Thrillist: The Best DC-Area Beaches You Can Drive to This Summer

colonial beach va

By Julekha Dash. Photo: Liz Albro Photography


When our city’s infamous humidity covers DC in a thick cloud of heat, there’s no better way to cope than with a trip to the beach. Luckily, DC is within easy reach of sandy dunes—from remote, quiet spots to popular summer hangouts with busy boardwalks and arcade games. So no matter what type of getaway you’re looking for this summer, we’ve rounded up the best beaches in Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia that make for a great day or weekend trip, and there’s something for everyone.

Located within a 90-minute drive south of DC, Colonial Beach boasts Virginia’s second-largest beach front along Virginia’s Northern Neck peninsula. Visitors can enjoy swimming and fishing at the beaches or break out the boat and kayak. Explore the area’s many historical attractions by golf cart, which can be rented and legally driven around the town.

Start your day with a cappuccino and cinnamon roll at the woman-owned Colonial Buzz Espresso Bar, which features a take-out window and outdoor seating. Grab lunch at Denson’s Grocery, a mom-and-pop deli known for its oysters, ice cream, and sandwiches that offers curbside carryout Thursdays through Saturdays. Then spend the day sampling one of Virginia’s largest wineries, Ingleside Vineyards, which is open daily with indoor and outdoor seating and hosts acoustic musicians Sunday afternoons. Grab a cocktail and listen to live music at the two waterfront eateries, Dockside Restaurant and Tiki Bar and High Tides on the Potomac & the Black Pearl Tiki Bar.
Distance from DC: An hour and a half