Maryland boasts a wealth of historical, cultural and tourist attractions and offers visitors the best of all four seasons and a host of year-round outdoor activities. Feel the pull of history looking out over the Civil War battlefields of Antietam or walking the storied docks of Annapolis. Sail the waters of the Chesapeake Bay; try your hand surfing, fishing or boating on some of the more than 4,000 miles of Maryland coastline and experience breathtaking views in the Allegheny Mountains. Baltimore enjoys a vibrant arts scene and the world-renowned Inner Harbor is surrounded by historic neighbourhoods where you will find city living at its best with unique shops and restaurants for every style and taste. Pack your days with family fun – fill your nights with unforgettable entertainment.

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National Harbor: Just south of Washington, DC on the banks of the Potomac River, National Harbor is a brand new, 300-acre, mixed-use development offering tree-lined promenades that tempt visitors with incredible dining experiences and more than a million square feet of shopping along Fashion Boulevard – all based close to the marina. Water taxis will take you to Old Town Alexandria and onward to Georgetown in DC, as well as to George Washington’s historic home, Mount Vernon.
Annapolis: Come sail away to Annapolis, home of the US Naval Academy (which you can visit), standing proudly where the Severn River meets the mighty Chesapeake Bay. It has more 18th-century buildings still in use than any other American city. The capital of Maryland, it is also ‘America’s Sailing Capital’, with boating and fishing on the Chesapeake Bay. The town’s welcoming red-brick streets offer art galleries, maritime antiques and designer clothing, while the 18th-century Middleton Tavern serves up delectable Maryland crab cakes.
Cumberland: Cumberland may have 27 listings in the National Register of Historic Places – a tribute to its proud past as a transportation hub, first as the starting point of the National Road (now known as Route 40), and then as home to numerous railroads and the western terminus of the famous C&O Canal – but it’s the town’s new arts and entertainment district that has helped revive the Downtown area and turned it into a thriving community with galleries galore, regular theatre events, antique shops and boutiques.
St Michaels: Over the decades, St Michaels has transformed itself from its early days as a shipbuilding town to a tourist and sailing haven. Known as ‘the town that fooled the British’ (when, in 1813, British marines overshot St Michaels, firing instead at lanterns placed in treetops outside the town), it has maintained its charm through careful restoration and is reckoned to be one of the most romantic destinations in the US. Horse-drawn carriages ply the streets and the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum highlights the bay’s role through history.
Main Street America is alive and well in the Capital Region. Here’s your chance to mix with the locals while discovering the small-town charms Maryland.
Chestertown: Whether you take a horse-and-buggy tour, kayak down the Chester River, or rent a bike, this early-18th-century, former-Eastern Shore port is a delight to explore. Take a cruise on the Sultana schooner; enjoy Fountain Park’s live music and Saturday morning Farmer’s Market or shop for antiques and art in the various galleries. Then gorge yourself on Chesapeake Bay crabs and other seafood in the picturesque nearby fishing port, Rock Hall.
Ellicott City: Railway enthusiasts make a beeline for this picturesque hillside town located just west of Baltimore. Its 1830 B&O Railroad Museum, housed in America’s oldest surviving rail station, features a vintage train car, evocative exhibits and a tempting shop. Stroll up steep Main Street and you’ll discover a wealth of diverting antique, vintage clothing and bric-a-brac shops. Then dine at Tersiguel’s French Country Restaurant, set in the home of the town’s first mayor and featuring local farm fresh produce.
Frederick: The handsome gateway to the Civil War battlefields of Antietam and Gettysburg is known for its intriguing National Museum of Civil War Medicine, the tomb of Francis Scott Key, author of America’s national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner, and the home of feisty patriot Barbara Fritchie, whose defiance of the invading Confederate army inspired a rousing poem by John Greenleaf Whittier.
Hagerstown: Not only is this the entry point for beautiful, mountainous, western Maryland, it is a delight in its own right, with museums covering everything from 19th- and 20th-century American art to the town’s railway heritage. Make sure to visit the 1739 park-sited home and trading post of town founder Jonathan Hager. If in town on a Saturday, breakfast at the lively Farmers’ Market and, at any time, shop for everything from antiques to alpaca clothing (the useful animals are bred at the local Annapaca Farm) or, for great bargains, at the local Prime Outlet mall.
