Freshwater Swimming in the DMV, at Lakes, Bays, Quarries, & More –

<< All-Things-Water

By DullesMoms, July 2020

Take a peek at these perfectly-summer opportunities, shown in order of distance from Dulles International Airport, that shouldn’t be missed. Many offer special features you’d find at our area’s best waterparks, including rope swings, slides, spraygrounds, and more!

Check out these places, shown in order of distance from Dulles International Airport:

Greenbriar State Park | Boonsboro, MD
About 55-miles from Dulles International Airport

This 42-acre, man-made lake is a fantastic place to spend the day with your family. Enjoy the sandy beaches with designated swimming areas, tree-shaded picnic areas, and the opportunity to rent a canoe or paddleboat. Once you’re done basking in the warm sun, enjoy a family hike — the Appalachian Trail passes right through the park! You’ll be thankful for their bathroom facilities, and during peak times, the area near the beach offers food and refreshments at the snack bar. Please note that the park often reaches capacity and denies entry on beautiful days, so come early to claim your spot.

Cunningham Falls State Park | Thurmont, MD
About 60-miles from Dulles International Airport

Enjoy the gorgeous Catoctin mountain view and glistening Hunting Creek Lake at Cunningham Falls State Park! Grab the family for a day of fun and enjoy their sandy beach with lifeguard coverage from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Picnic tables and grills are also available nearby. There are also campsites with bathhouses, and many trails available at Cunningham Falls State Park. Trails vary in terrain from short, flat hikes to steep and rocky ascents. Trail distances vary from .5-mile to 7.5-miles. The “Falls Nature Trail” will lead you to the largest cascading waterfall in Maryland: Cunningham Falls at 78-feet tall. Swimming is not permitted at the falls.

Patapsco Valley State Park | Ellicott City, MD
About 60-miles from Dulles International Airport

Discover 32-miles of beautiful scenery along the Patapsco River in the Patapsco Valley State Park! Over 170-miles of trails, including 70-miles of maintained trails, offer plenty of recreational opportunities, including hiking, picnicking, camping, horseback riding, and mountain biking! Water-lovers can also take a dip in the river (unless otherwise noted) as swimming, paddling, and tubing are all permitted in this park.

Aquia Landing | Stafford, VA
About 60-miles from Dulles International Airport

Cool off and take a dip at Aquia Landing, Stafford, Virginia’s very own 32-acre park. Home to marshes and woodlands, this unique destination attracts songbirds, marshbirds, waterfowl, and terns, making it perfect for birdwatching during a day of swimming and exploring! The park, located on a peninsula, also boasts a fishing spot in addition to woodlands perfect for more daytime discovery and fun. Public swimming is permitted, however always check prior to visiting as conditions are subject to change. //Updated Dec 2020

Sandy Point State Park | Annapolis, MD
About 65-miles from Dulles International Airport

Sandy Point State Park, a 786-acre park, located on the northwestern shore of the Chesapeake Bay, is a welcome natural retreat with enough amenities to keep family travels civilized. Its sandy, swimmable beaches offer lifeguards in select areas. A bathhouse is located near the beach and provides park users with restroom and showering facilities. A concession stand and beach and picnic supplies are also available at the South Beach area of the park during peak summer months. The park’s grassy picnic areas are located next to the swimming beach, as well as playgrounds. A limited numbers of grills and picnic tables are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Brownie’s Beach at Bay Front Park | Chesapeake Beach, MD
About 65-miles from Dulles International Airport

Come out to enjoy the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay at Brownie’s Beach at Bay Front Park. This small, sandy beach is open from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. This popular destination for swimmers and nature lovers does not have lifeguards on duty. Although free to town residents, there is an entrance fee for non-residents.

