Forget the party scene on the Jersey Shore. Here are our favorite (and more relaxing) beaches within the Mid-Atlantic region.
Ocean City, Maryland
Ocean City, Maryland becomes a bustling beach town during the summer months, complete with 10 miles of white sand beaches, a three-mile boardwalk, amusement parks, arcades and over 9,500 hotel rooms. Ocean City is famous for classic beach eats like boardwalk fries from Thrasher’s French Fries (frying since 1929), salt water taffy and fudge from Dolle’s Candyland and of course, no trip to Maryland would be complete without crab cakes at Captain’s Galley II. Summertime also brings tons of free family-oriented activities like concerts on the beach on Wednesday evenings in July and August, movies under the stars almost each day of the week, family beach Olympics on Tuesday evenings and Sunset Park party nights at the Isle of Wight Bay on Thursday evenings. Stay at the Plim Plaza Ocean City Hotel right on the boardwalk, which features a spacious front porch with wooden rocking chairs overlooking the ocean.
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
Rehoboth Beach is a small-town beach lover’s dream. Guests to Rehoboth enjoy quaint amenities like free entertainment at the Rehoboth Beach Bandstand, charming boutiques (where shopping is tax-free) and daily trips to the family-owned Funland. Even foodies are welcome! The three-hour Eating Rehoboth Walking Food Tour offers a culinary adventure through downtown Rehoboth Beach with exclusive food and drink tastings. A budding dining destination, Rehoboth is home to three James Beard award-nominated chefs and restaurateurs. While off-the-beach options are fun, it’s also worth noting that Rehoboth Beach and all surrounding Delaware beaches were found to have the cleanest water in the nation by the National Resources Defense Council. Stick with the small-town feel by staying at a local bed-and-breakfast. We love the luxurious eight-room Delaware Inn that includes hot breakfast daily, beach cruiser bicycles, beach umbrellas and towels.
Cape May, New Jersey
So you thought all New Jersey beaches were of the fist-pumping, techno music-blasting variety? Wrong! Historic Cape May is possibly the exact opposite of the well-known party town of Seaside Heights on the Jersey Shore. Known as the Queen of the Seaside Resorts, Cape May was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1976 due to its large framed building collection from the 19th century. The town has a romantic feel with activities like horse-drawn carriage rides through the historic district with Cape May Carriage Company and chartered tours of Cape May’s five wineries. Soak up the charm at the Wilbraham Mansion, a 1840s Victorian mansion turned bed-and-breakfast. Twelve of the mansion’s 22 rooms are suites that feature two-person Jacuzzi tubs and gas fireplaces. The property also offers an indoor-heated pool and in-room spa treatments.
Bethany Beach, Delaware
Bethany Beach is a haven for families, packed with outdoor activities like kayaking, surfing, boating, stand-up paddling, cycling and fishing. After working up an appetite, take the entire brood down to The Blue Crab for a feast of steamed blue crabs covered with Old Bay Seasoning and served next to corn on the cob, Delaware fried chicken and hush puppies. Again, Delaware is the home of tax-free shopping, so make sure to pick up a T-shirt or sweatshirt at the famous Bethany Surf Shop. For a taste of history and culture, visit the nearby historic Fenwick Island Lighthouse to learn about life on the water. Although most guests to Bethany Beach choose to rent a beach home for their summer vacations, try The Addy Sea bed-and-breakfast for a short stay.