Top 10 Beaches Near the DC Area

No, Waikiki isn't on the list — we're looking at the best beaches within an easy drive of the DMV.

Are beaches open in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia? Yes — just be aware of local masking rules and stay mindful of social distancing. Here's information from Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina and Virginia.

Get ready to vacuum the sand out of your car.

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We feel like the islands of Assateague (which has land in both Maryland and Virginia) and Chincoteague, Virginia, end up on a lot of Top 10 lists — but there are wild ponies! On the beach! Set up your tent for beach-front camping. (Just be sure to hide your food from the ponies.) On Assateague's Virginia side, you can join a nature cruise to see the wildlife refuge. One note of warning, though: This is an untamed area, so bring along that mosquito repellent. DISTANCE: 170 miles from downtown D.C.
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Sandy dunes open up to 70 miles of mostly undeveloped beaches at Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The open-ocean waves are great for surfing or boogie boarding, or you can visit historic lighthouses. Drive to the southern end and you’ll find Ocracoke Beach, which Dr. Beach declared one of the best in the nation. Beach driving and bonfires are allowed here with a proper permit. DISTANCE: 330 miles from downtown D.C. to Hatteras Island Visitor Center
You'll find pretty much everything you need from a seaside town in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. We're talking go-karts, mini-golf, hang-gliding, boardwalk games and rides for kids — plus frozen custard, obviously. Rehoboth is also home to some fantastic farm-to-table restaurants, so if boardwalk cuisine isn't your thing, you will definitely still be quite happy here. Dewey Beach offers a slightly quieter atmosphere from busier, more crowded cousin Rehoboth. DISTANCE: 120 miles from downtown D.C.
We're putting Cape May and Wildwood, New Jersey, together because it's easy to do both in a single weekend. On the southernmost point of New Jersey's barrier islands, Cape May is famous for its eye-popping Victorian mansions and B&Bs (and the historic tours that go along with them). Its neighbor to the north, Wildwood, offers a more typical shore experience on a larger scale than its Delaware counterparts, with a different kind of retro via its 1950s-era motels. You'll also find the requisite boardwalk, tons of rides and two water parks. Just "watch the tram car, please." DISTANCE: 185 miles from downtown D.C.
Ocean City, Maryland, is a destination that kids (or your own inner child) will love. Go for water slides, boardwalk rides and haunted houses, or head to the water to parasail, kayak, surf or, you know, just swim. You can also catch free concerts and movies many nights during summer. DISTANCE: 145 miles from downtown D.C.
Sophia Barnes
Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head are among the most easily accessible towns in North Carolina’s Outer Banks if you’re coming from the D.C. area. Swim, surf, charter a boat or go fishing off the Avalon Pier. There are also historic sites devoted to the lost colony on Roanoke and the Wright Brothers’ first flight. DISTANCE: 270 miles from downtown D.C.
Aside from outdoor activities from fishing to kayaking to dolphin watching, Virginia Beach also offers a boardwalk full of rides and restaurants, plenty of festivals, bars, clubs and breweries, plus the Virginia Aquarium and the Military Aviation Museum. DISTANCE: 210 miles from downtown D.C.
Bethany Beach markets itself as a "quiet resort," offering a more serene option away from the party-hardy bustle of some other spots. There's a limited number of bars, but plenty to do in the way of water sports, a farmers' market, a water park, pirate mini-golf, a boardwalk and movies on the beach. Catch free live music at the Boardwalk Bandstand on weekend nights. You can find something to do in Bethany right up until the end of summer when the town famously bids goodbye to the season with a jazz funeral. DISTANCE: 125 miles from downtown D.C.
That other Ocean City (the one in New Jersey) offers plenty of family-friendly fun, with a boardwalk that — although often crowded — features a ton of rides and all the old faves when it comes to shore food, including pizza and fried Oreos. What else could you want? DISTANCE: 192 miles from downtown D.C.
Craving fresh seafood? Tilghman Island, a traditional watermen’s village just off the mainland, has just what you're looking for. Sit down for waterfront dining on the Chesapeake Bay and spend the night at a cozy B&B. One note of warning: If you're looking to swim, you'll be disappointed, because there's no swimming area, but you can still sail, fish, kayak or paddleboard. If you absolutely must swim during your trip, consider an inn with a pool, such as the Black Walnut Point Inn. DISTANCE: 90 miles from downtown D.C.
Headed to the beach? Tag NBC Washington in your photos on Instagram.

The beaches on this list are open to visitors in 2021, but be mindful of local rules on masking. Be aware that some businesses may have different hours or capacity rules. Here's information from the states of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.

The best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is to get vaccinated, health experts say.
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