From the Bay, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

North Beach, Maryland – “The Jewel of the Chesapeake Bay”

By Bob Tagert

With summer looming large, a trip to the beach seems to be in order. No…not Ocean City or the beaches of Southern Delaware – the sandy place on the Chesapeake we know as North Beach.

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge was first opened in 1952 allowing access to the beaches of the Atlantic Ocean; but before the bridge, folks from Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia would take their weekend retreats to the Chesapeake Bay, and one of the most popular towns was North Beach in Calvert County.

In the early 1900’s, the town provided an ideal site for the vacation cottages of part-time residents from the city, but it also served well as the home for working watermen. You can often see the classic bay built boats out on the bay either hauling up crab pots or taking out anglers to try their luck with bottom fishing or trolling for the massive striped bass or “Rockfish”. When the Bay Bridge opened, the summer crowds at the western shore getaways soon dissipated. The end of legalized gambling was the final blow that ended the heyday of North Beach as a rollicking resort.

Following that period of decline, the last 12 or so years have produced a rebirth of civic pride and a sense of community. Flower gardens blossom and the popular Friday Night Farmers’ Market is jammed with locals. Summer movies on the beach and an array of festivals and special events happen here year round. The sense of community is strong and everyone is extremely friendly.

Located on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay, the town of North Beach epitomizes “land of pleasant living.”  The seven-block waterfront has a fishing pier and a half-mile-long boardwalk.  The boardwalk goes right up to the bay at the southern end and flares out into sandy beaches at the north end.  Here you can find people enjoying the sun and coolness of the Chesapeake.  All along the boardwalk are park benches for casual strollers to rest and watch the boats sail on the bay.  The town also encompasses a wildlife refuge in its tidal marshlands where native species make their homes and seasonal migrants find a welcome place to rest.

In 2003, Hurricane Isabel destroyed many of the waterfront homes. Today the older homes have been replaced by brightly colored new homes and condominiums. Walking through the town gives one the feeling that they might be in Key West. There are antique shops, a fine arts gallery, novelty shops, gift shops and a food market. There are numerous dining options in town, including burgers, ice cream, bakery items, sandwiches, and casual and fine dining restaurants.

Getting to North Beach is easy.  Just take the beltway (Interstate 95/495) to route 4 south.  After you pass Wayson’s Corner look for the signs and route 260 to North Beach and Chesapeake Beach.  It’s only a 40-45 minute drive from Old Town depending on Beltway traffic. See you at the beach! For events and more information check them out on Facebook or log on to!

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