Best Places to Go for a Swim Near D.C.

June 7, 2014 8:00 AM

credit: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

What better way to cool off, and burn some calories, than going for a swim. While the D.C. area boasts plenty of water parks and pools, there’s nothing quite like taking a dip in the ocean. Pack the car and head on out to one of these best destinations to go for a swim near D.C. and start relaxing today.

Virginia Beach 
Visitors Center
2100 Parks Ave.
Virginia Beach, VA 23451
(757) 437-4882

With 28 miles of beaches, Virginia Beach is the perfect place to catch a wave this summer. Swim, kayak, surf or simply relax along the shoreline. Book yourself a boat tour and admire the beauty and nature that surrounds Virginia Beach. Or, hop on a jet ski and add a little adventure to your day. Nature lovers will enjoy lush wildlife trails, parks and waterways. Virginia Beach also boasts a newly renovated Boardwalk, which features shops, restaurants, games and rides for the kids. Other activities include fishing, golf, paddle boats, parasailing and boating. Find a place to stay the night at more than 11,000 available lodging options, from hotels and cottages to campsites.

Ocean City 
Visitor Center
12320 Ocean Gateway
Ocean City, MD 21842
(410) 213-0552

Known as a family-friendly destination, Ocean City is the perfect to make a splash at the beach. Grab your bodyboard and ride the waves, take a ride on the OC Rocket (the newest and fastest speedboat to hit the beach) or cast your fishing rod off the Third St. Pier. Build sandcastles along the storied shoreline or visit the Boardwalk, ranked as one of America’s best according to the Travel Channel and USA Today. Other nearby activities include the Jolly Rogers amusement park, a video game arcade, water sports, miniature golf, laser tag and Ripley’s Believe it or Not museum. Ocean City also boasts plenty of restaurants, shops and family-friendly events.

Related: Best Bike Rentals In Washington, D.C.

Sandy Point State Park
1100 E. College Parkway
Annapolis, MD 21409
(410) 974-2149

If the thought of driving to Ocean City or Virginia Beach makes you cringe, then head over to Sandy Point State Park. Located within a 45-minute drive from DC, the park provides the beach life without the hassle of a long drive or large crowds. Go swimming in the ocean, catch a suntan on the shore or enjoy a picnic in the park. Other activities permitted at the park include fishing, crabbing, hiking and boating. The 785-acre park also boasts plenty of wildlife and breathtaking views of the Chesapeake Bay. Areas of historical interests include the Sandy Point Lighthouse. A marina store is located near the boat launch ramps and a snack shop is available at the south beach area of the park.

Assateague Island National Shore 
Visitors Center
11800 Marsh View Lane
Berlin, MD 21811
(410) 641-1441

Famous for its wild ponies, this 37-mile-long barrier island also makes a great destination to get out and play. Find a spot at the beach and collect seashells or clams along the shore. Assateague Island also permits kayaking, crabbing, hunting, biking and over-sand vehicle use with a permit. More than 300 wild ponies wander throughout the protected state park. Assateague Island also boasts more than 300 species of migratory and resident birds, perfect for bird watching. Other animals often seen at the park include bald eagles, great horned owls, Atlantic bottle nose dolphins, pelicans and white-tailed deer. Visit the Assateague Lighthouse for a truly impressive view.

Related: Best Parks In Washington, D.C.

North Beach
8916 Chesapeake Ave.
North Beach, MD 20714
(301) 855-6681

For a completely peaceful beach experience, check out North Beach where you will find a beautiful bay town, pleasant boardwalk and diverse recreational activities. Swim along the shoreline, fish for the catch of the day off the pier or view wildlife at the Wetlands Overlook Park. North Beach is also known for its eclectic shops, casual and fine dining restaurants, Friday night farmers markets and special family-friendly events. For a break from the outdoors, check out the Bayside History Museum for an extensive collection of historic artifacts from nearby communities.

Susan Diranian is a freelance writer living in Ashburn, VA. She is covering Travel & Outdoors. Her work can be found at

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