Top 10 Beaches in Maryland

Published on July 15th, 2021

What are the Most Popular Beaches in Maryland?

Occupying a unique sliver of the Atlantic seaboard, Maryland may not have the beachy reputation of, say, New Jersey or Florida — but make no mistake, there are some epic sandy stretches here to stretch out on. Here are some of the most beautiful and popular beaches in the state sometimes known as Little America, perfect for those looking for a beach day or an entire beach weekend.

Top Beaches in Maryland

1. Ocean City Beach

2. Assateague Island National Seashore

3. Cherry Beach

4. Calvert Cliffs State Park

5. Matapeake Beach

6. Sandy Point State Park

7. Hart-Miller Island State Park

8. North Beach

9. Point Lookout State Park

10. Elk Neck State Park

Maryland Beaches

Here are the top 10 most beautiful beaches in Maryland — and all the deets you need to enjoy them in comfort and style!

1. Ocean City Beach

Crowded beach in Ocean City, MD

A classic stretch of seaside that’s just about synonymous with Maryland itself, Ocean City Beach is an iconic vacation beach nestled on a barrier island just south of the Delaware border. Thanks to its ideal position along the Atlantic, Ocean City has developed into a major getaway destination, and has all the amenities and attractions to prove it. Along with the ample soft sands and rhythmically lapping waves, Ocean City Beach also offers a boardwalk and amusement park, complete with a spectacular Ferris Wheel a la Santa Monica. Parking and entry are free, and there is a separate section specifically for surfers who want to take advantage of the swell. There are also restrooms, food vendors, and shops all within an easy reach of your towel.

Things to do near Ocean City Beach: Ocean City itself offers plenty in the way of seafood restaurants and cutesy tourist shops, and you’re not far at all from the unique wilderness that is the Isle of Wight Department of Natural Resources Management Area, which offers both hiking and hunting. Here are some nearby RVshare rentals to consider for your trip.

2. Assateague Island National Seashore

feral horses on the beach of Assateague early morning.

And now, for something completely different from our first list item. If you’re looking for a more untouched, less-populated shoreline where you’re more likely to encounter a wild pony than a funnel cake, we recommend heading south from Ocean City toward the Assateague Island National Seashore, a large preserved wilderness on another Maryland barrier island. The juxtaposition between these two shorelines really shows off the state’s range: Assateague is one of the most serene and undeveloped landscapes on the east coast, though it’s also a popular launching point for a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities. RV-friendly camping is available within the NPS-managed site, as well as at many nearby locations.

Things to do near Assateague Island National Seashore: Far away from developed cityscapes, Assateague Island National Seashore is a destination all its own — though it’s a great option to add to a trip to the bright lights and boardwalks of Ocean City. Here are some nearby RVshare rentals that can help keep you cozy and comfy during your stay!

3. Cherry Beach

Sunset on the Nanticoke River

While Maryland offers some incredible ocean beaches, there are some equally travel-worthy interior beaches along its rivers and lakes, too — not the least of which is Cherry Beach, which is perched on the east side of the Nanticoke River. The beach park offers a boat ramp and is a popular place to launch canoes, kayaks, and even motorboats, and free parking is available along with picnic areas and restrooms. Because of the river’s strong current, this isn’t the best beach in the state to swim at, but if you’re simply looking to soak up the sun and enjoy the scenery, Cherry Beach is one of our best suggestions.

Things to do near Cherry Beach: Just outside of the small city of Sharptown, Cherry Beach is within easy reach of all the amenities you need to make for a great vacation. It’s also not far at all from the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, which has served as an oasis for migratory waterfowl since the 1930s. Here are some local RVshare rentals to browse for your trip.

4. Calvert Cliffs State Park

Hiking at Calvert Cliff State Park in Maryland. The clay cliffs contrast nicely with both the sky, and Bay.

Maryland boasts a sprawling and well-appointed state park system, and Calvert Cliffs State Park is easily one of the most scenic and unique. Its sandy stretch along the Chesapeake Bay is surrounded by stunning sandstone cliffs, and the park is also a location known for its great fossil hunting opportunities. If you get tired of the beautiful beachfront for some reason, the park offers more than 10 miles of hiking trails to stretch your legs on, as well as a recycled tire playground to keep your kiddos entertained. Whether you’re looking for an educational experience or a just plain relaxing one, this state park is the perfect destination.

Things to do near Calvert Cliffs State Park: Although located in a fairly remote stretch of Maryland’s complicated coastline, this park is actually only an hour and a half’s drive from Washington, D.C., and there are plenty of hospitable smaller towns en route to the big city. Here are some nearby RVshare rentals to consider for the journey, and some excellent capital-area campgrounds to take them to!

5. Matapeake Beach

A couple walks along Matapeake Beach at sunset

Today an exclusive resort-style beach preserved by a park with a clubhouse, Matapeake Beach got its start almost 100 years ago, in the 1930s, when ferries would launch here to carry passengers across to the Maryland mainland in Annapolis. Today, it offers a scenic fishing pier, a great swimming beach, paved walking trails through well-manicured gardens, and delicious food and drink available from the on-site clubhouse. There’s also an outdoor amphitheater that hosts a variety of fascinating arts and cultural events, especially during the summer months.

Things to do near Matapeake Beach: Just over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge from Annapolis, and within a stone’s throw of bigger cities like Baltimore and D.C., there are plenty of things to see and do in the vicinity of Matapeake Beach. While you’re on Kent Island, we recommend stopping by the quaint walking area of Stevensville Historic District; here are some local RVshare rentals to consider for the journey.

