As increasing heat and humidity descends on the capital district, beach getaways will be in high demand. Whether you’ve lived in DC for years or are just in town for the summer, you will find yourself weighing a number of variables when deciding where you’ll make your escape to.
Each beach destination has their pros and cons, so we’ve compiled a list to help you sort things out.
From the bluffs of the Potomac to the coast of Delaware, these are the 11 best beaches within a one-day roundtrip of DC:
BEST: Sandy Point State Park
S Beach Rd, Annapolis, MD
Sandy Point is the ideal beach destination for DC residents. Just 39 miles (48 minutes) from Capitol Hill, this park’s beach is located right on the Chesapeake Bay and is lifeguarded from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The daily entrance fee is $5 for Maryland residents and $6 for out-of-state travelers. Fishing and crabbing is also permitted in designated areas.
2. Rehoboth Beach
Grenoble Pl, Rehoboth Beach, DE
2 hours and 33 minutes away, this is the closest DMV beach with Atlantic Ocean access and a full array of amenities, highlighted by a mile-long boardwalk with restaurants, arcade games, and a small amusement park. Crowned the “Nation’s Summer Capital,” this has been a popular getaway for generations of DC residents. For a slightly quieter option nearby, check out Bethany Beach (the next beach town over).
3. Point Lookout State Park
11175 Point Lookout Rd, Scotland, MD
Hidden on the southern tip of Maryland, this former Prisoner-of-War camp is now a beach and Civil War Museum. Just under two hours away, this state park features areas for swimming, fishing, an expansive campground and Point Lookout Lighthouse. It’s not your conventional water and sand beach, and the fee is $7 for out-of-state visitors, but it’s a nice contrast from the office.
4. Ocean City
Baltimore Ave, Ocean City, MD
Just down the road from Rehoboth, Ocean City is the premier beach spot for Maryland residents. All beaches are free, with the Atlantic on one side and a number of restaurants, shops and resorts on the other.
5. Virginia Beach:
Oceanfront Atlantic Ave, Virginia Beach, VA
It's the farthest of the DMV’s best beaches, but distance is the only con. A good four hours removed from the District, Virginia Beach is a chain of free beaches, each with its own style to fit your beachgoing needs. Resort Beach is the most crowded with both amenities and, consequently, people. Sandbridge offers far more privacy, while Chick’s Beach is known for being extremely family friendly for young children.
6. Assateague Island National Seashore:
National Seashore Ln, Berlin, MD
Wild ponies. Picturesque sunsets. A VSCO-lovers dream and another markee beach location within a drive of DC. The Maryland portion of the 37 mile long park is 138 miles, or 3 hours, away. Cost is steep for day-trippers – $10 for a seven-day vehicle pass – and the island’s only lodging is campsites, but this National Park should be on every DMV residents’ bucket list.
7. Westmoreland State Park
145 Cliff Road, Montross, VA
Another check in both the family-friendly and distance boxes is Westmoreland State Park. Entrance fees are $7 for Virginia residents and $10 for out-of-state visitors, a small tax to pay for priceless views from the bluffs overlooking the Potomac or the myriad of prehistoric fossils scattered throughout the shore. “Fossil Beach” is 1 hour, 54 minutes away and also features swimming pools, hiking trails and camping sites.
8. Lewes Beach
Bay Ave, Lewes, DE
Another beach town in close proximity to Rehoboth is Lewes Beach. Located 2 hours and 36 minutes away, this is a quaint beach town with plenty of history, restaurants and shops. The beaches are free and lead into the Delaware Bay, so there are little to no waves compared to Rehoboth.
9. Colonial Beach:
McKinney Blvd, Colonial Beach, VA
Voted USA Today’s No. 1 beach in Virginia in 2018, Colonial Beach is another ideal DMV antidote to the summer heat. This beach is an hour and 52 minutes away and has the second-longest accessible shore in Virginia, not to mention you can visit the birthplace of George Washington and James Madison and watch bald eagles nest. ‘Merica.
10. Breezy Point Beach:
Bayside Rd, Chesapeake Beach, MD
Another beach town within an hour of DC is Breezy Point Beach. Located on the tame surf of the Chesapeake Bay, this destination features a free half-mile beach and a 200-ft pier for fishing and crabbing.
11. Dewey Beach:
Coastal Hwy, Dewey Beach, DE
Day trips to this beach are not suggested unless you aren't the driver. This stretch of .3 square miles is littered with bars and clubs and has the unique advantage of Rehoboth Bay on one side and the ocean on the other. Just under 2.5 hours from Washington, this the spot for party-loving beachgoers.
Whether you want a day off from work or a weekend with the whole family, these 11 DMV beaches and their surrounding towns have more than enough to keep you occupied this summer.