Island Beaches Less Than an Hour from DC: Kent Island, MD
Did you know there's an island with beaches just 45 minutes from DC? This is not a delirious cold-weather dream--it's true. (And 45 minutes? That was my pre-COVID commute into the office. Maybe we should just live at the beach, instead...)
Welcome to Kent Island, Maryland. If you've ever driven to other Eastern Shore locales or the ocean beaches of Maryland or Delaware, you've almost definitely driven through Kent Island. It can be easy to miss if you're still taking deep breaths after crossing the Bay Bridge. But Kent Island is not a spot to miss, especially if you're looking for an easy DC (beach!) day trip.
Not that most of us need to be sold on a much-needed change of scene, but just in case, here are a few of the many fun things to do on Kent Island:
Beaches and Parks
Terrapin Nature Area: Great park with narrow beach areas on the bay. There are also connected walking trails. The park has a small parking lot, so plan to either get there early or park on the streets nearby and walk. On summer days, people bring all their beach gear to enjoy here; at night, a new crowd will come to watch the Bay Bridge sunset. More here.
Ferry Point Park: Park with paved, gravel, and boardwalk walking trails through marshes and along the water. There are small beach areas here, too! Bring a picnic for the beach or to sit at the tables or benches throughout. Park at the Chesapeake Heritage and Visitor Center to access. More here.
Matapeake Clubhouse & Beach: This is a short but wide beach with a picnic area and separate dog beach. More here.
Cross Island Trail: 6-mile asphalt trail with nice water views. You can park at Terrapin Nature Park and start the trail there. More here.
Kent Island South Trail: 5.8-mile asphalt trail running from Matapeake Park to Romancoke Pier. Lots of woods and fields. More here.
There are so many restaurants on Kent Island, but here are a few of our favorites!
Hemingway's: I'm not sure I need to say much more about this spot once you see the bay views from the restaurant and its very expansive deck. More here.
Amalfi Coast Italian & Wine Bar: Charming Italian restaurant in Historic Stevensville. They have indoor and outdoor dining. Our service was excellent and so were the paninis we got for lunch! More here.
Kent Manor Inn: We had had a very elegant brunch in this inn built in 1820. It's a beautiful setting and no wonder they host lots of weddings! More here.
Historic Stevensville: Quaint downtown area with shops full of crafts and goods from local artisans. We particularly liked our desserts from Peace of Cake. I particularly liked getting some time to shop while my husband and son explored the old train depot and caboose nearby. More here.
Blackwater Distilling: Try this local distillery via takeout, tavern, or outdoor seating. They also have grills you can use if you bring the food--or take advantage of the food trucks there Thursday-Sunday. More here.
The Children's Memorial Playground at Old Love Point Park: Our son had a great time on this playground that's surrounded by lots of athletic fields. More here.
Guitar Factory Tour: Tour the factory at Paul Reed Smith Guitars. This is closed during COVID, but looks very cool. More here.
Finally, here was our itinerary on our most recent Kent Island visit with our 1-year-old. This is from February, so we'll probably do more beach time if we go back again this summer!:
10-10:45: Drive to Kent Island from DC
10:45-12: The Children's Memorial Playground
12-1:30: Lunch on the patio at Amalfi Coast Italian & Wine Bar
1:30-2:30: Shopping in Historic Stevensville (while my husband and son played on the historic caboose nearby)
2:30-2:45: Drive to Ferry Point Park
2:45-4: Ferry Point Park
4-4:45: Drive home
Have fun on your mini beach vacation!