There are so many things to do in Maryland!
As a local Marylander, I grew up here living in the suburbs just outside Washington, D.C., I often forget how many incredible places there are to visit in Maryland! From beautiful hikes, serene coastal towns, and picture-perfect super blooms, Maryland is full of hidden gems.
So here’s my list of the 22 very best things to do in Maryland and hidden gems that you won’t see in any other guide to Maryland!
Embrace the Rich History in Annapolis
Annapolis, Maryland, known as the “Sailing Capital of the United States,” is a charming city that offers a rich blend of history, maritime heritage, and cultural experiences.
As you wander through the cobblestone streets of downtown Annapolis, make sure to visit the Maryland State House, the oldest state capitol in continuous legislative use. Explore the United States Naval Academy, where you can take a guided tour and learn about the traditions and history of this prestigious institution. Stroll along the picturesque waterfront of Ego Alley and enjoy scenic views of the Chesapeake Bay.
Don’t miss the opportunity to take a sailing cruise or rent a kayak to experience the beauty of Annapolis from the water. Indulge in the local culinary delights, including fresh seafood, at one of the many waterfront restaurants.
Shop for unique treasures at boutique stores and art galleries along Maryland Avenue.
For history enthusiasts, a visit to the Annapolis Maritime Museum or the Banneker-Douglass Museum is a must. With its blend of history, nautical charm, and vibrant culture, Annapolis offers a wide array of activities and experiences that will captivate visitors of all interests.
Deep Creek Lake
Deep Creek Lake, in western Maryland, is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. With its pristine waters and surrounding scenic beauty, there is no shortage of activities to enjoy. Start by indulging in water sports such as boating, kayaking, paddleboarding, and fishing.
The lake is known for its excellent fishing opportunities, with an abundance of bass, trout, and perch. Embark on a leisurely hike along the numerous trails that wind through the surrounding forests, offering breathtaking views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. During the winter months, Deep Creek Lake transforms into a winter wonderland, perfect for skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing at Wisp Resort.
Enjoy a picnic or a lakeside barbecue at one of the many parks and picnic areas, or simply relax on the sandy beaches and soak up the sun. For those seeking a more leisurely experience, take a scenic drive around the lake and explore the charming nearby towns, where you can find unique shops, restaurants, and local attractions.
Deep Creek Lake truly offers a diverse range of activities that cater to all interests, making it an ideal destination for outdoor adventures and peaceful relaxation in Maryland.
Visit Baltimore Inner Harbor
Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is a vibrant waterfront destination that offers a plethora of activities and attractions for visitors to enjoy. Start your exploration by visiting the iconic National Aquarium, home to a diverse range of marine life from around the world.
Take a stroll along the promenade and soak in the picturesque views of the harbor, dotted with sailboats and historic ships. Discover the fascinating history of the area at the Historic Ships in Baltimore, where you can tour the USS Constellation, USS Torsk, and other meticulously restored vessels.
Explore the Maryland Science Center, where interactive exhibits and an IMAX theater await. For art enthusiasts, the American Visionary Art Museum is a must-visit, showcasing unique and thought-provoking works of self-taught artists. Indulge in the culinary delights at the diverse array of restaurants and cafes that line the harbor, offering everything from fresh seafood to international cuisines.
To add some thrills to your visit, take a ride on the paddleboats or hop aboard a water taxi to explore the surrounding neighborhoods. With its blend of history, culture, and entertainment, Baltimore’s Inner Harbor provides a dynamic experience that will captivate visitors of all ages.
The Baltimore Aquarium, a renowned attraction in the heart of the city of Baltimore, offers an immersive and educational experience for visitors of all ages. Every child I’ve come here with loves it! Definitely one of the most kid-friendly activities in Maryland.
Begin your journey by exploring the many exhibits, which showcase a wide range of marine life from around the world. Marvel at the stunning underwater habitats, from the impressive Blacktip Reef exhibit to the impressive Atlantic Coral Reef exhibit.
