At the turn of the century (into the 1900s), the town of Colonial Beach was a summer retreat for residents of Washington, DC (only 65 miles away), earning it the nickname “Playground of the Potomac”. The statues (and the many wall murals on buildings throughout the Town) illustrate that time, when visitors would arrive via steamboats and paddle wheelers that made their way down the Potomac from DC and northern Virginia.
This quaint riverside resort town has the second-longest public beach in Virginia.
Colonial Beach is one of the closest beaches to DC, and it’s one of the few remaining small seaport towns on the Potomac River.
Location: 116 Hawthorn St, Colonial Beach, VA 22443 (~33 miles/45 min. from Fredericksburg)
Hours: Open 24 hours
We headed to Colonial Beach last Monday (June 21, 2021) for our first time. We’ve been to so many beaches around the area and even ones farther away. I’m not sure why we’ve waited so long to visit Colonial Beach.
We had a great visit. The water was nice and calm. The kids, complained that the “sand” was a bit rocky and coarse. It’s definitely not like the sand at Virginia Beach or even Lake Anna State Park. The sand is softer near the southern section of the beach.
There isn’t much shade near the beach so bring an umbrella or shelter. Make sure to bring some beach toys. Five & Six really enjoyed having inflatable rings.
We started out at the beaches north of the Town Pier but ended up at the beach south of the pier. We liked that area much better. There was more space and more sand. The kids did not want to leave.
Since we visited on a Monday, none of the fun food and ice cream places were open.
- Parking can be found along the streets and in parking lots.
- $2/hour or $20/day.
- Pay at nearby pay stations. You will need your license plate #.
- FREE for handicapped
- We ended up street parking on Colonial Ave. But moved our car later to Irving Ave.
- Metered street parking on Irving Ave. puts you right near the nicer beach
- There’s also a parking lot near Wilder Ave.
- Detailed parking information can be found HERE.
Restrooms: Can be found on the Boardwalk near the swings & south of the Town Pier.
Colonial Beach is a Golf Cart Community. In 2011, it became one the first Virginia communities to permit golf carts on public streets. You will see them everywhere. Consider renting a golf cart for the day or 1/2 day.
Take the FREE Colonial Beach Trolley to get around
- Runs July 2 – Labor Day / July 4th weekend runs Fri – Sat / Labor Day runs Sat – Sun
- 11 am – 7 pm
- Makes 20 stops along the route
- A link to the schedule can be found HERE.
A great place to eat is Dockside Tiki Bar.
- Closed Mondays and Tuesdays
- Open: W-F 4-9 pm / Sat. Noon-11 pm/Sun. 10 am – 8 pm
Grab ice cream at Nancy’s Ice Cream Shop.
- 301 Washington Ave.
- Seasonal ice cream hut
- Closed: M & T
- Open: W-Sun. Hours: 11 am – 9:30 pm
- There’s a small playground across the street at 315 Douglas Ave.
- Make sure to pose for a photo at the LOVE art installation–this one includes a golf cart. It’s near the Town Pier.
- Swing on the beach swings.
- Look for the postcard vintage murals around town. Hints can be found here.
- Paint a rock, hide it in town, snap a picture of it and post it on the Colonial Beach Rocks Facebook page.
- Visit a giant tree. A giant, former state record holder Cherrybark Oak tree can be seen at 215 Ball Street.
- Visit Alexander Graham Bell’s summer home. It can be seen at 821 Irving Avenue. It is now a private residence.
- Enjoy Colonial Beach’s Riverwalk– a scenic pathway along the shores of the Potomac River. It’s at the end of the metered parking sidewalk area on Irving Avenue. The path is well-marked.
Explore Nearby History and Nature:
- George Washington’s Birthplace
- Many scheduled events, working colonial farm with animals & a blacksmith shop, trails, beach
- James Monroe’s Birthplace
- Colonial Beach is the birthplace of President James Monroe, whose great-great grandfather settled the town in 1650.
- Visitor’s Center open Sat & Sun 11 am – 4 pm
- Many monuments and markers
- One cool artifact is the replica of the coat he once wore.
- Stratford Hall
- Westmoreland State Park
- Hunt for shark teeth
- The area where John Wilkes Booth was captured is not far from Colonial Beach. As you’re driving down Route 301, look for the sign telling of the capture of John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of President Lincoln. There’s nowhere to pull over.