Things to Do

Great Day Trips: To the Beach

The sandy beaches of Maryland—some just an hour away— are terrific last-ditch vacations destinations.


Lay of the land: At Point Lookout State Park (301-872-5688;; click on “parks”), you can get back to nature where the Potomac River meets the Chesapeake Bay. This wooded park features numerous trails, all with easy access to a beach that has spectacular views and water on three sides.

What’s fun: Spend the day fishing or hiking—there’s a pet walking trail, too. Canoe, rowboat, and power-fishing-boat rentals are available; you can pick up a map of the park’s water trail and explore Lake Conoy and Point Lookout Creek. For fun after dark, grab your rod and reel: Night fishing is allowed from sunset to 6 am. If you decide to stay the night, you can enjoy one of the park’s 143 wooded campsites.

Distance from DC: About two hours.


Lay of the Land: Norrth Beach is a pretty town with a boardwalk fronting a long sandy beach as well as pastel-hued shops and cafes that may remind you of Key West. We like the delicious cupcakes at Sweet Sue’s Bake Shop & Coffee Bar (9132-C Bay Ave.; 410-286-8041). Head for the southern side of the wide public beach to avoid weekend crowds near the entrance.

What's Fun: At nearby Chesapeake Beach Resort & Spa, you can charter a fishing excursion or unwind at the spa with a mineral-salt body scrub (301-855-0096). Don’t miss the wet fun at town-owned Chesapeake Beach Waterpark, which has eight water slides (410-257-1404). Or sign up for kiteboarding lessons or standup paddleboarding at a nearby park through YK Kiteboarding (202-621-0666).

Distance from DC: About an hour.


Lay of the Land: Sandy Point State Park (410-974-2149;; click on “parks”) is a great spot for a picnic or family reunion; a variety of shelters accommodate up to 300. Smaller groups, families, and solo beachgoers can grab a picnic table or grill, available first come, first served.

What's Fun: esides the wide beach overlooking the bay and old Sandy Point Shoal Lighthouse, there’s fishing, swimming, a marina with 15-foot motorboats for rent, and hiking trails through the woods.

Distance from DC: About an hour.


Lay of the Land: Betterton Beach is at the mouth of the Sassafras River; the fresh water reduces the salinity along the shore to make the beach jellyfish-free all summer. The secluded five-acre park is backed by shady trees for when you want a break from the sun.

What's Fun: There’s a 500-foot boardwalk, a fishing jetty and pier, a concession stand, and a bathhouse (410-778-1957;; click on “county parks”). The only day when the beach seems to get crowded is Betterton Day, the first Saturday in August, when the town hosts an old-fashioned party with food vendors, craft displays, and a parade.

 Distance from DC: About two hours.


This article appeared in the August 2010 edition of The Washingtonian.