Summertime is finally here! We have survived a record snowfall this year, and the days of searching for hats and gloves and building snowmen has finally come to an end. School is almost out, and the craving to relax on a warm sunny beach is overpowering! Virginia Beach and Ocean City are some popular beach destinations for locals, but hidden in the mountains of Maryland, the coves of the Chesapeake Bay, and the dense forests of Virginia are some hidden beaches that are definitely worth a visit.

travelocal2Assateague Island National Shoreline Beach is the perfect beach destination with over thirty-seven miles of pristine white sands, protected and managed by the National Park Service. There are over three hundred wild ponies living along Assateague Island, and the best way to see them is by choosing any of the various boat or kayak tours the area offers. The annual Chincoteague Wild Pony Swim and Auction is usually held the last week of July, which offers the rare opportunity to view a large number of the wild horses swimming across the Assateague Channel. Hiking, biking, kayaking, bird watching, fishing, and camping are some of the activities that make the island a favorite for outdoor enthusiasts. Approximately 3 hours 45 minutes from Northern Virginia.

Offering miles of beaches, a boardwalk, and hundreds of lodging and restaurant options, Virginia Beach is a premier oceanfront vacation destination. While the unspoiled sand beaches are the reason to visit, make sure to take a break from the sand to visit some of the other great spots unique to the area. Located not far from the beach is the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center, the aquarium is home to hundreds of hands-on exhibits, a National Geographic 3D Theatre, and over six hundred animals, including Komodo dragons, river otters, and crocodiles. Other special locations to visit include the Military Aviation Museum, the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Cape Henry Lighthouse and Memorial Park. Approximately 3 ½ hours from Northern Virginia.

Ocean City, Maryland is another popular beach destination, with its ten miles of sandy beaches and abundance of great familyfriendly activities. Perfect for swimming, sunning, surfing, fishing, or kayaking, it is hard not to place Ocean City at the top of your summer beach list. During the summer, you will find family entertainment such as free outdoor concerts, outdoor movies, family-friendly beach Olympic nights, beach fireworks, and of course the boardwalk. The boardwalk is full of endless stores, countless restaurants, and numerous amusement rides. Don’t miss the OC Beach Lights, which is a laser light show with music and special effects. Approximately 3 hours from Northern Virginia.

Surrounded by the rugged mountains of Western Maryland, Rocky Gap Casino and Resort offers a wide range of activities. Featuring breathtaking views of Lake Habeeb, this mountain resort features Maryland’s only Jack Nicklaus Design Golf Course and a casino with over six hundred slot machines and five table games to deal you a winning game. Golfers of all skill levels can enjoy the challenge of this mountain course, which combines the dramatic elevation changes with expansive rolling meadows. Spend your evening dining at the resort’s lake front restaurant with picturesque views, try your luck at the casino, or enjoy comedy entertainment on select nights. The resort is located inside the Rocky Gap State Park, which offers the option of numerous outdoor activities for nature enthusiasts. Hiking and biking trails with spectacular overlooks, boating, fishing, a nature center, and three public beach areas along the impressive shoreline of steep cliffs and dense forests make this beach destination a visual exploration of scenic wonders. Approximately 2 hours 30 minutes from Northern Virginia.

Gunpowder Falls State Park is divided into six areas, and the Hammerman Area offers picnicking pavilions, playgrounds, and 1,500 feet of beach and swimming area on the banks of the Gunpowder River. Lifeguards are on duty at the swimming area Thursday through Sunday, but the hours are subject to change. The beach area also offers canoe, kayak, and sailboat rentals, fishing, short hiking trails, and food concessions. There is a fee for entrance to the park.  Approximately 2 hours from Northern Virginia.

Known for its scenic beauty and 70-foot cascading waterfall, Cunningham Falls State Park is located in the breathtaking Catoctin Mountains of Thurmont, Maryland. A swimming beach with lifeguards is available in three designated areas of Hunting Creek Lake. Swimming is not allowed in the falls, but the many hiking trails offer majestic views of the falls. Picnicking, boat rental, hunting, fishing, and camping are also available at the park.  Approximately 2 hours from Northern Virginia. Lake Anna’s picturesque setting and tranquil atmosphere gives visitors a peaceful escape from the chaos of living in a metropolitan area. A more rustic option, Lake Anna State Park offers nature aficionados the opportunity to benefit from the wide range of outdoor recreational activities, as well as camping options. There are 15 miles of hiking and biking trails, a fishing pond and playground, picnicking, and of course a beach. One of the most popular features of the park are the various campsites and quaint cabins available for rent with stunning views of the lake. The visitor center exhibits the history of the area’s gold mining and offers gold panning programs and guided tours of the Goodwin Gold Mine. A swimming beach, snack bar, and bathhouse are available to the public during the summer and can accommodate several hundred visitors per day. Approximately 1 hour 30 minutes from Northern Virginia

Looking for a more glamorous beach retreat? Chesapeake Beach Resort and Spa will not disappoint. Stunning bay views, three restaurants, a small casino gaming room, a heated indoor pool, close access to two marinas, and a full service spa are just a few of the amenities. For a fee, the marina offers kayak, canoe, paddle boards, pontoon boats, and jet ski rentals, as well as daily fishing trips and private fishing charters or cruises. Three beaches are located within close proximity to the resort: Breezy Point Beach and Campground, Bay Front Park Beach, and North Beach. All beaches have public access and offer swimming areas, but North Beach has a fun boardwalk lined with unique shops and restaurants. Approximately 1 hour 15 minutes from Northern Virginia.

Sandy Point State Park is a Maryland state park located along the northwestern shore of the majestic Chesapeake Bay. The South Beach and picnic areas of this park are well known for their breathtaking views of the bay. A bathhouse is located near the beach, which provides a restroom and shower facilities. Snack food and beach and picnic supplies are also available at the South Beach area of the park. Be aware that during the late summer months there may be jellyfish in the water. Fishing, boating, and hiking are also available at the park. Approximately 1 hour 15 minutes from Northern Virginia.


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