North Beach | North Beach, MD
About 65-miles from Dulles International Airport

Swim the day away in North Beach, the “Jewel of the Chesapeake Bay!” Located on the Bay’s western shore, this Maryland getaway is home to plenty of special events and outdoor activities throughout the year. Visitors and residents can purchase a pass or show proof of residency and soak up the sun on the beach during the warmer summer months! Rent a paddleboard and kayak or peruse the town and 1- to 2-mile boardwalk on a bicycle for a unique experience! While visiting the “Best Bay Town,” don’t forget to explore Wetlands Overlook Park and enjoy some of the best North Beach businesses and shops!

Mayo Beach Park | Edgewater, MD
About 65-miles from Dulles International Airport

Let the sand slide between your toes this summer at beautiful Mayo Beach Park! Free and open to the general public on “Public Open Days,” Mayo Beach Park boasts a shallow beach area perfect for water play and wading! Plan to pack a lunch, bring your canoe, kayak, or water toys and enjoy a day in the sun!

Beaver Dam Swimming Club | Cockeysville, MD
About 75-miles from Dulles International Airport

The Beaver Dam Swimming Club is a 40-foot, freshwater quarry with an infamous rope swing. For those more interested in a pool, the swimming club offers two pools up to 5-feet deep each. Lifeguards are available at the pools and quarry. They also offer shaded areas with grills for picnics and cookouts, as well as a snack bar. Volleyball and basketball courts are also available for use.

Rocky Point Beach & Park | Essex, MD
About 75-miles from Dulles International Airport

375-acre Rocky Point Beach is a waterfront park near the Back and Middle Rivers and is the perfect place to cool off in the Baltimore area. The 300-foot beach features pavilions, a fishing pier, picnic areas, boating ramps, and a bathhouse. The Baltimore County Sailing Center is located nearby, and visitors can take private or group lessons. Just want to lay in the sun? The beach offers pretty views of the Chesapeake Bay, Craighill Light, and Hart-Miller Island.

Beach at Kentmorr Restaurant | Stevensville, MD
About 78-miles from Dulles International Airport

No reservations needed to enjoy the beautiful outdoors at Kentmorr Beach! Located on the property of Kentmorr Restaurant and Crab House, the beach is a fabulous destination for families looking to relax, fish, and play in the sand! The breathtaking scenery lends itself to a day of sightseeing and swimming, too! While beach visitors do not have to be patrons of the restaurant, they do need to abide by the beach rules, which do not allow outside food and beverages on the property. All food and drink must be purchased from the restaurant.

Gunpowder Falls State Park | Middle River, MD
About 80-miles from Dulles International Airport

One of Maryland’s largest state parks, Gunpowder Falls offers a wide range of activities, including swimming! Enjoy a 1,500-foot stretch of beach and swimming area on the banks of the Gunpowder River. The beach offers visitors picnic tables, grills, playgrounds, food concessions, and four picnic pavilions that can be rented. There are also bathrooms with showers, as well as lifeguards on-duty on most days. Other activities include boat rentals, fishing, and hiking trails. The beach is known to get filled to capacity on weekends and holidays, so plan to arrive early!

Lake Arrowhead | Luray, VA
About 80-miles from Dulles International Airport

Lake Arrowhead is a 39-acre man-made body of water located near Luray, VA, and offers swimming, fishing, boating, and a picturesque setting at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The white-sand beach is open for swimming every day under the watch of lifeguards during the summer. Concessions and public restrooms are also on-site, making this a family-friendly venue. Canoes and paddleboats are available for rent on the half-hour, but they rent quickly, so hurry!

Lake Anna State Park | Spotsylvania, VA
About 85-miles from Dulles International Airport

With so many options, Lake Anna can be visited for just a day or weeks at a time! Families can camp or rent a cabin and bring their boats, bikes, and horses for outdoor adventure. Although there is a fee to come and swim, lifeguards are on duty, and concession stands and bathrooms are open on the beach. A twelve-mile trail is available for walking, biking, and horseback riding too. There’s always something to do at this beautiful State Park for families looking for quality time outside!

