Beach towns near washington dc

There are so many beach towns near Washington DC. Within driving distance, you can find some of the best beaches in the Northeast. 

Let’s take a look at some of the best beach towns near Washington DC that are perfect for a getaway from the the city. 

Beach Towns Near Washington DC: Maryland Getaways

Maryland is a huge state, with many activities. From hiking to snow tubing to swimming in the Atlantic Ocean, there are plenty of places in Maryland that have cute beach towns you can explore. Let’s dive in.

Stevensville & Kent Island – 1 Hour From DC

Stevensville is a small town located on Kent Island in Maryland. It is technically considered a subrub of Baltimore. From Stevensville you can access some of the best public beaches.


The closest beach to this Maryland beach town is at Terrapin Nature Reserve. A short drive away is the popular Sandy Point State Park which is also a great choice. Another option is to enjoy the soft sand at the Matapeake Clubhouse and Public Beach. This popular place use to allow patrons to rent the clubhouse for weddings but now during the summer months, it is reservd for patrons who want to enjoy the beaches.


Stevensville and Kent Island are just about a one hour drive from Washington DC. The town also has a small historic district where you can enjoy cute local restaurants and shops. If you want to stay overnight, check out the The Inn at the Chesapeake Bay Beach Club. It not only is a luxury resort, but it also boasts one of Maryland’s best spas

Chesapeake Beach – 1 Hour From DC

Chesapeake Beach is an easy drive from Washington DC. This is a very historic town that use to have a very active waterpark. This waterpark is not currently in operation but plans are being made to restore it. The once famous Chesapeake Beach Resort And Spa is now the Rod N Reel Resort which is undergoing major renovations through 2025. 


Brownie’s Beach is only available to residents of the town of Chesapeake Beach. Be careful to not trespass onto this beach without proper proof of being a resident here. 


This is an easy day trip from DC. There are facilities here like restrooms and food spots as well. 

Tilghman Island & St. Michaels – 1 Hour 30 Minutes From DC

St. Michael’s is a well known beach town near Washington DC. A little less well known is Tilghman Island which is just south of St. Michael’s. Either one is the perfect place to enjoy beautiful beaches as well as historic sites and great food.


There are several beaches near St. Michael’s and Tilghman Island. 


The drive from Washington DC to St. Michaels in Maryland will take about 90 minutes. If you are planning to stay overnight, The Wildset is a great option in this resort town. This hotel is walking distance from many of the cute restaurants in St. Michaels.

If you want all the amenities like a spa and a pool, check out the pricier Inn At Perry Cabin. This hotel is a bit more secluded from the downtown area of St. Michaels.

Tilghman Island is just 10 minutes south of St. Michael’s. Here you can plan to stay at the Tilghman Island Inn. This quiet getaway is perfect for family beach vacations or a couples getaway.

Middle River And Essex, Maryland – 1 Hour 15 Minutes From DC

Best done as a day trip, there are multiple beaches near Middle River, Maryland and Essex Maryland. These areas are located very close to Baltimore and about 90 minutes from Washington DC. 


There are a few beaches near here. They include Rocky Point Park and Beach, 


There is not a lot when it comes to lodging in this area. It is best to drive here early in the morning, spend the day here and head back at night. 

Chase, Maryland – 1 Hour 30 Minutes From DC

Chase Maryland is home to Gunpowder Falls State Park and Dundee Creek Marina. 


Gunpowder Falls State Park has a specific area called the Hammerman Area. This is one of the best beaches in this area to check out. 


This small beach town is best as a day trip from Washington DC. D.C. residents can easily make this journey in one day and be back home by the evening. 

Oxford, Maryland – 2 Hours From DC

Oxford, Maryland, is a historic waterfront town in Talbot County. It was founded in 1683 and it is one of the oldest towns in Maryland. 

Oxford is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, because this town was a major port and shipbuilding center during the 18th and 19th centuries. The Oxford Historic District includes many historic buildings from the late 18th to early 20th centuries. 


For people who love water views, this town is surrounded by water on three sides. Oxford beach is popular and you can also have access to a more private beach if you stay at Sandaway Suites mentioned below.


The drive from Washington DC to Oxford will take about 2 hours depending on traffic. It can certainly be done in a day, but you may want to stay overnight. The Sandaway Suites & Beach is the best place to stay in this little town. There is direct beach access, and you can easily walk to restaurants, grab some ice cream, and enjoy the views. 

Ocean City, Maryland – 3 Hours From DC

Ocean City is a well known and popular beach town. The entire coastline of Ocean City is a beach, but there are some beach areas that are known for being better than others.


  • Ocean City Beach: This is the main beach in Ocean City, and it’s a great place to go if you’re looking for all the classic beach activities. There’s plenty of space to spread out, and you’ll find all sorts of vendors selling food, drinks, and beach supplies. The beach is also patrolled by lifeguards, so it’s a safe place to swim.
  • North Beach: This beach is located at the north end of Ocean City, and it’s a bit quieter than the main beach. It’s a great place to go if you’re looking for a more relaxing beach experience. There are also some great restaurants and shops located near North Beach.
  • Surf Road Beach: This beach is located at the south end of Ocean City, and it’s a popular spot for surfers. The waves here are typically bigger than the waves on the main beach. There are also a few fishing piers located near Surf Road Beach.


