Top 10 Best Things to Do in Maryland

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The small state of Maryland wraps around the huge Chesapeake Bay, which almost divides it in half. For a state its size, Maryland also offers tourists a wide ... read more...

  1. Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine marks the site of one of America's finest military victories – the Battle of Baltimore. Completed in 1803 to guard the entrance to Baltimore's busy harbor, Fort McHenry became a national icon after withstanding a 24-hour bombardment by the British in 1814. The fort saved Baltimore from occupation and inspired Francis Scott Key, who was being held prisoner on a British ship during the attack, to write The Star Spangled Banner.

    Visiting the Fort McHenry National Monument is regarded as one of the best things to do in Maryland. You can walk the ramparts, tour the buildings, and watch a dramatic multimedia presentation on the history of the fort and the national anthem. Today, you can freely roam or enjoy guided tours of the fort and partake in several activities such as flag talks and drill demonstrations. One favorite is being able to assist in the changing of the 42-ft flag. After a tour, you can sit and chow down on a picnic while soaking up the scenic views of Chesapeake Bay. Admission to the general park area is free, but there is a fee to enter the actual fort.

    Official site:

    Address: 2400 E Fort Ave, Baltimore, MD 21230, USA

    Phone: 410-962-4290

    Entrance fee: $15.00 for adults 16 years of age and older; children 15 and younger are free

    Google rating: 4.7/5.0

  2. One of the best places to visit in Maryland is The National Aquarium. The dramatic building overlooking Baltimore's Inner Harbor replicates several ecosystems as homes for marine life from all over the world, as well as birds, mammals, and appropriate plant life. There are over 20,000 animals at the aquarium spanning 800 species. Guests can explore dozens of exhibits that resemble rainforests, deep oceans, rivers, and more. Visitors can get up close and personal with some of the animals in the aquarium’s unique experiences.

    Not all the environments are under water, but they share the common connection to water. Experiences include learning about sharks while they swim inches away or a behind-the-scenes look at dolphin training. The aquarium has a 4D theater inside that shows immersive films about sea creatures' lives and different aquatic habitats. The largest of these is the five-story Tropical Rain Forest, which you can explore at various levels from the forest floor to the treetops to see birds, frogs, plants, and even sloths and monkeys. Elsewhere are sharks and dolphins, as well as brilliant tropical fish in the Atlantic Coral Reef Exhibit.

    Official site:

    Address: 501 East Pratt Street, Pier 3 and 4, Inner Harbor, Baltimore, Maryland

    Phone: 410-576-3800

    Entrance fee: Adults: $39.95. Children (Ages 3-11): $29.95. Seniors (Ages 65+): $34.95. Children 2 and under: Free

    Google rating: 4.6/5.0
  3. Maryland's western mountain region is a playground that's often overlooked as tourists head for the eastern beaches. Deep Creek Lake is a local favorite destination in Maryland all year-round, with almost 4,000 acres of water to enjoy during the summer and a ski resort nearby for winter getaways. It's a few hours’ drive from both Washington DC and Baltimore, making it a popular place for a break from the city.

    Along its shores are resorts; beaches; spas; shops; waterside restaurants; and places to rent canoes, sailboats, kayaks, and bicycles. The mile of shoreline with two beaches is part of Deep Creek State Park, where you'll also find a campground; 20 miles of trails for hiking and biking; and the Deep Creek Lake Discovery Center, where they can meet local wildlife, observe birds in the aviary, and learn about nature through interactive exhibits. Kids will also like Splash Island Inflatable Water Park and the Monkey Business Adventure Park.

    Although summer is the peak season for lake activities, Garrett County is where Marylanders go in the fall to see mountainsides covered in brilliant fall foliage. When the weather turns cold, Deep Creek turns into a winter wonderland. Adventurers can head to Wisp ski resort for a day on the slopes or enjoy tubing, ice fishing or snowmobiling.

    Official site:

    Address: 898 State Park Rd, Garrett, MD 21561

    Phone: 301-387-5563

    Entrance fee: $3 per person for Maryland residents, $5 per person for others during summer months

    Google rating: 4.7/5.0
  4. The Baltimore Museum of Art, next to John Hopkins University, is a famed institution drawing art enthusiasts from around the globe. While the museum started off by hosting 1 art piece at a time, known for its superb collections of 19th-century, modern, and contemporary art, the Baltimore Museum of Art now holds 95,000 works by artists that include Pablo Picasso, Paul Cezanne, Vincent van Gogh, Andy Warhol, Joan Miró, and Marc Chagall, in addition to the world's largest collection of works by Henri Matisse.