You can even get up close and personal with marine creatures at the interactive touch pools, where you can gently touch stingrays and horseshoe crabs. For an unforgettable adventure, take a trip to the Dolphin Discovery exhibit, where you can witness these intelligent and playful creatures showcase their natural behaviors.
Enhance your visit by attending one of the daily animal feedings or educational presentations, where you can learn more about the fascinating world beneath the waves. With its commitment to conservation and immersive exhibits, the Baltimore Aquarium offers an extraordinary opportunity to connect with marine life and gain a deeper appreciation for our oceans.
Explore the Natural Beauty of Assateague Island
For a unique outdoor adventure, make your way to Assateague Island, a barrier island shared by Maryland and Virginia.
Spot wild horses roaming freely along the pristine beaches and marshlands. Go camping, hiking, or birdwatching in the Assateague Island National Seashore, and don’t forget your camera to capture the breathtaking sunset views. In the winter time, you can even spot sea otters on the beach at Assateague as they migrate south for warmer waters!
For more information check out this article: Assateague Island.
Visit Brookside Gardens, one fo the Best Free Things to Do in Maryland
A visit to Brookside Gardens is one of the best things to do in Maryland.
Nestled in the heart of Montgomery County, Maryland, Brookside Gardens is a breathtaking oasis of natural beauty and tranquility that’s completely free. Located at 1800 Glenallan Avenue in Wheaton, this enchanting botanical garden spans over 50 acres and offers a diverse collection of gardens, including a butterfly garden, a rose garden, a Japanese-style garden, and much more.
The gardens are open every day from sunrise to sunset, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the splendor of nature at their own pace. Whether you’re seeking a peaceful escape, a scenic spot for photography, or a place to appreciate horticultural wonders, Brookside Gardens is a must-visit destination in Maryland.
Want to know what blooms when? Read this article for more information: Brookside Gardens Maryland.
Super Bloom of Sunflowers at McKee Beshers One of the Best Free Things to Do in Maryland
Nestled in the picturesque countryside of Poolesville, Maryland, the McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area is home to a stunning spectacle that draws visitors from far and wide—the sunflower fields. Located off River Road, this expansive area showcases rows upon rows of vibrant and towering sunflowers, creating a mesmerizing sea of golden blooms.
The McKee-Beshers sunflower fields are a popular attraction during the summer months when the flowers are in full bloom, offering a delightful opportunity for photography, picnicking, and simply basking in the beauty of nature. This hidden gem is a true delight for nature enthusiasts and those seeking a serene escape amidst the charm of Maryland’s countryside. Check out this article for more information: McKee Beshers Sunflowers.
Discover the Serenity of St. Michaels
St. Michaels Island, located on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, is a charming and picturesque destination that offers a delightful blend of history, culture, and natural beauty.
- Visit the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, where you can learn about the region’s maritime heritage and explore historic boats and exhibits.
- Take a leisurely stroll through the charming streets of the town, lined with boutique shops, art galleries, and delicious eateries.
- Indulge in the local cuisine, including fresh seafood and Chesapeake Bay specialties, at one of the waterfront restaurants (like the famous Maryland Blue Crab).
- Explore the historic landmarks, such as the St. Michaels Museum and the St. Michaels Historic District, which showcase the town’s rich history and colonial architecture.
- Embark on a boat tour or rent a kayak to experience the scenic beauty of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Miles River and enjoy the breathtaking views from the Miles River Waterfront Park.
- For those seeking relaxation, unwind on the sandy beaches or take a scenic bike ride along the picturesque trails.
St. Michaels Island provides a charming escape filled with maritime charm, cultural experiences, and opportunities to connect with the natural beauty of the Chesapeake Bay. One of the best things to do in Maryland is stay a weekend in St Michael’s at a historic inn or B&B!
Visit a Lavender Farm in Maryland
Did you know there are lavender farms and lavender fields in Maryland where you can pick your own lavender? Picking a beautiful bouquet of lavender is one of the best things to do in Maryland.
Swallows Falls State Park
Explore Swallow Falls State Park, home to picturesque waterfalls and scenic trails that showcase the region’s natural beauty.
