Maryland is a child-friendly state and the perfect place for a family vacation. A logical choice is a trip to Baltimore, where you can explore the acclaimed National Aquarium in Baltimore, visit the nation’s top-rated children’s zoo at The Baltimore Zoo or work at a pretend cannery at the Baltimore Museum of Industry. But there’s plenty for a family to do beyond the boundaries of Baltimore. Consider a hiking adventure in one of the state parks, enroll in a family sailing course on the Chesapeake Bay, or step back in time at any of the historic attractions.
Or for something a little more cozy, snuggle up in front of a roaring fire in a mountain cabin, or wake to the sound of seagulls after spending the night in a romantic retreat at Maryland’s beach resort, Ocean City. Pack a perfect picnic and set out for the beautiful views provided by green pastures or cloud-topped mountains, or hop aboard a historic sailboat and enjoy a sunset cruise for two. Maryland is also home to the historic old chapel that hosted the weddings of Babe Ruth, Tiny Tim and Debbie Reynolds.
When it comes to offbeat, Maryland is right on. This state is home to some of the most bizarre attractions you'll ever encounter. Places like the Dr. Samuel D. Harris Museum of Dentistry, which includes George Washington’s dentures in its collection. If you’re looking for strange places to visit and colorful personalities to interview, Maryland's got it covered.
You’re never in danger of going hungry in Maryland. They get a lot of attention for their succulent blue crabs, plucked from the Chesapeake Bay and transformed into some of the most delicious entrees you’ll ever sample. They're known for oysters, too, and clams and fish. But if you’d rather not see seafood, don’t despair. Maryland also serves delicious fruits and veggies, including corn, tomatoes, You can even tap maple syrup out of a tree, then sample it on some pancakes. Then wash it all down with one of Maryland’s wines or microbrews. So bring your appetite – but don’t forget to pack those pants with the elastic waistband!
Maryland lays claim to many, many “firsts,” any of which would make a fun story. For example, Maryland is the first state to boast an official sport . . . jousting. Yep, you read that right. Three hundred years after everyone else has abandoned the sport, Maryland still attacks those little rings with gusto. The state is also home to the first monument to the memory of George Washington. It’s not as elaborate as the one in neighboring Washington, D.C., but it’s the thought that counts, right? This one was erected in a single day on a hillside in Western Maryland. It still stands – and you can climb it for a great view of your mountain surroundings. And perhaps best of all: Wholesale production of ice cream began in Maryland in 1851. Celebrate by eating an ice cream cone while you tour the state.
With art museums aplenty, a world-class symphony orchestra and some of the most impressive mansions on the East Coast, Maryland knows how to do classy. But they don’t take themselves too seriously and certainly aren’t snobs. Case in point: One of the most popular museums, the American Visionary Art Museum, only exhibits art produced by folks who have no formal training (farmers, housewives, doctors, auto mechanics . . . you get the picture). Whether your interest is in the visual arts, music, theater, architecture or elaborate gardens, Maryland offers something that’s sure to please your palate.
Maryland has been featured in a number of major motion pictures, due largely to the efforts of a small but determined band of state employees who know every inch of the state and do everything in their power to promote it to the Hollywood bigwigs. On your trip to Maryland, you can eat in the diner made famous by Barry Levinson, sit on the same wooden bench Meg Ryan warmed in Sleepless in Seattle, or while away a few hours in the tiny town of Berlin, star of both Runaway Bride and Tuck Everlasting.
Armies clad in blue and gray skirmished through Maryland’s countryside on their way to an epic battle at Gettysburg. A wounded assassin escaped Washington, D.C. into the Southern Maryland countryside in search of a doctor named Mudd. The Civil War soldiers, spies and villains didn’t have signposts to point the way, but today’s visitors can follow colorful bugle “trailblazer” signs of Maryland’s Civil War Trails. The bugles lead to waysides where interpretive markers tell both military and anecdotal accounts of war and its effects on the people of Maryland. Retreat to a bygone era on Maryland’s Civil War Trails.
Experience some of Maryland’s natural wonders. Step into a sea kayak and paddle through the marsh grasses of the lower Chesapeake Bay. Hop on a mountain bike and pedal through pristine forest trails in Western Maryland. Cast a line for blue marlin, brook trout, smallmouth bass or striped bass (known as “rockfish” to the locals) in bodies of water all around the state. Pitch a tent, climb a rock, hunt for fossils or prowl for owls on a night hike.
Poet Robert Frost took the less-worn path. You’ll be glad that you did, too, on any of Maryland’s 31 designated scenic byways. Forego the freeway and follow the colorful black-eyed Susan signs (the Susan is the state flower) through waterfront villages, past historic monuments, down old Main streets and beside pristine forest glades. These carefully mapped routes, some with “sidetracks” better explored without a car, encourage a leisurely pace as you journey around Maryland.
Photos and wording courtesy of Maryland Office of Tourism