Before Ocean City, Betterton Beach in Kent County was a popular tourist destination that attracted thousands of visitors a year.
Betterton Beach is located at the mouth of the Sassafras River on the north end of the Chesapeake Bay. Its proximity to the flowing freshwater Susquehanna River and the gently slopping sandy beach made for an ideal swimming spot. The lack of salt in the water meant there were no sea nettles to be found, unlike other parts of the bay.
Marylanders looking for a break from the heat of Baltimore City hopped on steamboats to visit the Eastern Shore. In its heyday, Betterton had 11 resort hotels, numerous restaurants, a dance hall, and a bowling alley. The construction of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, and the growing affordability of automobiles and air conditioning, led to the development of Ocean City and other competing beach resort towns.
Crowds began to thin, and in 1968 the last excursion boat left the Betterton pier. Many of the hotels were subsequently torn down. The beach remains, and you can still enjoy a swim and a picnic lunch on a hot summer day.
Bonus Fun Fact: Captain John Smith was the first European visitor to Betterton Beach in August 1608.