Known as the birthplace of the National Anthem, Maryland is a historical state that offers locals a fantastic place to live and visitors an exciting vacation destination. Nestled on the Atlantic coast and along the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland is famous for delicious blue crabs, the city of Baltimore, and beautiful beaches.
Maryland boasts approximately 3,190 miles of stunning coastline. No matter what kind of beach vacation you’re looking for, you’re sure to find it here. You may even catch sightings of wild horses!
For a full experience with various activities and camping opportunities, check out one of Maryland’s many state parks.
Let’s check out the 15 best beaches in Maryland for a memorable beach experience!
Why visit Maryland Beaches?
While Maryland is the 9th smallest state, it has plenty to offer for a beach vacation. With over 3,000 miles of coastline in Maryland, there are a variety of beach experiences to be had in the home on the Chesapeake Bay. You can find oceans, lakes, and rivers to enjoy swimming, sunbathing, and relaxing.
The various beach spots in Maryland offer the ideal destination for solo beachgoers, families, friends, and even pets. And, best of all, many of these spots offer free entry!
When you’re not by the water, there are many other ways to spend your vacation in Maryland. Explore other beautiful landscapes such as mountains, valleys, and cliffs. You can also watch sports, explore history, and try some of the nation’s best seafood. Nature enthusiasts also appreciate the opportunities for observing wildlife and hiking, biking, or walking on nature trails.
Best Beaches in Maryland
Maryland beaches range from small, hidden gems to expansive areas that attract a crowd. Whether you’re seeking the locals’ favorite spot or a popular state park beach, you’re sure to find it in Maryland!
1. Ocean City Beach
If you’re ready to experience one of the most classic beaches Maryland has to offer, you may want to head to Ocean City Beach. The beach provides locals and visitors with ten miles of sandy beach to relax and play on.
Ocean City Beach isn’t just a favorite amongst those who live nearby. TripAdvisor has named it one of the top 10 beaches in the United States. Visitors enjoy swimming, fishing, surfing, kayaking, and sunbathing.
Along with a sandy beach shore, there’s a 3-mile boardwalk that boasts delicious food and exciting entertainment. At the beach, you can also find restrooms, lifeguards on duty during the summer months, shops, and restaurants.
Not only is the beach a fun time, but it’s also entirely free to visit year-round. You can also bring your pets during the low season, October to April.
2. Sandy Point State Park, Annapolis
Located only 15 minutes away from the bustling city of Annapolis, MD is one of the best state parks in the area, Sandy Point State Park. Sandy Point offers public beach access and it’s a popular spot for Annapolis residents and Maryland visitors.
The park’s beach area provides people a place to sunbathe, swim, and observe beautiful views of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. There are designated swimming areas to ensure the safety of all beachgoers.
Sandy Point State Park is open throughout the year, but you’ll find more lifeguards on duty from May to September. Since the summer months are the busiest, dogs and other pets aren’t allowed on the beach. Once Summer turns to fall, you’re welcome to bring your furry friend to Sandy Point State Park.
The park’s beach area offers a boat ramp, swimming areas, fishing zones, and plenty of amenities. These include bathrooms, picnic tables, grills, and food and drink stands. Looking for something different? Check out the hiking trails and nature center at the park.
3. Assateague Island National Seashore, Berlin
This beach is so much more than that! Assateague Island National Seashore that’s ever-changing because of the waves and the wind from the Atlantic Ocean. It runs through Maryland and Virginia and is located in Berlin, MD.
Assateague Island is by far one of the most unique beaches in Maryland because when you’re here, you’re standing on the edge of the North American continent. The barrier island has beaches, salt marshes, picnic areas, and campgrounds.
On and around Assateague Island National Seashore, you can also go hiking, biking, kayaking, crabbing, and swimming. You can even watch wild horses roam around! If you want to bring your own furry family member, pets are permitted in designated areas.
4. North Beach
North Beach is a small town that’s home to a peaceful, small beach. The beach is located an hour from Washington DC and Baltimore. While most who visit North Beach are locals, visitors can also enjoy the calm waters and sandy shore.
While there’s no lifeguard on duty, visitors enjoy swimming. You can also spend time fishing and crabbing in designated areas.
