The solstice arrives at 4:50 p.m. Thursday, the celestial event usually described as the start of summer.


Yes, the sun rises at 5:40 a.m. — kicking off 14 hours, 54 minutes of daylight in Annapolis — and it commences our longest day and shortest night of the year. But you could just as easily say June 1 is the start of summer or the day schools let out.

Summer is a state of mind and geography. Nothing sums that up better than a trip to the beach. But where can you go if you can’t make the six-hour roundtrip drive to the Atlantic Ocean?

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“The best beach is the beach you can get to,” Jody Hedeman Couser said.

She should know. Over the past four summers, the Annapolis resident has been to 123 Chesapeake Bay beaches — well, she cheated one day and slipped some Delaware Bay beaches onto her list.

Couser’s exploration started in 2020, when COVID tethered her family to video conferences. She was free to explore and launched Chesapeake Journeys to describe what she found. Her one rule for visiting was that they had to be open to the public, even if they were privately owned, or if reservations and passes were required.

“I like all kinds of beaches,” Couser said. “They can be small, they can be big.”

Jody Couser started exploring Chesapeake Bay beaches in 2020, when COVID tethered her family to video conferences
Jody Couser started exploring Chesapeake Bay beaches in 2020, when COVID tethered her family to video conferences. (Courtesy of Chesapeake Journeys)

Her short descriptions focus on a beach’s charms rather than its shortcomings, such as weekend traffic or July sea nettles. (Check out this NOAA interactive map tracking the northward progress of these stinging gobs of goo, aka Chrysaora chesapeakei).

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In between raising her kids and working as senior VP of communications at the Chesapeake Conservancy, a nonprofit that funds land preservation, Couser is planning her trips for this year. You can check out her website to follow her explorations, but here are four beaches on this side of the Bay Bridge (because crossing it in summer is not that much fun).

Sandy Point State Park is the mack daddy of bay beaches. Its orange sand can be a surprise if you’re expecting the white sugar of Atlantic beaches, and traffic can be almost as bad as crossing the bridge. That’s balanced out by the proximity to Annapolis, the views and water deep enough for a plunge — with lifeguards to improve safety.

Admission is $5 per person, but season passes start at $75. The beach has a limited capacity and can fill up on busy weekends, so call 240-240-2281 for updates.

A new bathhouse at Fort Smallwood Park in Pasadena was set to open by Memorial Day but is now pushed back to July or later. Once Anne Arundel County finishes the work, the bathhouse and shallow-water beaches on the bay side should make the $6-per-car admission a value. More upgrades are due by next summer.

Mayo Beach Park in Edgewater is open daily through Monday, when this spot on the South River at its junction with the bay shifts to a weekends-only schedule. That’s to accommodate youth summer camps through Aug. 9, when the beach reverts to a daily schedule. Weekend access all summer requires a reservation, however, which is available for free online.

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Reservations are also required at the Beverly Triton Nature Park, a short distance south along the bay shoreline. The county opened this beach with much fanfare last spring but emphasizes the natural trails over the small strip of bay beachfront. A day pass is $6.

For more beaches on the bay and beyond, check out Maryland’s guide to public water access.

Here are some other things you can do in the next seven days. If you head to outdoor events this weekend, keep in mind the city has opened its cooling centers because of extreme heat in the forecast.

Get ready

6-8 p.m. Friday

Annapolis Town Center continues its free summer concert series with the Original Moonlighters performing Motown hits at the Boathouse Pavilion.

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Tons of music

11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday

Eastport A Rockin, the small-town music festival centered around the Annapolis Maritime Museum, features 47 bands this year on four stages.

Headliners include L. Rogers, the Grilled Lincolns, The Dan Heely Band and Ivy League. Tickets are $30 in advance, and $40 on Saturday, plus fees. VIP packages available.

Proceeds from the event support the museum, the Annapolis Musicians Fund for Musicians), the Eastport Volunteer Fire Company plus Eastport Elementary and Annapolis Middle Schools.

Parade and festival

Noon to 9 p.m. Saturday

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The Annapolis Juneteenth Parade starts at noon at College Avenue, then travels up West Street to the Bates Athletic Complex behind Maryland Hall. The festival grounds will be full of food, arts, crafts and information booths. The festival runs from 1 to 9 p.m., with music ranging from gospel to go-go, smooth jazz to rap, R&B to spoken word. It’s free.

Colonial fashion

5 p.m. Sunday

The Colonial Players stage will be turned into a fashion runway for a showcase of costumes used by the city’s oldest theater company. The show will include an auction for unusual props created for past productions. Free admission.

Watch on YouTube

Swing, swing

6:30-8:30 p.m. Sunday

The City Dock summer concert series continues with the Bayside Big Band this week. Bring your own chair. Free.

Summer arias

6:30-7:30 p.m. Monday

Annapolis Opera sopranos Amanda Densmore and Dennique Isaac will explain the meaning behind classic arias and popular songs during Stories Through Music, a program for children ages 6 to 10 at the Annapolis library. Free.