Plan Your Day Trip to the Maryland State Park Side of Assateague
Interested in more than a day trip? Check out our information on Camping at Assateague State Park.
Getting Here and Payment
The state park is a great way to quickly access the beach on Assateague, and it offers some more upscale amenities over the National Seashore. It’s important to note that no pets or alcohol are permitted in the State Park, and there are often no lifeguards on duty.
To get to the State Park day-use area, go over the Verrazano Bridge onto the island and keep going straight (don’t follow the signs to the National Seashore) to run right into the State Park entrance. The first entrance on the right is for campers checking in. The next right will lead you to the single day-use guard shack…
Day Use Fee
There is a $5 per person fee to park in the State Park parking lot and access the beach and amenities included. This includes any child that is not in a car seat. The fees are waived for veterans and those serving as active military, however, any accompanying persons must pay the fees. For more information on Maryland State Park day-use fees and an annual Maryland State Park pass, click here. ALL PARKED VEHICLES MUST HAVE A PARK PASS DISPLAYED ON THEIR WINDSHIELD.
If there is no guard on duty to collect the day-use fees, the park requests that you submit your cash or check payment using the honor box and ticketing system.
To get your day pass, stop at the guard shack before entering the parking lot.
Here is the window:
The envelopes have a removable day pass that you will display on your dashboard. Grab an envelope, put your cash or check in, or mark off that you are a Veteran, Active Duty Military or Maryland National Guard. If you have a Maryland State Park annual pass, Golden Age Pass or Universal Disability Pass, there is space to enter your pass number.
Detach the pass, punch out the day of the week that you are visiting and hang it on your rear-view mirror. Submit the payment in the honor box and proceed to your favorite parking spot!
Day-Use Beach and Amenities
Once you are parked, the first thing you’ll notice is the large building. This contains the public bathrooms, showers, changing rooms, a small giftshop and the Pony Express Snack Bar.
To the right of the building is the long walkway to the beach access.
This is the only public access to the State Park beach. Once you are out on the beach, you can go to the right or left to find your spot, but know that the camping loops start almost immediately to the right, so those areas will fill up faster. Here is the map of the State Park Beach:
The beach at the State Park can be narrow, especially at high tide. It does get very crowded near the beach access on any Summer day (7 days a week, but especially on weekends). We recommend getting or renting a good beach wagon that can go through the soft sand to carry your belongings. This way, you can head down the beach to a less crowded spot.
Food and Picnic Areas
One great thing about the State Park is that they offer picnic tables and grills to those that wish to grill out during their visit. The tables are first-come, first-served and will fill up quickly on the weekends. These are located behind the main building on either side of the beach access walkway. Be sure to keep all food stored securely at all times to avoid any confrontations with our four-hooved residents, and please clean up your picnic entirely.
If you’re looking to grab a quick, ready-made lunch or even an ice cream cone, the Pony Express Snack Bar is a great option. They are open Thursday – Monday (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays) from 11AM – 5PM during the Summer months.
The walk-up window is located behind the main building just to the left of the main beach access. Simply walk up, place your order then grab one of the picnic tables and enjoy!
Here’s the menu:
More Tips for visiting the Assateague State Park
- If you’re visiting on a Summer weekend, arrive early! The main parking lot offers plenty of spaces, however, the lots do fill up and there is no overflow parking. During peak Summer weekends (Memorial Day – Labor Day), the lot is known to be at capacity from noon-4pm.
- Enjoy a bike ride or long walk over the bridge. The state park beach is just 1.5 miles from the main Visitor’s Center parking lot, where you can park for free, and there is an isolated bike path the entire route. Note that while you can walk or bike into the parks for free, if you are planning on using any of the day-use facilities/amenities listed above, they ask that you pay the $5 per person fee at the guard shack.