If you live in the Washington, DC area, you’re familiar with the hot, muggy summers that can make the city feel like an oven. Luckily, the DC area is not far from several great beaches that offer fun, sun, and perhaps most importantly, a cool sea breeze! Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia are home to some of the most popular beaches in the northeastern United States that offer great food, nightlife, family-friendly entertainment, and so much more! We’ve created this list of some of the best beaches near Washington, DC to make planning your next beach trip quick and easy! Headed to Washington, DC? Check out these other postings for urban outdoor adventures in and around Washington, DC:

The Best Beaches Near Washington, DC

Ocean City Beach - Beaches Near Washington, DC

Ocean City Beach

Location: Ocean City, Maryland Distance From Washington, DC: 150 miles (3 hours by car) Highlights: Family-friendly activities, amusements, dining, and nightlife Ocean City Beach in Ocean City, Maryland has been one of the most popular beaches near Washington, DC for decades. With its sprawling 3-mile boardwalk that features dozens of shops, restaurants, candy stores, and more, Ocean City Beach is ideal for visitors of all ages. If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush or amusements for the kids, check out Trimper’s Rides and Amusements. Located on the boardwalk at 700 S Atlantic Avenue, Trimper’s features plenty of attractions for little ones, while also including thrill rides for older patrons such as Area 51, Himalaya, and Tidal Wave. After a long day sitting out in the sun, building sand castles, or body surfing in the ocean, check out some of Ocean City’s most popular offshore attractions, including Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, the Jolly Roger Amusement Park, or the miniature golf course! Ocean City is also well-known for its bustling nightlife once the sun goes down. Popular among young adults, you can find a wide variety of bars and nightclubs such as Seacrets, Ocean Club, Macky’s, or The Sandbar where you can dance the night away with hours of live music, drinks, and great food! Colonial Beach - Beaches Near Washington, DC

Colonial Beach

Location: Colonial Beach, Virginia Distance From Washington, DC: 65 miles (1 hour and 45 minutes by car) Highlights: Boardwalk, waterfront dining, playgrounds, and water sport rentals Seated at the northern tip of Virginia’s Northern Neck, Colonial Beach is nestled between the Potomac River and Monroe Bay. For a fun-filled trip, you can head to the downtown Ferry Landing District to walk along the boardwalk, dine at the waterfront restaurant, grab a quick bite at the food truck, or take the kids to the playground. If you’re interested in watersports, you may consider visiting one of the various marinas on the beach that offers equipment rentals, or head off on a bike tour or charter fishing trip to enjoy the cool sea breeze. If you plan to stay a while, you can also enjoy some of the local activities such as Bluemon concerts, family movie nights, the Potomac River Festival, or Market Days! Dewey Beach - Beaches Near Washington, DC

Dewey Beach

Location: Dewey Beach, Delaware Distance From Washington, DC: 120 miles (2 hours and 30 minutes by car) Highlights: Close to Rehoboth Beach, family-friendly activities, organized activities, and water sports rentals Situated just south of Rehoboth Beach, Dewey Beach is a coastal town that boasts tons of family fun, from boardwalks and shopping to waterfront dining and music festivals. It’s proximity to the DMV area makes it one of the best beaches near Washington, DC. Dewey Beach is well known for being a musical town, hosting multiple music festivals each year, concerts for today’s A-list artists, lively bars, and even drive-in concerts! In addition to its musical festivities, Dewey Beach offers organized activities including educational programs and seaside yoga, as well as countless restaurants to quell any craving! For those who enjoy outdoor activities, Dewey Beach offers equipment rentals for water sport enthusiasts, such as kayaks, pontoon boats, paddle boards, and jet skis! You may choose to take your equipment out into the open sea or opt for a calm afternoon off of Lighthouse Cove in a calm, protected area. Hammerman Beach - Beaches Near Washington, DC

Hammerman Beach

Location: Middle River, Maryland Distance From Washington, DC: 60 miles (1 hour and 20 minutes by car) Highlights: Waterfalls, hiking trails, concessions, picnic areas, kayak, and canoe rentals Tucked away in the 18,000-acre Gunpowder Falls State Park, Hammerman Beach is a hidden gem that features several waterfalls, swimmable waters, and family-friendly activities. Hammerman Beach’s location along Gunpowder River offers plenty of shaded areas for picnics and respite from the heat, along with a pavilion where you can grab a quick bite to eat. With plenty of space for kids to run around, several playgrounds, and kayak and canoe rentals, you’ll enjoy a fun afternoon in the sun with the whole family. You may choose to launch your kayak or canoe to enjoy fishing out on the water or cast your line out directly from the shore. If you’re looking for offshore activities, take advantage of some of the spacious trails run throughout the park that are ideal for hiking or horseback riding. Parking at Hammerman Beach is limited during peak season, so be sure to plan accordingly and arrive early to claim your spot! Sandy Point State Park Beach - Beaches Near Washington, DC

