Sharing a border with both the Atlantic Ocean as well as Chesapeake Bay, the state of Maryland has plenty of waterfront real estate for a beach vacation. This Mid-Atlantic destination is well known for its popular beach towns, and many families make annual pilgrimages to places like Ocean City for long summer weekends.
The top beaches in Maryland stand out because they're so much more than attractive stretches of coastline. We looked at beach destinations that had fun things to do like boardwalks with shops and restaurants, excellent kayaking, surfing, or paddleboarding, or other unique diversions. Of course, the best beaches will always deliver an Instagram-worthy view, whether they're surrounded by sandy dunes or famous for their spectacular sunsets.
Related: The Best Beaches in New Jersey
If you're planning a beach getaway to Maryland, consider one of these three stand-out beaches.
Assateague Island National Seashore
This uninhabited stretch of land (a whopping 48,000 acres) is best known for its incredible wildlife — specifically, the hundreds of wild horses that roam around the park’s beaches. While you can ride them year-round on the Virginia side of Assateague, you can always see them on the Maryland side, too.
Visitors can also watch the dolphins plying the waves, or spend long summer days fishing or clamming. The plankton-rich waters are home to a number of species of fish, sea turtles, and even whales.
Visitors in the Maryland district of Assateague Island can even spend evenings camping out under the stars. Just be sure to stock up on firewood and long tent stakes (for staying firmly anchored in the sand and wind) before you arrive.
Calvert Cliffs State Park
Though technically a natural bay and not a beach, Calvert Cliffs still earns a spot as one of Maryland's top beaches due to its incredible views and unique history. Surrounded by picturesque sandy cliffs, this quarter mile-long stretch of beach is perfect for swimming and fishing.
But the real draw is what you might find hidden on its sandy shores. Over 600 species of fossils have been found at this park — some dating back 20 million years — that will excite enthusiasts of paleontology (or really anyone who’s so much as watched the movie Jurassic Park).
Ocean City Beach
Whether you’re filling up on plates of steamed Maryland crabs or you’re leaving the beach to go play a round of mini-golf, Ocean City is the backdrop for many quintessential beach vacations. You’ll want to park your flip flops on the town’s south end, home to the famous Thrasher’s French Fries and the Ocean City Boardwalk. Stroll down the boardwalk and take a spin on the antique Trimper's Rides carousel.