If you’re interested in checking out the day-use beach area in the state park, below is everything you need to know.
Getting Here and Payment
The state park is a great way to quickly access the beach on Assateague, and it offers some more upscale amenities over the National Seashore. It’s important to note that no pets, alcohol or bonfires are permitted in the State Park, and there are often no lifeguards on duty except for the busy Summer weekends.
To get to the State Park day-use area, go over the Verrazano Bridge onto the island and keep going straight (don’t follow the signs to the National Seashore) to run right into the State Park entrance. The first entrance on the right is for campers checking in. The next right will lead you to the single day-use guard shack.
Day Use Fee
From Memorial Day through Labor Day, before 4PM, there is a $5 per person fee to park in the State Park parking lot and access the beach and amenities included. After Labor Day and after 4PM during the Summer season, it’s $5 per vehicle. This includes any child that is not in a car seat. The fees are waived for veterans and those serving as active military, however, any accompanying persons must pay the fees. For more information on Maryland State Park day-use fees and an annual Maryland State Park pass, click here. ALL PARKED VEHICLES MUST HAVE A PARK PASS DISPLAYED ON THEIR WINDSHIELD.
If there is no guard on duty to collect the day-use fees, the park requests that you submit your cash or check payment using the honor box and ticketing system.
To get your day pass, stop at the guard shack before entering the parking lot. If there is no one on duty when you arrive, you will need to use the honor system envelopes located at the shack.
The envelopes have a removable day pass that you will display on your dashboard. Grab an envelope, put your cash or check in, or mark off that you are a Veteran, Active Duty Military or Maryland National Guard. If you have a Maryland State Park annual pass, Golden Age Pass or Universal Disability Pass, there is space to enter your pass number.
Detach the pass, punch out the day of the week that you are visiting and hang it on your rear-view mirror. Submit the payment in the honor box and proceed to your favorite parking spot! Note that the pass number on your payment envelope matches the pass that you will display on your dashboard.
Day-Use Beach and Amenities
Once you are parked, the first thing you’ll notice is the large building. This contains the public bathhouse, a small giftshop and the new 5 Tides snack bar. This is a great place for breakfast and lunch on the go.
The full bathhouse is the prize amenity here with full hot-water showers, flushable toilets and changing rooms. The National Park offers only latrine-style toilets which tend to attract the mosquitoes and biting flies in the heat of the day. It also only has cold-water showers which can be tough if you’re trying to rinse off small children.
To the right of this ground of buildings, is the long walkway to the beach access. This is the only beach access for day-use visitors, so it can get crowded during the Summer. Visitors should be mindful of getting on and off the beach quickly and staying to the right when dragging a lot of items.
Once you are out on the beach, you can go to the right or left to find your spot, but know that the camping loops start almost immediately to the right, so those areas will fill up faster. Here is the map of the State Park Beach:
The beach at the State Park can be narrow, especially at high tide. It does get very crowded near the beach access on any Summer day (7 days a week, but especially on weekends). We recommend getting or renting a good beach wagon that can go through the soft sand to carry your belongings. This way, you can head further down the beach to a less crowded spot.
Food and Picnic Areas
One great thing about the State Park is that they offer picnic tables and grills to those that wish to grill out during their visit. The tables are first-come, first-served and cannot be reserved. These are located behind the main building on either side of the beach access walkway. Be sure to keep all food stored securely at all times to avoid any confrontations with the horses, and please clean up your picnic entirely for future guests.
This beach is very popular for surfers at sunrise during the Summer months. If you are an early riser and want to take in the sights of this exciting sport, grab your beach chair or blanket and come watch the sunrise here. While it doesn’t offer the same wide beaches and ample parking as the National Seashore down the road, we find that the amenities offered here make it a great choice for bringing small children to the beach for a few hours.
The state park also offers a more budget-friendly way to access the beaches on Assateague. At $5 per person in the Summer, it may be more economical for an individual or couple coming, as opposed to the $25 pass to get into the National Seashore. It’s also much closer to the Visitor’s Center, so biking or walking are a completely free option if you aren’t bringing a lot to the beach.
Have you been to the day-use beach on the Maryland State Park side of Assateague? Do you have any advice for beach goers hoping to visit this section of the island? Leave a comment below!