Sandy Point State Park

Location: Annapolis, Maryland Distance From Washington, DC: 40 miles (1 hour by car) Highlights: Picnic areas with Chesapeake Bay views, bathhouse, concessions, boat rentals, and hiking trails On the northwestern shore of Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay is Sandy Point State Park which features a one-mile stretch of clean, sandy beach. With plenty of trained lifeguards from Memorial Day to Labor Day, it is an ideal location for swimmers and families vacationing with small children. Additionally, it is one of the closest beaches near Washington, DC – making it the perfect day trip for young families! During your trip, you’ll enjoy access to a clean bathhouse fully equipped with showers and restrooms, along with a convenience shop to pick up any last-minute items, including beach and fishing supplies, snacks, and other amenities. If you get hungry or run out of food, just head to the concession stand to grab a quick bite. In addition to a day on the beach, Sandy Point State Park also offers picnic areas with a magnificent view of the scenic Chesapeake Bay. Sandy Point State Park also provides boat rentals for fishing, hiking trails throughout the 786-acre park, and plenty of campsites with scenic views of the bay.

Rehoboth Beach

Location: Rehoboth Beach, Delaware Distance From Washington, DC: 121 miles (2.5 hours by car) Highlights: delicious restaurants, tax-free shopping, boardwalk Rehoboth Beach is the place to be in the summer, especially if you’re a foodie. Hop in the car and drive 2.5 hours to this beautiful ocean-side town for the ultimate beach food experience. Here you’ll find Henlopen City Oyster House, which serves a variety of fresh fish, while Grotto Pizza has mouth-watering slices. If you want a snack to take to the beach, head to Thrasher’s French Fries for a massive bucket of vinegar-topped sauteed spuds or Kohr Bros for some delicious custard. You can also turn your beach day into a mini staycation by staying at the Bellmoor Inn & Spa, one of the area’s best hotels. At the inn, you’ll treated to a spectacular view and luxurious amenities. We also love the Boardwalk Plaza Hotel because of its beautiful Victorian-style architecture. Once you’ve had your fill of beach-time and food, you can peruse the shops at Tanger Outlets. These outlets have tax-free shopping, so you’ll want to stock up on all the goods!

Lewes Beach

Location: Lewes, Deleware Distance From Washington, DC: 118 miles (2.5 hours by car) Highlights: waterfront dining, family-friendly beach, water sports Located right on Delaware Bay near Henlopen State Park, Lewes Beach is one of the best family beaches near Washington, DC. The beach has shallow water and lifeguards are on duty in the summer, making it a great place for little kids to splash around. It also has great fishing and boating, so if that’s your thing, be sure to head to this beach. If you want to take a break from water activities, walk over to one of the concession stalls surrounding the beach for some tasty food. Tourists can also find several small shops, an ice cream parlor, and a variety of good eateries in the town center.

Bethany Beach

Location: Bethany Beach, Delaware Distance From Washington, DC: 128 miles (2.5 hours) Highlights: boardwalk, surfing, jet-skiing Despite the fact that the journey from D.C. to Bethany Beach takes just under 3 hours, it remains a popular destination for people eager to spend some quality time by the water. We especially love the broad, wooden boardwalk that extends half a mile down the coast. The Bethany Surf Shop has everything you need for the beach, from surfboards to sunscreen, so you’ll be well prepared. Rental equipment is also available for beach-goers, including jet-ski and bike rentals. Once you’ve had your fill of the beach, head to one of the many spray stations positioned along the coast to wash the sand off. From there, you can wander over to the variety of food vendors for traditional beach food and cold desserts. The perfect way to end a sunny beach day!

Virginia Beach

Location: Virginia Beach, Virginia Distance From Washington, DC: 208 miles (3 hours and 15 minutes by car) Highlights: 3-mile boardwalk, breweries, art shops/museums, wildlife sanctuary Virginia Beach is one of the most well-known beaches near Washington, DC, and it is primarily famous for its 3-mile boardwalk. However, there are also a variety of modern hotels, creative art shops, and breweries that really make this beach stand out. Virginia Beach’s Cultural Arts Enclave, popularly known as The ViBe Creative District, is a hub for artists, eateries, museums, and more. Visitors can book a free online reservation to walk around the Museum of Contemporary Arts, where they’ll take in beautiful sights of colorful murals. If you love art, it’s definitely worth checking out! Another fun activity is heading to one of the many breweries around Virginia Beach. We recommend the Vibrant Shore Brewing Company, as it has an inside tasting area, rooftop, and terrace. If you’re in the mood for some food, Hearth has wood-fire pizza and artisan beer, which can be enjoyed in their outdoor dining area. For the seafood lovers, ‘Chix on the Beach’ is a sea-side shack that offers different varieties of shrimp. Aside from swimming and tanning at the beach, you can enjoy time outside by heading to the Back-Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. There you’ll find almost 5,000 acres of wetlands that serves as the breeding ground for migratory birds. It is also home to several reptiles, mammals and fish. For more wildlife fun, there are also wildlife photography and observation activities at Virginia Beach. And of course, no beach town would be complete without their adrenaline-pumping outdoor activities. Adventurers can partake in a variety of fun activities, such as hiking, kayaking, and biking.

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