Dear PoP

Palm Beach, Solomon Islands, originally uploaded by kchios2000.

Hi PoP,

I’ve been in DC for about a year now and am looking for a beach to go to with some friends that is closer than 2 hours away. I grew up on an island and miss being able to hop on my bike and spend the afternoon at the beach.

Where do the DC’ers go for a day of sun and surf? So any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Beach Bound

Dear Beach Bound,

I feel you beach bound. I too grew up on an island and miss the days of being 15 minutes away from the beach. I never thought I’d say that I miss Strong Island… As you may have figured out by now traffic leaving DC to the beach can be brutal and thus makes a two hour journey challenging. The popular spots of Delaware and New Jersey as well as the fun Assateague Island, MD are sadly well over two hours away. The only place I have found that is only a bit over an hour away from DC is Solomons Island, MD. There aren’t too many beaches and technically you need a pass for many but it’s generally not a problem. Unfortunately, in my experience Washingtonians looking only for a day of fun in the sun and water go to a friend’s pool. Weekend trips on the other hand are a totally different story.

Good luck,

This is a great question, I’m looking forward to hearing other’s suggestions. Are there any good beaches near Annapolis? Where is a good place to go to the beach that is less than two hours from DC?

16 Comment

  • Betterton Beach, just across the Bay Bridge and head north:

    Not a lot to do there other than the beach itself, but it’s enough closer to DC that you can make a day of it. It’s on the Bay, but no jellyfish as it’s at the confluence of a fresh water river and the salty bay.

  • Hey that’s the palm tree from the movie Contact. I love that movie.

    Sorry, so random.

  • Sandy Point (MD). Still have to take Rt 50 E but you don’t even have to cross the bridge.

  • Wow, I was just wondering the same thing over the weekend – how to get in some sun and sand without driving three hours.
    So far, the best beach I’ve found is Assateague Island (three hours away but well worth the opportunity to have a wild pony walk past you on the beach), but we’re definitely going to check out Betterton.

    Any lakes that are within an hour or so of DC? Do people even swim in lakes anymore?

  • I went to Sandy Point Beach a few years ago. It’s off route 50 before crossing the Bay Bridge. We have since called it “Dorito Beach” since the sand was the color of ground up Doritos – and afterwards, any skin that touched the sand was also the same color. It was kind of nasty and I would take driving the 2.5 hours to Rehoboth any day over going back to Dorito Beach. The Ocean is always better than the Bay.

  • The bay is pretty nasty, and Dorito Beach is pretty nasty too.

  • In addition to Solomon’s Island, there are several beaches on the Bay in the northern part of Calvert County (maybe a 1 hour drive?) — they’re quiet (i.e. the boardwalk is to walk on, there isn’t much in the way of businesses selling food, etc.) and well-maintained from what I remember. I think they’re free for county residents, and $6-7 for nonresidents. I’d recommend either North Beach (although the beach area itself is kind of small: or Breezy Point (a few minutes south of there:

  • MM- It took me living here three years before I had an “a ha!” moment of “Egads! There are no swimmable lakes in the greater DC area! THAT’s what is missing from my life!” Sad, very sad. I’ve tried looking and have so far found nothing. I think there is a lake somewhere in NOVA that is a private lake, so only HOA members and their guests can access it, but I don’t know anyone up there, and now that we have our own Target, I really don’t care to go to the Commonwealth.

    I’d second Sandy Point though, for swimming etc. Not TOO far away, but not too close either. (that, and its the ocean, and as a member of the generation who grew up on JAWS and Piranha, I still have an unhealthy and unwarranted fear of ocean swimming, as I’m usually pretty sure that a giant shark or pack of angry meat eating fish will get me at any moment…)


  • There must be river swimming somewhere close by, either down south in Virginia or west in Virginia on the Shenandoah, no?

  • There is a creek in a park off of University Blvd in MD right after you pass the UMUC campus. I take my dog there to play and I have seen people swimming in some of the deeper parts near the soccer field. It smells a bit funky but doesn’t look too bad…I walk in it and my dog loves it.

    Also there is a water park thing on University Blvd before you get to this point with those giant mushroom things that water runs off the tops off and pools, lots of kids. I’ve passed it a few times now, always very crowded but people seem to be enjoying themselves.

  • There are a number of swimming holes, quarry beaches, reservoirs, rivers, and swimmable lakes as you get closer to the Blue Ridge and in Shenandoah. None, to my knowledge, are within an hour’s drive, though.

  • Cunningham Falls is about an hour north and east of DC, you can swim in Hunting Creek Lake (where there are lifeguards in certain areas) and around the base of the falls.

  • I went to my friend’s beach house in an area called Cove Point, near Lusby and Solomon’s Island. I was surprised how nice it was and it took us a little over an hour to get there, with no bridge, on the Chesapeake Bay. We saw very few people and a lot of shells. Feel like investigating rental properties nearby for next summer.

  • You could swim in the reservoir by Howard… you’d just have to jump the fence and risk being arrested.

  • Kalia that’s Sligo Creek I think, and signs closer to Takoma Park tell you not to go in it, basically–

    Cunningham Falls is that close? That place is awesome. Cool little waterfalls and clean water, as I recall from a childhood visit.

  • Dewey Beach… it’s a way of life… I will be wearing my PoP t-shirt next time I hit the Starboard!

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