6. Sandy Point State Park

The red sandy beach of Sandy Point State Park near Annapolis, Maryland./ Red Sands of Maryland

Just north of Annapolis, another state park consecrates an entirely different section of Chesapeake Bay shoreline: as its name suggests, Sandy Point State Park is well known for its soft, golden sands and shimmering waters, and also offers one-of-a-kind views of the Sandy Point Shoal Light and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. A small day-use admission fee is assessed, but it’s well worth the access to gorgeous shorefront, and pavilion rentals are also available. Do be aware that this area is a known jellyfish environment, so you may encounter them when you wade into the waters.

Things to do near Sandy Point State Park: Less than 15 minutes from Annapolis, 40 or so from Baltimore and about an hour from Washington D.C., Sandy Point State Park is conveniently located for a wide range of area residents and visitors to access. Here are some local RVshare rentals to check out if yo’re looking to turn your beach adventure into a longer road rip!

7. Hart-Miller Island State Park

Hart-Miller Island State Park
Image via dnr.maryland.gov

If you want to feel fully away from it all, all without ever getting more than a few miles outside of Baltimore, Hart-Miller Island State Park should be at the top of your list. This remote island wilderness is tucked into the Chesapeake Bay immediately east of Maryland’s biggest city, and it is only accessible via boat. Although it might be a little complicated to get to, once you arrive, you’ll see it was worth the effort: this isle boasts beautiful, untamed beachfront and more than eight miles of walking paths to wander along, including one leading to an observation tower so you can get an even better view of the incredible surroundings. Pets are welcome on the island, too!

Things to do near Hart-Miller Island State Park: While the entire city of Baltimore looms on the not-so-distant horizon, there are also plenty of non-urban diversions to get into while you’re in this area. Rocky Point Park is just across Hawk Cove from the island, and offers its own swim beach, and North Point State Park offers more than 1,300 acres of recreational opportunities. Here are some local RVshare rentals to consider — and campgrounds to take them to!

8. North Beach

Long exposure on the shore of the Chesapeake Bay, in North Beach, Maryland.

Traveling down the coast from Maryland’s major urban centers, you’ll find a variety of quaint shoreline towns — and North Beach is one of our favorites. Although it’s only about an hour outside of our nation’s capital, this city is home to a mere 2,000 or so people, and its beautiful, sandy beach reflects that off-the-beaten-path quality. Throughout the summer, locals put on fun festivities in this quaint getaway destination, but the beach offers beautiful scenery year round. Do be aware that it’s a “swim at your own risk” situation; no lifeguards are on duty. But the wake here tends to be pretty mild, so just keep your wits about you (as always) when you head out to take a dip.

Things to do near North Beach: Nearby Wetlands Overlook Park offers elevated boardwalks and a one-of-a-kind look at the surrounding marshlands, giving you a taste of a totally different side of this part of Maryland. Here are some local RVshare rentals to consider for your adventure!

9. Point Lookout State Park

Point Lookout State Park, St Marys County, Maryland, USA, Mother fishing while children play, August 6, 1991

Extending just about as far south as the state goes into the wide-open waters where the mighty Potomac River meets the Chesapeake Bay, Point Lookout State Park should be on every Maryland resident’s list to visit — and the lists of those from further afield, too. It’s worth noting that this serene landscape has a bit of a dark history; it’s the site of what was once a Confederate soldier prison. Then, it was used again by the local militia in the War of 1812 as a watchpoint from whence they spied the British fleets’ moves. Having played its part in some of our nation’s most important conflicts, today, the park is preserved to offer swimming, camping, and fishing opportunities to those who venture down the long road to find it — and, of course, it’s also a treasure trove for history buffs.

Things to do near Point Lookout State Park: The park is in quite a remote area… but that’s a big part of its charm! An on-site park office and store give you access to information, resources and necessities, and two hours’ drive puts you back in the bosom of Washington, D.C. Here are some area RVshare rentals to consider!

10. Elk Neck State Park

Hiking in Elk Neck State Park in Maryland, I happened upon some driftwood on the beach under some beautiful skies.

Clear on the other side of the Maryland map, nestled into the state’s far northeastern corner, Elk Neck State Park offers a unique view of the Chesapeake Bay in its northern stretches, close to where the Elk River empties out into it. Along with is stretch of sandy shoreline, this state park boasts more than 2,000 acres of forest-covered pathways, swampy marshlands, and scenic sandstone cliffs, and even has a dedicated raptor viewing field for those eager to see the eagles and hawks that call this place home. The on-site Turkey Point Lighthouse guided sailors as early as 1833, and is particularly noted for its abundance of female lighthouse keepers. There’s also an interpretive nature center and on-site camping; in short, it’s the perfect place for an idyllic mid-Atlantic weekend.

Things to do near Elk Neck State Park: Although remote, Elk Neck State Park is located about equidistant between Baltimore and Philadelphia — so it’s a great option for city-dwellers looking to get away from it all. Here are some area RVshare rentals to consider for your trek!

Planning an RV Trip to Maryland

Along with fabulous beaches, Maryland also has plenty of forested countryside to offer, not to mention the historical significance of its settlements. Here are the best RV rentals in the state, as well as the coolest campgrounds and state parks to take them to. We’ve also penned a guide to Baltimore for those of you hoping to check out its biggest city!

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