My two youngest kids and I went to play at Brownie's Beach, Maryland. My little ones loved digging in the sand, but I was most excited to look for shark's teeth.
Our fossil-finding mission was successful! The fossils we found were very small, but they were easy to find as we sifted through the rocks at our feet.
Brownie's Beach (officially known as Bayfront Park) is a small beach on the Chesapeake. It is very popular with fossil hunters, and serious fossil hunters visit year-round.
What to Expect
This calm, bay beach is a gem if you want a quiet place for little ones to play in the water. The waves are gentle and calm, and the beach slopes so gradually that my three-year-old and I walked out over 50 feet into the water and he was standing up just fine.
This is a small, local beach with few amenities – no running water and only two portable restrooms, which are often locked during the off season. There is no lifeguard. Parking is limited in the summer, so you may need to arrive early.
Things to Do
We found plenty of sand for building sand castles and picnicking. As the water warms up, there may be jelly fish in the water. Watch for jellies if you have little ones splashing around in the water.
My kids loved playing with the driftwood on the beach. We built a seesaw for them to balance on, and I wished I had rope with me to help them build a raft.
There is a lovely boardwalk that goes into Chesapeake Beach proper if you want to take a stroll. Brownie's Beach is a dog-friendly beach.
For my family, the best thing about Brownie's Beach was that it is only about 30 miles from Washington D.C., making it an easy day trip.
Where to Find Shark's Teeth
I wasn't sure what I was looking for or how to find shark's teeth, but a kind fossil-hunter named Donna showed me the ropes. She was standing in just a foot of water and reached down and grabbed a handful of small pebbles. As we sorted through them, we found small shark's teeth!
Donna's suggestion was to pick up small rocks, not sand. The more sandy your handful, the less likely it it is to have shark's teeth.
So as my children played in the water, I naturally wondered if there were sharks here. The consensus is that these are fossils, and that many of them come from the cliffs on the edge of the beach.
Do not go near the cliffs and do not enter restricted areas because they are dangerous. Landslides or falling rock are common. Brownie's Beach may close due to dangerous landslide conditions.
It has been awhile since our 2014 trip to Brownie's Beach. Here are a few resources that may help you plan a great day at Bayfront Park/Brownie's Beach.
- Chesapeake Beach Official City Website – www.chesapeakebeachmd.gov
- The Fossil Forum (search “Brownie” or “Bayfront”) – http://www.thefossilforum.com/
- Chesapeake Heritage and Paleontology Tours – www.chaptours.org
- The Fossil Guy – www.fossilguy.com
Good to Know
Where: Brownie's Beach Road, Chesapeake Beach, Maryland. For detailed directions and updated pricing, visit www.chesapeakebeachmd.gov.
When: Open daily
How Much: $18/adult, $10/senior (55+), $10/child (up to age 11), as of February 2020. Discounts for Calvert County residents.
Visa, MasterCard and Discover only. Cash is not accepted.
Admission fees are waived for active duty military personnel, veterans and families at Bay Front Park (Brownie’s Beach) on Memorial Day, Labor Day, and July 4th.
How Long: A few hours
Amenities: Portable restrooms. May be locked in the off season.
How else can we help?
Need a place to stay? Brownie's Beach is about an hour's drive west of Washington D.C. Click the button to check rates and availability near Brownie's Beach now on TripAdvisor.
Need help getting around? I generally don't recommend renting a car in Washington D.C., but if you're planning a day trip to Brownie's Beach, you'll need a car. Find the best rates from dozens of agencies at RentalCars.com.