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Sizzlin’ Summer Calendar

OC Alternatives

Assateague Island National Seashore, 7206 National Seashore Lane, Berlin, (410) 641-1441, Not so far south from all the sound and fury of OC is a strip of quiet seashore that is one of our great state’s ecological treasures. When you feel like getting back to nature, come here to bike, camp, canoe, and swim at beaches conspicuously free of cigarette butts. Oh, and keep your eyes open for wild horses. They’re sort of everywhere.

Deep Creek Lake, 898 State Park Road, Swanton, (301) 387-5563, The ocean—who needs it? Go west into Maryland’s panhandle for choice boating, fishing, and swimming in fresh water, plus all the hikey-trailey activities you could want in the Alleghenies.

Dewey Beach, Dewey, Del., Perfect for younger beachgoers in search of a happy medium between the insomniac party atmosphere of OC and the more pastel-and-picnic baskets vibe of Rehoboth and Bethany. Think of Dewey as the Mai Tai to OC’s Bud Light Lime and Rehoboth’s Sauvignon Blanc.

Elk Neck State Park, 4395 Turkey Point Road, North East, (410) 287-5333,, Maryland vehicle $3, out-of-state $5. The Chesapeake Bay is more than just an estuary we can feel vaguely guilty for polluting; we’re entitled to enjoy it at least as much as we’re obligated to keep it healthy. Miles of beaches perfect for picnicking or shoving off in your canoe make Elk Neck one of the best points of access to the Bay, and will make you proud to be a Free Stater in a way that the OC bar scene, well, won’t.

Hart-Miller Island State Park, 2813 Jerusalem Road, Kingsville, (410) 592-2897, The uncool thing about Hart-Miller Island is also the cool thing about Hart-Miller Island: You gotta have a boat to get there. That means if you do have a boat—or if you’ve convinced your friend who has a boat to take you there, or you’ve hijacked the Constellation from the Inner Harbor—you’re looking at serene swimming, camping, fishing, etc. within spitting distance of the city.

North Point State Park, 8700 North Point Road, Edgemere, (410) 477-0757,, Maryland vehicle $3, out-of-state $5. At North Point, you can (among other things): hike through protected wildlands; cast a line from the famous 1,000-foot Crystal Pier; tread on a trail used to defend Baltimore during the War of 1812; explore the ruins of an old amusement park; and make an Instagram moment of your picnic in view of the water. “A little slice of heaven on the Chesapeake Bay,” claims the web site, and we find ourselves coming back for seconds.

Oregon Ridge Beach, Oregon Ridge Park, (410) 887-3780,, $2-$8. The Department of Recreation and Parks says this former iron ore quarry turned swimmin’ hole is “one of Baltimore’s best kept secrets,” but we feel obligated to spill the beans. They go on to ask: “Why spend all day driving to Ocean City when the white sands and cool waters of Oregon Ridge are just minutes away in Cockeysville[?]” Well, when you put it that way, we’d be fools not to go.

Rehoboth Beach, Rehoboth Beach, Del. Founded in the 19th century as a Methodist retreat on the shore, “The Nation’s Summer Capital” is still OC’s prettier, less rowdy cousin. Bright beaches, restaurants, shopping, a famous boardwalk, and a history of LGBT-friendliness all make Rehoboth a favorite spot for families. And did we mention the salt water taffy? Sign us up.

Rocky Point Beach, 2200 Rocky Point Road, (410) 887-3873,, $8, weekdays $7, children free. Out past Essex, as everything gets a lot greener and bluer, lies this comfy little beach ideally suited for a sunny day away from the city. Playgrounds, volleyball courts, picnic tables, a fishing pier . . . Do yourself a favor: log off, sign-out, and take advantage of sweet spots like this to enjoy the summer outdoors.

Sandy Point State Park, 1100 E. College Parkway, Annapolis, (410) 974-2149,, $5, weekdays $4. It sounds like a state park, doesn’t it? At Sandy Point you can take your boat on the wooder or relax on the beach and chuckle at all the cars stuck in traffic on the Bay Bridge. Also: a solar-powered Victorian lighthouse that is very cool even if you’re not one of those people who has a thing about lighthouses.

Smith Island, 20846 Caleb Jones Road, Ewell, (410) 425 3351, Not only is Smith Island home to both the famous layer cake and one of the more robust examples of the Tidewater accent, it provides a great opportunity for paddling, fishing, museum-going, bed-and-breakfasting, and fresh, fresh seafood.

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