15+ Best Beaches in Northern Virginia (& Within 2 Hours)

While there is always Virginia Beach, Buckroe Beach and Cape Charles Beach, those are about 3+ hours from Northern Virginia.

Here we’ll share all the best beaches in Northern Virginia, the beautiful beaches (within 2 hours) and those that are close for a weekend trip as they’re a bit outside of the area so you can pick the best option for you.

Kayaking at Mason Neck Park
Image Source: Mason Neck Park website

While many people focus on only the big, most popular beaches, there are also some lesser-known as well as shallow beaches that we’ll share here.

These come with all the benefits of the beach, are often surrounded by more nature, white sand and can attract less crowds.

#1 Mason Neck State Park

7301 High Point Rd, Lorton, VA 22079 | Website

In Virginia’s Fairfax County sits Mason Neck State Park. There are many outdoor activities and events available at this park in Northern Virginia.

The park’s amenities include

  • hiking paths
  • a sizable picnic area
  • a playground
  • a car-top canoe launch and
  • a visitor center.

Visitors to the park particularly enjoy guided canoe rides through Kane’s Creek and Belmont Bay as well as birdwatching, particularly for the American bald eagle.

sunset at the lake near Leesylvania State Park
Source: Leesylvania State Park

The park is a great place to study the environment and observe wildlife because it has access to marshes, forests, open water, ponds, and open fields.

It has exceptionally well-kept paths that are ideal for families and dogs!

#2 Leesylvania State Park

2001 Daniel K Ludwig Dr, Woodbridge, VA 22191| Website

In Virginia’s Prince William County’s southeast corner is where you’ll find Leesylvania State Park. This 500-acre state park on the banks of the Potomac River is the birthplace of “Light Horse” Harry Lee, the father of Civil War general Robet E. Lee.

It has a cutting-edge boat launch, sandy beaches for fantastic bass fishing, and hiking paths. Boating at night from March to October. Kayaks and canoes are available for rent.

Exhibitions regarding the local Civil War history are available at Park and Environmental Education Centers.

Public access is available to playgrounds, picnic spaces, and riverfront beaches.

This is an excellent location for a picnic, fishing, trail stroll, or just to unwind by the water.

#3 Colonial Beach (90 minutes away)

Town of Colonial Beach 315 Douglas Avenue Colonial Beach, VA 22443| Website

On the northern tip of Virginia’s Northern Neck peninsula, in Westmoreland County, sits the river and beach community of Colonial Beach. In the late 19th century, Colonial Beach began to develop as a bathing and fishing resort known as the “Playground on the Potomac.”

Colonial Beach
Source: Colonial Beach

Before the invention of the vehicle, most guests arrived from Washington, D.C. by water.

Slot machines were available at Colonial Beach in pier casinos that reached into Maryland waterways. Summers in this region are hot and muggy, whereas winters are often pleasant to chilly.

#4 Aquia Landing Park

2846 Brooke Rd, Stafford, VA 22554 | Website

On a peninsula jutting into the mouth of Aquia Creek sits this 32-acre park, a well-liked area for swimming and fishing.

A sizable marsh, which is home to a variety of songbirds as well as marsh birds like rails, is located on either side of the park’s entrance road.

Snake at Aquia Landing Park
Source: Aquia Landing Park

The highest density of damselflies on the Coastal Phase of the Trail may be found around this marsh’s edge.

Since there are trees in some of the park, many migratory and breeding songbirds can find an attractive environment there.

Watch out for the terns, gulls, and ducks that can be seen soaring above the stream channel.

#5 Lake Anna State Park

6800 Lawyers Rd, Spotsylvania Courthouse, VA 22551| Website

In Virginia’s Spotsylvania County, there is a state park called Lake Anna State Park.

A man-made lake that serves as a park with swimming, boating, and cabins and was once used to cool the nearby nuclear facility. busy but not very congested.

It was great to have a snack bar available with nachos, corn dogs, hot dogs, chips, etc.

Kayaking at Aquia Landing Park
Image Source: Lake Anna website

The grass has shaded places, and there are also some shaded picnic tables.

When you visit Lake Anna State Park, you may go gold panning, stroll along the beach, hike through a forested area, cozy up in a cabin, fish for a prize-winning catch, and so much more. Any time of year, Lake Anna State Park is the ideal location for outdoor adventure or relaxation.

