Easiest Beach drive from DC Metro?

So, I promised Celtling that she’d get to see the ocean this summer. I’m really not a fan of Ocean City, MD, so I’m looking for a short drive, kid-propriate beach, with cheap-ish housing options. for a 2-3 day trip. Bordwalk fun, but optional; we’re all about swimming and sand castles.

Any recommendations?

I am not a big fan of the beach, so this is not something I really pay attention to. I do rememebr seeing the ponies swim at Chincoteague, and have done a few trips to Myrtle beach for softball tournaments, but otherwise, I’m clueless. All my other beach trips were either in Florida or CA.

I’d rather have a small cabin with a kitchen than a highrise hotel room, but OTOH a pool would give me a few minutes of actual fun, so I’m open to both.

My family likes to go to Virginia Beach for those 2-3 day trips. Either stayed in a high rise or a camp ground.

Looks like Delawarehas several to offer. If it doesn’t have to be the ocean, Sandy Pointis right off RT 50 before you cross the bay, but that’s more of a day trip. And there’s Chesapeake Beach in Calvert County.

If you go to DE you could take the Cape May-Lewes Ferry to the Jersey Shore. Convenient to the other side of the ferry are Cape May and Wildwood. Cape May has some neat WW2 era coastal defense buildings, as well as the 1800’s lighthouse. Wildwood has an awesome boardwalk.

I am biased toward my home town of Va Beach, so I’ve never been to those inferior Maryland/Delaware beaches. We have been to Chesapeake Beach and enjoyed it. If you want something close to DC, beaches on the bay are a lot easier to get too and have some cool stuff, just not waves.

Mmmmm, no, the specific promise was that she could see the ocean. I don’t think I could substitute the bay; I’m trying to keep my lies down to Santa, Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. :wink:

Great ideas, thnaks everyone. Any others? Specific places you like to stay in those areas?

I would recommend Rehoboth. It’s much smaller than OC or VB, but it has a boardwalk, great restaurants, a few blocks of cheesy beach shopping, and an outlet mall. Lodging varies from hotels to cabins. Swimming can be rough, but you’d really have to go almost as far as the OBX or even Myrtle to get more pleasant water. The Avenue Inn is a nice hotel with a pool.

Avoid Dewey. That’s mainly for young adults looking to party.

Bethany can be nice for families. Shopping is a bit more upscale than Rehoboth, and no boardwalk. Also a longer drive. Lodging is lots of condos and houses.

Virginia Beach is great, but it’s got a similar “big-city beach” vibe to Ocean City, and if you don’t like the one, you may not like the other.

Virginia Beach is not bad, distance-wise, but there’s that I-95 corridor - no real way to avoid the Beltway-to-Fredericksburg bit and that can be dreadful. Once you hit Fredericksburg, you can exit onto US 17 (or even several very nice state roads - 2 and 30) which are easy drives. 3-4 hours should get you there.

The beach itself is nice. There are a variety of hotels along it, and within a couple of blocks, also condos etc., and there are a few public parking lots so if you stay further away from the beach (much cheaper), you can go for a few hours during the day.

I haven’t driven to the Maryland beaches from here. I think nominally they’re shorter, but I think you are pretty much stuck with the Bay Bridge traffic which can be horrid. That’s where we always went when I was growing up (Ocean City), driving from Pennsylvania, and even then, mumblemumble years ago, the Bay Bridge could be stop and go.

Wildwood NJ is also about a 4 hour drive (not counting stops). Huge, wide beach. Very built-up and touristy along the boardwalk and you actually have to walk quite a distance from the boardwalk to the beach. The fun there is that you could take the ferry from Lewes, DE to Cape May one way (or both), which Celtling might enjoy.

