This charming little town beside the Bay was founded at the close of the 19th century as a resort to rival those along the French Riviera. It was served by steamboats from Baltimore and by a railroad from Washington, D.C. Steamboat service diminished over time and the railroad failed in 1935, but the town survived as private automobiles became more readily available. It boomed again in 1948 with the legalization of slot machines, although they lasted only 20 years. Today Chesapeake Beach is once again staging a tourism comeback with the addition of a water park and a new waterfront hotel.
Joined almost seamlessly to North Beach, Chesapeake Beach is the more exciting of the two relatively quiet towns. While North Beach retains the low profile of a collection of beachfront cottages, Chesapeake Beach has been built up with hotels and condominiums. Development also means that there is more to do in Chesapeake Beach—restaurants, a good museum, a hotel with a spa, a water park, and a greater number and variety of shops.