#6 Chesapeake Beach

3656 Shore Dr, Virginia Beach, VA | Website

The little beach known as Chesapeake Beach, often called Chic’s Beach or Chick’s Beach, is located in a residential area on either side of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel in Virginia Beach, Virginia, in the United States. Chic’s was a store where you could buy ice cream and limeade.

This location eventually evolved into Buoy 44 Restaurant. Chic’s and Chick’s Beach have become household names.

There are beach houses, townhouses, duplexes, apartments, condominiums, and single-family homes in this diversified neighborhood.

The east side of the community is bounded by the communities of Baylake Pines and Baylake Beach, while Ocean Park residents have also claimed some of the Chicks Beach area due to its popularity.

#7 Flag Ponds Nature Park

1525 Flag Ponds Pkwy, Lusby, MD 20657 | Website

In Lusby, Maryland, on the Chesapeake Bay in Calvert County, Maryland, there is a nature reserve called Flag Ponds Nature Park.

The park has swimming beaches and natural paths.

From the early 1900s to 1955, the region now occupied by the park served as a hub for pound net fishing. Shark teeth can occasionally be discovered on beaches.

Source: Calvert Park website

Leaving the parking lot requires a short but pleasant walk. Bring your dog with you. The three little ponds near the beach that are home to abundant wild iris (or flag) blooms in May are known as Flag Ponds.

This breathtaking hike covers dense woodland, mountainous terrain, and a boardwalk that spans an open marsh.

You’ll also walk along the edges of Richardson’s Pond, Duncan’s Pond, and Todd’s Pond as well as a side route that leads to an overlook and bathing beach on the Chesapeake Bay.

#8 Greenbrier State Park

1541 Harts Run Rd, Caldwell, WV 24925 | Website

Between Lewisburg and White Sulfur Springs in West Virginia’s Greenbrier County is the 5,133-acre Greenbrier State Forest.

The 5,200-acre Greenbrier State Forest in southeast West Virginia offers hidden natural beauty along with a variety of outdoor activities like fishing, swimming, hiking, and mountain biking.

Visitors can spend a day alone in the forest connecting with nature before leaving for shopping, dining, and the arts because the forest is close to the quaint and historic towns of White Sulfur Springs and Lewisburg.

In addition to offering cottages and camping, Greenbrier State Forest makes a great starting point for bikers using the nearby Greenbrier River Trail.

#9 Purse State Park

Unnamed Road, 10200 Riverside Rd, Nanjemoy, MD 20662 | Website

Wades Bay, on the Potomac River, is where Purse State Park is situated. Purse is a forested, unspoiled area where people go to hunt, view birds, fish, and look for fossils.

A.25-mile trail leading to the shore is available across from parking along Maryland Route 224.

Source: Purse State Park

Only one permanent waterfowl blind is available at Purse, and it is first come, first served. The latter half of the hunting season is prime time for waterfowl hunting. At Purse, finding fossils has grown to be a favorite pastime.

There isn’t much beach available at high tide. Carp, largemouth bass, white perch, and many other fish species can be caught at Wades Bay.

#10 Seneca Creek State Park

11950 Clopper Rd, Gaithersburg, MD 20878 | Website

Seneca Creek runs through the 6,300-acre park for 14 picturesque miles as it flows toward the Potomac River.

The 90-acre Clopper Lake, which is encircled by farmland and forests in the Clopper Day-Use Area, is one of several picturesque locations there. Its recreational options include paths, a tyre playground, boat rentals, and picnic areas.

The history of the area is explained with a self-guided route and a 19th-century cabin that has been rebuilt.

There are more than 50 miles of trails available for equestrian riding, bicycling, and hiking that wind through a variety of environments.

#11 Janes Island State Park

580 Taylor Ave., Annapolis, MD 21401 | Website

The Janes Island State Park, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore not far from Crisfield, provides visitors with a special chance to take in the splendor and wealth of the Chesapeake Bay.

Over 2,900 acres of saltmarsh, over 30 miles of water trails, and miles of secluded, undeveloped beaches may be found on Janes Island, the park’s island part.

