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18 of the Best Beaches in Maryland for a Relaxing Holiday

By | Last Updated : 17th May 2022

Whether you’re planning a day’s trip or a summer vacation to Maryland, the numerous beaches the state boasts are a must-visit. The coastlines are mainly along the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay. Besides swimming and sunbathing, you could also indulge in fishing for various fish species or hunting for shark teeth and other fossils. Those beaches lying in a state park provide one to explore and enjoy more activities like hiking the adjoining trails or heading to other main attractions. Some beaches also stretch along the shorelines of the man-made lakes of Maryland. Some like Deep Creek Lake and Hunting Creek Lake allow visitors to spend a relaxing time boating in the calm water in a serene and scenic setting.

Beaches in Maryland

Northern Maryland Beaches

1. Hammerman Beach

Hammerman Beach in Northern Maryland

Visitors from Baltimore and the neighboring northern Maryland states often flock to the Hammerman Beach area of Gunpowder Falls State Park to enjoy a day’s adventure. The 1500-foot stretch of sand is clean and boasts various amenities and water activities. The lifeguards on patrol help keep the swimming area safe, making it ideal for families with kids to have fun in the water. While fishing here is excellent, you could also enjoy a boat ride by renting a kayak from the large boathouse.

Other than the beach activities, hiking the short and scenic trails nearby, or visiting the Gunpowder Falls and the historic Jerusalem Mill Village are ideal. When tired, you could enjoy your meals at the picnic tables. In case you haven’t bought your meals, you can purchase it from the concession stand on the beach premises. Do remember to come early as the parking lot is small and fills up quickly.

Activities: Swimming, fishing, boating, kayaking, canoeing, windsurfing, hiking

Best Time to Visit: May to September

Dog/Pet Friendly: Yes

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2. Hart-Miller Island State Park

Hart-Miller Island State Park in Northern Maryland

If you wish to spend a peaceful time away from the crowds, Hart-Miller Island State Park should definitely be on top of your itinerary list. It sits on the Chesapeake Bay, accessible only by a boat, adding a little bit of adventure to your trip. Once you reach the island, you can enjoy tanning anywhere on the 3000 feet long stretch of sand or tread along the paths with your dogs to admire the beachfront and the glistening water. Also, don’t miss the expansive views of the beach and the surrounding areas from the nearby observation tower. To stay overnight, you could consider renting a campsite for an unforgettable serene experience. However, do take note that the campsites are open only from May 1st to September 30th.

Activities: Swimming, fishing, boating, kayaking, camping, hiking, biking, picnicking

Best Time to Visit: May to September

Dog/Pet Friendly: Yes

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3. Cunningham Falls State Park Beach

Cunningham Falls State Park Beach in Northern Maryland

A Maryland attraction frequented by the residents of the nearby state of Washington is Cunningham Falls State Park. Besides being home to Maryland’s largest waterfall, the state park also features a beach area along Hunting Creek Lake. Do plan to go early, particularly on weekends, to stay away from the crowd. The Catoctin Mountains, covered with dense trees, form a spectacular backdrop. Besides admiring the views, you could also enjoy a plethora of activities in and around the water.

Activities: Swimming, fishing, boating, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, camping

Best Time to Visit: mid-April to October

Dog/Pet Friendly: Allowed on trails but not on the beach area

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4. Betterton Beach

Betterton Beach in Northern Maryland

Formerly a well-known resort town, Betterton Beach is now a quiet and peaceful spot along the Sassafras River. It is a hidden beach, not known to many, and hence perfect for those wishing to stay away from the hustle and bustle and enjoy a serene setting. Also, visiting the beach is free of cost, making it an ideal day trip at a low cost. The protected swimming area containing a blend of fresh water and saltwater with shallow depths is a perfect place to enjoy swimming for visitors of any age. To indulge in some activities on land, you could walk along the short boardwalk or play a volleyball game at the adjoining waterfront park. The picnic pavilion on the adjoining bluff provides a beautiful beach view that you can soak in as you have your meal.

