20 Super Fun Things to Do in Maryland

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Muddy Creek Falls in Deep Creek Lake State Park

Despite its small size, Maryland is home to countless fun attractions, interesting museums, stunning national parks and well-preserved historical sites. This beautiful east coast state is located in the middle of Colonial America, the birthplace of many USA traditions. Maryland also was the site of major historical events, including battles fought during the Civil War, the Underground Railroad and the War of 1812, that tell the nation’s history.

Wedged between the Appalachian Plateau and the Atlantic coast, Maryland is also a great state for outdoor enthusiasts. National parks and state parks protect beautiful waterfalls and offer miles of biking and hiking trails. The Chesapeake Bay is a great boating, kayaking or camping destination.

Just a day trip from Washington, D.C., this U.S. state boasts lots of popular tourist attractions, many of them free. Start planning your next getaway with our list of the top things to do in Maryland.

Harriet Tubman mural in Maryland
The Harriet Tubman mural outside the Harriet Tubman Museum and Educational Center. Photo credit: Maryland Office of Tourism

1. Celebrate Harriet Tubman and Learn about the Underground Railroad

Start your visit by celebrating Marylander Harriet Tubman’s 200th birthday. After escaping slavery, Tubman dedicated her life to freeing other slaves as a “conductor” in the Underground Railroad.

Explore the areas that shaped her life by driving along the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway. This self-guided tour is made up of more than 30 sites, including the Harriet Tubman Memorial Garden and the Harriet Tubman Museum and Educational Center, that tell Tubman’s story.

Visit the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center to plan your trip along the Byway and learn more about Tubman’s life. Here, visitors can explore exhibits, watch a film and spend time in the library or gift shop.

2. Immerse Yourself in the National Aquarium

The National Aquarium is popular amongst all type of travelers. This public aquarium in Baltimore is home to thousands of animals, including jellyfish, stingrays, dolphins, crocodiles and several types of sharks.

Land-dwelling animals live in the aquarium as well. See poison frogs and sloths in the Upland Tropical Rain Forest exhibit, and puffins in the North Atlantic to the Pacific exhibit.

The aquarium also boasts hands-on and interactive fun. At the Living Shore exhibit, visitors can pet moon jellyfish and horseshoe crabs in two touch pools. The aquarium’s 4D experiences are 15-minute educational shows that transport viewers to an underwater landscape.

For an even more immersive experience, check out the museum’s special tours and experiences, which include a dolphin training session, a family sunrise tour, a behind-the-scenes shark tour and even an aquarium sleepover. The museum is open every day.

3. Hike the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail

The Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail is a 560-mile land and water route that takes visitors on an interactive journey through history. Hike, bike, drive or kayak through the areas that witnessed the War of 1812. Learn about the impacts of the war on the Chesapeake region, and on the rest of American history.

The trail covers parts of Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Virginia, and connects more than 100 historic locations, including the White House and the Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine. As the name suggest, the trail also traces the history of the country’s national anthem, which was written during the War of 1812.

Sailboats racing off the coast of Annapolis MD
Photo courtesy of Visit Annapolis & Anne Arundel County

4. Check Out the National Harbor

National Harbor, along the Potomac River, is filled with fun attractions, ranging from entertainment venues to shops, restaurants, bars, hotels and opportunities for outdoor sports.

Take a ride on the 36-foot carousel or the 180-foot-high Capital Wheel.

To experience the local nightlife, check out the MGM National Harbor Hotel and Casino. Or get out on the water with a sightseeing cruise or on a rented kayak, canoe, stand-up paddleboard or sailboat.

5. Visit the American Visionary Art Museum

The Baltimore American Visionary Art Museum is more than just an art museum. The exhibits combine art with science, philosophy, humor and social justice to provide informative, fascinating and interactive displays.

Art lovers and independent thinkers alike will love this museum, which specializes in “outsider art,” or art made by self-taught artists. By highlighting this unique art style, the museum seeks to destroy the notion that artists need any kind of professional training.

The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday.

Annapolis Naval Academy cadets marching in the plaza
Photo courtesy of Visit Annapolis & Anne Arundel County

6. Tour the U.S. Naval Academy

Those interested in military history can’t miss the U.S. Naval Academy, located in historic Annapolis. The institution offers 90-minute guided tours through the campus, where visitors can see several historic sights, including the Tripoli Monument, the Herndon Monument and the crypt of naval hero John Paul Jones.

To dive deeper into the U.S. Navy history, check out the on-site public maritime museum. Admission to the museum is free, and campus tours are $12. All proceeds go to the Brigade of Midshipmen.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Stay in one of these Annapolis hotels to be close to the action. Personally, we’re big fans of the the Maryland Inn.

7. See the Walters Art Museum

Founded in 1934, this Baltimore art museum features works from all over the world. See marble statues from Ancient Greece, Baroque paintings from Europe, artifacts from the Ancient Americas and jewelry from the Renaissance.

This free museum is open Wednesday through Sunday.

8. Stroll the Ocean City Boardwalk

This wooden boardwalk stretches for nearly three miles and bustles with attractions including shops, arcades, restaurants and sweet shops. Rent bikes from Dandy Don’s Bike Rentals and Service and cruise down the boardwalk. Cool off with some ice cream from Dumser’s Ice Cream. For a salty snack, stop in at Thrashers Fries or Fisher’s Popcorn.

If you’re traveling with kids, take them to Jolly Rodger Amusement Park to enjoy water slides, roller coasters, mini golfing and go-karting.

During the warmer months, sunbathe at Ocean City Beach or go swimming, kayaking, parasailing, surfing or stand-up paddleboarding.

