North Beach, Maryland, is a sleepy little beach enclave that has been lovingly called “The Jewel of the Chesapeake Bay” by locals. Boasting one of the area’s longest and most accessible coastlines, North Beach is one of the Bay’s most laid-back beach towns, home to an array of crab-centric restaurants, a beautiful yacht marina, long stretches of bikeable waterfront, art galleries, novelty shops, and quintessential beach town dives.
Whether you’re an “ice cream and funnel cake” kind of person or a “sipping wine on my yacht at sunset kind of person”, North Beach has amenities and family-friendly accommodations for every type of visitor. (You just have to know where to look, which is why you’re here.)
Whether you’re renting a home and cooking local seafood for yourself, or staying at a top resort (more on that, below) and having chefs prepare meals for you, this classic coastal town tends to draw repeat visitors and families because of its proximity to D.C..
People, moreover, appreciate North Beach’s walkability and laid-back vibe. There’s even a combination psychic/fortune teller shop in the center of town– so you know this place doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Below, we spotlight some of the best things to do in and around North Beach, Maryland– including where to stay, unique places to eat, and local experiences that you shouldn’t miss.
Enjoy your visit!
For an Upscale Stay: The Inn at Herrington Harbour
Herrington on the Bay is one of Maryland’s premier waterfront resorts, situated on a beautiful waterfront property sandwiched between the Herrington Bay South Marina and the open waters of the Chesapeake.
From the meticulously manicured gardens to its lovely private “mini beaches”, The Inn at Herrington Harbour makes a gorgeous stay for couples and families, alike.
Enjoy the relaxed, homey accommodations with views of the water and bountiful on-site dining featuring the best shellfish and day catch that the Chesapeake Bay has to offer. The concierge team at the Inn is more than helpful at arranging boating, fishing, wine tasting, and other day trips and activities that the area has to offer (more on those activities, below).
Ultimately, it’s a prime location to serve as your home base when exploring the area– but it’s also lovely enough to hang out and have a great time even if you never leave the resort. (In which case, ask for a beachfront suite!) It’s a beautiful and fun place to stay.
Eat Delicious Local Crab Cakes
Foodies: Order the giant upscale crab cakes or a delicious crab cake sandwich at Ketch 22 on the Herrington Harbour South Marina. It has a beautiful, nautical resort interior and the cooly efficient service to match.
^ I love their hearty Maryland Crab Soup (outsiders: this is a great place to try it!) with its generous jumbo lump crab meat and plentiful vegetables. They also do a faithful cream of crab soup and Chesapeake-style sticky wings made with local honey. (<— These are the perfect preface to the Grilled Atlantic Cod Tacos, topped with cilantro-lime sour cream. In summer, they also do a gorgeous soft shell crab BLT.)
Still, the real show stopper here is, of course, their creamy local crab cakes. The zesty house remoulade they serve with them is one that you’ll be dreaming about for days!
Another good option for crab cakes in North Beach, meanwhile, is Hook & Vine Kitchen and Bar. Their Maryland-style crab cakes and shrimp n’ grits clock in at a comparatively modest price. The bread here is really good, too.
Finally, Westlawn Inn is also a good option for crab cakes in North Beach, with a slightly more formal dining room. They have a lovely wrap-around porch! Go in the summer and enjoy an early dinner before walking down to the boardwalk for sunset.
Stroll Along the North Beach Boardwalk (or Chill at Brownie’s Beach)
The long, meandering, dog- and kid-friendly boardwalk at North Beach is one of the area’s most accessible attractions. Go for a seaside stroll during golden hour or wander here with an ice cream cone, local coffee, or funnel cake in hand.
In the warm summer months, it’s a lovely place to catch a sea breeze. And in Autumn and even winter, the waterfront is equally mystifying. (Though you’ll want to bring a jacket!)
Children will love the “shipwreck” sandbar, while adults love wandering along the waterfront and enjoying the sound of waves lapping against the shore. In Autumn, consider renting a bike to ride in the sunken bike line, taking care to wave at the dozens of dogs people will no doubt be walking along the waterfront route.
For a more intimate (read: sit-down) local beach experience, visit Bayfront Park, also known as Brownies Beach. This is a popular local spot about half a mile south of the boardwalk that’s a great place for picnicking or lounging in a beach chair with nothing but a book and the sound of the ocean humming nearby.
Enjoy Brown Sugar Lavender Lattes (and More!) at The Bakist
The Bakist— formerly known as Sweet Sue’s Bakeshop– is the perfect place to get coffee and a light breakfast in North Beach, Maryland.
This cute, vintage-inspired bakery pride itself on the espresso, but we love the brown sugar lavender lattes and the breakfast wraps. (Try the bacon, egg, and avocado wrap or the egg and sausage croissant sandwiches.)
They also have specialty items like vegan oat bars, salted chocolate chip cookies, smoothies, super famous eclairs, and fresh blueberry scones.
