Assateague Island National Seashore, 7206 National Seashore Lane, Berlin, (410) 641-1441, nps.gov/asis. It's Ocean City--the same water, sand, wind, and surf--but with wild ponies and campgrounds instead of the boardwalk, hermit crab vendors, and outlet malls.
Deep Creek Lake, 898 State Park Road, Swanton, (301) 387-5563, dnr.state.md.us/publiclands/western/deepcreeklake.html This reservoir boasts boating, water skiing, wake boarding, fishing, golfing, and black bear sightings. This place is serious about fishing: bass, trout, black crappie, walleye, yellow perch, rock bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, chain pickerel, northern pike, and shiners on the regular.
Dewey Beach, Dewey Del., deweybeach.com. This tiny beach town (it's only 0.3 sq. miles) is like a miniature OC--cheap beer, adults to play with, and according to The Washington Post, "lots of tacos."
Elk Neck State Park, 4395 Turkey Point Road, North East, (410) 287-5333, dnr.state.md.us/publiclands/central/elkneck.html If it's less about boardwalks and more about camping, this beach has cabins, plus all that nature stuff like boat launches, hiking, fishing, and canoeing.
Hart-Miller Island State Park, 2813 Jerusalem Road, Kingsville, (410) 592-2897, dnr.state.md.us/publiclands/central/hartmiller.html This Baltimore County park brings the bay to you with camp land and acres of wading in the lapping waves.
North Point State Park, 2813 Jerusalem Road, Kingsville, (410) 592-2897, dnr.state.md.us/publiclands/central/northpoint.html Picnic in a trolley shelter, stroll the Defenders Trail used in the War of 1812, and cool off in the wading beach.
Rehoboth Beach, Rehoboth Beach, Del. rehoboth.com. Reader's Digest's 2006 best beach in America, "modern resort" Rehoboth downsizes OC's excess to pack in the fun.
Rocky Point Beach, 2200 Rocky Point Road, (410) 887-3780, baltimorecountymd.gov/Agencies/recreation/countyparks/rockypoint/index.html Wave hello to Hart-Miller, Craighill Light, and the bay before you cannonball into the Chesapeake. Swim, party, picnic, and conveniently drive home at sundown to catch tonight's episode of whatever can't-miss show is on this summer.
Sandy Point State Park, 1100 E. College Parkway, Annapolis, (410) 974-2149, dnr.state.md.us/publiclands/Southern/sandypoint.html The problem with OC is that you can't drive up to the sand. Sandy Point has a big parking lot, plus picnic tables, grilling stations, and showers at a reasonable distance from the water.
Smith Island, smithisland.org. Getting to Maryland's southernmost point requires boarding a ferry, which leaves once in the morning and once in the evening, making this Somerset County island a real get-away.
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