Activities: Swimming, fishing, boating, kayaking, hiking, camping

Best Time to Visit: April to October

Dog/Pet Friendly: No

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5. Elk Neck State Park Beach

Elk Neck State Park Beach in Northern Maryland

Situated in the northeast corner of Maryland, Elk Neck State Park overlooks the Chesapeake Bay near the point where the Elk River drains into it. The beach area features a picnic area, including tables and grills, and a safe swimming area. A walk on the pathways would make one admire its beauty with dense forests, swampy marshlands, and cliffs lining the shoreline. On the way, you might even spot an eagle or hawk flying overhead to hunt their prey. While you’re here, don’t miss heading to the park’s south end to see the historic Turkey Point Lighthouse stands. 

Activities: Swimming, fishing, boating, kayaking, hiking, picnicking, camping

Best Time to Visit: May to October

Dog/Pet Friendly: Not allowed on the swimming beach

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6. Crystal Beach

Crystal Beach in Northern Maryland

Crystal Beach, also known as White Crystal Beach, is a peaceful sandy spot lying at the mouth of Elk River, where it meets the Chesapeake Bay. The white sands appear pretty, and with a concession stand and picnic tables with grills, it’s an excellent spot to have your meals in a peaceful setting. Though there are no lifeguards on duty, the shallow water is safe to be accessed by children and novice swimmers. Do remember that you will have to pay an entry fee of $ 5 per person.

Activities: Swimming, boating, kayaking, picnicking

Best Time to Visit: July to September

Dog/Pet Friendly: No

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Southern Maryland Beaches

1. Ocean City

Ocean City in Southern Maryland

You can’t miss this stunning 10-mile sandy stretch on your visit to Maryland. It’s a popular beach destination lying between the Atlantic Ocean and Isle of Wight Bay. The 3-mile boardwalk is one of the main attractions that draw visitors to have a stroll on it. Besides this, water activities are abundant and there are lifeguards on duty. You’ll also find amusement parks like Trimper’s Rides where you can have an excellent time with your kids. For accommodation, rental condos and lodges dot the coastline allowing visitors to get a beautiful view of the ocean during their stay. With free concerts and events hosted in the area, Ocean City is indeed a paradise for beachgoers.

The healthy fish population, mainly of white marlin, has given Ocean City the title of White Marlin Capital of the World. Many anglers flock here to participate in the annual fishing tournament, The White Marlin Open or indulge in catching marlin, sea bass, and trout all year long.

Activities: Swimming, fishing, boating, jet-skiing, kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, golfing

Best Time to Visit: Late May to Early September

Dog/Pet Friendly: Pets are not permissible inside the beach premises from May through September. If planning a visit at another time of the year, do remember to keep your pets on a leash.

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2. Assateague Island National Seashore

Assateague Island National Seashore in Southern Maryland

If you’re a wildlife enthusiast, you are in for a treat in Assateague Island National Seashore. Located near Ocean City, the 37-mile-long beach is home to gorgeous wild horses that attract many visitors. You can easily see them wandering along the shorelines. Also, the nearby scenic trails allow you to spot diverse bird and other wildlife species.

While the clear and calm water is perfect for swimming, the surrounding serene coves are ideal for exploring with your kayaks. You could also stay overnight at one of the campsites nearby and enjoy having your meals with your family at the adjoining picnic areas while soaking in the ocean views.

Activities: Swimming, boating, kayaking, surfing, canoeing, hiking, camping

Best Time to Visit: Late April to Mid-October

Dog/Pet Friendly: Only in specific areas. You will have to put them on a leash that measures 6 feet or less.

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3. Calvert Cliffs State Park Beach

Calvert Cliffs State Park Beach in Southern Maryland

Besides offering various beach activities, Calvert Cliffs State Park offers a fascinating insight into Maryland’s prehistoric landscape. A stroll on the sandy beach would allow one to take in the views of the Chesapeake Bay on one side and the towering Calvert Cliffs, formed some 10 or 20 million years ago, on the other. As the beach area is covered with over 600 fossils, you could even have fun hunting for some fossilized shark teeth. Don’t miss treading along the 13 miles of hiking trails if you wish to explore the scenic surroundings.

