Westmoreland State Park sits 1½ miles along the Northern Neck of Peninsula’s Potomac River.
To get to Fossil Beach, take the 7/10 mile trail to the sandy beach fringed by cliffs.
Spend the day swimming in the river or the park’s pool, fishing, hiking the 6 miles of trails, or just taking in the sights from Horsehead Cliffs.
To extend your stay, rent one of the 26 rustic cabins within the park.
First Landing State Park
- Address: 2500 Shore Dr, Virginia Beach, VA 23451
- Distance from DC: 200 miles / 3 hours 50 minutes
On the northern edge of Virginia Beach, you’ll find the 2,888-acre state park. It’s a coastal haven for boating, fishing, hiking, and swimming.
First Landing has 1¼ miles of sandy beachfront along the Chesapeake Bay where you can enjoy the water and sand.
This beach is usually not crowded. However, there are no lifeguards, so swimming is at your own risk. The bay’s water is a little warmer than the ocean water and much calmer.
If you want to stay longer, there’s a great campground steps away from the sandy beach, and there are also rental cabins.
Cape Charles Beach
- Address: 4 Bay Ave, Cape Charles, VA 23310
- Distance from DC: 220 miles / 4 hours
At the southern tip of the Eastern Shore, Cape Charles Beach lies 10 miles from the 17-mile long Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel that connects the Eastern Shore to Virginia Beach.
Cape Charles’ location on the Chesapeake Bay offers calmer and much warmer water than the Atlantic Ocean.
The beach’s benches and platforms are the perfect place to sit during the evening and watch the sunset.
When you’re tired of enjoying the beach or fishing from the pier, stroll along this coastal town’s streets and explore the shops.
Various outfitters rent kayaks and paddleboards for those who would like to get on the water.
- Address: 100 S 1st St, Hampton, VA 23664
- Distance from DC: 180 miles / 3 hours
Sitting along the western banks of the Chesapeake Bay, Buckroe Beach is Hampton’s most popular beach.
Along the ¾-mile sandy strip, there is a playground, picnic shelters, grills, and paths for walking and biking.
Lifeguards are on duty during the summer.
Visit on a summer Sunday and enjoy the live Groovin’ by the Bay concert series or watch a family movie on the beach each Tuesday evening.
There are jet skis, paddle boats, and kayaks for rent.
During the summer, dogs are not permitted on the beach.
Ocean View Beach
- Address: 100 W Ocean View Ave, Norfolk, VA 23503
- Distance from DC: 190 miles / 3 hours
Along Norfolk’s 7 ½ mile northern edge sits the Chesapeake Bay. Here you’ll find calm waters and lovely sandy beaches that are much less crowded than the Virginia Beach oceanfront. Parking is free.
It’s a great place to soak up the sun, and people also enjoy jogging along the beach, kayaking, paddleboarding, skimboarding, and building sandcastles.
The entire length of the coast is a free public beach. However, there are only lifeguards at three beaches:
- Community Beach Park, 700 E Ocean View Ave, Norfolk, VA 23503
- Ocean View Beach, 100 W Ocean View Ave, Norfolk, VA 23503
- Sarah Constant Beach Park, 300 W Ocean View Ave, Norfolk, VA 23510
At these beaches, you’ll also find restrooms and picnic tables.
Those who enjoy fishing should head to Sarah Constant Beach, where the Ocean View Fishing Pier is located. Here you can take a fishing cruise or fish from the pier. They rent fishing equipment and sell bait.
The Ocean View beaches are dog-friendly. During the summer months, leashed dogs can be on the beach before 10:00 AM and after 6:00 PM. In the off season, they can be on the beach at all times.
Kiptopeke State Park
- Address: 3540 Kiptopeke Drive, Caple Charles, VA 23310
- Distance from DC: 220 miles / 3 hours 40 minutes
Kiptopeke State Park is a popular recreational area that offers excellent birdwatching opportunities, hiking and biking trails, a fishing pier, playgrounds, and two lovely beaches along the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay.
The northern beach, which is about a ½ mile long, is only for swimming. The southern beach is open for those who wish to swim, crab, and fish.
This beach is also pet-friendly. Both beaches are unguarded.
To extend your stay and beach time, check into the campgrounds or rent one of their cabins.
- Address: Buggs Island Rd, Boydton, VA 23917
- Distance from DC: 225 miles / 3 hours 40 minutes
With 50,000-acres of water, Kerr Lake is Virginia’s largest lake and offers over 800 miles of shoreline.
This lake is the perfect place to enjoy a day on the water boating, sailing, paddling, or water skiing.
While you’re on the beach, watch the skies for the bald eagles and osprey that call the lake home.
The beaches offer white sand and some shade from trees along the waterfront.
Many of the beaches are within or near campgrounds.
The east side of the lake is the perfect place to watch the sunset over the water.
Kerr Lake Beaches:
- Liberty Hill Public Beach – 4499 Buggs Island Rd, Boydton, VA 23917
- Buffalo Park – State Route 722, Buffalo Junction, VA 24529
- Ivy Hill Park – Ivy Hill Road, Clarksville, VA 23927
- Longwood Park – 13502 US-15, Clarksville, VA 23927
- North Bend Park – 64 N Bend Dr, Boydton, VA 23917
- Palmer Point – 899 Palmer Point Road, Boydton, VA 23917
- Rudd’s Creek – 16064 US-58, Boydton, VA 23917
Smith Mountain Lake Beach and Community Park
- Address: Huddleston, VA 24104
- Distance from DC: 220 miles / 4 hours 10 minutes
Smith Mountain Lake is one of the most popular lakeshore beaches in the state.
Surrounded by cottages, this freshwater lake is thriving with various watersports like jet skiing, kayaking, paddleboarding, and fishing.
Much of the shoreline around the lake is private and not open to the public. However, there is a public beach at the community park with picnic shelters, playgrounds, and a fishing pier, and the 500-foot beach has lifeguards during the summer season. There is a small fee per person to use the park and beach.
- Address: Lake Anna State Park, 6800 Lawyers Rd, Spotsylvania Courthouse, VA 22551
- Distance from DC: 80 miles / 1 hour 30 minutes
Lake Anna offers 200 miles of shoreline with sandy white beaches. It’s a great place to dip your feet in the water or relax while the kids enjoy building sandcastles and playing in the calm waters.
Water skiing, wakeboarding, and kayaking are popular. There are marinas around the lake that offer rental equipment and lessons.
Looking for a Washington DC Hotel?
- Hotel Hive – Affordable, trendy, pet-friendly hotel
- Eaton Hotel – Stay in the heart of DC
- Four Seasons Hotel Washington DC – DC luxury at it’s best
- Kimpton Hotel George – Great for families and pets
- Willard InterContinental Washington – Historic hotel right near the White House