Lying along the western shoreline of the Chesapeake Bay, Sandy Point State Park in Annapolis Maryland is a very popular beach with lots of fun for kids and families.
If you’re not up for a drive to the Atlantic coast to hit the beach, Sandy Point Beach is a great option much closer to home.
While the kids always love playing in the water, I always enjoy the breathtaking scenic water views (one of Maryland’s true treasures – the Chesapeake Bay). It’s so relaxing!
From the shore you can see the Sandy Point Shoal Lighthouse which as built in 1883 and is a bright red color. The view with the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in the background is just amazing!
This 786-acre park is well-known for its swimming beaches and picnic area. And in this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know before you go with kids.
Things to Do at Sandy Point State Park
Aside from swimming and playing in the sand there are a variety of recreational activities that can be enjoyed at Sandy Point.
You can walk on the trails, go fishing or crabbing, rent a boat at the Marina, let your kids play on the playground or play beach volleyball.
There is also a free area to launch your small watercraft such as canoes and kayaks.
Sandy Point Beach offers various activities depending on the season including:
- 1-mile of sandy beach front
- Guarded swim areas
- 2 short hiking trails (Symbi trail and Blue Crab trail)
- Picnic areas with grilles
- Fishing pier & crabbing piers
- Nature Center
You can see a map of the full area here.
Swimming at Sandy Point State Park Beach
Sandy Point Beach is a swimming beach!
The 1-mile beach area at Sandy Point is patrolled by lifeguards from 10am to 6pm from Memorial Day thru Labor Day.
Before heading to the beach, there are beach chair and umbrella rentals available which are definitely worth it if you don’t have your own already.
The beach is wide with course sand and a lot of shells and rocks. The water remains shallow after a quick one foot drop off and the waves here are very small (and only come after boats have passed).
If you have kids who are not big ocean swimmers or you’re not a fan of the ocean water, you’ll enjoy the calmness of swimming in the bay. Tubes, floats and noodles are allowed on the guarded beaches.
After everyone is done playing in the water, there are shower facilities so you can get cleaned up before getting in the car.
Hiking at Sandy Point State Park
The park has 2 trails, The Symbi trail and The Blue Crab trail.
The Symbi trail provides views of the planted pine forest and leads to a neighboring marsh. You’ll find this trail located behind the first large picnic area on the right when you arrive at the park.
The Blue Crab trail is the shorter of the two and provides a lot of cover from the tress which is a nice break from the heat. It also gives you more opportunities to see local birds. You’ll find this park near the craft parking lot (see the park map here).
Picnicking at Sandy Point State Park
You are welcome to eat on the beach or at one of many picnic tables located on the grassy area.
Sandy Point State Park is a trash free park so be sure to pack some trash bags if you are bringing a picnic lunch or snacks with you.
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Picnic areas and covered shelters are available for rent through the park service to accommodate larger groups. For those not wanting to pack a lunch, head to the snack bar where items like nachos, hot dogs, smoothies and ice cream are available for purchase. Visa and Mastercard are accepted.
Note: boat rentals are temporarily suspended due to a shortage of staff. Check here to see if they have started rentals again or call 410-974-2149.
At the park you can rent:
Next to the marina store, is the park’s marina facility which has 22 boat launching ramps and six finger piers for day use on a first-served basis if you want to bring your own kayak, paddloeboard, hobie cats or other small vessels.
The Nature Center
The Sandy Point Nature Center is located in between the concession stand building and the south beach playground.
This is one of the area’s nature centers where you can learn about plants and animals in the Chesapeake Bay. There are some hands-on activities like:
- Play I spy
- See bird wingspans and compare yours
- Look in the aquarium
- See some Bay creatures
- See a number of exhibits (bilingual English-Spanish)
The Nature Center also has some good events like birdhouse painting and even beach cleanups. We have come for a couple of events now and then typically stay to enjoy the park afterwards.
Wildlife & Birding
Sandy Point State Park is one of the best birding spots in Maryland as there are several types of habitats within the park. There are lots of great places to see a variety of birds.
For example, you can check for Gulls in the jetties and we’ve seen peregrine falcons a number of times under the Bat Bridge.
In the off season, the habitat has a completely different look and the Double-crested Cormorants, wild turkey and others can be seen.
In late spring you’ll find tons of different birds like the wood duck, osprey, hermit thrush, fox sparrow and many more.
My kids and I have a running list of what we see at the park, especially as we visit during different seasons.
If you are more into wildlife viewing, definitely hike one of the park’s trails.
The Marina Store
The Marina Store is located near the boat launch ramps and is open from mid-April to mid-October. This is the closest place to purchase items like:
- Fuel for boats
- Picnic supplies
- Fishing and crabbing supplies
The Sandy Point State Park fee is a daily admission fee which differs depending on the time of year you visit.
From May 1 to September 30th, admission is $5 per person on weekends and holidays and $4 per person during the week.
The fee is $3 per vehicle from October 1st to April 30th.
Active military and dependents, all with IDs, enter the park without charge.
There is no charge for kids who are in carseats.
If you plan to visit regularly, you may want to consider purchasing a season pass which you can do at the contact station when entering or online here.
When to Go & Hours of Operation
The Park is open 7am to dusk year-round (except for Christmas Day). The only time the hours change is from Mid-November to early January for the Lights on the Bay program.
Hours during this time of year are from 7am to 4pm.
Consider a visit on a weekday to avoid the bridge traffic heading to the Eastern Shore.
As you can imagine, the park gets pretty crowded during the summer months, especially on the weekends.
As you begin to enter the toll area on Route 50, the exit for the park is to the right just as you begin to enter the toll area on route 50 which can be backed up for miles on Saturday mornings.
The boat ramps and fishing areas are open 24/7, although it’s important to note that all visitors need to be actively fishing (including children) if coming after hours.
There are two large parking lots near the beach.
If you are given a choice (sometimes guards direct you where to go), choose the South lot as it gives you closer access to the guarded beach, the south bathhouse, first aid station and snack bar.
What to Bring
- Water shoes
- Beach chair
- Beach tent or umbrella
- Tubes, floats, noodles, etc.
- Picnic lunch
- Bug spray
- Lots of water
Sandy Point State Park Map
Before heading out to the park, use the park map to get familiar with where everything is located so you can maximize your time in or on the water.
Getting To Sandy Point State Park
Sandy Point Beach is located at 1100 East College Parkway Annapolis MD 21409 at the end of East Beach Road. We easily found it just be using the GPS.
The exit for the park is to the right just as you begin to enter the toll area on route 50.
Good to Know Before You Go
- The marina sells fishing gear and boating supplies as well as some food and drink
- Pets are not permitted in the park from May 1 to September 30th
- Tubes, floats, noodles, etc. are allowed on patrolled beaches
- The park does fill up on summer weekends. There are no in and out privileges.
- Park admission can be paid with cash or credit
- Certain activities are permitted outside of the regular park hours (e.g. fishing, boat launch, hunting where permitted). Please check with the park before your visit if you plan to engage in an activity which requires you to be in the park before or after the posted hours.
- Glass containers cannot be used at the park
- Showers, baby changing stations and restrooms are all located within the bathhouses.
- The park also hosts many special events throughout the year so make sure to check the park’s calendar