Assateague State Park

While every state has a distinctive shoreline, the Maryland coast is something special, with beaches along the Atlantic Ocean, Isle of Wright Bay, and the Chesapeake. Unlike the New Jersey beaches, where many prime miles of shoreline are located on barrier islands, Maryland beaches tend to be located on the mainland. One exception is Assateague State Park, located on a barrier island cradled between the Atlantic and Sinepuxent Bay.

A short drive from the Ocean City boardwalk, this park on Assateague Island offers natural beauty, a place to stretch out, and somewhere to have a lot of fun in the great outdoors. It was designed to be accessible for all, complete with campsites, beach wheelchairs for rent, and a wheelchair-accessible fishing pier. Visitors of all fitness abilities will find the perfect activity for enjoying time along the beaches on Assateague Island.

No matter what you think is the perfect beach pursuit, you'll find it at Assateague State Park. Along the ocean, there are plenty of places for swimming, soaking in the sun, strolling the shore, fishing, and surfing. The bayside is a favorite place for kayaking and canoeing, as are nearby North Beach and the Ocean City beaches.

Swimming is allowed at the beaches on Assateague Island between Memorial Day and Labor Day, the traditional summer season. Lifeguards are on duty on these Maryland beaches between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., the only time when visitors can take to the water. The camping season is a big longer, beginning in April and stretching into October.

Like Sandy Point Beach along the Chesapeake Bay, Assateague State Park is a popular place for a picnic. Both of the state parks offer a mix of shelters and tables where you can enjoy a meal that came from a wicker basket rather than a drive-through.

The park on Assateague Island is an amazing place to watch for wildlife, especially among its marshes. Whether you're sitting on the beach or hoofing it on one of the trails, you'll have the chance to see deer, waterfowl, and feral horses. These wild horses are descendants of domesticated animals that have adapted to the elements over time, and they're quite a sight to behold.

Beaches on Assateague Island also are a part of the Assateague Island National Seashore, which covers of places in Maryland and across the border in Virginia, both on the island and the mainland. The National Park Service provides lifeguards in areas where swimming, surf fishing, floats, and surfing are allowed. In addition to the typical beach activities, visitors can enjoy horseback riding, biking, shell collecting, rides on over-sand vehicles, and wildlife watching.

Both the state park on Assateague Island and the national seashore offer campsites that can accommodate RVs and rustic camping alike. With a little preparation, for instance bringing your own firewood and remembering the sunscreen, campers will have a better chance of enjoying their barrier island overnights.

Whether made through the Maryland Department of National Resources or the National Park Services, reservations should be made well in advance. Both of state park and national seashore have plenty of campsites, but space can fill up quickly during the height of the summer season. At the state park, two places are set aside specifically for youth groups.

For those who'd rather enjoy the comfort of air conditioning, a fluffy pillow, and full amenities, a wide variety of Maryland beach hotels can be found in nearby Ocean City. Chincoteague, Virginia, also has a number of hotels and visitor amenities, all within a short drive of the scenic barrier island and its wild horses.

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