For nearly 80 years Betterton, Maryland, was a big deal. It was a major shipping stop for Eastern Shore produce and a beach resort for vacationers out of Pennsylvania, Baltimore, Delaware and New Jersey. Now, it’s a village of summer-getaway and retirement homes with a good-sized public swimming beach.
The Chesapeake Bay had a number of beach resorts with grand hotels, ferris wheels, roller coasters, arcades and dancing halls. Most of them faded away and the communities disappeared. But Betterton hung on. In the late 1970s, the town bought the beach and began cleaning up its image. Dilapidated buildings were torn down and the town scrounged up state funds for rehab.
It is now a tidy, little waterfront community. There are a few of the big Victorian homes left, but not many. The summer cottages are more prevalent. They’re now year-round homes. A number of modern condos now line the cliff-tops.
The catholic church in town was turned into a community center and the Betterton Heritage Museum takes up a bit of the entrance with a couple cases of historic items contributed by the residents.The museum tells the history of how the town started as a fishing village and expanded into a shipping port when steamships came along, then became a beach resort. The resort business died when the Bay Bridge was built and steam ships were no longer used.
But as for a place to visit, it’s at the end of a long peninsula through farm-country and there’s not much there. It really is just a small cluster of homes — about 400 year-round residents — and a beach. There are no shops, not even a convenience store. The only restaurant is at the edge of town. The locals go to Still Ponds, MD, for a general store (about 3 miles away) or to the nearest large town, Chestertown (about 12 miles down the road) for a full-sized grocery store and strip-malls.
If you just want to go for a drive or a boat ride, this is a scenic stop.