    Along with paintings, sculpture, and graphic arts, the BMA displays notable collections of textiles, jewelry, and furniture, as well as African, Asian, and Near Eastern art. The African collections are among the most important in the United States, comprising more than 2,000 objects ranging from ancient Egyptian art to contemporary works. Masks, headdresses, figural carvings, jewelry, royal staffs, textiles, ceremonial items, and pottery reflect more than 200 African cultures.

    Outside the museum, two landscaped Sculpture Gardens present a century of modern and contemporary sculptures. Inside the building, the highly acclaimed restaurant, Gertrudes, features the bounty of the Chesapeake Bay and its surrounding farmlands. It can be said that visiting this museum is one of the best things to do in Maryland.

    Official site:

    Address: 10 Art Museum Drive, Baltimore, Maryland

    Phone: 443-573-1700

    Entrance fee: 443-573-1700

    Google rating: 4.7/5.0
  5. Baltimore’s Inner Harbor has been an important seaport since the 18th century, and continues to be the activity center of the city. Located just south of downtown, the harbor is home to some of Baltimore’s biggest attractions and is connected by an expansive 7-mile brick waterfront promenade. Baltimore's Inner Harbor is a magnet for visitors, filled with attractions and entertainment options.

    The whole area and the neighborhoods just back from the water have been nicely developed with parks, hotels, restaurants, shops, museums, and historic ships to tour. You can spend the day walking and shopping at the numerous boutique malls, or stop and take in exhilarating street performances. Foremost of these is the sloop-of-war USS Constellation, a three-masted sailing ship that saw action in the Civil War and intercepting slave ships off the African coast.

    Also open to tour are the submarine USS Torsk, the US Coast Guard Cutter Taney, and the Lightship Chesapeake. Surrounding the harbor are the National Aquarium; the Visionary Art Museum; and the hands-on Maryland Science Center, with a planetarium; all within a 10-minute walk of each other. Harborplace is a modern complex anchored by glass-enclosed pavilions featuring shops, restaurants, and an amphitheater on the promenade.

    Official site:

    Address: Inner Harbor, Baltimore, MD

    Phone: 410-837-5339

    Entrance fee: $8 for adults · $6 for seniors (60+) or military with ID · $5 for children 3-12 years old · Free under 3.

    Google rating: 4.7/5.0
  6. Annapolis is a small city in Maryland, between Washington DC and Baltimore on the Chesapeake Bay. The few blocks between the Town Dock and the Maryland State House are filled with equal measures of history and charm. Once the United States Capitol, the State House is the oldest one still in continuous legislative use. Here, tourists can take a stroll down its famous Main Street and enjoy a charming waterfront area that has dozens of boutiques, local seafood restaurants and small pubs. In addition, you also can start your walk at the Maryland State House at the top of the hill and work your way down towards the water for a beautiful view of the bay and the US Naval Academy. The Naval Academy is free to visit but to really experience this historic school, make sure to book a walking tour.

    A short way down the hill, through narrow streets lined with picture-worthy brick and clapboard buildings, is the William Paca House and Garden, home of the signer of the Declaration of Independence, William Paca. Fully restored and furnished in period antiques and original Paca family items, the house is an outstanding example of the home of an influential and prosperous Annapolis family of the Colonial era and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The two-acre garden, with terraces, topiary, and a fish-shaped pond, has also been restored to its 1760s appearance.

    Official site:

    Address:186 Prince George Street, Annapolis, Maryland

    Phone: vư410-990-4543

    Entrance fee: Admission for adults costs $12 and includes a docent-led, one-hour tour of the house. Tours are $7 for ages 3 to 17

    Google rating: 4.5/5.0
  7. Assateague State Park is a 37-mile-long island and national park on Assateague Island, a barrier island on Maryland's Eastern Shore. On the east side of the island is the windswept landscape of the Atlantic Ocean, with a long stretch of beach that's popular in the summer for swimming and surfing. Located just south of Ocean City, which is the more protected bayside of the island, the island supports a range of wildlife. It’s known for its pristine sandy shores and wild horses that roam freely on the island. You can grab your umbrella and pack a picnic for a great way to spend the day soaking in the sun. Moreover, park visitors enjoy fishing and kayaking.

    For those looking for a unique camping experience, Assateague has plenty of overnight options. Whether you’re a tent camper or prefer to camp out in a trailer, you can sign up in advance on the National Park Service website and enjoy a beautiful getaway just a few steps from the Atlantic Ocean. The park also has campsites, picnic tables, a camp store, and snack bar. The closest town is Berlin, about eight miles away. All in all, discovering Assateague State Park is one of the best things to do in Maryland.

