May 17, 2012 | by Valerie Blake
A home away from home

A lazy Saturday on the Beach at Rehoboth last summer. (Blade file photo)

Hello there beach lovers. Are you ready for the first annual pilgrimage to your shoreline of choice over Memorial Day weekend? I know I am. In fact, I started preparing for it late last summer.

We are fortunate to be close enough to frequent many fun-in-the-sun destinations along the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay: Ocean City, Rehoboth, Lewes and various parts of the Virginia coast, to name a few. And if you don’t mind a driving a bit longer, you can even head to the Jersey Shore (just don’t forget to pack your Snooki).

I remember when vacations meant taking a week or two off to unwind from the stress of the five-day work week. Now, however, my schedule rarely permits such extravagance as a vacation (or a five-day work week, or even a weekend), so I substitute lengthy, pre-planned excursions with short forays to areas I can get to in about an hour when my mood and schedule coincide.

Last year I discovered the Twin Beaches overlooking the Chesapeake Bay: Chesapeake Beach in Calvert County, Md., and North Beach, located in northern Calvert County and running up into the southern tip of Anne Arundel.

The twins have a total year-round population of roughly 8,000 people, with a surprising amount of them commuting on a daily basis to the D.C. metropolitan area. With a median home price of about $260,000, I was delighted to find a little, one-bedroom cottage in need of some TLC for far less.

Destined to become my getaway, it was close to the boardwalk with its shops, restaurants and antique stores, and only a block from the bay. It had vaulted ceilings, a loft, a small back yard for my dogs and a big shade tree in the front. I christened it The Shady Lady.

On Aug. 27, 2011, five days before settlement, Hurricane Irene lifted the beautiful tree from the front yard and dumped it unceremoniously on the roof. Alas, The Shady Lady had become The Tattered Trollop overnight.

Undaunted, I found another cottage in a small Chesapeake Beach subdivision of only 18 homes with a tiny patch of sandy beach, a pier and a gorgeous view of the bay from my front windows and deck. I leased it with an option to buy next year.

Admittedly, this is a far more subdued area than many others, but there is still plenty to do and see during the summer season. Here are some of my favorites.

The Chesapeake Beach Resort & Spa, built in 2004, offers rooms with a view, two waterfront restaurants and a more casual café, a day spa and video lottery terminals (yes, they look like slot machines but they’re legal). You can purchase weekend getaway packages for accommodations, food and spa treatments online at chesapeakebeachresortspa.com.

Don’t miss the Water Park from May 26-Sept. 3, with a large lagoon, fountains, waterfalls and eight water slides (also open evenings on Fridays from July 6-Aug. 10). Take the children to meet Sponge Bob Square Pants (June 25), Dora the Explorer (July 23) and Elmo (Aug. 13) from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Tour the historic Railway Museum and attend an evening concert there on the second Thursday of the month from June through September.

Go antiquing and stop for a bite to eat or an ice cream cone along the boardwalk in North Beach, or charter a fishing boat and come home with a tall tale of the one that got away.

For a change of scenery, you can take the trolley north to Deale and attend the Farmer’s Market on Thursday afternoons or visit Shipwright Harbor and Harrington Harbor marinas and lunch at Calypso Bay or The Skipper’s Pier.

I don’t get to my cottage nearly as often as I would like, but each time I turn from Route 4 onto Maryland 260, I can feel my stress dissolve as I approach the bay. If you’re looking for a quiet spot to unwind, this is it.  If not, I’ll meet you in Rehoboth next year.

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