Janes Island, a home for birds, fish, crabs, and other saltmarsh residents, offers tourists a serene location to explore the bay’s fauna while taking in the panoramic views and breathtaking sunsets.

Visitors to Janes Island will encounter a world still governed by the weather, the tides, and the animals that first lured people to this extremely rare spot, whether they are fishing or crabbing, motor boating, paddling, or just relaxing.

#12 Gunpowder Falls State Park

2813 Jerusalem Road Kingsville, MD 21087 | Website

We love going to the Hammerman Area of Gunpowder Falls State Park.

They have 1500-feet of beach area to enjoy along the Gunpowder River.

We enjoy visiting because there are a lot more fun activities to enjoy in this wonderful park like:

  • More than 120 miles of multi-use trails
  • State-protected wildlands
  • Historic sites
  • Fishing
  • Kayaking
  • Canoeing
  • A swimming beach
  • A marina

#13 Sandy Point State Park

1100 E College Pkwy, Annapolis, MD 21409 | Website

The 0.25 acre Sandy Point State Park project site was transformed from a landscape management area into a forested wetland.

This is a nice place for families to enjoy the beach area!

Sandy Point State Park
Source: Sandy Point State Park

This park has all the facilities such as restrooms, showers, a family-friendly atmosphere, barbecue pits, and playgrounds.

#14 Westmoreland State Park (2 hours away)

145 Cliff Road, Montross, VA 22520 | Website

Virginia’s Westmoreland County is home to Westmoreland State Park. The 1,299-acre park, which stretches for approximately 1.5 miles along the Potomac River, is situated close to the old residences of both George Washington and Robert E. Lee.

Visitors to the park can enjoy a breathtaking view of the Potomac River from the Horsehead Cliffs. Westmoreland State Park includes hiking, camping, cottages, fishing, boating, and swimming in addition to its breathtaking scenery.

Vacation cabins are available for guests to use in the park.

Camping, cabins, group camping, and Potomac River Retreat are all available. This unusual residence resembles a timeshare or resort and overlooks the Potomac River.

It is situated in the park on the main road close to the pool parking lot and has a capacity for 16 people, both adults and children.

Other Beaches Beyond Northern Virginia

If you’re willing to venture farther than Northern Virginia, here are the closest beaches to Northern Virginia so you can get away for the weekend (or longer!) but still not be too far from home.

#15 Belle Isle State Park (2 1/2 hours)

1632 Belle Isle Rd, Lancaster, VA 22503| Website

On the Rappahannock River in Lancaster County, Virginia, is where you’ll find Belle Isle State Park. There are three picnic areas on Belle Isle, as well as horseback riding, biking, and motorboating routes.

Bel Air Mansion and Bel Air Guest House both offer overnight accommodations.

The park also provides

  • educational events,
  • a boardwalk
  • and fishing pier,
  • a playground with access for all ages,
  • and rentals for bicycles,
  • canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards.

Numerous predatory species, including blue herons, osprey, hawks, and bald eagles, have homes in the park’s various environments.

Other common animals include:

  • White-tailed deer
  • Turkeys
  • Groundhogs
  • Rabbits
  • Squirrels
  • Moles
  • Reptiles
  • Amphibians

The park contains wetlands of eight different varieties. Belle Isle is a fantastic outdoor laboratory for environmental teaching because of its various habitats.

#16 Yorktown Beach (2 hours, 45 minutes)

425 Water Street Yorktown, VA 23690 | Website

This 2-acre public beachfront, which is part of Historic Yorktown, is one of the few in Hampton Roads to include a Mobi-Mat and Mobi Chair for those in wheelchairs. It is geared for family pleasure.

The beach is ideal for boating, swimming, fishing, and sunbathing.

To explore the neighborhood, you can hire bikes, kayaks, and paddleboards from Patriot Tours & Provisions.

For a history, pirate, or sunset sail on the York River, you may also reserve a seat on the Schooner Alliance.

Additionally, there are bathrooms, motels, bed & breakfasts, stores, and a number of restaurants close by.

After requesting a special permit from York County, the beach picnic area is available year-round for company outings, picnics, family reunions, and other authorized uses.

