When we think of the nation’s capital, we usually think of a bustling art culture, famous museums, historical buildings, and The White House. But, there are also beautiful beaches near DC, which we’ll share in this article today! Along the coast, states like Delaware, Virginia, and Maryland provide many amazing seaside destinations.
Each beach on this list offers unique experiences. Whether you’re looking to relax, get adventurous, or do some of both, there’s something for everyone.
Let’s take a day trip or vacation to one of the best beaches near Washington D.C.!
1. Sandy Point State Park (Maryland)
Washington D.C. to Sandy Point: ~36 miles
Sandy Point State Park is near the Chesapeake Bay, about an hour from Washington, D.C. You can find about 1 mile of sandy shore, which offers scenic views and fun ocean activities.
While the beach is incredibly popular for swimming, beachgoers enjoy other fun water adventures at the park, too! You can enjoy kayaking, bodyboarding, jet skiing, and boating. Motorboats, kayaks, and paddleboards are also available to rent at the park store.
If you’re looking for other outdoor adventures, you’re sure to find them in this 800-acre park. Visitors can also fish, explore nature trails, and go camping at the park.
2. Colonial Beach (Virginia)
Washington D.C. to Colonial Beach: ~65 miles
Colonial Beach is a beautiful, public beach that sits opposite Monroe Bay along the Potomac River. It’s also Virginia’s second-largest beachfront.
While there aren’t any lifeguards, Colonial Beach is a popular and safe spot for swimming and other water adventures. The wide golden sandy shores are also the perfect space for sunbathing, relaxing, and building sandcastles.
Most visitors enjoy the energetic town pier at Colonia Beach, where you can enjoy tons of entertainment. There are also fire pits, live entertainment, and restaurants that offer stunning ocean views. Grab beach supplies at local shops, too.
3. Ocean City Beach (Maryland)
Washington D.C. to Ocean City Beach: ~147 miles
Ocean City Beach is ideal for families and large groups with its extensive boardwalk and long beach. Best of all, Maryland beaches are known for warm water and gorgeous golden brown sand.
Ocean City Beach’s 3-mile boardwalk boasts restaurants, an amusement park, arcades, ice cream shops, museums, and so much more. Along 10 miles of sandy shoreline, beach lovers appreciate sunbathing, swimming, jet-skiing, and kayaking.
With so much space on the shore of Ocean City Beach, it’s easy to spread out, settle in, and spend a great day at the ocean!
4. Rehoboth Beach (Delaware)
Washington D.C. to Rehoboth Beach: ~121 miles
Rehoboth is easily one of the best beaches in Delaware and offers an exciting getaway for all kinds of beachgoers. The ocean is stunning, and the activities are endless!
You can find pristine clear waters with gentle surf and a sandy shoreline at Rehoboth Beach. There’s also a popular mile-long boardwalk with shops, restaurants, mini-golf, and events. With so many activities and things to do nearby, Rehoboth offers the perfect trip to the shore!
5. Lewes Beach (Delaware)
Washington D.C. to Lewes Beach: ~119 miles
If you’re looking for one of the best beaches near Washington that offers a low-key experience, be sure to check out Lewes Beach! It’s located near Cape Henlopen State Park on the Delaware Bay.
At Lewes, you can go swimming, boating, and fishing. The waters are calm, and there’s a gradual slope. It’s an excellent spot for little ones and those simply looking to relax.
With tranquil scenery and tons of amentities, including restrooms, concession stands, and lifeguards, Lewes is a great place to spend a day by the sea.
6. Brownie’s Beach (Maryland)
Washington D.C. to Brownie’s Beach: ~38 miles
Just south of Chesapeake Beach is Brownie’s Beach, also referred to as Bayfront Park. It’s one of the best beaches near Washington D.C. to hang out with family and friends.
You can enjoy swimming in shallow waters, sifting through sand to find sharks teeth, and hunting for seashells.
If you’re looking to catch some fish, there are fishing charters, or you can take your boat out from the on-site ramp. Nearby, several local restaurants and shops are well worth checking out.
7. Bethany Beach (Maryland)
Washington D.C. to Bethany Beach: ~128 miles
Bethany Beach is a quaint coastal town and beachfront backed by a boardwalk. Pet-owners and those looking to kick back and relax on the shore love to visit Bethany Beach.
Enjoy a sandy shoreline and a boardwalk that spans a half-mile stretch along the shore. Bethany Beach is also a great place to enjoy local events, beach movie nights, and designated surfing days. We recommend visiting during the summer if you’re looking to enjoy all of Bethany’s attractions!
If you’re looking to get active and don’t have the proper equipment, rental shops in the area have you covered with jet skis, bicycles, surfboards, and more.
8. Assateague Island National Seashore (Maryland)
Washington D.C. to Assateague Island National Seashore: ~170 miles
If you’re looking for an incredibly unique beach experience, we highly suggest checking out Assateague Island. This stunning beachfront in Maryland is also a nature lover’s paradise!