In the summer, plan ahead when visiting Ocean City. Because it is nearly 3 hours away by car from Washington DC, the best way to visit this beach town is over a long weekend. 

Although there may be many miles of beach, it is also a very popular family vacation spot. Be sure to book your rental or hotel on Ocean City beach well ahead of time. You can plan to visit Chincoteague Island as a day trip from Ocean City as well while you are here. 

Beach Towns Near Washington DC: Virginia Getaways

For a more family-friendly beach experience, there’s Colonial Beach in Virginia. Situated approximately an hour and 45 minutes from Washington DC, Colonial Beach is a historic town with the second longest coastline in the state.

Chincoteague Island And Assateague Island National Seashore

For a more natural and serene beach experience, Assateague Island National Seashore is a great choice. Many people don’t know the difference between Chincoteague and Assateague. Chincoteague is more of a beach town. It has amenities, hotels and restaurants. Assateague is actually a national park. It is more secluded and you will need a permit to bring vehicles onto the island. For a beach town experience, choose Chincoteague. 


The largest city near these beaches is Ocean City. Chincoteague is about a one hour drive from Ocean City or a 3 hour drive from Washington DC. This beautiful stretch of coast is home to wild ponies and other forms of wildlife. There are also sand dunes located on the Assateague Island. 


The Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge is unique combination of sandy beaches, dunes, and marshes. There are a ton of activities you can enjoy like swimming, kayaking, and fishing. Memorial Day Weekend is a good time to get out of the capital region and check out this great spot for a beach getaway.

Colonial Beach – 1.5 Hours From Washington DC

Another charming beach town near Washington D.C. is Colonial Beach. It is a 90. minute drive from Washington DC or about a 45 minute drive from Fredericksburg, Virginia. It is located right along the Potomac River. 

This historic town has a picturesque beach with calm waters perfect for families. Interestingly, while the town is technically located in the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Maryland state line runs right through the beach.

Colonial Beach has many attractions and activities for visitors. You can stroll along the waterfront, rent a boat at the marina, enjoy local restaurants, and pop in and out of souvenir shops.


There is one main beach which is Colonia Beach. There are a few restaurants and food vendors up and down the beach where you can get some lunch or dinner.


Driving is the easiest way to get here. While you do not need to stay overnight, there are several cute bed and breakfasts in this beach town. Most of them are a very short walk to the beach. 

Sandbridge Beach – 4 Hours From DC

If you’re willing to venture a bit further from Washington D.C., the pristine shores of Sandbridge Beach are well worth the drive. This beach area is just south of the very busy part of Virginia Beach. It is approximately four hours from D.C. and it is a more tranquil destination compared to the busy resort area of Virginia Beach. 


Sandbridge Beach is known for its wide, sandy beaches, wildlife refuges, water sports and the fishing pier. You can drive north of Virginia Beach and also visit First Landing State Park, which has beaches that are a bit less crowded than the main Virginia Beach area. 


Plan to stay overnight or spend a couple of nights here so that you can really enjoy the area. When visiting, you can also explore the nearby Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge for a chance to spot various wildlife species or rent a kayak or paddleboard to tour the calm waters of the bay.

Beach Towns Near Washington DC: Delaware Getaways

Many Washington DC residents will also head to Delaware since there are many beach towns here as well. 

Fenwick Island – 3 Hours From Washington DC

Right near the Maryland State Line is Fenwick Island in Sussex County, Delaware. It is located on a narrow peninsula between the Atlantic Ocean and Little Assawoman Bay. This barrier island has beaches you can enjoy and its in close proximity to the other Delaware beach towns and beaches mentioned below. 


Fenwick Island is known for its laid-back atmosphere and beautiful beaches. With a state park just next door, waterfront places to stay, and a beautiful beach to explore, it’s clear why this laid-back beach town has become a favorite for many.


Spend a long weekend like Labor Day enjoying this beach town. The town offers a variety of activities for visitors, including fishing, crabbing, kayaking, and windsurfing. Popular attractions include the Fenwick Island State Park and the Fenwick Island Lighthouse. You will also find a variety of restaurants, shops, and accommodations, making it an easy place to visit. 

Lewes, Delaware – 2.5 Hours From DC

Just north of Rehoboth Beach is the beach town of Lewes, Delaware. This small town has a a number of restaurants as well as access to a large beach.


Cape Henlopen State Park is easily accessible from Lewes, Delaware. Here there are miles of beach you can enjoy. There is Savannah Beach, Johnny Walker Beach, and of course the huge state park. 


This part of Delaware is best done as a weekend getaway with an overnight stay. There are many places to stay up and down the coast of Delaware. You can stay in any of the beach towns mentioned below or stay in Lewes itself. 

