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Maryland residents have easy access to a host of fabulous weekend getaways, both in the state and the surrounding area. No matter what your idea of fun is, you’re sure to find an ideal escape among these options.
While Baltimore residents may look for ways to escape the city, for others, it makes an ideal getaway with a wealth of popular attractions. At the National Aquarium in the Inner Harbor, you’ll find 16,500 animals from 660 species including Bottlenose dolphins, puffins, reptiles and amphibians, and lots of fish. It also includes stand-out exhibits like a multiple-story coral reef and a tropical rainforest. Dolphin Discovery allows visitors to watch dolphin training, feeding, and playing. The Inner Harbor is filled with all sorts of dining and shopping opportunities, and from here you can hop on a water taxi for a fun and affordable way to see the sites. From May to September, it stops throughout the Inner Harbor, Fells Point, Fort McHenry, and Canton.
The Eastern Shore is the east side of Chesapeake Bay, and it’s home to sandy beaches, gorgeous natural areas, and numerous charming towns. Check out the Chesapeake City Historic District with its magnificent restored homes, B&Bs, inns, and local shops. You can also explore the Canal Museum, catch an outdoor summer concert and visit the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. Of course, one of the definite musts here is to indulge in blue crabs, found on the menu at many of the area’s restaurants.
Shenandoah National Park is less than a two-hour drive from Bethesda and gets only a fraction of the visitors of the area’s two other parks, which means you’ll be able to enjoy the stunning scenery that includes jaw-dropping mountain vistas and cascading waterfalls practically all to yourself. If the outdoors is your thing, this is definitely a great place to spend the weekend, with more than 500 miles of hiking trails as well as nearly 200,000 acres of backcountry for camping. Enjoy wildlife viewing, bird watching, rock climbing, fly fishing, and more. While you’re there, you may also want to visit the underground maze of stalactites and stalagmites at Luray Caverns.
Swallow Falls State Park is just a few hours west of central Baltimore, and it’s considered one of the state’s most picturesque nature preserves. It’s best known for Muddy Creek Falls, Maryland’s highest free-falling waterfall, which plunges over 40 feet before disappearing in the Youghiogheny River rapids. Enjoy hiking the scenic trails that will allow you to see many of the most impressive sights in the region, as well as picnicking and even camping among the trees, which were some of the same hemlocks that Thomas Edison once slept under.
Ocean City is a popular summer destination, with its three-mile-long boardwalk sitting at its tip. It dates back to 1902 and offers games, rides, eateries, and shops, including the 1902 Herschel-Spellman carousel. Don’t miss the Life-Saving Station Museum, which explores the history of shipwrecks and the rescue teams which came to their aid, or the Inlet Indian sculpture, carved from a century-year-old oak and gifted to the state in 1976. There are many other things to do here too, including outdoor movies, Beach Olympics, and free concerts on Wednesday evenings in July and August. You can also dine on classic Maryland blue crabs by the bucket at Mug & Mallet, and you’ll find numerous accommodation options, from hotel rooms and B&Bs to condos and campsites.
Assateague Island National Seashore offers some of the best, if not the best, camping on the east coast. This barrier island is easily accessed, just off the Maryland and Virginia coast, and is jam-packed with sandy beaches, forests, coastal bays, and salt marshes. It’s also home to a community of beautiful wild ponies. Camping is available only on the Maryland side of the island, with the national park campground offering the most rugged and most scenic sites at the edge of the bay and the Atlantic.
Deep Creek Lake is nestled in the mountains of western Maryland, just a few hours from Baltimore. The largest freshwater lake in the state with some 3,900 acres of water and 65 miles of shoreline, it’s not only ideal for summertime activities like boating, kayaking, fishing, and hiking, but the surrounding land is popular for winter sports like cross-country and downhill skiing. During the warmer months, you can camp in one of the multiple parks in the area, or any time of year rent a cabin by the lake or stay in one of the hotels or condos nearby.
St. Mary’s City was Maryland’s first capital and is located just two hours from both Baltimore or Washington D.C. Similar to Virginia’s Colonial Williamsburg, its historic district boasts a living museum where, between March and November, you can not only tour the buildings but get a firsthand look at how early settlers and colonists lived in 17th-century Maryland. You can even step aboard a tall ship and play colonial games. Complete this historic weekend by staying in one of the grand historic properties in the area, including hotels, manor houses, and charming waterfront B&Bs.
Annapolis is the state’s oldest incorporated municipality and the capital city. It’s also been called the sailing capital of the world, making it especially ideal for those who want to enjoy time out on the water. Home to the United States Naval Academy, you can take a guided working tour of its major attractions in the Yard, as well as just enjoy walking the cobblestone streets and shopping in the numerous independent boutiques. The Market House at City Dock in the harbor area offers an unforgettable dining experience and there are a host of great local pubs too. Lodging options are many, though its historic inns like the Governor Calvert House are sure to make for an unforgettable stay.