The beach also has a relaxing boardwalk to wander, catch scenic views, and grab a bite to eat. You can also bring your pet along on the boardwalk, but they aren’t allowed on the beach.
Daily or yearly beach passes or tickets are required for locals and visitors from May to September. During the low season, they aren’t needed.
5. Matapeake Beach, Stevensville
Matapeake Beach is a hidden gem located at a clubhouse that’s free of charge and pet-friendly.
Matapeake Beach is a small hidden gem found at Metapeake Clubhouse on Kent Island. The Chesapeake Bay surrounds this beautiful beach and clubhouse. This area is open to the public and offers a swimming beach, outdoor amphitheater, a mile-long trail, and a family picnic area.
If you have a pet that enjoys the beach, there are also designated pet areas where they can swim. At the clubhouse, you can also find a cafe open on summer days. The beach itself is accessible all year long.
Free admission to Matapeake Beach is what draws many people here. Unlike other popular beaches in Maryland, you don’t have to pay to spend your day lounging in the sand or swimming in the Chesapeake Bay.
6. Breezy Point Beach, Chesapeake Beach
You’ll find the delightful Breezy Point Beach located in the beach town of Chesapeake Beach, Maryland. It’s one of the best beaches in Maryland according to locals. With Washington DC nearby, it’s the perfect weekend getaway for residents of the nation’s capital.
This quaint beach area has a lot to offer visitors. There are plenty of swimming areas free of boats and other watercraft, picnic areas for grilling and relaxing, shower rooms, bathrooms, and concession stands. If you want to fish or crab, check out the 200-foot fishing pier.
If you want to spend the night, you may also camp at Breezy Point Beach’s campground. Pets are also welcome at the campground, but not at the beach and other day-use areas.
7. Elk Neck State Park, North East
Maryland is home to some of the most beautiful state parks on the East coast. Located north of Baltimore is Elk Neck State Park. It sits between the Chesapeake Bay and the Elk River.
Elk Neck State Park offers something for everyone, even pets! The state park beach is the most popular attraction during the summer months and is perfect for building sandcastles or lounging with a good book. When the water is the perfect temperature, you’ll find most beachgoers swimming or wading in the Chesapeake Bay.
There are several park and beach amenities such as bathrooms, showers, and picnic areas. The park also offers campsites for overnight stays.
While visiting Elk Neck State Park, be sure to check out the historic Turkey Point Lighthouse. If you enjoy hiking, the park offers several hiking trails.
8. Brownies Beach, Chesapeake Beach
Brownies Beach, also known as Bayfront Park Beach, is a small beach that is known almost exclusively to locals who enjoy sharing its beauty with visitors. This is one of the top beaches to visit if you love having a quiet beach day with few people.
While finding beautiful seashells and shark teeth are expected along the Chesapeake Bay, visitors and locals report seeing many more shark teeth on the shores at Brownies Beach than other Chesapeake Bay beaches.
Brownies Beach doesn’t have the amenities you’ll find at other beaches in the area. To find bathrooms, you’ll need to head to the front of Bayfront Park which is located nearby.
When traveling to Brownie’s Beach (or Bayfront Beach Park), you won’t see it from the road. Keep an eye out for a small parking lot surrounded by trees on the beachside of Route 261. You’ll see the Bayfront Park sign after you turn in the lot.
9. Hammerman Beach Gunpowder Falls State Park, Middle River
Hammerman Beach is located on the banks of the Gunpowder River and is said to be one of the best beaches in Maryland because of the variety of activities and sights. It’s located in Gunpowder Falls State Park with 1,500 feet of sandy shoreline.
Whether you enjoy relaxing in the sand or participating in water activities, there’s something for everyone at Hammerman Beach. It’s common to see people paddleboarding or kayaking in the water if they’re not hanging out on the sand. You can also take lessons in watersports.
The playground area makes this a great spot for a family with children. There are also several bathrooms and concession stands for snacks, places to go fishing, and hiking trails to explore. There are some dog-friendly areas of the park, too.
10. Betterton Beach
Betterton Beach is a stunning beach with a beautiful landscape that stretches for 5.2 acres offering plenty of space to spread out and enjoy a day at the beach. One of the biggest draws to this beach is that it’s free year-round.
