You don’t have to go far for some time at the beach! Pack up the swimsuits, sunscreen and sunglasses, and get ready to spend more time digging in the sand and less time on the road. We rounded up six of our favorite beaches under a six hour drive from the DMV to max out your fun in the sun. From the Outer Banks to the Jersey Shore, these are the best family beaches near Washington, DC.
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach is the closest beach to the DC metro area, just 1.5 hours away. It’s also the second-longest stretch of sand and surf in VA, with three distinct beaches including Downtown, with a boardwalk, restrooms, restaurants, food trucks, swings and more.
Cottage rentals and camping are a popular overnight option for families here. If you have the time, plan a trip to the George Washington Birthplace National Monument and James Monroe Birthplace, just outside of town.
Ocean City, MD
There’s a reason so many families return to Ocean City, MD, year after year. Less than three hours from Washington, DC, this classic beach destination is known for its sand and surf, where the waves are optimal for boogie boarding, along with its boardwalk, where you’ll find rides, games, and delicious eats including pizza at The Dough Roller. Plan a day trip to see the majestic, wild ponies at nearby Assateague Island National Seashore while you’re in town.
Virginia Beach, VA
Just 3.5 hours from Washington, DC, Virginia Beach is perfect for a family getaway, whether you’re visiting for a long weekend or staying for a week. You’ll find an abundance of waterfront hotels and vacation rentals, restaurants, and attractions, including the boardwalk. Stroll, skate, or bike the 3-mile-long path, which often plays host to street performers, summer concerts, festivals, and other events.
Rehoboth Beach, DE
Beyond the sand and surf, it’s all about Funland in Rehoboth Beach, DE. There you’ll find “today’s fun at yesterday’s prices,” with classic rides and games the whole family will love. Stroll the boardwalk (with a stop for ice cream along the way, of course) and, when you need a break from the beach, enjoy the thrills and spills at Jungle Jim’s water park. Be sure to plan some day trips to neighboring Bethany Beach and charming Lewes, home to Cape Henlopen State Park, too.
Cape May, NJ
Cape May is worth the four-hour drive from Washington DC, especially for families with young kids. The beaches are known for their shallow tide pools, and the town itself is famous for its candy-colored historic homes and B&Bs. Local attractions and activities include mini-golf, bicycling, climbing the Cape May Lighthouse, and shopping and dining at the Washington Street Mall. For an extra-special experience, book a stay at one of the Cape Resorts, such as the renowned Congress Hall.
Outer Banks, NC
If you’re ready for a week-long family vacation and up for a five hour-plus drive, head for the Outer Banks. You can stay at a beautiful beachfront hotel such as the Sanderling Resort, or rent a giant house with multiple rooms, a swimming pool and more, just steps from the beach. It’s all about relaxing by the ocean here, but when you’re ready to explore, there’s the famous black-and-white-striped Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, H2OBOX Waterpark, Jockey’s Ridge State Park (the best place to fly kites), and the Wright Brothers Memorial.
featured photo: Frank McKenna via Unsplash