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Maryland

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Did You Know…?

  • The state’s 400 lakes are all manmade.
  • In 1791, Maryland contributed the land for the District of Columbia.
  • Maryland’s official sport is jousting.
  • “The Star-Spangled Banner” was born in Baltimore, but the tune was an English drinking song.
  • Maryland produces about 95% of crabs consumed in the U.S.

‘Star-Spangled’ state

Maryland’s identity primarily revolves around three things: its proximity to Washington, D.C.; the great Chesapeake Bay that splits the state in two, and its largest city, Baltimore.
The Allegheny Mountains, a network of Civil War Trails, historic town centers and popular local seafood — especially crab — have a lower profile, but they add to the variety this relatively small mid-Atlantic state brings to the vacationer. Besides, “The Star-Spangled Banner” was born here.

For those who love watery vacations, Maryland offers its pleasures in Chesapeake Bay, on its Eastern Shore or along the Potomac. Activities include deep-sea fishing on the Atlantic side, boating and rafting on the Potomac, beach time on the coast and crabbing everywhere. Given Maryland’s geography, it’s no wonder the state is noted for its seafood and for its signature dishes made of blue crab most of all.

The state offers mountain pleasures, too — hiking, biking, scenic drives including fall foliage displays, even skiing. The state is crossed by scenic and historic trails that visitors may travel by car, by bicycle or on foot. Much of that historic material relates to the Civil War, including the Underground Railroad, as well as battle sites and the John Wilkes Booth escape route.

Horses offer something of a theme, as well. Assateague Island National Seashore is known for its wild ponies. Communities stage jousting tournaments throughout the year, events in which galloping riders try to catch small rings on a spear. But the Preakness Stakes is much better known. The horserace is run each May at the Pimlico racetrack in Baltimore.

Fittingly, Maryland bills itself as a family destination. Families pursue lots of typical seaside activities in Ocean City with its beaches, boardwalk, a carousel and all kinds of kid-friendly facilities. Travelers with or without children enjoy Baltimore’s ethnic neighborhoods and the Inner Harbor, a redeveloped area of hotels, shops, restaurants, museums and festivals. Bottom line: There is much variety in this border state.

Summers are hot and humid, but the mountains in the west provide respite — as do all those summertime activities on the water. Winters are cool, sometimes with snow.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Hike the 3.8-mile Billy Goat Trail in the C&O Canal National Historical Park. You’ll know how it got its name after covering the one-mile section that requires you to climb over boulders and slide down rocks. There are many other and longer hiking trails.
  • Go windsurfing on Chesapeake Bay. Or, take to the mountains for cross-country skiing in winter or mountain biking at other times.
  • Go camping. Just for starters, the Maryland Forest and Park Service maintains 2,000 campsites and 120 cabins.
  • Go canoeing or kayaking on the Patuxent or Potomac. There are paddle-in campsites along both rivers.
  • Show up on a Saturday or Sunday for the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum’s Apprentice for a Day program, and spend the day working with experts in construction of traditional wooden rowing and sailing skiffs. You are welcome regardless of skill levels; materials and tools are provided. The museum is in St. Michaels.
  • Charter a boat for daytime or nighttime fishing in Chesapeake Bay and the lower Potomac River. Or, go crabbing in the bay.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Attend the Governor’s Cup Crab Race at the National Hard Crab Derby and Fair, held each Labor Day weekend in Crisfield, a tiny town known as the crab capital of the world. Then, wherever and whenever you get the chance, eat crabs.
  • When in Baltimore, take a water taxi to Fell’s Point, a waterfront neighborhood where you will find plenty of pubs, fresh seafood spots (steamed wild mussels highly recommended) and, on some nights, live blues.
  • Plan a driving trip along one of Maryland’s themed Civil War Trails. One of these follows the escape route of John Wilkes Booth, and others focus on specific battles: Antietam and Gettysburg.  The state promotes a number of other driving trails, one focused on the battle that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the U.S. national anthem and another built around the Underground Railroad used by slaves to escape to Canada.
  • The quieter waters around Ocean City are good for fishermen, kayakers, parasailers and sailors who don’t want nature to play rough with them.
  • Follow the jousters. You have opportunities to see the 21st century rendition of a medieval competition at tournaments on just about any weekend from late spring to early fall.
  • See the famous wild ponies at Assateague Island National Seashore; do the sightseeing on foot, on a bike or from a canoe. On the island, located eight miles south of Ocean City, you also can fish and go crabbing in certain areas.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Come to Maryland for the Preakness, one of the so-called Triple Crown horse races, at Pimlico in Baltimore, the third Saturday in May.
  • Attend the Maryland Renaissance Festival in Crownsville. Planners recreate a 16th century English village called Revel Grove and offer costumed stage shows and street performances, jousting events, appropriate foods and crafts, parades, pubs — all on the weekends from mid-August through mid-October. Compete in some of the games of skill and chance.
  • Take a guided walking tour (with guide in Colonial-era costume) of Annapolis’ downtown. The entire city center is a National Historic District.
  • Attend the Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament in Hanover.
  • Go bird-watching. Maryland is well supplied with the forests, marshes and waterways that bring the birds. For more information and a list of all birds recorded in the state, consult the Maryland Ornithological Society.
  • Seek out Civil War sites, such as the Antietam battlefield.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult the Maryland Office of Tourism at www.visitmaryland.org