#17 Dewey Beach (2 hours, 45 minutes)

Town of Dewey Beach 105 Rodney Ave. Dewey Beach, DE 19971| Website

The coastal community of Dewey Beach is located in Delaware’s eastern Sussex County. Daytime sunshine and shinier moods at night. The rock and roll soul and young and restless attitude of the Dewey Beach way of life.

Source: Dewey Beach

The area is blessed with wide ocean beaches on one side, a bay on the other, and restaurants and entertainment venues that occupy every square inch of space in between.

Find your perfect moment at Dewey Beach, where you may enjoy the historic boardwalks, seaside restaurants, state park exploration, antique and boutique shopping, and more.

#18 Virginia Beach (3 1/2 hours)

2100 Parks Ave, Virginia Beach, VA 23451| Website

Where the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean converge is Virginia Beach, a coastal settlement in southeast Virginia.

Virginia Beach, a thriving coastal city, is home to a thriving local culinary scene, a rich history, a variety of arts and entertainment venues, and family-friendly attractions that keep both locals and visitors entertained all year long.

The distinctive districts, which are in the Coastal Virginia area, are open and thriving throughout the year, and the locals are eager to show you how they live happily.

#19 False Cape State Park (4 hours)

4001 Sandpiper Rd, Virginia Beach, VA 23456 | Website

False Cape State Park offers six miles of undeveloped beaches in an ocean-to-freshwater bay environment in addition to dunes, woods, farm fields, salt marshes, maritime forests, and wooded swamps.

With over 300 species of

  • nesting and migratory songbirds,
  • shorebirds,
  • and ducks (including a population of 10,000 returning snow geese),
  • otters,
  • white-tailed deer,
  • red fox,
  • loggerhead turtles,
  • American bald eagles,
  • feral pigs,
  • wild horses,
  • and a variety of interesting reptiles,

….the area is abundant with wildlife

Visitors can take a tram into the park’s center and then explore on foot from April through October.

Throughout the rest of the year, Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge offers boat and foot access to the park.

#20 Ocean City (3 hours)

4001 Coastal Hwy Ocean City, Ocean City 21801| Website

We love visiting Ocean City! It’s close enough to get to often while still being far enough to get away from it all.

Plus, there are so many fun things to do in Ocean City when you’re done at the beach!

It has kilometers of beach and a wooden boardwalk with hotels, stores, and restaurants along it. Trimper’s Rides, located near the southern end of the boardwalk, has long offered amusement park rides.

Source: Ocean City

Kayaks and tour boats are frequently seen on the local seas, some of which travel to the nearby popular Assateague Island.

The season is October, but it feels like an interminable summer. Autumn in Ocean City, Maryland, is synonymous with trips to the beach, bike rides, and nonstop entertainment.

#21 Chincoteague Island & National Wildlife Refuge (3.5 hours) 

8231 Beach Rd, Chincoteague, VA 23336 | Website

Chincoteague Island is such a fun place to visit! There is not only the beautiful beach and nature to enjoy like the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, there are so many other fun things to do on Chincoteague Island for kids and families.

Our family loves to take one of the amazing Chincoteague boat tours for a unique experience and you get to see and learn so much more.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service manages the 14,000-acre Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge as a wildlife refuge.

Visitors have a fantastic opportunity to immerse themselves in the wildlife and wildlands of Virginia’s Eastern Shore at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.

Source: Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge

There are several possibilities to search out the 275+ bird species that make their refuge their home throughout the year thanks to their 15 miles of hiking trails and pristine shoreline.

Visit Assateague Lighthouse to learn more about the area’s rich cultural heritage, or observe Chincoteague ponies grazing on their saltmarsh.

On their enchanted island, there is something for everyone to enjoy, from fishing and hunting to photography and riding.

#22 Sandbridge Beach (4 hours)

Sandfiddler Road Virginia Beach, VA 23456 | Website

Sandbridge is a remote beach retreat with 5 miles of unspoiled sand dunes and dancing sea oats, situated 15 miles south of (and 180° opposite) the Resort Area of Virginia Beach.

On your holiday, you may actually slow down and unwind in this tranquil and calming community. The Atlantic never fails to amuse the beachside.

In addition, False Cape State Park and Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge offer excellent kayaking, hiking, and fishing opportunities in their marshes and open waterways.

