The best beaches near Baltimore offer a needed respite from the summer heat and bustling city. The U.S. state of Maryland is defined by its scenic waterways and miles of coastline stretching around the picturesque Chesapeake Bay all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. Small beach towns dot the vast network of inlets, offering different beach adventures around every corner.

    Pack a tent to camp in secluded bay beaches or rent a lounge chair and people-watch on the renowned Ocean City Beach. Either way, you'll be enjoying smooth coastlines and reveling in rich history – many of Baltimore’s beaches were battle sites in the early 19th century. Some within a short drive and others requiring a full day to explore, these beaches are the finest in Baltimore and Maryland.


    Baltimore Beach

    Play beach volleyball in the shadow of downtown

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    Baltimore Beach is one of the few beaches within the city limits, but it’s not actually a real beach at all. Rather, it is a hotspot for competitive sports such as volleyball and netball. Situated right on the Inner Harbor, Baltimore Beach plays host to the East Coast's largest beach volleyball leagues while the Baltimore skyline towers in the backdrop.

    You don’t have to be hamstrung to playing volleyball, as many folks visit Baltimore Beach just to lie on the sand and enjoy a bite from a local food truck. The beach is open to everyone and offers a great location to work on your tan without having to drive outside the city.

    Location: 300 Key Hwy, Baltimore, MD 21230 USA

    Open: Daily from sunrise to sunset

    Phone: +1 410-752-4805


    North Point State Park

    Revel in history at Baltimore’s closest true beach

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    North Point State Park offers a tranquil beach setting and an abundance of outdoor activities. Just 30 minutes from downtown Baltimore, the 1,300-acre park was once the site of an early 20th-century amusement park, but is now Baltimore's closest natural refuge.

    The beach area is only accessible from the Trolley Pavilion parking, which fills quickly in the summer. There are no parasol or beach chair rentals, so make sure to bring your own along with a good book. The tranquil Chesapeake Bay sprawls in front of you, and the shallow waters are ideal for a casual dip. If you enjoy more than just bathing, fishing, hiking, birdwatching, and biking are among the park’s popular activities.

    Location: 8400 North Point Rd, Edgemere, MD 21219 USA

    Open: Daily from 8 am to 4.30 pm

    Phone: +1 410-477-0757


    photo by boothy443 (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Hammerman Beach

    Catch epic sunrise views

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    Hammerman Beach is on the kayak-friendly Gunpowder River, around a 30-minute drive northeast of Baltimore. The beach is a half-mile long, with many concessions stands, rentable picnic shelters, and a dense forest providing beachgoers refuge from the summer heat.

    Bring your own small boat, or rent a kayak or SUP from the local supplier to enjoy a half-day navigating up the river. For a real treat, come early to catch a jaw-dropping sunrise over where the mouth of the river meets the Chesapeake Bay. Make sure to call ahead for directions – there are numerous neighborhoods of the park, so it’s easy to get lost.

    Location: 7200 Graces Quarters Rd, Middle River, MD 21220 USA

    Open: April–October: daily from 8 am to sunset. November–March: daily from 10 am to sunset

    Phone: +1 410-335-3461


    Sandy Point Beach

    Enjoy a picnic and stunning bay views

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    Sandy Point Beach comes with dynamite views of Chesapeake Bay, making it one of the best picnic spots in Maryland. Situated just minutes from Annapolis, the 2-mile sand-only beach has attracted locals since the 1950s.

    Bathing in its calm waters is a popular option, and the public bathhouses with showers and beach supplies make it ideal for a family fun-filled day out. Try your hand at crabbing or rent a boat from the marina to get a closer look at Sand Point Lighthouse and looming Chesapeake Bay Bridge. There is a minimal, per-vehicle fee to enter the beach area, but it’s worth every penny.

    Location: 1100 E College Pkwy, Annapolis, MD 21409 USA

    Open: January–October: daily from 7 am to sunset. November–December: daily from 7 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +1 410-974-2149


    photo by Preservation Maryland (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified


    Kent Island

    An endearing coastal destination with quaint beach towns

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    Kent Island is a popular beach getaway that sits in the middle of Chesapeake Bay, between the mainland and the Delmarva Peninsula. A mere hour-long drive from Baltimore drops you into a world of New England-influenced seafood restaurants, nature trails, and pristine beaches.

