Do you dread the thought of packing the car for a 2.5+ hour car trip to Delaware and Maryland’s famous beaches or maybe you just can’t make it that far this summer? Below you will find short day trips that will allow you to get your toes sandy and your little ones splashing around without the cost of a hotel and long haul. If you’d rather just get sandy in between grocery runs and camp pick-ups, Rockville’s Pike & Rose has a “beach” set-up (see photo below) with pails and shovels and is conveniently located next to The Baked Bear!
Breezy Point Beach & Campground (43 miles from DC)
Bring the entire family for a fun-filled day at the beach. There’s something for everyone at Breezy Point Beach and Campground. Children will enjoy building sand castles, playing on the playground or searching for shark teeth. Come and spend a relaxing day on one of the area’s finest public beaches. Enjoy one-half mile of sandy beach surrounded by the Chesapeake Bay. Relax in the sun or swim in our netted swimming area. For fishing and crabbing enthusiasts, they have a 200-foot pier. The campground offers seasonal and daily camping. Pack a picnic lunch or use one of the grills in the picnic area.
Calvert Cliffs State Park (60 miles from DC)
The Calvert Cliffs’ Beach area is a sandy quarter mile stretch located on the Chesapeake Bay. The shortest route to the beach is the 1.8 mile Red Trail. Fossil hunting and typical beach activities are common reasons people visit the beach. Over 600 species of fossils from the Miocene era (10 to 20 million years ago) have been identified in the Calvert Cliffs, many of which can be found at Calvert Cliffs State Park.
Cunningham Falls State Park (65 miles from DC)
Outdoor activity is everywhere at Cunningham Falls State Park. Leisure opportunities like swimming, hiking, fishing and canoeing are available. For those who wish to get away for either a night or longer there are campsites and camper cabins available for rental from April through October.
Leesylvania State Park (25 miles from DC)
Leesylvania is nestled along the tidal shores of the historic Potomac River. Native Americans lived on this land for thousands of years. Capt. John Smith visited the area in 1608 on his voyage of discovery! It’s also the ancestral home of Virginia’s legendary Lee and Fairfax families. Listed on the National Register of Historic Landmarks, Leesylvania offers many land and water activities, including hiking, picnicking, fishing and boating. A fishing pier, playground, boat launch, boat storage area, snack bar and store, visitor center and gift shop are available. A 20-station fitness trail and canoe and kayak rentals also are available.
Matapeake Clubhouse & Beach (44 miles from DC)
Located on the Chesapeake Bay on Kent Island, Maryland; the grounds include a public swimming beach, an outdoor amphitheater, family picnic area and trails through the surrounding woods, with views of the Bay Bridge.
Sandy Point State Park (38 miles from DC)
The park’s beaches and picnic areas are well known for their breathtaking scenic water views that overlook one of Maryland’s true treasures; the Chesapeake Bay. Some of these activities and services include swimming beaches, picnicking, fishing, crabbing, boating, hiking and camping, There are areas of historical interest and wildlife viewing also. The park also offers a marina store and boat rentals.
Purse State Park (46 miles from DC)
Purse (part of Nanjemoy WMA) is located on the Potomac River on Wades Bay. Purse is a wooded undeveloped area that is used for hunting, bird watching, shore fishing and fossil hunting. Purse is a part of the Aquia Formation which formed in the Paleocene Epoch about 60 million years ago when a meteor hit the earth. This area was covered with warm shallow water which made it a suitable habitat for sand tiger sharks, mackerel sharks, Turritella (snails) and Eagle Rays more specifically Cownose Rays which all lived during this time period. There are a variety of habitats and miles of marked and unmarked trails. At the end of Wilson Landing Rd. there is an inlet known as Mallows Bay – a unique historical site where you can see the remnants of old ships. Now colonized by plants, these ships serve as osprey nesting platforms and provide fish habitat. There is a boat ramp and the beaches of the Purse Area at the southern end of the property are known for fossil hunting.
Other day trips:
In Shenandoah National Park, hike from waterfall to waterfall, climb the rocky Old Rag Mountain, go biking or take a guided horseback ride. If you need to cool off, head over to Shenandoah River Outfitters and go rafting, tubing or kayaking on the shady river. 75 miles from downtown D.C. at its northernmost point; see all park entrances here.
Take a step back in time in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Although West Virginia is a small state, it’s packed with history and beautiful scenery. Kids will have fun visiting this National Historical Park. Visit Harpers Ferry for the Civil War history and re-enactors. Hike one of the many trails in the area for a spectacular view of three states—West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland—at once. Amtrak provides one train from Union Station to Harpers Ferry per day but it’s a short at about 67 miles from D.C. Harpers Ferry Adventure Center can get your hooked up with kayaks, tubes and more if you’re feeling adventurous. If you happen to go on Monday, be sure and stay for the Music in the Park Concert at Bolivar Children’s Park from 6:30pm-8:30pm.
Depending on the age(s) of your kids, an overnight at The Greenbrier or The Homestead may be a great overnight getaway which provides endless activities! You could also check out Kingsmill Resort or Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg, Va. They cater to your little ones with daily activities and fun in the water and a spa for YOU!