Betterton Beach is known to be a family-oriented waterfront park. The sandy beach has a volleyball court, fishing jetty, and boat launching ramp. A couple of things to keep in mind when visiting Betterton Beach is that there are no lifeguards on duty and it’s not pet-friendly.
At the beach, you can conveniently find bathrooms, shower rooms, and snack stands. These are open from May until September.
11. Deep Creek Lake State Park, Swanton
Unlike the other best beaches in Maryland, the beach in Deep Creek Lake State Park is a lakefront beach. Located in Western Maryland at the southernmost end of Meadow Mountain, Deep Creek Lake State Park is home to the largest artificial lake in the state.
This largest manufactured lake in Maryland is around 3,900 acres. With a lake this size, you’ll forget that it’s man-made. From Memorial Day through Labor Day, you’ll see people flock to the shores of this lake to swim, fish, kayak, and soak up the sun’s rays.
The lake has two swimming beaches spanning one mile. There are miles of hiking trails near the lake if you’re looking to get some exercise while enjoying your lakeside beach day.
As a state park, it has several conveniences including picnic shelters, restrooms, and a discovery center. If you want to spend the night, you can camp at the park’s campground.
12. Rocky Point Park and Beach, Essex
Rocky Point Park and Beach has been a favorite of visitors and locals in Baltimore County since 1969. The park is 375 acres and offers beachgoers access to the Middle and Black Rivers.
From the beach, you’ll have impressive views of the Chesapeake Bay, Craighill Light, and Hart-Miller Islands. There are plenty of picnic areas and pavilions for hanging out around the park. You can even reserve a pavilion for an event.
Swimming is permitted when lifeguards are on duty from Memorial Day until Labor Day. Visitors also enjoy fishing, boating, and picnicking. If you have a boat, take part in a unique adventure over to Hart-Miller Island.
13. Janes Island State Park, Crisfield
This is another fantastic state park beach in Maryland that offers opportunities to relax, swim, and more. Janes Island State Park doesn’t require an admission fee unless you’re spending a few days and camping out.
There are miles of pristine beaches in the park, which are generally very calm. The beaches at Janes Island are family-friendly and allow you to escape the crowds at other popular beaches in Maryland. Observe the wildlife and catch a glimpse of birds, fish, crabs, and more.
Beachgoers also like to go fishing and crabbing at Janes Island. You can also go motor boating and paddling. There are 7 water trails to explore offering scenic views.
Something to keep in mind when you’re visiting the park during the summer months is that insects are to be expected. Be sure to bring your bug spray and citronella candles especially if you’re camping.
Aside from the beautiful beach, you can find conveniences like picnic areas and bathrooms at the park. Leashed pets are also welcomed.
14. Newtowne Neck State Park, Leonardtown
Tucked between Breton Bay, St. Clements Bay, and the Potomac River is Newtowne Neck State Park. This park is located in St. Mary’s county and boasts seven miles of beautiful sandy shoreline and so much more.
Visitors love that there’s no entry fee into the park. You can also rent kayaks and paddle through the waters. Visitors also enjoy wandering trails, fishing, and hunting at Newtowne Neck State Park.
For a unique experience, go birding where you can observe one-of-a-kind birding habitats like tidal shorelines, forests, hedgerows, agricultural fields, and meadows. To get the full park experience, rent a campsite and spend a few days.
Along with memorable activities, the park offers amenities like pavilions, picnic tables, and bathrooms. Pets are welcome, too!
15. Fort Smallwood Park, Pasadena
On the tip of a peninsula in Anne Arundel County sits the 90-acre park, Fort Smallwood. On the peninsula, the Patapsco River and Rock Creek meet at the Chesapeake Bay.
The park has plenty of beaches to relax on in the summer months. There’s one main swimming beach, but it extends for miles along the one side of the park. There’s also a 380-foot fishing pier, historic gun battery and barracks, and walking trails.
Children appreciate the playground area while many visitors like exploring the wooded areas. You can conveniently find ample parking and restrooms around the park.
We hope our guide to the best beaches in Maryland has inspired you to enjoy a beach vacation soon! Whether you’re looking to relax, swim, snap photos of incredible views, or anything in between, beaches in Maryland are sure to offer the seaside experience you’re craving.