Beaches off the beaten path… and other places to swim

Article Index

Elk Neck State Park

Cecil County

The park boasts 2,188 acres of sandy beaches, marshlands, and heavily wooded bluffs overlooking the North East River, the Elk River and the Chesapeake Bay. A sandy beach at the North East Beach Area offers swimming access on the Chesapeake Bay with shallow waters perfect for young children. There's also a canoe and kayak hand-launch area nearby plus picnic tables, grills, a playground, a restroom with showers, and a seasonal convenience store offering cold drinks, snacks, ice cream, sunscreen, souvenirs and beach supplies.

No lifeguard. Swim at your own risk.

Admission: Weekends, $3 per person for in-state vehicles and $5 for out-of-state; weekdays, $3 per in-state car, $5 for out-of-state car.

4395 Turkey Point Road, North East or 410-287-5333

Flag Ponds Nature Park

Calvert County

Flag Ponds Nature Park offers a remarkable variety of natural environments—from sandy beach, to freshwater ponds, to the forested heights of Calvert Cliffs. A short, half-mile hike from the parking lot brings you to the sandy beach where there is swimming and fossil hunting. A bathhouse is available. There are also observation platforms at two ponds, a fishing pier on the Chesapeake Bay and a visitor's center with wildlife displays.

No lifeguards on duty. Swim at your own risk

Admission: $5 for county residents, $8 for non-county residents April to October.

1525 Flag Ponds Pkwy, Lusby or 410-586-1477.

Greenbrier State Park

Washington County

A 42-acre, man-made lake located in the Appalachian Mountains offers swimming, sunbathing, boating and fishing opportunities. Camping, boat rentals, a camp store, flat water canoeing, hiking trails, picnic area and a playground are at the park.

Lifeguards on duty 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Admission: Weekdays, $3 per person; weekends/holidays, $5 per person Memorial Day to Labor Day weekends. Out-of-state residents add $2 to all day use service charges.

21843 National Pike, Boonsboro or 301-791-4767

Gunpowder Falls State Park, Hammerman Area

Baltimore County

As Gunpowder's featured day-use park, Hammerman offers a swimming beach, food concessions, four picnic pavilions, picnicking, playgrounds, canoe/kayak and sailboat rentals, fishing, short hiking trails and two short water trails. There is 1,500 feet of beach on the banks of the Gunpowder River.

Lifeguards on duty 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, Memorial Day through Labor Day. Swim at your own risk when lifeguards are not on duty.

Admission: $3-5 per person ($5-7 per-person for out-of-state residents)

The beach parking lot often fills to capacity. Alternative parking is usually available at the Dogwood parking lot, but be prepared to walk.

7200 Graces Quarters, Chase or 410-592-2897

Hart-Miller Island State Park

Baltimore County

Hart-Miller Island is located in the Chesapeake Bay near the mouth of Middle River and is accessible only by private boat. The western shore of the island offers safe mooring, wading and access to a 3,000-foot sandy beach. There are campsites and hiking trails, and your family can fish, picnic and swim. Other than the west side, much of rest of Hart-Miller Island is closed to the public.

Admission: Free, but there is a $6 charge for campsites.

No lifeguard on duty. Swim at your own risk. or 410-592-2897

North Beach

north beach2

Calvert County

Located in the North East corner of Calvert County, North Beach is known as "The Jewel of the Chesapeake Bay." It has a family oriented atmosphere with three large sections of beach for swimming and sunbathing. There is a pirate ship playground on the beach, changing rooms with showers and bathrooms, and restaurants and concessions within walking distance. There is also a fishing pier as well as kayak, paddleboard and bicycle rentals at the Welcome Center on the boardwalk.

No lifeguards on duty but there is a beach patrol. Swim at your own risk.

Admission: Free for North Beach residents, $4-$7 for county residents, and $9-$17 for out-of-county residents.

9023 Bay Ave., North Beach or 410-286-3799

Patapsco Valley State Park

Baltimore/Howard counties

Swimming is permitted all along the Patapsco River except in posted areas. There are many spots perfect for wading and splashing after a hike. One in particular is just a stone's throw from the playground in the Orange Grove area of the park. The Cascade Falls Trail, also in the Orange Grove area of the park just across from the swinging bridge, offers a short hike to a waterfall with a small swimming hole perfect for kids.

No lifeguard on duty. Swim at your own risk; the current can be strong in places.

Admission to the park: Weekdays, $2 per vehicle in-state residents, $4 per vehicle out of state; weekends, $3 per person or $5 per person out-of-state-residents.

5120 South St., Baltimore or 410-461-5005

Point Lookout State Park

St. Mary's County

Point Lookout State Park is located on a peninsula formed by the Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac River. Swimming, fishing, boating and camping are just a few of the activities in this beautiful bay setting. The beach area has grills, picnic tables, and a playground. Facilities include showers and restrooms. Jelly fish may be found in the swimming area.

Lifeguards are on duty 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekends and holidays Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.

Admission: Weekends and holidays, $5 per person; weekdays, $3 per vehicle May-September. Out-of-state residents add $2 to all day use charges.

11175 Point Lookout Road, Scotland or 301-872-5688

Rocky Point Beach

Baltimore County

Since 1969, Baltimore County Department of Recreation and Parks has owned and operated this 375-acre park. Located at the mouth of Back and Middle rivers, it boasts an expansive view of the Chesapeake Bay, Hart-Miller Islands and Craighill Light. Swimming is allowed Memorial Day through Labor Day, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Restrooms are open when lifeguards are on duty during "beach" season. During the "beach" season, the main park is open from sunrise to 7 p.m. The park includes two pavilions, two playgrounds, sand volleyball, a fishing pier, boat ramps, sailing center, bathhouse and a first aid station. Note that during the early and late beach season on those days when Baltimore County Schools are in session, the beach will be closed for swimming.

Lifeguard on duty.

Admission: Free for children under 12, $5-8 on weekends/holidays and $5-7 on weekdays.

2200 Rocky Point Road, Essex or 410-887-0338

Sandy Point State Park

Anne Arundel County

This 786-acre state park is located along the Northwestern shore of the Chesapeake Bay. The park's beaches and picnic areas are well known for their scenic water views. The park provides guests with various activities and services including swimming beaches, picnicking, fishing, crabbing, boating, hiking, youth group camping, wildlife viewing and more. The park also has a marina store and boat rentals. A bathhouse is located near the beach and provides park users with restroom and showers. Snack food, beach and picnic supplies are also available at the South Beach area of the park.

Lifeguards on duty in designated area 10 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m.-8 p.m. weekends and holidays Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Admission: Weekends May 1-Sept. 30, $5 for state residents, $7 out-of-state resident; weekdays May 1-Sept. 30, $4 in-state and $6 out-of-state resident.

1100 E. College Parkway, Annapolis or 410-974-2149

Looking for cool fun for your little one? Check out our story on splash parks and pools perfect for tots.

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