10 Places to Swim If You Want to Avoid Bay Bridge Traffic

Rivers, lakes and bays: Here's where to go when you want to swim in a natural body of water... but you can't bear to brave the Chesapeake Bay Bridge traffic.

12 photos
Getty Images
Plunge into a fresh-water quarry via rope swing or spend the afternoon swimming in one of two pools at Beaver Dam Swim Club. If you need a break from the water, hit up one of the club's basketball or volleyball courts, or use the club's grilling facilities to make up your own feast. You can bring your own food and drinks, but alcohol is not allowed. See admission fees here.
nWhere: 10820 Beaver Dam Road, Cockeysville, Maryland
nOpens: Open starting Sunday, May 26
nHours: Weekends and holidays 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; weekdays 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
nDistance from D.C.: 57 miles
You can swim or fish (or both) at the surprisingly close Lake Anna, one of Virginia's larges freshwater lakes. Other nearby attractions include vineyards, antiques shops, golf, historic sites and the Kings Dominion theme park. If you're just day-tripping, be sure to arrive early because the parking area closes once it hits capacity, but you'll also find plenty of nearby lodging.
nWhere: 6800 Lawyers Road, Spotsylvania Courthouse, Virginia
nOpens: Saturday, May 25
n Hours Weekends and holidays 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; weekdays from May 27 to Aug. 9, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; hours TBD from Aug. 11 to Labor Day
nDistance from D.C. 84 miles
Beth Brown, News4
Sink your toes into the sand or take a dip in the water at the pristine waterfront of North Beach on Maryland's western shore, south of Annapolis. Looking for some exercise? Rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard at the Welcome Center. (Note: No lifeguards are on duty, so swimming is at your own risk.) See beach fees here. Special events include monthly movies on the beach.
nWhere: 9023 Bay Ave., North Beach, Maryland
nOpen: The beach and bathrooms are open year-round from dawn until dark.
nDistance from D.C. 34 miles
Float along the pristine Shenandoah River for gorgeous views of downtown Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, after renting an inner tube from the Harpers Ferry Adventure Center (37410 Adventure Center Lane, Purcellville, Virginia). While there, you can also go ziplining, rafting or take a ropes course. Lodging is available on the grounds via cabins and riverside or mountain-top camping.
nHours: See all hours here.
nDistance from D.C.: 64 miles
The James River Park System (including Pony Pasture Rapids Park, pictured) runs along both sides of the James River as it passes through Richmond, which the city says makes it the only U.S. city to have Class IV white water rapids right in the middle of downtown. Enjoy kayaking, tubing, hiking, rock climbing, swimming and nearly any other outdoor activity you might want.
nWhere: Pony Pasture Rapids, 7200 Riverside Drive, Richmond, Virginia
nSwimming information: Go here
nDistance from D.C.: 111 miles
Getty Images
Hunting Creek Lake at Cunningham Falls State Park has three designated swimming areas where you can cool off. Looking to extend your stay? Make it a weekend getaway by renting a nearby camper cabin.
nWhere: William Houck Campground, 14039 Catoctin Hollow Road, Thurmont, Maryland
nOpens: Memorial Day, May 27
nHours: 11 a.m.- 6 p.m.
nDistance from D.C. 70 miles
Megan McGrath, NBC4
Stroll the boardwalk at swim in the bay at the nearby Chesapeake Beach on Maryland's western shore, south of Annapolis. Note: There's no lifeguard at the beach, so swim at your own risk. See beach fees here. Looking for more active fun? Head to the Chesapeake Beach Water Park, which opens for the 2019 season on Saturday, May 25.
nHours: Bay Front Park (Brownie's Beach) is open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. See admission fees here.nDistance from D.C.: 35 miles
CORRECTION: May 24, 2017, 5:05 p.m.: An earlier image incorrectly showed North Beach instead of Chesapeake Beach. This slide has been updated with an image of Chesapeake Beach.
Watch a stunning sunrise over the Chesapeake Bay or spend a day out on the water with a boat rental. Grills and picnic tables next to the beach at Sandy Point State Park make this the perfect spot for an afternoon cookout.
nWhere: 1100 E. College Parkway, Annapolis, Maryland
nOpens: Memorial Day
nHours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekends and holidays
nDistance from D.C.: 37 miles
Bill Crabtree Jr., Virginia Tourism Corporation
Virginia's Northern Neck region offers multiple beaches, quaint inns and plenty of shops. If you're in search of a swim, consider Windmill Point (good for families and weaker swimmers), Hughlett Point (surrounded by forests and a good spot to launch kayaks or paddleboards), Belle Isle State Park (which also offers cabins and camping) or Colonial Beach (a town great for fans of water sports).
Distance from D.C. Mileage varies on your specific destination. Colonial Beach is 63 miles from D.C., while Hughlett Point is 123 miles.
The star attraction of the 3,000-acre Rocky Gap State Park is Lake Habeeb, which offers two public beaches surrounded by the scenic Evitts Mountain. Camping, cabins, and hot and cold food are also available.
Where: 12500 Pleasant Valley Road NE, Flintstone, Maryland
Distance: 131 miles
nNOTE: Stock image
Didn't see your fave spot listed? Look for it in our other galleries:
Top 10 BeachesTop 10 Day Trips Less Than 100 Miles From DC
Top 10 Weekend Getaways
Top 10 Virginia Getaways
Top 10 Maryland Getaways
Contact Us