Chesapeake Beach was once a Victorian amusement park getaway at the end of the Chesapeake Beach Railway line coming from Washington, DC.
Now, it’s a small town with a modern spa resort where the park used to be. Nearby, you’ll find a railroad museum, waterpark, fishing piers and charter boats.
Where’s the Beach?
Chesapeake Beach doesn’t have a public beach. You’ll find that in the town of North Beach, just north of Chesapeake Beach.
Chesapeake Beach has Bayfront Park outside the main part of town with Brownie’s Beach. However, only Chesapeake Beach residents can use Brownie’s Beach as of 2021, but check the town’s website for further info.
Bayfront Park is on the outskirts of town and has a small parking lot. It’s a 10-minute walk down a path along a marshy gully to the pretty little sandy beach below the Cheseapeake Bay cliffs.
It has no facilities — restroom, changing rooms, etc. — by the beach.
What’s in Chesapeake Beach?
Chesapeake Bay was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980, but there’s not much historic left to see.
Chesapeake Beach’s public waterfront has been taken by businesses and private homes.
The only public places on the shore of the Chesapeake Bay are a town park and a veterans memorial. Both separated from the water by erosion-preventing boulders.
Instead of a big, sandy beach, Chesapeake Beach gives you personal water access via its water park.
The Chesapeake Beach Municipal Water Park looks like one you’d see at ocean shore towns. This one is owned by the town, but it’s not a typical city pool.
Chesapeake Beach Gambling
The town did keep something from the old resort days — gambling. They have mini-casinos.
These gambling places are typically off of a restaurant and feature slots. The biggest, Rod ‘N’ Reel Resort, has several rooms of slot machines. You’ll also find slots rooms in the large crab houses.
Chesapeake Beach Railroad Museum
The Chesapeake Beach Railway Museum is in the town’s former rail depot, tucked into the corner of the spa’s huge parking lot. It’s nicely restored and is packed with the history of the area. You’ll find photos of the town during its Victorian heyday.
The hours vary depending on the time of year; check the website before you go.
Construction of the railway from Baltimore and Washington began in the late 1800s. On June 9, 1900, the first train arrived at Chesapeake Beach with a full load of passengers and much fanfare. The Great Depression and the automobile brought an end to the railroad, and on April 15, 1935, the final train chugged away from the Chesapeake Beach station
The railroad museum is at the entrance to a resort & spa.
Rod ‘N’ Reel Resort is the closest the village has to a town center. It has a courtyard bar and water front dining overlooking a marina in the Bay. That’s where you’ll find many of the charter fishing boats.
Chesapeake Beach Walking Trail
An overlooked gem that was mentioned as a must-see by locals is the Chesapeake Beach Railway Trail, also called the Chesapeake Beach Heritage Trail or the Calvert County Birding Trial.
It’s a boardwalk along Fishing Creek as it widens into marshes just before it flows into the Bay.
The 1.4 mile trail is almost entire boardwalk going inland from behind the water park, along Fishing Creek and its waterman boats, across marshland to a ranger station farther down the creek.
Bicycles are allowed on the boardwalk.
Crab Houses/Seafood Restaurants
Chesapeake Beach has several seafood restaurants that feature fresh catch from the Chesapeake Bay.
The town docks are full of working watermen looking for rockfish, blue crab and oysters.
Here are some of the Chesapeake Beach standards: