Best for Families: Fun-Filled Marinas on the Bay

There are some universal truths about cruising with kids. The first is that snacks, drinks, water toys and sunscreen (in that order) are paramount. Second is that even if you’re having fun on the hook, kids will also love staying at a marina, as long as there’s a pool and the promise of ice cream. Bonus points are awarded for marinas with a beach, game room, or any other place where they can have some fun without their parents hovering.

The good news for the parents and grandparents out there is that there are many great marinas on the Bay that deliver all that, and more. Throw in a few adult beverages and great dining on the side, and you and the kids will have a ball. Here are a few of our favorites.

Safe Harbor Great Oak Landing

With a tiki bar, restaurant, beach and pool, golf course, and so much more, your family will find endless opportunities for fun at Safe Harbor Great Oak Landing.

Fairlee Creek, Md.
Fairlee Creek is known for fun times, sandy shoals and a party atmosphere. Indeed, Great Oak Landing on the creek’s north shore offers plenty of partying, but it’s often done with families in mind. The marina features a pool, playground, and activities for kids on the weekends. The marina is also home to the Landing restaurant (casual family fare) and Jellyfish Joel’s Beach Bar (for the adults, obviously).

Tides Inn

When it’s time to get off the boat, Tides Inn in Irvington has some of the best toys for all ages. Photo courtesy of Tides Inn

Irvington, Va.
This well-known high-end resort offers family-friendly use of bicycles; kayaks, canoes, paddleboards and paddleboats; crabbing and fishing supplies for a little fun on the docks; lawn games; a maker space; and a casual restaurant with an ice cream bar. Added adult amenities include tennis, pickleball, a spa, and an 18-hole golf course.

Herrington Harbour South

Herrington Harbour South is family central.

Friendship, Md.
This popular marina on Herring Bay has everything a family needs—a huge pool (with kiddie area!), beach with plenty of room for swimming, complimentary kayaks (other watersports for extra fee), games, tennis, sauna and fitness center, plus frequent outdoor movie nights and family-friendly parties throughout the summer. The resort also features the Ketch 22 restaurant, and the Chesapeake Market & Deli for grab-and-go food, drinks and ice cream. If you want to venture into Deale for more dining options, it’s just a quick dinghy ride up the creek, and worth the ride!

Safe Harbor Bluewater

Safe Harbor Bluewater in Hampton has everything you need for a quiet weekend, but it’s also just a short hop to some of the area’s best attractions.

Hampton, Va.
Hampton’s a great town for a family visit, and Bluewater is the perfect place to stay while you’re there. For starters there’s a pool, picnic area, and, of course, the Surfrider Restaurant, famed for its delectable seafood dishes. You can catch the water taxi for a ride just up the creek to downtown Hampton, where you can head off to the Virginia Air & Space Center, Hampton History Museum, the NASA Langley Visitor Center, some family friendly restaurants, and ice cream. If you need to stay awhile, the marina itself has a world-class service center, too.

Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Resort and Marina
Cambridge, Md.

With multiple pools, mini golf, a water slide, and game rooms, the Hyatt Regency is not just a marina: for kids, it’s a true vacation destination.

Perhaps more suited for families with older children, the Hyatt in Cambridge, Md., is luxurious but welcoming to all, and the pools (three of them!) are spectacular. There is also a mini golf course, frisbee golf, horseshoes, volleyball court, and a game room. The resort is just a few minutes away from downtown Cambridge, which features a lively main street area filled with fun eateries, breweries and cafes.

Up and down the Bay, on the western shore or the Eastern Shore, marinas can be a great way to break up a boat trip for the kids and give the adults a break from entertaining them.