Betterton Beach

Betterton, the town, sits on top of cliffs at the edge of a long, farm-covered peninsula in the Chesapeake Bay. Betteron Beach is isolated at the bottom of those high cliffs near where the Sassfrass River enters the Bay.

100 Main Street, Betterton, MD 21610

The town calls itself the Jewel of the Chesapeake because of that popular, large beach. 

The Betterton Beach Waterfront Park is five acres of landscaped waterfront near the mouth of the Sassafras River, where fresh water currents lower the salinity of the upper Chesapeake Bay. That keeps Betterton Beach free of sea nettles, common in late June or July. It has a bathhouse with public restrooms.

Betterton, MD, beach bathhouse
Betterton Beach bathhouse

The swimming beach is about 300 feet of the 700 feet of shoreline access. There’s also a marina. Tree-covered benches and picnic tables are near the sandy beach area and a picnic pavilion is on the bluff overlooking the beach.

Bench overlooking Betterton Beach, MD
Betterton Beach started out as a small fishing village and a port for local agriculture, the town was eventually named Betterton after the family of Elizabeth Betterton by her husband, Richard Townsend Turner in 1851

The park has a large parking lot next to the beach. And on the other side is the fishing jetty with a surface walk and a public pier. Boating is allowed from a public landing and pier.

Be aware there are no stores — no convenience store, grocery store or market — in town. However, there are now two, year-round restaurants. Barbara’s By The Bay is across the street from the beach park. It has a tasteful, friendly bar and a deck where you can enjoy your meal prepared by chef Barbara Esmonde while looking out over the scenic northern Chesapeake Bay.

Barbara's By the Bay, Betterton, MD
The restaurant, Barbara’s by the Bay, overlooking Betterton Beach. Listed as one of the best 10 restaurants near Betterton.

The other restaurant in town is Marzellas, a pizza place on the main road coming into town, but check to see if it’s open.

The nearest general store is three miles away in Still Pond, Maryland. Chestertown is the largest nearby town, about 12 miles away.

Note: Dogs are not allowed on the beach.

Betterton was a major Victorian summer resort at the end of the 1800s through the 1940s; a major stopping point for ships going up the Chesapeake Bay and through the Chesapeake-and-Delaware Canal, which connects to the Delaware Bay and on to Philadelphia and New Jersey.  

Betterton Beach, MD
Betterton Beach “Jewel of the Chesapeake” before the Bay Bridge was built (photo courtesy Town of Betterton)

The town’s tourism withered when the Bay Bridge was built and steamships stopped running out of Baltimore. The big hotels and arcades are gone; only a few Victorian homes remain. The town rescued the beach by buying it and demolishing the crumbing buildings.

The small Betterton Heritage Museum is just up the hill from the beach in a former Catholic church turned into the community hall. Outside the hall is a rehabbed fisherman’s shanty that you can walk through.

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