There really is something for everyone in Maryland. The Old Line State has beaches, mountains, lakes, and raging rapids for lovers of the outdoors, as well as a long history going back to the Civil War and the War of 1812. Whether you're looking for a place to take in beautiful scenery, want to spoil yourself with upscale dining and shopping on the Chesapeake Bay, or are interested in seeing where one of America's most famous authors lived, Maryland has just what you're looking for, and then some.
Ocean City is located just south of the Delaware border, and the boardwalk takes a day at the beach and turns it into something extraordinary. It dates all the way back to the early 1900s, when it was only five blocks long. Today, this iconic boardwalk stretches for 2.5 miles. There's always something to do along the way, and a lot of it is free. Enjoy an afternoon of people-watching while listening to buskers play, or peruse the many shops for the perfect souvenir. There are also fun attractions for the whole family, including a carousel, looping roller coaster, Ferris wheel, bumper cars, and much more.
Assateague Island is a long barrier island off the coast of Maryland and Virginia. This is a great getaway spot with a lot to offer, like sightseeing cruises, camping, crabbing, bird watching, hunting, hiking, and biking. The white sand beaches are a great place to unwind, and there are plenty of hotels and B&Bs if you want to prolong your stay. Assateague Island is best known for its wild horse population. These feral horses are descended from domestic animals that once inhabited the island. Take as many pictures of the horses as you can, but enjoy them from a distance to ensure they keep thriving for years to come.
Brookside Gardens is just north of Bethesda, close to Washington, DC. This 50-acre public garden has several distinct areas you'll want to visit, including a butterfly garden, children's garden, Japanese garden, and rose garden. There are formal locations, too, like the fragrance garden and the Maple Terrace. Brookside Gardens is a beautiful opportunity to explore for an afternoon, just taking photos and enjoying the peaceful surroundings.
The National Aquarium is located in the heart of Baltimore and has a lot of cool exhibits to experience. Check out the giant 500-pound sea turtle at Blacktip Reef, find all nine prehistoric jellyfish species, interact with the animals hands-on at the Living Seashore, watch the dolphins swim and play, and so much more. There's also a 90,000 square foot urban park to explore and a 4D immersion theatre experience that the whole family will love.
Another cool Baltimore attraction is Patterson Park. This site had a major part in the War of 1812 as American soldiers stood ready to fight in the Battle of Hampstead Hill. It also served as an army hospital and camp for soldiers during the Civil War. Today, it's an urban park outfitted with just about anything you could ask for: playgrounds, tennis and basketball courts, ball fields, an ice rink, swimming pool, and much more.
North of Frederick and just south of the Pennsylvania border is Catoctin Mountain Park. This is a beautiful place to experience the outdoors and take in some amazing views. Here, you can camp, fish, rock climb, or spend a weekend camping or staying at a lodge. There are 25 miles of hiking trails to enjoy and in the winter, if conditions are right, you can even cross-country ski.
Northwest of Frederick, you'll find Antietam National Battlefield, the site of the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. Approximately 23,000 soldiers were killed, injured, or went missing during this battle. It took place on September 17, 1862, and ended the Confederacy's first attempt at invading the north. When you visit, make sure to see the National Cemetery and the Pry House Field Hospital.
Swallows Falls State Park is located on the western border of Maryland, close to both Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The Youghiogheny River flows along the border of the park, creating rapids and rocky gorges that provide amazing views. Head out hiking, biking, boating, or fishing, or just spend a few hours at the swimming beach. To catch one of the best views in the state, make sure you find your way to Muddy Creek Falls while you're there.
To experience city life in Maryland, look no further than the Annapolis City Dock and Waterfront. This is one of the biggest visitor draws in Annapolis, and it's not hard to see why. Merchants have been selling hand-crafted goods here for more than 350 years. Today, you'll find locally-owned specialty shops, pubs, galleries, historic inns, and restaurants, all overlooking the Chesapeake Bay. A lot of the city's big seasonal events take place here, too, including New Year's Eve and Fourth of July celebrations.
History buffs and lovers of The Raven alike will appreciate the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum in Baltimore. The famous American author lived in this small house with his aunt from 1832 until he left for Richmond, Virginia in 1835. Take a self-guided tour to find out about Poe's life and death, see his chair and lap desk, and learn more about his famous stories.