The menu– which also includes a few lunch items like deli sandwiches and soups– is seasonal and limited. Nevertheless, this place does a roaring trade right until close, around 4 PM each day.
And, with its convenient location in the heart of North Beach (right near the boardwalk, on the corner of 7th and Bay Avenue), The Bakist is a perfect place to start your day just steps away from the Bay.
^ Ultimately, they serve the best coffee in North Beach. Whether you want to try a muffin or a brownie to go with your joe is your choice entirely. (But we recommend it.)
Wine Tasting at Thanksgiving Farm Winery or The Vineyards at Dodon
While Thanksgiving Farm Winery is technically located 25 minutes away in Harwood, Maryland, it makes a lovely afternoon trip from North Beach.
With an exclusive focus on European-style dry wines, Thanksgiving Farm Winery is helmed by grape-growers and winemakers Doug and Maureen Heimbuch, who together have cultivated an intimate wine tasting experience for small parties at their charming, historic vineyard.
This is a great spot for oenophiles who want a more personalized experience. The owners ferment their wine in small batches on-site, and the charming, restored 1893 farmhouse where the tastings take place is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
The lush green property is also itself a conservation easement, dedicated to environmental stewardship. As a result, its very existence preserves the area’s natural topography. It’s lovely!
The Vineyards at Dodon, meanwhile, are also gorgeous and 25 minutes away from North Beach in Davidsonville, Maryland. Here, they grow international vinifera varieties like Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay. Together, their crops comprise over 28,000 vines across 16 densely-planted acres.
The Vineyards at Dodon property includes three adjacent vineyards that follow painstaking viticulture practices to enhance the balance and biodiversity of the land.
“This philosophy means that we think critically about the environmental consequences of everything we do,” they write on their sustainability page. “The goal is to become part of, and not disruptive to, nature’s balanced rhythms.”
That, and the wine is excellent. Enough said!
Eat Fresh Seafood at Skipper’s Pier (Ideally at Sunset)
As noted above, eating shellfish in North Beach is a quintessential experience of the place. Skipper’s Pier is a lovely waterfront restaurant that specializes in just that. Dine here for Maryland-specific takes on classic Chesapeake seafood, like Maryland Rockfish and Chesapeake Bay Oysters (either charbroiled or on the half shell).
The restaurant sits on a pier right above the water and is a perfect spot to take in the sunset while cracking open a beer and some fresh local crab. As a result, it’s a perennial insider favorite for dining.
Foodies: Be sure to try the Blue Crab Bruschetta or the Chesapeake Crab Dip for a super unique experience. Otherwise, you can’t go wrong with the classic Crab Cake or Blue Crab Ramen. They also serve Snow Crab Legs, Chesapeake Shrimp po’boys, and a gorgeous Ms. Maryland Club. (<— This, my friends, is a blue crab cake with Old Bay shrimp salad, lettuce, tomato, and hickory bacon served on Texas toast. Mmm, mmm!)
Watersports, Sailing, Crabbing, Etc.
Herrington Harbour South is a great launch point for boats and those seeking to explore the area by sea. The beautiful Marina is as welcoming for a weeknight stroll as it is an early-morning sail. (Check with Herrington Harbour about boat slip rentals.)
FishingBooker has a helpful search platform that can guide you to fishing charters and boat rentals in North Beach. Here, you can search according to your party size and desired dates.
Test The Limits of Your Brain Freeze at Cold Penguin Ice Cream
The Cold Penguin may not be fancy, but it’s the most reliable place to get a good scoop of ice cream in North Beach. With its unpretentious location in an old house near the water, it’s got a nice veranda-style porch to sit and enjoy your cone. Or, take your scoop for a walk along the shore before returning to do a wine tasting next door. (It’s a thing.)
In addition to Hershey’s brand ice cream, they sell ice cream smoothies. Try the Mocha Monkey Cooler (cappuccino, chocolate ice cream, and bananas) or a Strawberry Colada (strawberries blended into a pina colada– no alcohol, no problem).
Plus, they are canine-friendly. They even have beef-flavored ice cream for dogs! (And there are many dogs in North Beach, which you are likely to see on the boardwalk.)
Golfing at Renditions Golf Course
Golfers, take note: Renditions Golf Course is one of the most beautiful and serene golf courses on the East Coast! These lovely 18 holes inspired by Grand Slam venues like Augusta National Golf Club are painstakingly maintained, and there’s a gorgeous clubhouse, to boot.
This course is a tribute to “golf’s greatest holes” and offers a lovely way to get outside when the weather is nice, ideally in late summer and early autumn. Dine at the delicious Player’s Grill (they have excellent breakfast, lunch, and dinner) or book some private on-site instruction with an LPGA professional.
Ultimately, whether you’re an avid golfer or just a curious newcomer, this Davidsonville hot spot is not to be missed. It’s an ideal place to enjoy a pretty day before heading home to a sunset dinner on the water. (<— That, of course, is a North Beach necessity.)
Related: Where to find The 6 Best Crab Cakes in Baltimore.