Need a taste of salt air and the feel of sand between your toes but you can’t bear the thought of 4+ hours in Bay Bridge traffic? We’ll be featuring some of our favorite beaches near Washington, DC this summer. If you have a favorite, please let us know in the comments below.
Panorama of the beach at Flag Ponds Nature Park

Just an hour’s drive from DC, you can find several Chesapeake Bay beaches that may not offer the surf or the boardwalks of the Atlantic beaches, but they might tide you over until your next seaside adventure. Yes, I said tide you over. Sorry.

A tiny sharks tooth found at Flag Ponds Nature Park.

Not all the sharks teeth at Flag Ponds Nature Park are as tiny as this one.

Flag Ponds Nature Park offers a sandy beach and salt-water swimming, with the added bonus of sharks teeth and other fossils to be found along the shore. The surf is gentle, and the water is shallow for about 100 yards from the shoreline with a sandy bay floor – perfect for swimming with young kids.

A bin of beach toys for sharing, with the fishing pier in the background, at Flag Ponds Nature Park

Public beach toys for sharing at Flag Ponds Nature Park.

The Ponds for which the park is named can be found along two inland trails. Be sure to bring insect repellent, because though the trails are easy and well-marked, the mosquitos can make the walk less-than-pleasant. When we visited, we found one pond absolutely still and covered with green vegetation, with bullfrogs, turtles, sea birds, and something mysterious swimming just under the surface for company.

Two turtles sunning by a pond at Flag Ponds Nature Park

Can you spot the two turtles?


  • The parking lots are about a half mile from the beach, so you may want to bring a beach cart. There is a handicap parking lot adjacent to the beach access path.
  • There is a restroom about 50 yards from the beach with outdoor shower.
  • There are no concessions in the park.
  • You can bring a picnic, but no alcohol.
  • Pets are allowed on leash only.
  • There is an entrance fee per vehicle: $4 for Calvert County residents, $6 for non-residents in summer. (Off season, $3 per vehicle.)
  • The park opens daily at 9am in summer and closes at 6pm during the week, 8pm on weekends.
  • Bring shovels and sifters to look for sharks teeth, fossils and shells. There are some shared beach toys available by the beach access path.
  • You must have a Maryland fishing license (tidal/saltwater) to fish.
Dragonfly perches on a wooden step at Flag Ponds Nature Park

Dragonfly at Flag Ponds Nature Park

Flag Ponds Nature Park