9. Visit the Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine

Located in the Locust Point neighborhood of Baltimore, this National Park site is a great place to immerse yourself in history. See where Francis Scott Key wrote the national anthem and where U.S. soldiers defeated the British during the Battle of Baltimore.

Take a self-guided tour of the hexagonal fort and check out the visitor center, where an informative movie plays every 30 minutes, providing viewers with some background on the fort’s rich history. Tickets to enter the historic site cost $15 and are valid for seven days.

10. Explore the Baltimore Inner Harbor

History, gastronomy and entertainment converge at the Baltimore Inner Harbor. Here, you’ll find popular museums and attractions, including the National Aquarium, the Maryland Science Center and the Port Discovery Children’s Museum. Tasty restaurants line the Inner Harbor.

For an outdoor adventure, rent a paddle boat or take a cruise of the harbor.

11. Watch a Game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Sports fans will love a visit to Oriole Park at Camden Yards, located in the heart of downtown Baltimore. The baseball stadium opened in 1992, and has since welcomed more than 72 million fans.

Check the schedule to see if you can catch a game and cheer on the Baltimore Orioles at their home stadium.

Before the game, head to one of the popular restaurants and pubs outside the stadium. We suggest a burger from the Orioles Grill or a cold beer from Pickles Pub.

12. Visit the B&O Railroad Museum

Trace the history of American railroading at this Baltimore museum. Home to the oldest American railroad collections, the museum exhibits locomotives, rolling stock, historic buildings and other artifacts that left a mark on railroad history. See trains like the 1927 steam-powered President Washington or the 1853 coal-burning Memnon.

The museum also lets visitors ride one of the trains. Take a 20-minute ride down America’s first mile of commercial railroad on the One Mile Express. Adults ride for $3 and kids ride for $2. Tickets to the museum are $20 for adults and $12 for kids. It’s open Monday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

13. Explore the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park

Stretching 184.5 miles, the Chesapeake and Ohio canal travels along the Potomac River, connecting Washington, D.C. to Cumberland, Maryland.

Once used as a transportation route, the canal was invaluable to many nearby communities. Now, the surrounding park serves as a tourist attraction, drawing more than five million visitors each year.

Pick from a long list of recreational activities, include hiking, biking, rock climbing, horseback riding, camping, fishing and boating. It’s open all year-round and the entrance fee for vehicles is $20.

14. See the Baltimore Museum of Art

Founded in 1914, the Baltimore Museum of Art houses 95,000 works of art from all over the world.

In addition to holding the world’s largest collection of art by Henri Matisse, the museum also exhibits Chinese ceramics, textiles from Africa, Native American beadwork and 15th-through 19th-century European art. This free museum is open Wednesday through Sunday.

Wild horses on Assateague Island.
Wild horses on Assateague Island. Photo credit: Maryland Office of Tourism

15. Visit Assateague Island

Spend a day on the ever-changing seashore of Assateague Island. This 37-mile-long barrier island is partially in Maryland and partially in Virginia. With beautiful swimming beaches, salt marshes and miles of hiking trails, the island offers endless recreational activities.

If it’s your first time visiting, check out the visitor center to learn about everything the island has to offer.

Assateague Island also teams with wildlife. In fact, this is one of the few places in the U.S. that is still home to wild horses, so be sure to pack a camera. For those planning a longer visit, the island has six camping areas, two facing the ocean and four facing the bay.

16. Pay Respects at the Antietam National Battlefield

This national park once saw witness to the Battle of Antietam during the American Civil War, the deadliest U.S. battle in history. The battle was a turning point of the Civil War; the Union’s victory inspired President Abraham Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing slaves in the South.

Once the site of a bloody battle, Antietam National Battlefield is now a beautifully preserved national park. Take a ranger-led walking tour or pick up a map at the visitor center and take a self-guided tour through the grounds while learning about the historic battle.

Along the way, you’ll see historic sites, including the Dunker Church and the Antietam National Cemetery. There are also a number of kid-friendly Junior Ranger activities, including a scavenger hunt and a nature’s hide and seek game.

17. See the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum

This 18-acre museum in St. Michaels, Maryland, is filled with artifacts, art, exhibitions, an 1879 lighthouse and a boatyard filled with historic boats.

A non-profit educational organization, the museum is dedicated to preserving the Chesapeake Bay’s culture and history.

18. Chase Waterfalls at Swallow Falls State Park

To see Maryland’s highest waterfall, Muddy Creek Falls, spend a day at Swallow Falls State Park. Towering at 53 feet high, this waterfall is the park’s most popular attraction, but there are also several smaller waterfalls worth seeing as well.

When you’re not chasing waterfalls, explore the 257-acre park, which contains beautiful scenery of the Youghiogheny River, cutting through the surrounding forest. Go kayaking or white water rafting in the river, or check out the park’s hiking trails, such as the 1.25 mile long Canyon Trail. Visitors can also rent bikes and go fishing in the summer or cross country skiing in the winter.

19. Experience the Maryland Science Center

If you’re looking for a kid-pleaser, take the family to the Maryland Science Center. This center celebrates curiosity, learning and science through interactive exhibits, shows and hands-on experiments.

Children will learn about the human body, electricity, mathematical patterns and the electromagnetic spectrum without even realizing they’re learning. The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday.

20. Ride Roller Coasters at Six Flags America

Get your adrenaline pumping at this popular amusement park in Bowie, Maryland. With thrilling roller coasters, shopping, live entertainment and dining options, this park appeals to all, even those who aren’t adrenaline junkies.

Six Flags America opens in March for the season.

Adina Keeling is a freelance travel writer from San Diego, CA. She worked in local news for a year until her wanderlust drew her to Costa Rica, where she is now based while freelancing and traveling the world. She has lived in three different countries and traveled to 27. An avid solo traveler, Adina wants to empower other women to safely travel alone.
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