#23 Assateague Island National Seashore (3 hours)

7206 National Seashore Ln, Berlin, MD 21811| Website

A long barrier island off the coasts of Maryland and Virginia is home to the Assateague Island National Seashore, a protected region. It is well-known for its Atlantic beaches as well as for its trails that meander through marshland, sand dunes, and pine forests.

Source: Assateague Island National Seashore

Visit a location where the ocean’s wind and waves replicate every day. On Assateague Island, life has adjusted to a mobile way of life.

Explore the coastal bays, salt marshes, and sand beaches. Spend some time unwinding, having fun, and relaxing on the edge of the continent.

#24 Bethel Beach Natural Area Preserve (3 hours)

State Rte 609, Onemo, VA 23130| Website

In Mathews County, Virginia, close to the Chesapeake Bay, there is a 105-acre natural area preserve called Bethel Beach Natural Area Preserve.

The beach, which is really a spit, can be walked both north and south to the tidal cut. The beach is home to the northeastern beach tiger beetle, a federally threatened bug that thrives in the fine sand.

Over 185 bird species, including 25 kinds of shorebirds, have been seen here in addition to the beatles.

Source: Bethel Beach

Shorebirds that frequent the area in the fall include American golden plovers and stilt sandpipers; keep an eye out for rails, bitterns, and sparrows in the marsh.

Snow bunting, northern gannet, tundra swan, and many other species of waterfowl can be seen during the winter.

#25 Barrier Island (3 hours, 45 minutes)

7295 Young Street, Machipongo, VA 23405 | Website

It is a community hub where visitors and locals are welcomed with the same warmth as those whose ancestors first settled on the Eastern Shore centuries ago.

Here, watermen, farmers, artists, and businesspeople come together to appreciate the beauty and wealth of this coastal region.

It is an innovative educational tool that gives youngsters from small towns and rural areas a solid foundation in history and the arts while also giving city kids traveling to the Eastern Shore a taste of rural life.

It is a museum that maintains the islanders’ past culture through artistic, immersive galleries that invite you to stay and dream or relax and be lured into lovely films that highlight the challenges and victories of this rural way of life.

#26 Kiptopeke State Park (4 hours)

3540 Kiptopeke Dr, Cape Charles, VA 23310 | Website

The northern swim beach at Kiptopeke is around half a mile long. Swimming, fishing, crabbing, boating, and leashed pets are all permitted on South Beach. Some of Virginia’s best fishing may be found off the park’s waterfront on the concrete ships.

A state park called Kiptopeke State Park is situated near the southernmost point of Virginia’s Eastern Shore. The park offers camping in RVs and tents, 4 cottages, a bunkhouse, and 4 yurts, all of which sleep 16.

More than 5 kilometers of hiking and biking paths may be found throughout the park. A hike along the southern shore is ideal.

Visitors can discover Kiptopeke’s dune structure by walking along the vast boardwalks that connect the southern beach and upland Baywoods Trail.

The Raptor, Songbird, Chickadee, and Mockingbird paths, as well as the road leading into the park, have designated bike lanes.

#27 Croatan Beach (3 1/2 hours)

604 Fort Raleigh Drive Virginia Beach, VA 23451| Website

Croatan Beach sunset
Source: Croatan Beach

In the autonomous city of Virginia Beach in the United States, Croatan Beach is a residential area. Seasonal lifeguard services are offered to surfers and swimmers alike, and they are located all along the beachfront.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the prettiest beach in Virginia?

Some of the prettiest beaches in Northern Virginia are Colonial Beach, local beaches like the state parks: Leesylvania State Park and Lake Anna State Park.

Assateague Island and Chincoteague Island have beautiful beaches and there are also lots of fun things for kids and families to do while visiting the islands.

Are there any beaches in Northern Virginia?

There are lots of beaches in Northern Virginia and some may surprise you. There are several state parks that have wonderful beach areas including Mason Neck State Park and Leeslyvania State Park. You’ll find a list of 15+ beaches in Northern Virginia here.

What is the most northern beach in Virginia?

Colonial Beach is the most northern beach in Virginia.

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Michaela Lee

Michaela lives in Northern Virginia and is a mom of 2 young kids. She enjoys writing, reading and going new places with her family.