Greenwell State Park | Hollywood, MD
About 85-miles from Dulles International Airport

St. Mary’s County is home to beautiful Greenwell State Park, situated on the Patuxent River. The 596-acre park allows visitors a chance to fish or hike, cycle, and horse-ride through their 10-miles of trails all year long! Other seasonal activities include picnicking, hunting, canoeing, kayaking, and swimming! Managed in part by The Greenwell Foundation, accessible and inclusive programs, services, and facilities are also offered at Greenwell State Park to ensure that all community members can enjoy all that this park has to offer! Don’t forget to visit the Rosedale Manor House to see their immaculate Victorian-style rose garden and to enjoy an outstanding view of the river.

Flag Ponds Nature Park | Lusby, MD
About 85-miles from Dulles International Airport

For hundreds of years, the forces of nature have reshaped the Chesapeake Bay shoreline of Flag Ponds Nature Park, creating a remarkable variety of natural environments — from sandy beaches to freshwater ponds, to the forested heights of Calvert Cliffs. Flag Ponds Nature Park offers a beautiful beach right on the Chesapeake Bay. Not only is fossil hunting popular here, but visitors can also enjoy swimming, however, no lifeguards are on duty. A short, half-mile hike brings you to the sandy beach, or you may take longer trail routes that allow you to experience the beauty of the park. Additionally, there are observation platforms at two ponds, a fishing pier on the Chesapeake Bay, and a visitor’s center with wildlife displays.

Calvert Cliffs State Park | Lusby, MD
About 90-miles from Dulles International Airport

The massive cliffs, from which Calvert Cliffs State Park was named, dominate the shoreline of the Chesapeake Bay for roughly 24-miles in Calvert County and were formed over 10- to 20-million years ago when a warm, shallow sea covered all of Southern Maryland. When the sea receded, the cliffs were exposed and began eroding. Today these cliffs reveal the remains of prehistoric species including sharks, whales, rays, and seabirds — some the size of small airplanes! The park also features a sandy beach, a recycled tire playground, fishing, a freshwater/tidal marshland, and 13-miles of hiking trails. Please note, the shortest route to the beach is 1.8-miles on the red trail, and no lifeguard is present. Despite the hike, the trip is well worth it at this popular destination.

Myrtle Point Park | California, MD
About 90-miles from Dulles International Airport

Myrtle Point Park, located in St. Mary’s County on the Patuxent River near the Chesapeake Bay, contains numerous historic sites — some dating back more than 9,000 years — as well as magnificent waterfront and saltwater ponds home to a variety of wildlife! The park offers nearly 2-miles of shoreline, including beach areas and an informal canoe/kayak launching, 3-miles of hiking trails, parking, and portable restroom facilities. An online hiking and guide map of the park’s trails is available for download.

Rocks State Park | Jarrettsville, MD
About 98-miles from Dulles International Airport

Plan for a day of excitement, activity, and exploration at Rocks State Park! Among the 855-acres of scenic forests, preserved structural remains, and trails, visitors will also find Deer Creek! Perfect for wading, tubing, or fishing, Deer Creek is a wonderful and secluded spot to rest, relax, and enjoy nature in all its glory. Plus, guests looking to explore the natural beauty of Rocks State Park a little more will also find Falling Branch (Kilgore) Falls approximately 5-miles north of the main park. Enjoy a picturesque hiking trail on your way to Maryland’s second-highest vertical drop waterfall!

Elm’s Beach Park | Lexington Park, MD
About 100-miles from Dulles International Airport

Spend the day at Elm’s Beach Park on the Chesapeake Bay, which boasts more than 500-feet of sandy shoreline great for swimming or fishing and crabbing on the pier. The excellent water views will enhance your picnic or hiking experience—many trails and pavilion seating areas (for rent) with grills offer front-row views of the Bay. A playground and acres of open green space allow kids plenty of room to run around. A hanging area and parking are available on-site. The cost for out-of-county residents is $10 per car, or $5 for St. Mary’s County residents.