Begin your adventure by exploring the park’s namesake, Swallow Falls, a stunning cascade that plunges into the scenic Youghiogheny River.
Capture the picturesque views and enjoy a peaceful picnic along the riverbanks. Embark on a hike along the park’s well-maintained trails, where you’ll be surrounded by lush forests and towering trees.
Discover the towering hemlock grove in the Muddy Creek Falls area, home to the highest waterfall in the state of Maryland. If you’re visiting during the warmer months, cool off with a refreshing swim in the river or enjoy a leisurely float on an inner tube.
For fishing enthusiasts, the Youghiogheny River provides ample opportunities to cast a line and reel in trout or smallmouth bass.
Capture the beauty of the park through photography, capturing the vibrant colors of the changing seasons. Swallow Falls State Park is definitely one of the best things to do in Maryland all year round.
Visit Great Falls
Situated on the majestic Potomac River, Great Falls in Maryland is a natural wonder that never fails to leave visitors in awe. The powerful rush of water cascading over rugged cliffs creates a breathtaking spectacle, making it a popular destination for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike.
Enter the park at the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center and you’ll be greeted with ample parking, and a viewing platform to the Washington Aqueduct. Take the short Olmsted that’s child and stroller friendly for another beautiful viewing point.
For a unique experience, you can enjoy a free boat ride in the canal from the visitor center aboard the replica Charles F. Mercer canal excursion boat!
Hiking enthusiasts can explore the scenic trails that wind through the park, offering stunning vistas and opportunities to spot wildlife. The Billy Goat Trail especially offers visitors beautiful view points and a fun rock climbing opportunity, with views of Mather’s Gorge, the narrowest part of the Potomac River. The park also offers picnic areas and educational exhibits, providing a perfect setting for a day of family fun and learning.
Whether you’re captivated by the sheer power of the falls, embarking on a hike, or simply immersing yourself in the tranquility of the surrounding nature, Great Falls is a one of the best things to do in Maryland!
Unwind in the Town of Frederick
Frederick, Maryland, offers a plethora of activities and attractions that cater to a wide range of interests. Start your exploration in downtown Frederick, where you can stroll along the charming streets lined with historic buildings, boutique shops, art galleries, and a vibrant dining scene.
Visit the National Museum of Civil War Medicine to learn about the medical practices during the Civil War era, or delve into local history at the Frederick County Museum of History.
Explore Carroll Creek Park, a picturesque waterfront area with walking paths, beautiful landscaping, and unique art installations. Or hop over to Baker’s Park and visit a beautiful covered bridge surrounded by cherry blossoms in the springtime. And definitely make your way to Joseph Dill Baker Memorial Carillon!
Outdoor enthusiasts can venture to nearby parks such as Cunningham Falls State Park and Gambrill State Park, offering opportunities for hiking, picnicking, and enjoying nature.
The bustling farmers’ market, held on Sundays, is a great place to sample local produce, crafts, and delicious food. For those interested in the arts, catch a performance at the Weinberg Center for the Arts or visit the Delaplaine Arts Center to admire the works of local artists.
Frederick also hosts various events and festivals throughout the year, including the popular Frederick Festival of the Arts and the In the Street Festival. With its rich history, vibrant culture, and natural beauty, Frederick offers an array of experiences that will captivate visitors and make for a memorable stay.
Visit a Wild Flower Field and Pick Your Own Bouquet
Maryland has a variety of pick-your-own flower farms throughout the state, but the prettiest and most expansive has to be Magnolia Meadow Farms!
Their wildflower field blooms in September and is one of the best things to do in Maryland! They also have a sunflower field as well.
If you’ve ever wanted to live out your cottagecore dreams in Maryland then this is it!
Explore the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park (C&O Canal)
The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Park, known as the C&O Canal by local Marylanders spans 184.5 miles.
It runs along the scenic Potomac River, and offers a serene escape from the bustling city life. As you explore the towpath, you’ll be immersed in the park’s rich history, with remnants of the once-thriving canal system and charming lockhouses dotting the landscape.