This small historic beach town has the Fort Miles Historic Area which is a popular historic attraction to visit while you are here. 

Rehoboth Beach – 2.5 Hours From DC

Rehoboth Beach is a charming coastal town known for its vibrant boardwalk and family-friendly atmosphere. The mile-long boardwalk offers numerous attractions, including restaurants, shops, and amusement parks.


Visitors can enjoy a day on the beach with its soft, sandy shoreline and explore the town’s culture by visiting local art galleries and museums. Rehoboth Beach provides a perfect getaway destination for those looking to enjoy some relaxation and entertainment.


Rehoboth is a great weekend road trip from DC. 

Bethany Beach – 2.5 Hours From DC

Bethany Beach is another family-friendly town situated along Delaware’s coastline. With its pristine beaches and quaint atmosphere, it offers a more laid-back, serene experience for visitors.

Dewey Beach – 2.5 Hours From DC

Dewey Beach, located just south of Rehoboth Beach, offers a mix of family fun and water sport activities. With the ocean on one side and the Delaware Bay on the other, Dewey Beach provides visitors with an array of opportunities to participate in water sports such as skimboarding, windsurfing, and catamaran sailing.

Beach Towns Near Washington DC: New Jersey Getaways

If you want to explore beach towns near Washington DC that are in New Jersey, you will have to drive a little bit further. This may be best done as a weekend trip from DC rather than as a day trip. 

Cape May, New Jersey – 4 Hours From DC

Cape May is charming, historic town that is actually a great place year round. In the summer, the family-friendly beaches are packed with people. However, if you go just a little bit off season, you can enjoy the beaches with much less crowds.


Cape May has a variety of beaches. And if those are not enough for you to choose from, you can drive to several of the nearby beaches as well. Some are more family friendly than others with facilities for using the bathroom and eating. 


Driving to Cape May from Washington DC takes about 3 to 4 hours depending on how much traffic you hit. You can also drive to Delaware and put your car on the ferry from Rehoboth Beach in Delaware to Cape May. The ferry likely will take the same amount of time overall, but it can be a nice way to mix things up and enjoy some water views during the trip.

Avalon, New Jersey – 3 Hours 45 Minutes From DC

Just north of Cape May is the town of Avalon. Avalon is a cute beach town with less activity than Cape May but still has beautiful beaches and some cute restaurants. Between charming Avalon and the quiet resorts of Cape May is the busy beach town of Wildwood. If you’re craving a lot of action you can head to Wildwood for a few hours.


Avalon has a long stretch of beach called 7 mile beach (not to be confused with the a beach with the same name in Aruba). The best access is by renting a home near the beach.


Driving to Avalon will take about 3 hours from DC. It’s best to rent a house or stay in one of the beachside hotels here. 

Beach Towns Near Washington DC: North Carolina

​North Carolina has hundreds of miles of beach. If you are okay to make the drive, this is a great place to spend a few days.

Outer Banks

South of Virginia Beach, are the islands of the Outer Banks. You can find numerous home rentals on the outer banks that are perfect for D.C. residents looking for a beach town getaway. 

This line of islands has many towns dotted along it. Here are some of the popular ones to visit.


​Corolla is the northern most beach town in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. 

Kitty Hawk

The historic beach town of Kitty Hawk is south of Corolla. Kitty Hawk is historic primarily because of its association with the Wright brothers and the birth of powered flight in 1903. The Wright brothers chose the Outer Banks region, specifically the area around Kitty Hawk, for their flight experiments due to the steady winds, soft sandy surfaces, and isolation from the press and public. They conducted numerous glider tests in the area between 1900 and 1903 before their successful powered flight.

Kill Devil Hills

Today, the Wright Brothers National Memorial, located in Kill Devil Hills, commemorates the Wrights’ achievements and the significance of their first flight. The memorial features a visitor center, museum exhibits, and a large monument atop Kill Devil Hill, from which the Wrights launched many of their glider tests.

Wilmington, North Carolina

If you don’t want to drive, there are short flights from Washington DC directly to Wilmington. If you don’t mind driving, it is about a 5 hour drive from Washington DC depending on traffic. It is about 2 hours north of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Beach Towns Near Washington DC: Summary

When it comes to finding the best beach towns near Washington DC, you have a lot of options. There are great beaches up and down the east coast from New Jersey to North Carolina. D.C. residents will love visiting the Chesapeake Bay Beaches during a weekend, or maybe even checking out some of the beach destinations that are a bit further like Kitty Hawk Beach. Several of the Maryland beaches have great views of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and offer places to hike nature trails, explore the famous salt marshes, and even rent jet skis. 

To see wild horses and gorgeous beaches, check out Chincoteague Island and Assateague State Park. D.C. residents can also head north to enjoy Rehoboth Beach, Bethany Beach, and Cape May. Skip taking the whole family on a plane down to South Beach in Florida and enjoy the sandy shores and resorts that are driving distance from Washington DC. For a more busy vibe with live music, food trucks and free concerts, explore the area of Ocean City, Maryland.

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