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Beaches near Washington DC

Milwaukee, WI
Level Contributor
40 posts
Beaches near Washington DC


Were going to be in town at the end of Aug. and was hoping to get to a beach, can anyone recommend a close/clean beach. Is it worth the drive to go all the way down to Virginia Beach.

Thanks in advance


Level Contributor
380 posts
4 reviews
1. Re: Beaches near Washington DC

For "real" beaches, you'll need to head to either Virginia Beach or to the Ocean City, MD area. However, if you're willing to settle for a "retro" beach experience, you could visit North Beach (http://www.nbeachmd.com/) and Chesapeake Beach in Maryland. These towns on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay are where Washingtonians vacationed before the Chesapeake Bay Bridge was built. After the bridge was completed, both towns fell into severe decline. In the last decade, however, they've been on the rebound, as they are within commuting distance of DC. Both towns are about an hour's drive from DC, depending on traffic.

North Beach has a small beach (with an entrance fee), pier, and boardwalk, plus a restaurant (Westlawn Inn) that has gotten excellent reviews and several antique stores. Chesapeake Beach has a new hotel, several restaurants, a water park, and a tiny museum that shows pictures of the town in its prime.

Level Contributor
505 posts
83 reviews
2. Re: Beaches near Washington DC

You'd have to really want to go to the beach for it to be worthwhile. First, it's at least a 4-hour drive from DC, on highways that almost always have traffic jams in August. So it's an overnight trip and a long roundtrip drive (unless you plan your departure from Norfolk airport). And the beach just isn't very nice. Ocean City would be about an hour closer to DC, but locals go to places like Rehoboth Beach or Dewey Beach in Delaware. There's a whole string of little beach towns along the way to Ocean City, each with its own character: the gay town, the family-friendly town, the we're-22-and-have-jobs-so-we-can-finally-afford-to-get-a-beach-house-and-drink-too-much town. If you're interested in going that direction, post back for recommendations.

But honestly none of the beaches within 200 miles of DC are very nice. Beaches just aren't what we do in this part of the world. It's like going skiing in Wisconsin. You could, but...

Washington, DC
Level Contributor
23 posts
5 reviews
3. Re: Beaches near Washington DC

I'd have to agree with Thad, the traffic will be horrendous. And the beaches aren't anything to write home about.

Washington, DC
Level Contributor
11 posts
9 reviews
4. Re: Beaches near Washington DC

As someone who has rented a summer beach house for the last five years in Rehoboth Beach, DE, I can tell you a bit about the area's beaches. They actually are worth visiting. No, they're not the white sand and blue waters in Mexico, but they are wide, clean, sandy beaches. As your wrote you'll be in town anyway. So, if you do want to hit a beach town for a few nights, here's the skinny.

Traffic on Fridays can be bad around 3:00 PM as everyone who's headed out for the weekend is rushing to get out. On Saturday's it's the weekly rental people headed out, so get over the Bay Bridge by 10:00 AM or you'll hit more traffic. Other than that, it's not that bad. In the probably 60 times I've driven from DC to Rehoboth Beach, the worst was a four hour trip, the best was two hours. So, count on about three and you'll be fine. And, the countryside along the way is fairly pretty.

The beach towns from north to south are Rehoboth, Dewey, and Bethany in Deleware, then you start getting into Maryland. I don't know as much about them. Ocean City is by far the biggest beach town along this stretch of coast. The other towns are much smaller. It depends on what you're seeking, but I'd recommend Rehoboth Beach for a board walk, galleries, and good restaurants, Dewey if you're looking for younger people (20s) and a bit more of a "party" scene, or Bethany for quite family settings.

Since August is THE vacation month in DC as Congress is out the entire month, it will be busy and rooms expensive. You might surprised how much a simple motel room will cost during this time.