The 10 Best Beaches For A Day Trip Near DC

Want to do a beach weekend or day trip from near Washington, DC? Let’s learn more about the best beaches to visit in DC.

What are the best beaches near Washington, DC?

With the Atlantic Ocean, the Chesapeake Bay, and other bodies of water nearby, Washington, DC, is a good launching point for a day at the beach. A couple of the better choices include Sandy Point State Park, Colonial Beach, and Ocean City Beach, amongst others. 

Let’s talk about which beaches near Washington, DC, are the best, how far away they are, and what makes them appealing to a traveler. Your vacation awaits!

Best beaches for a day trip near DC

Ocean City

What are the best beaches near Washington DC

Ocean City may be more than a day trip at 3 hours away from Washington, DC, but it is worth the drive. 

Ocean City is a bit like a resort area, with lots of beachfront and tons of activities to do between the city itself and the city’s boardwalk, which extends a whole three miles and offers plenty of things to do for kids and adults. 

You should also know that Ocean City can be a bit crowded, in part because the beach is pretty nice, but there is also a lot of space to use. 

As a bit of a tourist destination, there are literally too many things to do in a day or two to list. 

You could go ocean kayaking, parasailing if you are brave, or visit amusement parks with the kids, including Trimper Riders, Frontier Town, and Jolly Rogers. 

The city is also well known for white marlin fishing, so much so that every August, there is a fishing content for marlins hosted in the city. If you want to head to Ocean City for general fishing, there is a nice, big, safe pier from which to fish as well.

Sandy Point State Park

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Sandy Point State Park is a bit different from Ocean City in that it isn’t exactly a tourist destination and only has one mile of beach – but it offers lots of options for boat rentals and has lifeguards on watch, which is great for the kids. 

The state park is also located within only about an hour of Washington, DC, which makes it a more tolerable drive for some.

If you enjoy camping, this is also a good spot as they have campgrounds and hiking on-site, making this more of an adventure and outdoor vacation spot than one brimming with restaurants and people.

Our suggestion here is to make a trip to Sandy Point State Park for a picnic or grill out. They have grills and picnic shelters available. 

This is overall a great place to bring the kids for swimming and water sports without the crowds.

Lewes Beach

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Lewest as a city is smaller and historic. Within is Cape Henlopen State Park, which has a waterfront and beautiful lighthouses to admire.

There are of course beachfront to enjoy with the spring and summer sun, as well as lots of fresh seafood restaurants for lunch and dinner. 

Colonial Beach

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Located close to two hours from Washington, DC, Colonial Beach is a fairly relaxing city and waterfront. 

This beach in Virginia is the second largest in the state and generally offers calm waters that are good for swimming and water sports. 

Compared to Ocean City, Colonial Beach is more natural and less touristy, though it still does have beautiful art festivals and fishing piers and can draw a crowd during the peak of summer.

Colonial Beach features a boardwalk with good seafood restaurants, surf shops, and small stores. 

While the boardwalk isn’t huge, it is safe and a fun place to walk and enjoy the view.

Assateague Island National Seashore

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If you’ve lived in the DC area for a while or are visiting, there is a good chance you’ve never seen an actual wild horse.

Assateague Island can change that. It’s a bit of a longer drive at 2 and a half hours from DC, but it’s well worth it for the scenic drive.

Assateague Island has been inhabited by wild horses for hundreds of years. They do frequently walk on the beach, and they are quite docile and readily share the beach space with people. 

The Island is a popular place for kayakers and surfers. Note that the waves can be a bit more aggressive here, hence surfing, and it might not be the greatest place for young kids to venture too far into the water.

Dewey Beach

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Located in Delaware, Dewey Beach is well known for hosting lots of events, from art festivals to live music on a regular basis in the spring and summer. 

The beach itself is nice, of course, with wide swaths of sand on both the bay and the Atlantic. Dewey Beach comes to life at night and is a great place to enjoy some nightlife, waterfront views, and music. 

Like many New England towns, Dewey Beach is well known for restaurants serving freshly caught fish. Enjoy something caught just that day while sipping a frozen drink and enjoying the view!

Hammerman Beach

Hammerman Beach is part of Gunpowder Falls State Park, and it is more of a nature getaway than a tourist place.

The park itself is several thousand acres and has multiple waterfalls (hence the name). Bring along lunch and have a picnic under the shade of the many trees in the area, then go swimming in the calm waters.

The state park even has horseback riding trails and of course trails for humans to walk and bike on. For those who like serious peace and quiet, the state park only allows nonmotorized boats like kayaks and canoes – no gasoline boats allowed.

Breezy Point Beach

Breezy Point Beach is a great place to go if you have kids and enjoy camping. While there are hotels in the area, they offer campsites and RV sites. 

Secondly, the beach has a protected, netted area for kids to swim in. Nervous parents who don’t want their kids to wander too far will thoroughly enjoy it!

Do know that while Breezy Point Beach is just about an hour from DC, it does fill up quickly, and they only let a limited number of people in at a home.

In other words, go early or go off-season.

Virginia Beach

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In terms of a day trip, this is a bit of a stretch at four hours one way – but it could be worth it! 

Virginia Beach balances adult activities like nightlife and outdoor water sports and the right things for kids quite well – as there are museums, souvenir shops, and candy stores to go to in addition to special events, including a yearly sandcastle building contest.

Fishing is certainly allowed here, and the beach has a nice, long pier with plenty of space.

Rehoboth Beach

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Rehoboth beach and Dewey Beach are quite close – some consider them walking distance apart. 

The city and beach have tons to do, and according to National Geographic, one of the top ten best boardwalks in the country with plenty of activity and great restaurants. 

The boardwalk is for just about everyone and many things for the kids to do too.

The beach itself is quite nice too – and you’ll occasionally be able to see dolphins in the distance. Water sports are readily available and the water isn’t too rough as the beach is connected to a bay instead of more directly to the ocean.

Key Takeaways

  • As a city fairly close to multiple large bays and the Atlantic, there are many beaches to go to near DC
  • For kids, the most popular might be Ocean City, Breezy Point, and Virginia Beach.
  • Most of the beaches are within a 45 minute to up to a four hour drive
  • Many of the beaches have piers that allow fishing off the dock