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Maryland may be best known for sharing part of its state to create the nation’s capital; however, there are lots of reasons to venture beyond the boundaries of D.C. as well. This state has played an important role in U.S. history, especially during the War of 1812, and it’s where Francis Scott Key wrote the national anthem. This is also a top weekend destination for foodies who love seafood and have been dying to try authentic Maryland crabs.
The landscapes of Maryland range from the countryside to cities, mountains, and beaches, which is quite impressive for such a small state! So consider taking a scenic drive around Maryland to visit its unique towns and natural areas for your next vacation. And when you start planning your Maryland adventure, be sure to add these best places to visit to your itinerary!
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Baltimore is the most obvious destination for people traveling to Maryland, and it’s just a short drive from Washington, DC. This is a great place to bring the kids or learn about inspiring ideas yourself, thanks to the National Aquarium, the USS Constellation Civil War ship, the Edger Allen Poe House, and Camden Yards. This is also a top destination for sports fans because it was Babe Ruth’s hometown. Take a tour of Ruth’s home and the museum and then catch an Orioles game if you’re visiting during baseball season, then retreat to one of Baltimore’s luxury hotels.
Although Baltimore is probably the most famous city in Maryland, Annapolis is actually the capital and certainly worth visiting as well, as it has plenty of things to do and see. This is especially true if you enjoy sailing because Annapolis has been called the sailing capital of the world! Take a lesson at the Annapolis Sailing School to learn the basics, or just tour the U.S. Naval Academy and the 18th-century architecture downtown if you prefer to keep your feet on land.
Beach lovers find their next waterside retreat in Ocean City, Maryland as soon as the temperatures heat up, and this is a classic beach town with a list of alluring attractions. You’ll enjoy a few miles of boardwalk, amusement parks, and about 10 miles of white sandy beaches when you visit. This is also a great place to sample some authentic Maryland crab cakes. Free family-friendly events are common here, such as concerts on Division Street Beach, fireworks, and on-the-beach movies.
Another great place to visit if you enjoy the water is Ocean Pines, Maryland. This town is typically less crowded and more affordable than the popular Ocean City, and there are lots of vacation rentals available for a short or long-term stay. You’ll have to drive just a little further to reach the beaches, but this is an ideal home base for fishing enthusiasts.
There aren’t too many places in the U.S. where horses roam free and wild, but Assateague Island is one of them. Along a 37-mile stretch of coastal land is home to a feral horse population. The horses are protected by the National Park Service, and the land is shared by Maryland and Virginia. The nearby town to visit is Berlin, which is great for hiking, golfing, and shopping. In fact, it was even named Budget Travel‘s “Coolest Small Town in America.” If you don’t stay in Berlin, consider camping alongside the horses on the beach!
If you’re looking for a romantic weekend getaway destination with your sweetheart, then look no further than St. Michaels. This Maryland town has been named one of the most romantic towns in America because of its quaint shopping and dining opportunities and lovely views overlooking the harbor. The historic lighthouse, the Hooper Straight Light, is one of the few lighthouses built on the Chesapeake Bay and has a unique architectural design. Make a reservation at one of the town’s seafood restaurants for dinner and also check out the towns of Oxford and Easton while you’re in the area.
Maryland has a few noteworthy bridges, but one of the most charming ones is located in Chesapeake City. This North Maryland town has a small population, but big sunsets that are enduringly romantic. While on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay, also make sure to visit the art galleries and restaurants of Cambridge. The nearby Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is a great place for bird watching, especially during the migration period in November.
One of the best places to visit in Maryland for foodies is Frederick. This town has become famous for its world-class restaurant district and top chefs working in the historic downtown. There are also more than 30 tasting rooms in the area serving up everything from craft vodka to wine and beyond. You can also take a ghost tour to learn why this Maryland city is thought by some to be haunted. While in town, take a walk through downtown to see the historic churches. The National Museum of Civil War Medicine and the two nearby Civil War battlefields are must-visit destinations for history buffs.
When traveling through Western Maryland, be sure to stop by Swallow Creek State Park to see Muddy Creek Falls. Located near the town of Oakland, this is the state’s highest free-falling waterfall. The falls have been an inspiration to inventors and innovators, such as Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, who set up camp in this beautiful natural area.
Those interested in Civil War history will definitely want to check out the Maryland town of Boonsboro. There are several Civil War sites in town and quaint bed and breakfasts to stay in when you visit. The town was founded by Daniel Boone’s cousins, George and William, in 1792, and top attractions are Main Street and the Bowman House historic log home. The Antietam National Battlefield is also worth a visit while in Boonsboro.
Maryland’s maritime culture is perhaps no more evident than in the seaside town of Rock Hall. Fishing and boating are a way of life here, and crab and oyster boats can be spotted coming and going out of the harbor pretty much every day. The shellfish caught here is served in the town’s seafood restaurants, which means that it’s fresh, local, and delicious. You can stop by the town’s museum to learn about its heritage and take a stroll at sunset to watch the harbor glow.
Many first-time visitors to Maryland are surprised to see so much dramatic scenery in the state. Head to the town of Lusby in Southwest Maryland to see the jagged cliffs along the Chesapeake Bay. The biggest reason that visitors come here is to look for fossils along the shore that date back millions of years. This is also a fun place to go for a hike or try your luck with a fishing pole.