    Matapeake Beach is the treasure of the island, welcoming sun-seekers with kayaking, fishing, a farmer’s market, and great hiking opportunities. Pet owners need not worry as their furry friends are welcome at the nearby dog beach. Head north to Terrapin Beach if you would rather escape the crowds and enjoy a secluded day out. Don’t leave Kent Island without grabbing a plate of fresh crab at Stevensville Crab Shack.


    Betterton Beach

    Lounge in tranquillity

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    Betterton Beach is a prime destination for a relaxing weekend away, with 5 acres of landscaped beach and quaint Victorian homes dotting the landscape. Picnic neighborhoods and large trees offer shade while you soak up the views that dub this beach the ‘Jewel of the Chesapeake’. Although not typically know as a bathing beach, visitors often spend the afternoon laying on the edge of the water.

    The quaint town of Betterton – a 2-hour drive from Baltimore – is home to only 2 restaurants and lacks any convenience stores, so come prepared. The lack of infrastructure eliminates big summer crowds, making it a huge draw for laidback sun-seekers.

    Location: Betterton, MD 21610 USA

    Open: Daily from 5 am to 10 pm

    Phone: +1 410-778-1948


    photo by Art Anderson (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Chesapeake Beach

    A place of seclusion and unique sea artifacts

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    With a name like Chesapeake Beach, this resort town must be an all-star destination, and it sure doesn’t disappoint. The main attraction is Bayfront Park (or Brownies Beach) – a secluded beach on the south side of town that is surrounded by cliffs and covered in shells and sea glass. Out-of-towners have to pay a small fee to enter, but rumor has it that shark teeth have even been found here, so it’s well worth the ticket price.

    If you want to spend a night, many Chesapeake Beach hotels offer excellent rooms with unmatched views. Or dive into the local history by visiting the Chesapeake Beach Rail Trail – a former train that used to shuttle tourists back in the early 1900s.

    Location: Chesapeake Beach, MD 20732, USA


    Calvert Cliffs State Park

    Fossil-hunt along the Chesapeake Bay

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    Calvert Cliffs State Park is home to a grand, 0.25-mile beach that’s excellent for bathing, hiking, and uncovering fossils. Located some 80 miles south of Baltimore, the park marks the end of the dramatic eroding cliffs from which it was named. Why most people come to the beach park is for what the erosion has uncovered. A slew of prehistoric fossil remains of megalodon sharks, whales, and seabirds the size of airplanes.

    Access to the park is restricted to day-use only, requiring a minimal $5 per night fee – make sure to bring cash. If you want to stay overnight, Calvert Cliffs Campground is just north of the park.

    Location: 10540 H G Trueman Rd, Lusby, MD 20657 USA

    Open: Daily from sunset to sunrise

    Phone: +1 443-975-4360


    Ocean City

    Lounge on one of America’s greatest beaches

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    A weekend trip to Ocean City – locally referred to as going "downy ocean, hon" – is a long-time summer tradition for Baltimoreans. The 10-mile stretch of pristine white sand is accompanied by a towering collection of multi-storey condos and an iconic boardwalk lined with old school arcades and vintage carousels.

    Beachgoers can hardly run out of things to do here, as the beauty of OC is being able to do whatever you want. Play volleyball on the beach, go to an outdoor movie, watch a stunning fireworks display, or take a stab at surfing.  Food and music festivals fill the summertime calendars, while a healthy serving of steamed crabs is the go-to dinner option any time of the year. Don't let the 2.5-hour drive from Baltimore deter you – a weekend in Ocean City is part of The Great American Bucket List.

    Location: Ocean City, MD 21842 USA

    Open: Daily from 5 am to 10 pm

    Phone: +1 410-289-8221


    Assateague Island National Seashore

    For those looking to leave civilization behind

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    Assateague Island National Seashore is consistently voted one of the top state parks in the USA. The fairly undeveloped island is almost 3 hours east of Baltimore, and accommodations are almost exclusively the 140 campgrounds dotted along the miles of beach trails. 

    Beach camping, surfing, kayaking, and fishing are the most common activities, with 4-wheeling particularly popular with adventure seekers. The bathing is great on the island. If you get lucky, you might catch yourself a couple of fresh crabs for dinner. But no matter the activity, you will no doubt stumble across the most recognizable feature of the island – the stunning wild roaming ponies.

    Location: 6915 Stephen Decatur Hwy, Berlin, MD 21811 USA

    Open: Daily from 7.30 am to 6.30 pm

    Phone: +1 410-641-2918

    Ryan Thomas McNutt | Contributing Writer

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