St Mary’s City: Set on a southern peninsula surrounded by the St Mary’s River and the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland’s original 17th-century capital is a treasure house of period charm, with ongoing archaeological digs spread across the landscape. Visit the reconstructed 1676 State House and the replica of the English colonists’ ship, The Dove. Then explore the Native American hamlet and the Godiah Spray Tobacco Plantation, tended by interpreters in colonial costume.
Maryland offers many options for garden tours and National Park visits.
In northern Baltimore, a visit to Sherwood Gardens is a ‘must’ for tulip lovers. Petroleum pioneer and conservationist John W Sherwood started planting tulips that he imported from the Netherlands after he began the garden as a hobby in the 1920s. Now, it is known as the most famous tulip garden in North America, with 80,000 blooming there each April.
In Monkton, north of Baltimore, the Ladew Topiary Gardens are full of surprises. A fox hunt in full flight with horses, riders, hounds and a fox clearing a hedge, a Chinese junk with sails, swans and a giraffe are among the incredible sights that await visitors. Many fox-hunting visits to England – where he also discovered the art of topiary – inspired self-taught gardener Harvey S Ladew to create the garden’s 13 themed areas.
By contrast, the Assateague Island National Seashore – a dramatic and romantic barrier island off the eastern coast of Maryland and Virginia – is famous for its wild horses. Local folklore maintains that the horses were survivors of a shipwreck off the Virginia coast, but it is more likely they are descendants of horses brought to barrier islands like Assateague in the late-17th century. They are split into two herds, one on the Virginia side and one on the Maryland side of Assateague.
Fantastic fall foliage: In late September into the middle of October Indian summer days and crisp nights, combined with stunning foliage, make the autumn season a perfect time to visit the Capital Region. Begin your leaf-peeping journey along the eastern ridge of the Blue Ridge Mountains at Maryland’s Catoctin Mountain Park. There, you’ll find a wealth of scenery, wildlife, wildflowers, 25 miles of hiking trails and camping options.
The Capital Region gazes at its reflection in the famed Chesapeake Bay, America’s largest estuary, spanning 200 miles from the Susquehanna River to the Atlantic Ocean.
The bay has a stunning diversity of experiences, from long, sandy beaches, towns of clapboard houses, gentle fishing and crabbing to swimming, boating, watersports and waterside villages.
Maryland’s shoreline encompasses world-class communities such as Annapolis, ‘America's sailing capital’, and Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, with its booming waterfront restaurant and shopping scene.
Maryland’s eastern shore (where scenes from the 2005 film Wedding Crashers were shot) is a tranquil treat. Make for the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, spanning from Sandy Point, near Annapolis, to Kent Island, then drop anchor at the historical, colonial town of Chestertown or the quaint waterfront village of St Michaels.
Head down to Crisfield, renowned for its Maryland blue crabs, and Smith Island –which is famous for its 10-layer cake.
Best for horsing around: Assateague Island’s wild ponies have roamed its pristine beaches, pine forests and salt marshes since the 1600s. You can see the ponies on boat tours from May-October. The annual pony swim across the causeway to Chincoteague Island is watched by 40,000 spectators each July.
Best for bay exploring: The Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network connects you with 150 exceptional parks, wildlife refuges, museums, sailing ships, historic communities, trails and more. Gateways are the special places where you can experience the authentic Chesapeake.
Fun for Families: Ocean City, Maryland is 10 miles of sun and sand along the Atlantic. Bike the boardwalk and indulge in local treats such as boardwalk fries, Maryland crab cakes or juicy “Delmarva” fried chicken. At night, the boardwalk comes to life with arcade rides and strolling performers.
Best Lakeside Retreats: Deep Creek Lake is Maryland’s largest body of fresh water and a four-season wonder. Indulge in warm-weather fishing, swimming and boating. Fall and winter bring incredible autumn foliage to the Western Maryland mountains and the chance to try your hand at skiing or dog sledding.
At the National Museum of Dentistry in Baltimore - an affiliate of the Smithsonian in Washington D.C - visitors can see George Washington’s false teeth and sing along with old TV toothpaste commercials.
Baltimore also houses Geppi’s Entertainment Museum, ‘a journey through 250 years of American pop culture’ that covers comic strips and books, radio and television shows, films and cartoons, and the Baltimore Public Works Museum, which is based in a working pumping station – an architectural gem in its own right – and focuses on how our modern-day lifestyle depends on public works services such as running water, rubbish removal and paved roads.
The American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland, is a platform for the imagination of self-taught artists, with six galleries that explore one central exhibition theme at a time.

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