Best Beach Towns to Visit Near DC this Summer

David Hatef

Living in Washington, DC means quick day trips or long weekend getaways to many of the country’s most beautiful beaches. Just a few hours away, the stunning destinations along the Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay offer a vast selection of fun activities including swimming, skiing, tubing, boating, and endless viewing of ocean wildlife. Here are just a few of our favorite beach towns for you to check out this summer.

OCEAN CITY, MARYLAND

Distance from DC: 140 miles, 3 hour drive
A local favorite, with it’s 10 miles of white sand, it’s easy to see why this is a popular tourist destination. Ideal for surfing, boating, swimming, sandcastle building, or a simple jog along the beach; you’ll never tire of the views. The bustling beach town offers plenty of shopping, amusements, delicious local seafood, and a famous three-mile Ocean City Boardwalk. There are a wide variety of accommodations and restaurants to make your stay unforgettable. 

ASSATEAGUE ISLAND NATIONAL SEASHORE, MARYLAND

Distance from DC: 140 miles, 2.5-3 hour drive
A favorite among many families because camping is allowed, Assateague is a perfect place for those who love wildlife. Known for sightings of over 300 wild ponies wandering the beaches, it’s also a great place for clamming, sea shelling, bird watching, surf fishing, beach hikes, and swimming. For those who would rather not rough it in the open air, the national park is close enough to Ocean City, Maryland for hotel accommodations. 

BETHANY BEACH-FENWICK ISLAND, DELAWARE

Distance from DC: 128 miles, 2.5-3 hour drive
With plenty of amenities, a laid-back atmosphere, and proximity to the resorts of Ocean City, Maryland and Rehoboth, Delaware, this particular location is recognized as “the Quiet Resorts.” Full of family-oriented amenities and beach towns, it’s a nice little spot when you want to enjoy a more relaxed beach town vibe. 

REHOBOTH BEACH AND DEWEY BEACH, DELAWARE

Distance from DC: 120 miles, 2.5-3 hour drive
The small-town atmosphere of Rehoboth, Delaware is just one of the aspects of its charm. With ample shopping, food vendors and amusements, this location is popular with those who enjoy catamaran sailing, windsurfing, and skimboarding. Great for those who love a day of adventure!

CHINCOTEAGUE ISLAND, VIRGINIA

Distance from DC: 170 miles, 3-3.5 hour drive
If you’re looking for an active weekend away, there’s not better place than Chincoteague, Virginia. You’ll love the endless swimming, boating, biking, and hiking, as well as guided wildlife tours and lighthouse tours. You won’t want to miss the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. This location is among the top staging areas for shorebird migratory in the entire country.

POINT LOOKOUT, MARYLAND

Distance from DC: 83 miles, 2 hour drive
​​​​​​​Close to home, this is a great day trip if you leave early enough. Point Lookout State Park is located on the west side of the Chesapeake Bay and the most southern point of Maryland. It’s an historic site so there are plenty of interesting things to do. Check out the Civil War Museum/Marshland Nature Center and take in a little history and wildlife when you’re not swimming or boating.

CAPE MAY, NEW JERSEY

Distance from DC: 187 miles, 3.5 hour drive
A little longer drive than many of the other beach towns on the list, this one is definitely worth the extra car time. Especially great for a couple’s weekend away, Cape May is an historic beach town full of adorable bed and breakfasts. Perfect for a romantic beach weekend, the area is cozy yet accommodating. If you decide to bring the family, the hotels are more family-oriented and there are plenty of things to do for the whole family. 

OUTER BANKS, NC

Distance from DC: 304 miles, 5 hour drive
A weekend stay may not be long enough once you see the state parks, open-sea beaches, and shipwreck diving sites of this gorgeous destination. Each day you spend can be filled with a plethora of opportunities for the adventurer or for those who like to relax. Enjoy activities such as watching a Lost Colony performance, dining on delicious local seafood, go shelling or sea glass hunting, play a round of golf (or mini-golf for the kids), try a new water sport, or even tag along on a tour of the Alligator River and see a black bear. No matter what you do, you’ll love going phone free for a day and enjoying all that the area has to offer.

What’s your favorite beach destination? We’d love to know where you are headed for some relaxation and sunshine this summer. Let us know in the comments!


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