Ocean City, Assateague and More: Top Beaches in Worcester County

Worcester County, Maryland, is one of the most beautiful destinations in the entire state with gorgeous, relaxing beaches. And these aren't beaches you can find anywhere. These are beaches with fun boardwalks and Ferris wheels and beaches with great trails nearby to explore and wild horses that roam the sand—all within the same county.

The beauty of Worcester County's beaches hasn't gone unnoticed. In fact, Assateague Island was recently ranked the No. 1 best national park beach by USA Today, which praised the area for its wild horses and perfect strip of beach. So bring on the umbrellas and sandcastle-building gear. Here's a guide to the top area beaches in Worcester County, Maryland.

Assateague Island National SeashoreAssateague Island National Seashore
Best for: Relaxing, hiking and wildlife viewing
Assateague Island National Seashore is 40,000 acres (taking up half of Assateague Island) of some of the best, untamed wilderness in the region. The seashore has a long strip of beach as well as portions of marshland and forest, giving beachgoers an impressive scenic view. But the park's biggest feature is the famous Assateague wild horses that roam the area and call it home. If you're headed here for an afternoon of beach lounging, don't forget beach chairs, towels and blankets, but you might also want to bring hiking shoes and binoculars. Rich wildlife can be found on its three major hiking trails. Dogs are welcome here year-round on a leash.

Bayside Recreation AreaBayside Recreation Area
Best for: Families with small children and kayaking
Located on Assateague Island, Bayside Recreation Area is a designated beach spot with soft sands and shallow waters. The gentle waters make it ideal for families with toddlers who want to play in the water without safety concerns of strong waves and rough currents. Several picnic tables surround the recreation area for beachgoers to relax and to have lunch. While at Bayside, explore the private waterway by kayak or canoe since its calmer water makes it easier for paddlers to get around. Bicycle rentals are also available at Bayside, and you can bring fishing supplies because visitors are allowed to fish in the recreation area.

Assateague State ParkAssateague State Park
Best for: Off the beaten path experience and camping
Proud to be called Maryland's only strictly oceanfront park, Assateague State Park is located on the northern part of the barrier island and stretches for two miles. The park has several “hidden trails” that allow hikers to travel through unspoiled wilderness by the shore and beaches to see wildlife such as crabs, wild horses and rabbits. Tent camping is allowed on the beach overnight if you want to make a weekend out of it (reservations required). The campsite has its own fire ring and electric hook-ups to give campers a more comfortable and convenient experience. Also, Assateague State Park is pet-friendly, so you can bring dogs along following some basic rules. They are allowed in the marina area to board boats and in camp loops H, J and I and their adjoining beaches. They also are allowed in day-use areas after Labor Day through the following Memorial Day weekend.

Ocean City BeachOcean City Beach
Best for: Exploring the historic boardwalk
Worcester County's busiest and most popular beach is in Ocean City. Famous for its historic boardwalk (built in 1902), Ocean City Beach is convenient to fun amenities like an amusement park with its own Ferris wheel overlooking the ocean, rows of gift shops and restaurants, arcades and hotels. The family-friendly beach stretches for 10 miles and is patrolled by lifeguards. Spend the day building sand castles or lounging on the sun-kissed beach before heading to the boardwalk for fresh oysters or crab cakes. As night falls, the boardwalk comes alive with lively bars, concerts, and dancing—fun for travelers sans children this trip around. And unlike some of Maryland's neighbors, the beaches in Ocean City are always free.