Point Lookout State Park | Scotland, MD
About 105-miles from Dulles International Airport

Point Lookout State Park is a picturesque peninsula formed by the Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac River. Swimming, fishing, boating, and camping are just a few of the activities to be enjoyed in this beautiful bay setting! The sandy beach has a designated swimming area with lifeguards, as well as grills, picnic tables, and a playground. Point Lookout State Park also offers a park store that provides snacks, ice cream, drinks, bait, ice, gasoline for boats, souvenirs, and boating, picnicking, and camping supplies. Canoe rentals are also available! Plus, you can stop by the Civil War Museum/Marshland Nature Center!

Elk Neck State Park | North East, MD
About 115-miles from Dulles International Airport

Nature-lovers will delight in all that Elk Neck State Park has to offer! Located on a peninsula, this almost 2,200-acre park is full of opportunities to connect with and enjoy nature! Marshlands, woods, cliffs, and beaches make for wonderful hiking, camping, fishing, boating, and swimming adventures! More than 12-miles of hiking trails for all skill levels make traveling the park fun for all! Visitors will want to make sure to visit Turkey Point Lighthouse at the southern tip of the peninsula and take in the beautiful view of the Chesapeake Bay.

Rocky Gap State Park | Flintstone, MD
About 120-miles from Dulles International Airport

Allegany County, MD, is home to Rocky Gap State Park, a beautiful destination offering a variety of activities and programs to visitors within its’ 3,000-acres! As one of Western Maryland’s most popular parks, Rocky Gap State Park is home to a picturesque hemlock forest, and visitors will delight in boating, fishing, and swimming in Lake Habeeb, which is overlooked by Evitt’s Mountain. Spend time hunting, hiking, or visiting the Nature Center to partake in some of the park’s interpretive activities and programs. Campers will enjoy lodging in one of the 14 mini cabins available on-site or enjoy being tucked away in the one-of-a-kind Easter Hill Chalet!

Betterton Beach | Betterton, MD
About 125-miles from Dulles International Airport

Betterton Beach is a 5-acre landscaped waterfront park with 300-feet of frontage for swimming a 700-feet of shoreline access. This family-oriented beach area includes a bathhouse with public restrooms, a boardwalk, lighting, handicap access, a fishing jetty, and a public pier. Be sure to bring a picnic and enjoy the pavilion located on a bay view bluff!

Sherando Lake | Lyndhurst, VA
About 160-miles from Dulles International Airport

Sherando Lake, divided into upper and lower, offers many recreational opportunities for families. Lower Sherando is the largest lake, encompassing 25 acres of cool, spring-fed waters, and is available for swimming, fishing, or relaxing on the sand beach. Many hiking opportunities abound, including the Blue Loop Trail, the Lakeside Trail, and the Torry Ridge Trail that heads to Bald Knob. Weekend campfire programs are held at the amphitheater Memorial Day through Labor Day, as well as other seasonal events, including a kid’s fishing derby and Smokey the Bear’s Birthday Celebration!

Via, check out these other Virginia State Parks that offer swimming, too:

Claytor Lake State Park
Hungry Mother State Park
Bear Creek Lake State Park
Holliday Lake State Park
Pocahontas State Park
Smith Mountain Lake State Park
Twin Lakes State Park
Westmoreland State Park
Kiptopeke State Park
Chippokes Plantation State Park
First Landing State Park
Breaks Interstate Park
Natural Tunnel State Park
Douthat State Park
Fairy Stone State Park
Staunton River State Park

Via the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, check out these other Maryland State Parks that offer swimming, too:

Assateague State Park
Dans Mountain State Park
Deep Creek Lake State Park
Greenwell State Park
Hart-Miller Island State Park
Herrington Manor State Park
Janes Island State Park
New Germany State Park
Pocomoke River State Park
Point Lookout State Park

Important Disclaimer: This opportunity is curated from a public source and subject to changes and/or cancelations that might not be reflected above. Always call to confirm before participating.

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