Sandy Point State Park: The Complete Guide

Seagulls perched on rocks in front of lighthouse at Sandy Point State Park
Eric Sturdivant / Getty Images
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Sandy Point State Park

Address
1100 E College Pkwy, Annapolis, MD 21409, USA
Phone +1 410-974-2149

Just outside of Annapolis, Maryland, Sandy Point State Park is a favorite getaway for outdoor recreation. Even though it's located at the edge of a major urban area that includes Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, it feels like a world away thanks to the tranquil pond, calling birds, and amazing views of Chesapeake Bay. Whether you're coming for a picnic, to sit out at the beach, or for one of the exciting annual festivals, this 786-acre park makes for the perfect nature escape on your East Coast trip.

Things to Do

Sandy Point State Park offers a variety of recreational activities including swimming, fishing, crabbing, boating, and hiking. With its convenient location on the west side of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, Sandy Point State Park is a popular destination for families during the summer months. Facilities include picnic areas and shelters, showers, restrooms, and a food concession stand. The park offers views of the Bay Bridge and a variety of migratory waterfowl.

The beach is one of the biggest draws of the park in the summertime. The beaches are lifeguarded from Memorial Day to Labor Day, making them a great option for families with kids. However, there may be jellyfish in the water at the end of summer, so keep an eye out.

The park has 12 rental shelters available for groups and large gatherings, and all require reservations. Nine shelters accommodate 140 people, two shelters accommodate 180 people, and one shelter accommodates 300 people. The shelters include picnic tables, grills, and limited electrical hookups. They are only available for day use and visitors must leave when the park closes at sunset.

Best Hikes & Trails

The park isn't very big and it's easy to explore the whole thing on foot, but there are two trails visitors can take advantage of for a leisurely stroll with some stunning vistas. Sandy Point State Park is home to many species of wildlife that you may see on your trek, including whitetail deer, opossums, raccoons, squirrels, birds of prey, snakes, turtles, fox, rabbits, and much more.

  • Symbi Trail: This short trail starts near the picnic area and continues on through an old-growth pine forest and the bayside marshes, home to all kinds of local wildlife and flora.
  • Blue Crab Trail: This covered trail is the first choice for birdwatchers. You'll be able to all kinds of local avians, from waterfowl to songbirds to birds of prey.

Fishing

Fishing and crabbing are allowed anywhere in the park—including the pond and Chesapeake Bay—except in designated swimming and boating areas. The best spots are off of the rock jetties located at South Beach and East Beach. Chesapeake Bay blue crab is a delicacy of the area and especially popular with local crabbers, although crabbing is restricted to certain days of the week. All Maryland fishing and crabbing regulations apply, including that all people over the age of 16 must have a fishing permit.

Annual Events

Sandy Point hosts a few special events each year that are highlights for the local community. From a seafood festival to holiday cheer, be sure to check out these events if you happen to be in the area at the right time.

  • Maryland Polar Bear Plunge: Each January, the charity event is sponsored by the Maryland State Police in support of the Special Olympics. Thousands of participants of all ages take a dip in the wintry waters of Chesapeake Bay.
  • Maryland Seafood Festival: The annual festival, held each September, features The Capital Crab Soup Cook-off, live music performances, craft booths, and family activities.
  • Lights on the Bay: During the winter holiday season, the park is illuminated with animated lights along the shore of Chesapeake Bay with more than 60 spectacular displays.

Where to Stay Nearby

Camping isn't allowed inside the park but it's located just 10 minutes outside of Annapolis, which has plenty of accommodation options from bed and breakfasts to motel chains to boutique hotels.

  • State House Inn: This timeless inn is in the heart of Annapolis Historic District, and the building may be over 300 years old. You'll have easy access to all of the best parts of downtown Annapolis with Sandy Point less than 10 miles away.
  • 134 Prince: Also in the center of the Historic District, this luxury boutique hotel offers trendy suites with superb amenities. The Dutch Colonial Revival home that the hotel is located in also gives it an extra special touch.
  • Quality Inn: This familiar hotel chain has an option in Annapolis that's also the closest place to stay near Sandy Point. It's only a few minutes away from downtown Annapolis by car, but it's the best choice if you want to stay in the city center.

If you're looking for even more lodging options, then Baltimore and Washington, D.C., are both about 30 minutes away by car.

How to Get There

Sandy Point is just outside of Annapolis, the state capital of Maryland, and easily connected to major nearby cities like Baltimore and Washington, D.C. It's located right off of Highway 50 at the end of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

Accessibility

Sandy Point is fully accessible to all visitors. Beach wheelchairs are available to check out for free on a first-come, first-served basis, while the trails and picnic areas in the park can be used by all standard wheelchairs.

Tips for Your Visit

  • During the high season from May 1 to September 30, there's a per-person charge for entering the park. During the low season from October 1 to April 30, there's just a per-vehicle fee.
  • Pets are only allowed in the park during the low season and must be on a leash at all times unless they're in the water.
  • Maryland Park Service Season Passports can be purchased at the park headquarters or at the contact station when entering the park. They can also be purchased online at the Department of Natural Resources website.
  • Alcohol is only permitted in the East Beach section of the park, but only to visitors who have reserved a shelter and purchased an alcohol permit.
  • Like all Maryland state parks, Sandy Point is "trash free," so you won't find any trash cans inside the park. Make sure you pack out all of your garbage and leave nothing behind.
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Sandy Point State Park: The Complete Guide