There’s nothing like a beach getaway with the family. Lounging in the sun, toes deep in the sand and with a cold drink in hand are the times made for living. There are gorgeous beaches in many directions, but what about when your fun-in-the-sun time is limited? You’ve only got a day, or maybe less, to cram in as much beach time as possible — what then? Consider bringing your family to one of these five closest beaches to D.C. when time is a limiting factor.
Sandy Point State Park – Maryland
Situated at the western end of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, Sandy Point State Park is the closest beach to D.C. It’s a popular swimming hole for DMV residents, boasting over a million visitors each year. In addition to swimming, your family can hike the nearby Corcoran Woods forest preserve with its four miles of trails.
Distance: 50 minutes by car.
Address: Sandy Point State Park, 1100 East College Parkway, Annapolis, Md. 21409.
Admission: May 1-September 30, weekends and holidays: $5 per person, weekdays: $4 per person. October-April 30, $3 per vehicle.
North Beach – Maryland
Our second closest beach to D.C. on the list is North Beach, located in beautiful Calvert County, Md. North Beach has a well-maintained sandy shorefront and a flowerbed-lined boardwalk with benches. It’s also one of the few boardwalks near the district that allow dogs – though they still aren’t allowed on the beach. The only con that comes with North Beach is the hefty admission fee for out-of-towners, but at under an hour from D.C., most visitors think it’s worth it.
Distance: 58 minutes by car.
Address: 9023 Bay Avenue, North Beach, Md. 20714.
Admission: Ranges from $6-$9 for Calvert County residents, $10-$25 for noncounty residents. Children 2 & under are free.
Gunpowder Falls State Park – Maryland
One of the closest beaches to D.C. can be found inside Gunpowder Falls State Park. The park is divided into six sections to provide visitors with a range of recreational activities from horseback riding to picnicking to kayaking. The Hammerman Area in Middle River is where you can find a 1,500 foot beach and swimming area on the banks of the Gunpowder River. Visit the Hereford Area for fishing and canoeing; Central Area for hiking, biking and horseback riding; and nearby Dundee Creek Marina for ample boating, fishing and archery opportunities.
Distance: 1 hour and 20 minutes by car
Address: 7200 Graces Quarters Road, Middle River, Md. 21220
Admission: In-season $3 per-person service charge ($5 per-person for out-of-state residents) for entrance into the Hammerman Area. Off-season (after Labor Day to the Friday before Memorial Day weekend) a $3 per-vehicle ($5 for out-of-state residents) honor system is in effect.
Colonial Beach – Virginia
Along the calm shores of the Potomac River is Colonial Beach, Virginia’s second largest beach and one of the safest near the DMV for kids to swim in. Its centrally located boardwalk has all your favorite beach attractions: waterfront restaurants and food trucks, kid’s playground, souvenir shops, bathhouse facilities and fishing areas from the municipal pier. Your family can find quieter beach areas to the north and south of the pier.
Distance: 1 hour and 45 minutes by car
Address: Hawthorn Street, Colonial Beach, Va. 22443
Point Lookout State Park – Maryland
Thank goodness for state parks! Point Lookout State Park is at the tip of a peninsula between the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay and is the most history-rich beach closest to D.C. Visitors to the museum within the park will learn how important this area was to early settlers of Maryland and for the Union army during the Civil War. There’s even a 19th-century lighthouse you can walk around (though not inside, as it is currently under renovation) that boasts gorgeous views of the Potomac River.
Distance: 1 hour and 45 minutes by car
Address: 11175 Point Lookout Road, Scotland, Md. 20687
Admission: Day-use Admission Fee, May-September: Weekends and holidays: Md. residents $5 per person; out-of-state residents $7 per person; Weekdays: Md. residents $3 per vehicle; out-of-state residents $5 per vehicle. October-April: Md. residents $3 per vehicle; out-of-state residents $5 per vehicle.