Most people head to Ocean City or the Delaware shore. But there are closer, cheaper and less crowded waterfront parks you can visit.  Virginia is for Lovers website has compiled a list.

Just a couple of hours’ drive from Washington, DC, you’ll find Aquia Landing Park on the Potomac River. The county park has about a quarter-mile of beach and a couple of pavilions. It’s small but scenic and historic. The Underground Railroad had a stop here during the Civil War.

Aquia Landing Park is open year-round. The public beach offers fishing, picnicking, and kayaking. It’s located miles east of Stafford Courthouse (Exit 140 from I-95). The hours are 8am to dusk.

Northwest River Park near Chesapeake, Virginia, is on 763 acres of wetland and forest on the Northwest River. You’ll find seven-miles of trails, boating, canoeing and fishing. You can rent canoes, jon-boats and paddleboats. A license is needed for fishing, and you can’t buy it at the park.

A walkway weaves through the park and bridges both a freshwater marsh and bald cyprus swamp, ending at an observation platform.