While the ocean beaches are big and beautiful, hidden gems of bay beaches line the eastern seaboard. While searching for day trip ideas, I came across a relatively unknown spot known as North Beach. Driving from DC to Maryland takes only one hour. Traffic is a breeze because you bypass the Bay Bridge by driving to Calvert County.
I consider North Beach a smaller version of Bethany Beach in Delaware. The small, bay beach has a seven block waterfront, which includes a fishing pier, half-mile-long boardwalk and bike path. The boardwalk is sprinkled with benches and flower beds allowing visitors to sit on the dock of the bay per say. For those that want to enjoy the bay minus the sun exposure, there is a canopied tent.
One difference with North Beach is that visitors have to pay to get onto the actual beach. While this shocked my husband, I didn’t mind shelling out the money because they do not want people trashing the property. The beach was extremely clean. Beach Pass fees vary depending on where you live and valid ID is required. Calvert County residents pay $4-$5. Out of county visitors are admitted free for children 2 and under. Children ages 3-11 and active military cost $8 and adults are $12/person. A family of five can invest in the season pass for $200, which guarantees a summer of fun. You can bring your own chairs, umbrellas, small coolers are welcome on the beach. Chair rentals will set you back $5 and $10 for an umbrella. Stand up paddle board, single or double kayak, and bicycles can be rented by the hour or day, with the cost being cheaper to rent for the day. Even those who want to do a bit of fishing can rent poles and crab traps on the pier. All beach passes and rentals must be purchased at the Welcome Center. They accept cash, Visa and Mastercard and also have an ATM. Restrooms, showers and changing rooms are located behind the Welcome Center. For additional information on the opening times to purchase passes, visit the website.
Once you don your wristband and it is checked by an employee, you can descend the steps to the sandy beach. There are virtually no waves and the water was surprisingly warm. You can walk out far without the water being too deep. The small, enclosed area is lined with rocks on one side and the pier on the other. There is no lifeguard on duty so swim at your own risk. Several ducks and the occasional seagull flew and glided in and out of the water. Kids will love the pirate ship playground. Simple in design with a slide and two swings, the underbelly of the ship led my child to compare the cool sand compared to that which lay in the sun. Comb the beach for shells and maybe find some shark’s teeth (Calvert County has lots of areas with fossils). At 2pm on a Friday afternoon, there were a total of seven families on the beach. Despite that the beach area is small, the amount of people meant we had plenty of room to soak up the sun.
There is a snack stand with funnel cakes, snow cones, hot dogs, and drinks across from the welcome center. In addition to restroom facilities, there are portable toilets across the street from the boardwalk. Free visitor parking is located at the southeast corner of Chesapeake Avenue and 5th Street, one block from the beach. There is also free, but limited, 2 hour parking located by the boardwalk.
We were told that by 5pm, the town would be jammed with people attending the Friday Night Farmers’ Market Classic Car Cruise-In and Art Fair. The events are held every Friday from May-October from 6 to 9 pm. They also have ongoing free summer concerts and movies on the beach.
North Beach is more than a beach with a few shops and restaurants. We headed to the Wetlands Overlook Park, but were disappointed. A prime spot for birdwatchers, the area is very small and has no parking as it’s positioned at the end of a residential street. We didn’t make it to the Bayside History Museum filled with exhibits on the history of the Chesapeake Bay communities. There is a nice, fenced playground less than two blocks from the boardwalk.
Before you enter North Beach you pass Chesapeake Beach. This town boasts the Chesapeake Beach water park, which allows for a perfect day trip. North Beach has everything that I want when visiting a beach: clean, quiet, and great for families with younger children.
Photos by Kathleen Molloy.