Top Lakes and Beaches in Baltimore

For locals and travelers looking for the top beaches and lakes in Maryland, plenty of hotspots can be found in and around Baltimore. This city sits right off of Chesapeake Bay and only a few hours’ drive from the Atlantic Ocean, with several islands and inlets in between. While some of the best beaches in Maryland require a full day trip to make it worthwhile, many nearby lakefronts offer equally fun activities out on the water.

From swimming and surfing to kayaking and fishing, the local waters have a lot to offer visitors. Iconic spots like Ocean City offer great summer vibes, while places like Deep Creek serve as popular resort destinations any time of year. To learn about the top lakes and beaches near Baltimore, explore the following list of popular waterfront destinations.

Baltimore Lakes and Beaches

Ocean City, Maryland Beach

As the name suggests, Ocean City, MD is right on the water, offering beach-goers plenty of shoreline to enjoy. In fact, the beach there was recently ranked among the top 10 beaches in the nation. Each summer this 10-mile stretch of sand hosts plenty of free activities for families, including movies, fireworks and parties.

Visitors to Ocean City beach can also enjoy canoeing, kayaking and fishing, with two sections of beach reserved each day specifically for surfing. The iconic boardwalk offers its own fun activities, as well, including arcades, rollercoasters and a vintage carousel from 1902.

Chesapeake Beach

Chesapeake Beach, MD began as a popular resort destination for residents of Baltimore and Washington D.C. around the 1890s. Today, the resort still attracts many visitors who come to enjoy the secluded Bay Front Park, take chartered fishing trips or enjoy the local water park. The train that once brought visitors to Chesapeake Beach in Maryland now serves as a museum that details the town’s history.

Access to Bay Front Park, also known as Brownie’s Beach, is free for town locals and their guests. However, Calvert County residents and out-of-town visitors are required to pay a small fee for access during the summer months.

Assateague Island National Seashore

Assateague State Park sits on an island to the south of Ocean City and offers activities that appeal to both beachgoers and nature lovers. In addition to 37 miles of beach, the island is also home to hundreds of wild ponies and one of the most noteworthy bird watching destinations. Visitors are likely to come across much of this wildlife during inland boat tours.

On the Maryland side of Assateague Island, camping, kayaking, surfing fishing, four wheeling and other recreational activities are also available. Meanwhile, the Virginia side of the island is where visitors can find newborn ponies each summer, as well as a picturesque lighthouse and more pristine beaches.

Deep Creek Lake

Deep Creek Lake, Maryland is renowned for its distinct change of seasons, each of which offer an abundance of outdoor activities for the whole family. During the summer, visitors flock to the lake to enjoy swimming, paddle boarding and boating on the water, while the winter is popular for skiing and sledding in the nearby mountains.

Other activities include golfing, kayaking, rafting, fishing and hiking, making this a great spot for just about anyone. Events also occur throughout the year, bringing in visitors for concerts and festivals. For those who wish to book an extended trip, Deep Creek Lake rentals are available right along the lakeshore, and there are also luxury properties and ski lodges for rent.

Cascade Lake

This is known as one of the best lakes in Maryland for family fun. Visitors can enjoy a wealth of activities both in and around the water. This water park includes several slides and platforms that lead right into the six-acre lake, as well as a Spray ‘n’ Play area with geysers and water cannons for those who prefer to stay on land. The on-site café makes this a great place for a full day of excitement. Visitors can also reserve an entire pavilion for large groups, as well as boat rentals and fishing activities.

Sandy Point State Park

Scenic views of the Chesapeake Bay await visitors to Sandy Point Beach at this state park. Also known as South Beach, this spot provides bathhouses with showers for convenience, as well as picnic and beach supplies. Along with plenty of opportunities for swimming, the park also offers playgrounds, fishing, sailing concessions and even boat rentals at the nearby marina. The entire park is a total of 786 acres, which leaves plenty of room for other outdoor activities like hiking and camping.

Kent Island Beaches

This island has some of the nicest beaches near Baltimore for a weekend getaway. About an hour outside of the city, Kent sits snuggly between the mainland and the Delmarva Peninsula. Visitors can explore both the Matapeake and Terrapin beaches, each offering fun and family-friendly activities.

In fact, Matapeake Beach even welcomes pet lovers who can bring their furry friends to the nearby dog beach. Kayaking, fishing and boating are all welcome here at the 24-hour kayak ramp and pier. Plenty of other amenities fill the area, as well, including an outdoor amphitheater, café, farmer’s market and plenty of nature trails for hiking.

Baltimore Beach

One of the only beaches in Baltimore, MD city limits, this isn’t actually a real beach at all. Rather, it is known as one of the most popular urban beaches and is a hotspot for beach volleyball and other sandy sports. It sits along the Inner Harbor, offering over 100 tons of sand for hosting non-competitive play ain addition to tournaments. Both beginner and fanatic beach volleyball players are welcome to join in between April and October, as the weather permits. The Baltimore Beach Volleyball (BBV) league is reported to be one of the largest inner-city leagues on the eastern coast.

North Point State Park

If you are looking for the closest beach to Baltimore, this park offers a great option. Roughly 30 minutes outside of the city, North Point lies right on Chesapeake Bay where the premier Bay Shore Amusement Park used to stand.

Aside from the wading beach, this park offers an abundance of other outdoor activities to enjoy, including fishing, hiking, bird watching, biking and picnicking on the shoreline. Like many parks, trails and beaches in Baltimore, MD, North Point was the site of several battles during the War of 1812, giving this park plenty of history to explore as well.

Betterton Beach

Considered one of the best beaches in Maryland, this spot offers a quiet getaway on the coast. Like some of the other beaches on this list, Betterton was a fishing town that became a popular resort destination in the 1800s and 1900s. Today, it remains a peaceful retirement village on the Chesapeake with 5 miles of landscaped beach and dotted with Victorian homes. Picnic areas and shady trees make this a great spot for beachgoers looking for a relaxing time on the water. Both boating, swimming and fishing off the jetty are permitted here.