Do take note that there is a parking fee of $ 5 per Maryland vehicle and $ 7 per out-of-state vehicle. Also, accessing the sandy beach requires a moderately challenging hike along a 3.6-mile out-and-back trail.

Activities: Swimming, fishing, fossil hunting, hiking, picnicking, camping

Best Time to Visit: April to October

Dog/Pet Friendly: Yes, allowed if kept on a leash.

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4. Breezy Point Beach

Breezy Point Beach in Southern Maryland

The white sands stretching about half-mile along the calm waters of Chesapeake Bay make it an attractive spot. While fishing and crabbing at the fishing pier are some favorite recreational activities among visitors, enjoying a cool refreshing dip in the netted swimming area is also ideal on a hot day. Other beach amenities include picnic tables with grills, a 200-foot fishing pier, concession stands, and restrooms. You could also pitch your tent or park your RVs at the campground for an overnight stay.

Though known as one of the less-crowded beaches in Maryland, Breezy Point Beach sees numerous visitors during the summer weekends and holidays. Sometimes, you might find the gates closed when the beach reaches its maximum capacity of visitors. It is advisable to go early during these peak times.

Activities: Swimming, fishing, fossil hunting, crabbing, picnicking, camping

Best Time to Visit: March-May and September-November

Dog/Pet Friendly: No

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5. Cherry Beach

Cherry Beach in Southern Maryland

Located on the upper Nanticoke River, Cherry Beach requires a short drive from Salisbury. There is a pavilion to enjoy gatherings over meals and a park for children to play. The well-maintained boat ramp with a small fishing pier allows you to indulging yourself in boating or fishing in the quaint and calm setting. You could also bring your four-legged companions with you.

Activities: Swimming, fishing, boating, kayaking, paddleboarding, picnicking,

Best Time to Visit: April to mid-October

Dog/Pet Friendly: Yes

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6. North Beach

North Beach in Southern Maryland

North Beach in Calvert County is ideal for a quick getaway for locals as well as residents of West Virginia and Washington. It also attracts tourists with several amenities, from boat rentals to a well-known fishing pier. You can also walk with your dogs along the boardwalk that stretches seven waterfront blocks or bike along the bike path running parallel to the boardwalk. Once you have had your fill of the beach and have enough time left, you can check out the town of North Beach to explore the various gift stores, antique shops, and art galleries.

Activities: Swimming, fishing, boating, kayaking, canoeing, biking

Best Time to Visit: June to early October

Dog/Pet Friendly: Allowed only on the boardwalk and not in other parts of the beach area.

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7. Chesapeake Beach

Chesapeake Beach in Southern Maryland

Chesapeake Beach offers a calm and serene setting, making it a well-loved vacation destination in Maryland. It lies on the western coast of Calvert County, accessible by a short walk from North Beach. You can enjoy a fishing trip on a charter boat or stay on the shore and spend a relaxing time sunbathing and strolling in the beach area. yOn of the nearby attractions, Chesapeake Beach Railway Museum, is also worth a visit and if you have time, don’t miss hiking the short and easy Chesapeake Rail Trail to spot various birds like ospreys.

Activities: Swimming, fishing, hiking, sight-seeing

Best Time to Visit: June to September

Dog/Pet Friendly: Yes

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8. Point Lookout State Park Beach

Point Lookout State Park Beach in Southern Maryland

Lying at the meeting point of the Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River, Point Lookout State Park offers a combination of vivid history and several beach recreational activities to visitors. Though the area served as a prison camp during the Civil War, it is now a popular holiday destination. Visitors are drawn to the beach area as they enjoy cooling off or kayaking in the water. You could also enjoy a leisurely walk along the shaded paths and keep your eyes peeled to spot the various bird species. While you are having a fun time at the beach premises, do check out the historic lighthouse at the park’s south end. If you wish to learn more about the area’s history, you can consider visiting the Point Lookout Civil War Museum.

