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Off the Beach at North Beach

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North Beach, Maryland

Recently Greenbelter Christine Doran took her kids to North Beach for the day and reviewed it here on the blog. Much discussion followed in the Greenbelters Facebook group and I was prompted to go see the place for myself by commenter Brian Real, who told us he grew up there. He suggested that if access to the beach seems kind of pricey ($17/day for adults if they’re not residents of Calvert County), it costs nothing to walk the boardwalk and enjoy the town’s amenities.

Brian also recommended Plaza Mexico, (“damn good Mexican comfort food”), Sweet Sue’s (“excellent and cute bakery”), and “Neptune’s down the street is where a lot of locals eat and is known for its mussels.”

boardwalk at North Beach, Maryland

On my visit last week I didn’t sample the eateries but thoroughly enjoyed the sights! Starting with the boardwalk, lined with stunning planters the entire route, and a bike path running along it.

boardwalk at North Beach, Maryland, with crape myrtles
There were people posing for selfies with the landscaping!

I hadn’t been to North Beach since the 1980s when it was a sad, sad little beach town. A little googling of the town’s history tells us why. Via Wikipedia: “The town was a gambling mecca for summer visitors from the Washington, D.C. area during the 1940s. In the 1960s and 1970s it became a destination for motorcycle gangs.”

Well, no wonder! But by 1999 there was much post-hurricane rebuilding and a new mayor hell-bent on revitalizing the place using, among other things, gardens.

Bike path, North Beach, maryland

I’m not sure how far the bike path goes but I need to bring my bike and find out. I’m told there’s a new garden design theme every 60 feet along the route.

North Beach, Maryland

Yep, definitely a new theme in this section.

gardens of North Beach, Maryland

Here’s the view toward the Bay.

garden in North Beach, Maryland

The town didn’t stop at mere planter boxes, though. It bought land in a prominent spot and created the new Sunrise Garden, with help from Calvert County Master Gardeners and others. The garden has been certified as Bay-Wise, so it’s great proof that civic landscapes can be eco-friendly.

garden in North Beach, Maryland  garden in North Beach, Maryland

Brownie’s Beach

Brownie's Beach, Maryland

Before heading home I checked out Brownie’s Beach/Bayfront Park a few miles south because Brian had mentioned it as a cheaper spot for actual beach-going. The tiny beach is pretty and was almost empty on a weekday afternoon. And yes, it’s cheaper to use than North Beach, but consider the amenities:

Brownie's Beach, Maryland

That’s it! A Porta-potty and a trash can. No changing rooms, places to buy snacks, or fancy flush toilets.

For the trip home
Brian had one more recommendation that I’ll be sure to check out the next time I go: “Drop into Roland’s Supermarket on the way home, go to the deli, and get some of the homemade potato salad and coleslaw to go. The best you’ll ever have – no exaggeration.” Okay, I’m convinced.

Follow Susan Harris:
Susan started blogging about Greenbelt soon after moving here in 2012, and that first blog has grown into this nonprofit community website. She also created and curates the Greenbelt Maryland YouTube channel. In 2021 Susan joined the Board of Directors of Greenbelt Access TV. Retired from garden writing and teaching, she continues to blog at GardenRant.com.

  1. Anne
    | Reply

    You’ve convinced me to also make a return visit after about 40 years!!!! Spectacular photos. The flower gardens are equal to anything England has to offer, I would say. Let’s get started here in Greenbelt–with the City Offices, maybe–they look a little peaked.

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