Commenting on the boardwalk: we’ve done Wildwood several times with the Girl Scouts (each spring and fall they have Beach Jam, where Scout groups can camp on the beach and get 2 days of meals for a very reasonable price). It’s every tacky boardwalk store you could think of. Lots of amusement park rides on the 3 big piers. Some shops have, um, questionable slogans on their T-shirts (imagine trying to explain to a precocious 8 year old what a pimp is!). Fun in its way, but rather eye-opening! I think Celtling is still young enough that this wouldn’t be an issue, however.

Virginia Beach’s boardwalk-y stuff is actually a block away from the ocean: the hotels are waterfront, and the shops / restaurants are on the road that runs up and down the coast.

Lewes, Delaware is a great, historic, quiet little beach town (“The 1st town in the 1st State”). It’s the next town north from Rehoboth (about a 15 minute drive). There are two beaches, on the ocean and on the bay. The ocean is, well, the same ocean as Rehoboth and OC, and the bay is very serene (little to no waves and shallow out to a pretty good distance). Both are way less crowded than OC or Rehoboth and the town is full of interesting little shops and restaurants.

Queued up a memory of Celtling in her car seat, she was maybe 19, 20 months? Less than two anyway. We passed a group of seedy establishments in a run-down strip mall near Van Dorn street, and suddenly I hear

“Look Mommy! It’s Dancing! It’s dancing for Ladies!!!”

:eek: :smack: :eek:

I’ll second Lewes. We were there with some friends in the off-season a few years back, and it was quite pleasant.

What’s wrong with Ocean City. I find that everything else tends to be more expensive or less accessible.

Too many drunken teens and young adults. Not really the spot for baby’s first beach trip IME. Great fun for teens and young adults.

I realize the OP isn’t interested in beaches on the Chesapeake Bay rather than the ocean, but just in case anyone else reading this thread is, I should mention that while there is a public beach in Chesapeake Beach, you definitely need a local to point you there, and it isn’t located near shops, refreshments, or any of that, has limited parking nearby, and no public transportation. It does have the advantage of free admission, though.

North Beach, the town immediately north of Chesapeake Beach, has a beach with a very nice boardwalk, and (ample) parking, restrooms and showers, refreshment stands, and casual restaurants all close at hand. But per the link, you’ve got to pay for a beach pass, and it’s not cheap if you’re from outside the county.

However, they don’t enforce the beach pass requirement on Friday evenings when they have a farmer’s market down by the boardwalk, a fact that the Firebug and I have frequently taken advantage of.

LOL!!! I’ve told the story before, of Dweezil asking “What’s an adult toystore?”.

No, I did not answer truthfully. It would have taken him the rest of the 2 hour drive to give him the necessary background to even attempt to answer the question.

The drawback to going to Virginia Beach is that if you stay on the highways, you have the bridge tunnel which can back up as well.

We were in Ocean City earlier this summer. The drive was fine. We didn’t hit much if any traffic at all. If you go that route, I would stay in the northern part of Ocean City which is quieter in general and more family oriented.

We were in Ocean City in June and we really didn’t see any of that. When you are out with baby, you’ll probably be back at your lodgings by 9:00 or so, which is earlier than those folks are going out for the evening.

DC beach goer for decades. Rehoboth is really the best bet because it is so family oriented, the boardwalk has an amusement section for kids that is not… overwhelmingly huge or trashy. Plus it is the closest, about 2.5 hours depending on your starting point. Ocean City is okay if you know where to go, which is north OC. You won’t even see the boardwalk or the bikers or the t-shirt shops. In the 120+ streets; please get a place on the ocean side of Coastal Hwy so you don’t have to cross it. (Side bonus of Rehoboth… Dave Grohl takes two weeks there every summer… you might just bump inot him playing Whack-a-Mole or putt-putt on the boarwalk).

Yeah. There are ways to avoid the main Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel approach (since DC to VABeach doesn’t require using that), but you will run into some bridges / tunnels no matter what you do.

Speaking of the bridge-tunnel, that’s actually a pretty cool thing to drive, even if you just go across and back. There are even a couple of places where you can park the car and stop and watch the container ships crossing over the tunnel portions.