Activities: Swimming, fishing, boating, kayaking, camping, hiking, birdwatching

Best Time to Visit: April to October

Dog/Pet Friendly: Yes

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9. Flag Ponds Nature Park Beach

Flag Ponds Nature Park Beach in Southern Maryland

Flag Ponds Nature Park is known for the vast expanse of the beach area. Hunting for shark teeth and other fossils found along the shoreline is an all-time favorite activity. The picnic area on the hill overlooks the beach and the surrounding, offering a beautiful view while you enjoy your meals. You could also bring your furry friends, but they must be leashed.

Activities: Fossil-hunting, picnicking

Best Time to Visit: April to October

Dog/Pet Friendly: Yes

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Central Maryland Beaches

1. Sandy Point State Park Beaches

Sandy Point State Park Beaches in Central Maryland

The close distance from Baltimore and Washington DC makes Sandy Point State Park an excellent option for a day trip among the residents of these places. Stretching along the northwestern shore of Chesapeake Bay, this state park features many public beaches and picnic areas with Chesapeake Bay Bridge as the backdrop. You could carry your lunch baskets or purchase some snacks from the various concession stands to enjoy a little picnic with your family. Boat rentals are available at the marina, and swimming in the calm waters, particularly anytime between July to October when it remains warm, is indeed refreshing. Also, fishing is a sought-after activity, with white perch, striped bass, and channel catfish being the common catches.

Activities: Swimming, fishing, boating, kayaking, canoeing, birdwatching, camping, wildlife watching

Best Time to Visit: June to September

Dog/Pet Friendly: Dogs are permissible only from October 1 to April 30.

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Western Maryland Beaches

1. Deep Creek Lake Beaches

Deep Creek Lake Beaches in Western Maryland

The two beaches along the shoreline of Deep Creek Lake offer a combination of various water and land activities. Whether you prefer speed boating or a relaxing time kayaking, you could rent a boat of your choice from one of the nearby boat rental shops and dash into the water. The lake’s frozen state attracts several skiers to enjoy gliding on the snow in winter. Other than this, the nine miles of shoreline and many adjoining hiking and biking trails allow one to explore the scenic areas all around.

Do spare some time to head to the nearby Discovery Center to learn more about the area’s flora and fauna from the displayed exhibits. As it is a day-use area, you will have to vacate the beach by sunset. Also, do keep in mind that there is a parking fee of $ 3 for Maryland residents and $ 5 for non-residents.

Activities: Swimming, boating, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, sailboating, jet skiing, water skiing, paddleboarding, tubing, skiing, picnicking

Best Time to Visit: June to September

Dog/Pet Friendly: Allowed in the state park, but not in the beach area.

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Eastern Maryland Beaches

1. Matapeake Beach

Matapeake Beach in Eastern Maryland

Matapeake Beach lies along the Chesapeake Bay on Kent Island, boasting awe-inspiring views of the Bay Bridge. While you can choose yourself a spot to soak in the sun, you could also spend a relaxing time catching fish at the quaint little fishing pier. The nearby hiking trails allow you to explore the other scenic parts of Kent Island. No entry fee is required to access the beach area.

Matapeake Beach also features a designated area for dogs where your furry friends can enjoy rolling on the sand or swimming and playing in the water.

Activities: Swimming, fishing, boating, kayaking, hiking, picnicking

Best Time to Visit: mid-April to October

Dog/Pet Friendly: Yes, allowed only at the Dog Beach

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TOP PICKS

Best Uncrowded Beaches: Crystal Beach, Betterton Beach, Hart-Miller Island State Park

Best Dog-Friendly Beaches: Matapeake Beach, Assateague Island National Seashore, Calvert Cliffs State Park Beach

Best Beaches for Camping: Assateague Island National Seashore, Breezy Point Beach, Elk Neck State Park

Best Beaches for Families: Ocean City, Hammerman Beach, Cherry Beach

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