The one thing Washington, D.C. is missing is a close beach, but luckily, there are some incredible beaches only a few hours drive away. Whether you prefer a quiet getaway or an active vacation, you can find party towns, quiet towns, shopping havens, nature preserves and enough miles of beautiful beaches to satisfy all of your ocean cravings this summer. So don’t worry if you found the perfect vacation rental in Washington, D.C., all you need is car keys, and you’ll be splashing in the water in just a few hours. Here are 10 of the best beaches around Washington, D.C. to add to your summer bucket list.
1. Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland
This national park is known for more than 300 wild ponies wandering the beaches. This is a great place for bird watching, seashell collecting, clamming, swimming, surf fishing, beach hiking and more. Keep in mind that since this is a national park, so camping is allowed but there aren’t any accommodations in the area.
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2. Bethany Beach-Fenwick Island, Delaware
Bethany Beach and Fenwick are known as “the Quiet Resorts,” and the destination is perfect for those looking for a relaxing getaway. Both are family-oriented beach towns with lots of amenities and Bethany, in addition to its beach, offers state parks, museums and gardens. Another extra bonus is that there’s plenty of tax-free shopping.
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3. Cape May, New Jersey
This beautiful, historic beach town is full of cozy bed and breakfasts making it one of the most romantic beach resorts in the country, and the family-oriented vacation rentals make it perfect for summer vacation fun. In addition to finding the accommodations that are just right for you, you’ll find the beach that’s right for you too. The three and half hour drive from Washington, D.C., is completely worth it to have an unforgettable weekend adventure in your New Jersey vacation rental.
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4. Chincoteague Island, Virginia
Chincoteague is the gateway to the Virginia portion of Assateague Island, but it’s also an excellent, fun-filled tourist destination to explore. You’ll find great places for hiking, biking, lighthouse tours, guided wildlife tours, swimming, boating, fishing and more. While you’re here, be sure to visit Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, one of the top five shorebird migratory staging areas in the United States.
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5. Rehoboth Beach and Dewey Beach, Delaware
Rehoboth is a bustling beach community with a small town atmosphere. Rehoboth is one square mile of pure fun, with a mile-long boardwalk including arcades, a small amusement park, bandstand musical entertainment and lots of shopping and food vendors. Dewey beach is just down the road and is popular for water sports such as skimboarding, windsurfing and catamaran sailing. You’ll also discover bars, live music venues and night clubs for late night revelry.
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6. Lewes, Delaware
Lewes is a small historic beach town with restaurants, shops, museums and cute bed and breakfasts. You’ll find the public beach on the Delaware Bay, which is a great beach for young children. Nearby is Cape Henlopen State Park where the Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean boasting you’ll find sand dunes, nature trails, recreation and designated swimming areas.
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7. Ocean City, Maryland
If you really want to escape the Washington crowd, Ocean City in New Jersey is just a few hours north of the city and has 10 miles of white sand beaches along the Atlantic Ocean. It’s ideal for swimming, surfing, kite flying, sand castle building, jogging and much more. This bustling beach town also has amusement parks, arcades, miniature golf courses, shopping malls, an Outlet shopping center, movie theaters and go-kart tracks. The fun goes on and on, and you’ll want to be coming back to your Ocean City vacation rental for years to come.
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8. Virginia Beach, Virginia
Virginia Beach, where the Chesapeake Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean, is the largest city in the Commonwealth of Virginia. This family-friendly destination is a hot spot for vacationers thanks to its a large boardwalk, nightclubs, live events, restaurants, and hotels. Virginia Beach is also known for great golf courses and wildlife viewing at its state parks.
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9. Sandy Point, Maryland
At only 37 miles, Sandy Point State Park is the closest beach to the Washington, D.C. area. Located in Anne Arundel County, this beach offers recreational activities including swimming, fishing, crabbing, boating and windsurfing. The Bay is also perfect for children to wade and splash because the water is shallow and calm. There are a concession stand and snack machines, but bringing a picnic from home is always a good bet. Keep in mind that weekends can get packed, so arrive early to grab a good spot and book your vacation rental in advance.
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10. Point Lookout, Maryland
Point Lookout State Park is located on the west side of the Chesapeake Bay at the most southern point of Maryland. Here, you can enjoy great views as well as swimming, fishing, boating and camping. Point Lookout is also a historic site and the location of a prison camp during the Civil War. You can visit the Civil War Museum or the Marshland Nature Center to learn about the area’s history and its wildlife.
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