Photo of Ocean City Boardwalk as the sunsets

The 15 Best Beaches Near Washington, DC Metro Area

When it‚Äôs time for a day trip or weekend away from the hustle of the Washington, DC area ‚ÄĒ the perfect beach might be closer than you think

This summertime guide features 15 beaches near Washington, DC, Virginia, and Maryland ‚ÄĒ all within driving distance to downtown DC, starting with the closest.

(Weigh your options in the DMV area: discover whether renting or buying a home suits your lifestyle and financial goals with our in-depth guide.)

1. North Beach, Maryland

40-mile drive from downtown Washington, DC

One of the closest beaches to D.C., North Beach is nestled in picturesque Calvert County and boasts a pristine sandy shoreline and a charming boardwalk with picturesque flowerbeds and benches. Dogs are welcome here ‚ÄĒ although they aren‚Äôt allowed on the beach, so you’ll want to plan accordingly. While there’s an admission fee for non-locals, most find the beach¬†experience well worth it, especially given its proximity to D.C.

2. Sandy Point State Park, Maryland

45-mile drive from downtown Washington, DC

Positioned at the western end of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, Sandy Point State Park draws over a million visitors annually. It’s a beloved spot for swimming. Families can also explore the adjacent Corcoran Woods forest preserve, featuring four miles of scenic trails.

3. Gunpowder Falls State Park, Maryland 

60-mile drive from Downtown Washington, DC

Also among the best day trips near the capital, this beach offers diverse recreational activities across its six sections. The Hammerman Area in Middle River features a 1,500-foot beach and swimming area alongside the Gunpowder River. For fishing and canoeing, you’ll want to head to the Hereford Area while the Central Area provides opportunities for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. Meanwhile, nearby Dundee Creek Marina offers ample boating, fishing, and archery opportunities.

4. Colonial Beach, Virginia 

65-mile drive from downtown Washington, DC

This serene retreat along the Potomac River is Virginia’s second-largest beach. The centrally located pedestrian walkway boasts waterfront restaurants, food trucks, a kid’s playground, souvenir shops, bathhouse facilities, and fishing areas from the municipal pier. Beach areas to the north and south of the pier offer a quiet, slower-paced retreat.

5. Point Lookout State Park, Maryland

80-mile drive from downtown Washington, DC

Positioned at the tip of a peninsula between the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay, this beach is known for its rich history. Explore the museum within the park to learn about its importance to early Maryland settlers and the Union army during the Civil War. The park also features a 19th-century lighthouse offering stunning views of the Potomac River, although it’s currently undergoing renovation and not accessible inside.

6. Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

120-mile drive from downtown Washington, DC

From go-karts and mini-golf to hang-gliding and other boardwalk amusements park attractions there’s something for everyone at one of the best beaches in Delaware. Indulge in delicious frozen custard and explore the town’s many farm-to-table restaurants. Nearby Dewey Beach provides a quieter alternative to the bustling atmosphere of Rehoboth.

7. Bethany Beach, Delaware

125-mile drive from downtown Washington, DC

Bethany Beach prides itself on being a “quiet resort,” providing a tranquil alternative to the lively atmosphere of other beach destinations. While there are fewer bars, there’s no shortage of activities, including water sports, a farmers’ market, a water park, pirate-themed mini-golf, a scenic boardwalk, and beachside movie screenings. Enjoy free live music at the Boardwalk Bandstand on weekend evenings, and savor the town’s unique tradition of bidding farewell to summer with a jazz funeral.

8. Fenwick Island, Delaware

130-mile drive from downtown Washington, DC

Located between Bethany Beach and Ocean City near the Delaware/Maryland border, Fenwick Island offers relaxed family-friendly beach entertainment. Don’t miss the Thunder Lagoon Waterpark and the captivating DiscoverSea Shipwreck Museum.

9. Ocean City, Maryland

145-mile drive from downtown Washington, DC

You’ll love this paradise for kids and the young at heart. Enjoy water slides, boardwalk games and rides, and haunted houses, or embark on water adventures like parasailing, kayaking, surfing, or simply swimming. Free concerts and movies are also available on many summer nights.¬†Ocean City beach is one of the closest beach getaways for D.C.-area residents.

10. Sea Isle City, New Jersey

180-mile drive from downtown Washington, DC

Located between the bustling Ocean City, New Jersey, and Avalon, this charming Jersey Shore destination balances laid-back atmospheres, family-friendly activities, and vibrant nightlife, highlighted by popular spots like Ocean Drive. With its welcoming motto, “Smile, You’re in Sea Isle,” the town boasts a scenic 1.5-mile promenade along the Atlantic coastline. Boating and fishing enthusiasts will delight in the opportunities provided by the back bay. Additionally, convenient beach¬†access to Atlantic City and The Wildwoods via the Garden State Parkway adds to its allure, though accommodations are limited, making summer rentals essential.

11. Cape May and Wildwood, New Jersey

185-mile drive from downtown Washington, DC

These twin beach towns offer distinct yet complementary experiences perfect for a weekend getaway. Cape May enchants visitors with its striking Victorian mansions and charming bed-and-breakfasts, accompanied by engaging historic tours. Meanwhile, Wildwood presents a classic shore experience with a nostalgic twist, boasting 1950s-era motels and a vibrant boardwalk adorned with numerous rides and two water parks. A famous refrain, “Watch the tram car, please,” adds to the retro ambiance of Wildwood’s attractions.

12. Ocean City, New Jersey

190-mile drive from Downtown Washington, DC

Visit Ocean City for abundant family-friendly seaside entertainment. Despite its often bustling boardwalk, it boasts a plethora of rides and beloved shore treats like pizza and fried Oreos, ensuring a delightful experience for all.

13. Virginia Beach, Virginia

200-mile drive from Downtown Washington, DC

You’ll find a variety of outdoor activities ranging from fishing and kayaking to dolphin watching. Its lively boardwalk is adorned with rides and restaurants, complemented by numerous festivals, bars, clubs, and breweries. Explore attractions like the Virginia Aquarium and the Military Aviation Museum, with accommodations ranging from high-rise hotels to nearby campgrounds.

14. The Outer Banks, North Carolina

300-mile drive from Downtown Washington, DC

This retreat boasts breathtaking gorgeous beaches that justify the journey. Beaches like Kitty Hawk Beach and Kill Devil Hills offer opportunities for swimming, surfing, chartering boats, and fishing off the Avalon Pier. Delve into history at sites like the lost colony on Roanoke and the Wright Brothers’ first flight. While the beaches are heavily developed, the chance to encounter wild ponies or dolphins near Corolla adds to the allure.

15. Cape Hatteras National Seashore

300-mile drive from Downtown Washington, DC

The sandy dunes lead to 70 miles of predominantly undeveloped beaches. Surfers and boogie boarders will relish the open-ocean waves, while history enthusiasts can explore historic lighthouses. Ocracoke Beach, hailed by Dr. Beach as one of the nation’s best, awaits at the southern end, where beach driving and bonfires are permitted with the appropriate permits.

ONE Street Agents Are Local D.C Area Experts

ONE Street¬†agents are always in the know about our local neighborhoods, including the best beaches near Washington, DC. If you’re looking to rent, buy, lease, or invest we’ve got all the details covered.

Schedule your free consultation with an agent now.



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