This 37-mile barrier island sits out in the Atlantic Ocean, and it’s a popular destination for surfers due to the massive amount of space and abundance of good waves.
At Assateague Island National Seashore, you can also expect to see wild horses walking along the water’s edge. It’s an incredible place to birdwatch and go crabbing, too.
To enjoy all that Assasteague has to offer, you can stay overnight and camp by the ocean.
For the island’s best views, be sure to head to the top of the historic Assateague Lighthouse.
9. Dewey Beach (Delaware)
Washington D.C. to Dewey Beach: ~121 miles
Dewey Beach is just south of Rehoboth Beach, and it’s a popular spot for those who enjoy nightlife and live entertainment. Dewey makes for a fun vacation destination with endless water adventures, regular live music, and delicious local food.
If you’re looking to get active at Dewey Beach, you can rent kayaks, paddleboards, and pontoon boats. If you prefer to relax a bit, be sure to check out Rehoboth Bay for calmer waters.
Dewey Beach’s city center is within walking distance of the ocean and features many restaurants, bars, and shops.
10. Cunningham Falls State Park (Maryland)
Washington D.C. to Cunningham Falls State Park: ~67 miles
For an amazing freshwater beach experience, don’t skip Cunningham Falls State Park. Instead of an adventure by the ocean, Cunningham’s beach is located on a picturesque lake in the mountain.
Cunningham Falls State Park is home to Maryland’s largest cascading waterfall, a large manmade lake, and the remains of a historic iron furnace. There’s so much to see and do here! You can also find nature trails, picnic areas, and opportunities for fishing.
If you’re interested in spending a few days, you can actually camp at Cunningham Falls.
11. Breezy Point Beach (Maryland)
Washington D.C. to Breezy Point Beach: ~44 miles
Breezy Point Beach is located directly on the Chesapeake Bay and stretches for a half-mile. Its protected swimming area and awesome playground make it one of the best family-friendly attractions in Maryland.
Aside from swimming, Breezy Point is also a great place to hunt for seashells and shark teeth. There’s also a crabbing and fishing pier, which offers stunning sunset views. . You can also find various amentities at Breezy Point Beach including grills, picnic tables, and campsites.
Breezy Point Beach has a capacity that’s often met during the summer, especially on weekends. Try to arrive early if you can!
12. Hammerman Beach (Maryland)
Washington D.C. to Hammerman Beach: ~56 miles
Hammerman Beach is a beautiful 18,000-acre spot at Gunpowder Falls State Park, where you can chase multiple stunning waterfalls. The beach is situated on the shores of the Gunpowder River and offers various picnic areas and abundant shade.
Throughout the park, you can also find hiking and horseback riding trails. Anglers also enjoy casting lines from the shore. There’s even a place where you can launch kayaks.
If you plan to visit Hammerman Beach during peak season, be sure to get here early because parking is limited.
13. Point Lookout State Park (Maryland)
Washington D.C. to Point Lookout: ~84 miles
Point Lookout State Park is a peaceful, historic park on a peninsula between the Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River. You can find multiple beaches, including a pet-friendly spot, a nature center, and a Civil War museum.
Enjoy various amentities, including a playground, grills, a picnic area, a store, and restrooms. If you want to spend a few days, you can also camp at Point Lookout.
This beach is open through the summer season and offers amenities such as grills, a playground, a picnic area, and a huge pavilion that large groups can reserve. There are even shower facilities and restrooms. The only downside is that lifeguards are not always on duty.
14. Virginia Beach (Virginia)
Washington D.C. to Virginia Beach: ~209 miles
Virginia Beach is a seaside resort town that sits along the Atlantic Ocean. There are various activities and accommodations in this coastal town, offering the ideal vacation destination.
While beachgoers love sandy shores and warm waters at Virginia Beach, its number 1 attraction is the 3-mile boardwalk. You can find endless things to do, including amusement parks, restaurants, and shops.
If you visit Virginia Beach during the summer season, expect to run into crowds enjoying the excellent shoreline, sandcastle competitions, events, and more.
15. Chesapeake Beach (Virginia)
Washington D.C. to Chesapeake Beach: ~233 miles
If you’re looking to appreciate a local vibe and get away from tourists attractions, we highly recommend Chesapeake Beach. Also referred to as Chic’s Beach, this beach is at the end of Chesapeake Bay Bridge, and the shore stretches for 2 miles and overlooks the bay. You can find calm waters and a sandy shoreline, offering the best seaside experience.
Visitors enjoy sunbathing, swimming, building sandcastles, and playing volleyball. You can also participate in water sports, including paddle boarding and kiteboarding.
We hope you’re inspired to enjoy beaches near Washington D.C. There are so many incredible options, no matter what kind of trip to the shore you’re looking for!