    Official site:

    Address: 6915 Stephen Decatur Hwy, Berlin, MD 21811

    Phone: 410-641-2918

    Entrance fee: f $20 per vehicle or $15 per motorcycle

    Google rating: 4.8/5.0
  8. The 1879 Hooper Strait Lighthouse is the visual centerpiece of a collection of historic buildings and boats that illustrate life and work on the Chesapeake Bay since the Native Americans hollowed out logs for canoes. In the Small Boat Shed, you can see working and recreational watercraft used throughout the bay's history, including early settlers' adaptations of Native American canoes to use for fishing and oystering.

    At Waterman's Wharf, hands-on and audio exhibits draw visitors into the world of oystermen and crabbers in a typical shanty and onboard an oystering skipjack. You can also visit the former home of Eliza Bailey Mitchell, sister of abolitionist Frederick Douglass, and an Heirloom Garden of kitchen and medicinal plants cultivated along the bay since Native American times. A working boatyard continues boat-building and repair traditions as staff maintains the museum's Floating Fleet.

    The Chesapeake Bay hosts one of the world's great bird migrations as hundreds of thousands of water, shore, and song birds shelter in its shoreline marshes each spring and fall. Along with hunting and birding, this migration has given rise to an entire genre of waterfowl art. You can see exhibits here on the waterfowl, while each November in nearby Easton, the Easton Waterfowl Festival is the country's premier wildlife art show.

    Official site:

    Address: 213 North Talbot Street, St. Michaels, Maryland

    Phone: 410-745-2916

    Entrance fee: $15 for adults, $12 for seniors (62+) and students with ID, and $6 for children 6-17

    Google rating: 4.7/5.0
  9. The U.S. Naval Academy Museum preserves artifacts and memorabilia relating not only to the academy but to important figures and engagements in America's naval history. Along with medals, uniforms, and personal items are artifacts from historically significant events. These include the table on which the surrender was signed that ended World War II, along with the flag that flew at the signing on the deck of the USS Missouri.

    An entire room is dedicated to ship models, remarkable for the fact that each model was made at the same time that the ship itself was being constructed. Some date as early as the mid-1600s, and several are the only record remaining of the ship's construction and features. The collection of ships' instruments is equally impressive, as are smaller exhibits, such as the painstakingly crafted examples of art created by prisoners on board naval ships. The museum is free.

    The Chapel, which was an important feature leading to the Academy's designation as a national Historic Landmark, is notable for its striking stained-glass windows filled with symbolism of the high ideals of the service and others commemorating naval heroes. In the crypt, is the elaborate tomb of John Paul Jones. A visit to the Academy should begin at the Armel-Leftwich Visitor Center, where you can join a guided tour or watch the 13-minute film, The Call to Serve.

    Official site:

    Address: 118 Maryland Avenue, Annapolis, Maryland

    Phone: 410-293-2108

    Entrance fee: free

    Google rating: 4.8/5.0
  10. Few places illustrate the terrible cost of war like Antietam National Battlefield, scene of the bloodiest day's battle in the Civil War. On September 17, 1862, the Union army, coming from the east, met Robert E. Lee's Confederates, approaching from the west. In the battle that followed, nearly 23,000 men were killed, wounded, or missing in action. The Antietam National Battlefield is a well-preserved historic civil war battle site in northwestern Maryland, just a few miles from the West Virginia border.

    This battlefield was the site of the bloodiest battle in American history and is a fascinating national park on the east coast that every history buff should visit. In other words, this is also one of the best things to do in Maryland. Today, the battlefield is still open countryside, studded with monuments to the regiments of both sides. The best way to start your day is at the visitors center, where you can explore the expansive museum and watch a quick but fascinating introductory film.

    After you’re done exploring, head outside to the battlefield and join a park ranger for a talk or take the self-guided tour to soak in the history at your own pace. Civil War buffs will want to follow the entire eight-mile, self-guided tour route (on foot, on a bicycle, or by car); others should at least not miss the old Dunker Church, where the first clash occurred; the Sunken Road, where the next phase played out; and Burnside Bridge, where Union troops at great cost finally forced General Lee to withdraw.

    Official site:

    Address: 302 E Main St, Sharpsburg, MD 21782, USA

    Phone: 301-432-5124

    Entrance fee: $4.00 Per Person (age 16 or older; 15 and under FREE)

    Google rating: 5.0/5.0

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