Is Kent Island the best beach destination that you’ve never heard of?

A girl sits on a log at Kent Island beach

Best time to go: 05/15 - 09/15  

Just show up! You don't need tickets.

Directly across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, less than an hour’s drive from Washington, DC, is a hidden gem of a beach. We visited recently on a lark after finding that a closer park was fenced off due to the pandemic. Not so with Terrapin Nature Park on Maryland’s Kent Island, in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay.

Kent Island Beach Entrance
The entrance to the south beach at Terrapin Nature Park on Kent Island, MD

Getting there: Immediately after crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, take the first exit. Take a left at the top of the exit and the next left on Skipjack Parkway. Follow signs to Terrapin Nature Park, where you should find ample parking in the lot on the left.

Most people in the lot will be carrying their beach gear in caddies or backpacks because the lot is a good quarter mile from the beach. Along the way, you’ll find a delightful nature preserve with wide marsh vistas and a bird blind.

Once at the beach, there are a few places to sling a hammock, though most folks just set up a chair on the beach and gaze out at the bay.

A girl walks along the beach at Kent Island, MD
Walking along the narrow beach at Terrapin Nature Park on Kent Island, MD

When lunchtime rolls around, we recommend the Kentmorr Restaurant, which is currently offering their signature crabs for curbside dining only.

Before the recent collapse of civilization in the United States, Kentmorr offered beach dining, table service, and wonderful cocktails. With any luck, those good times will come again.

Other beaches near DC

You can find other great Bay beaches on the way to Solomon’s Island (1.5h), including Chesapeake Beach and Calvert Cliffs State Park. If you don’t want to drive an hour but still want the feel of the beach, check out Leesylvania State Park, on the Potomac. Or, if you’re game for a 2 hour drive, there’s always the shore.