The park provides a myriad of recreational activities, including hiking, biking, fishing, and even boating in certain areas. Visitors can also delve into the fascinating history of the canal at the visitor centers, where interactive exhibits and educational programs shed light on the canal’s role in shaping Maryland’s past.
Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventures or a deeper understanding of the region’s heritage, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park offers an unforgettable experience for all who venture there.
The Best Hikes in Maryland
If you love hiking, one of the best things to do in Maryland in the spring and fall is hiking!
Maryland boasts hundreds of miles of trails in various parks, forests, and natural areas. From short nature walks to challenging summit hikes, there are countless options available for hikers of all skill levels and preferences.
Here are some of the most popular hikes in Maryland:
- Billy Goat Trail (Potomac)
- Maryland Heights (Harpers Ferry)
- Catoctin Mountain Park (Thurmont)
- Sugarloaf Mountain (Dickerson)
- Gunpowder Falls State Park (Kingsville)
- Annapolis Rock and Black Rock Cliff (Boonsboro)
- Great Falls Park (Potomac)
- Patapsco Valley State Park (Ellicott City)
- Swallow Falls State Park (Oakland)
- Cunningham Falls State Park (Thurmont)
- Rocks State Park (Jarrettsville)
- Green Ridge State Forest (Flintstone)
- Gambrill State Park (Frederick)
- Appalachian Trail (Various sections in Maryland)
- King and Queen’s Seat (Jarrettsville)
- Kilgore Falls (Jarrettsville)
Pick Your Own Fruit and Strawberries in Maryland
Maryland has a huge farming community and offers amazing fruit picking throughout summer and into fall!
There’s nothing better than picking your own strawberries in Maryland in late spring and early summer! Visiting an apple orchard in Maryland or a pumpkin patch in Maryland are both excellent fall activities.
Here are some pick-your-own fruit farms to check out throughout the year:
- Larriland Farm (Woodbine)
- Butler’s Orchard (Germantown)
- Baugher’s Orchard (Westminster)
- Milburn Orchards (Elkton)
- Weber’s Cider Mill Farm (Parkville)
- Homestead Farm (Poolesville)
- Rock Hill Orchard (Mt. Airy)
- Sharp’s at Waterford Farm (Brookeville)
- Godfrey’s Farm (Sudlersville)
- Greenstreet Gardens (Lothian)
- Catoctin Mountain Orchard (Thurmont)
- Shlagel Farms (Waldorf)
- Gaver Farm (Mt. Airy)
- Berrywine Plantations/Linganore Winecellars (Mt. Airy)
Visit Maryland’s Largest Corn Maze
Maryland’s largest corn maze will have you lost in the best way for hours! Each year Magnolia Meadow Farms hosts a wonderful Fall Festival that is the Fall Festival of all Fall Festivals in Maryland! Part of the Festival includes access to their epic corn maze with 5 miles of trails! For even more spooky fun go at night for their moonlit corn maze event! This is definitely one of the most unique things to do in Maryland!
Calvert Cliffs State Park
Calvert Cliffs State Park in Maryland is a unique natural wonder that offers visitors a glimpse into the prehistoric past. Located along the Chesapeake Bay, the park is renowned for its towering cliffs that showcase layers of fossils dating back millions of years.
Go on a fossil and shark teeth hunting adventure as you explore the shoreline, where you can uncover prehistoric treasures such as shark teeth, fossilized shells, and ancient marine life remains.
The park offers scenic hiking trails that wind through forests and marshes, providing opportunities for birdwatching and wildlife spotting.
Take a stroll along the sandy beach, enjoy the serene views of the bay, or try your luck at fishing along the shoreline. The park also features picnic areas and a visitor center where you can learn more about the geology and history of the area. Calvert Cliffs State Park is one of the most unique things to do in Maryland! Parking is rather limited here so go early!
The National Harbor
The National Harbor in Maryland is a vibrant waterfront destination that offers a wide range of activities and attractions for visitors of all ages.
Start your adventure by exploring the waterfront promenade, lined with shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues.
For thrill-seekers, a visit to the Capital Wheel is a must, offering breathtaking views of the Potomac River and the surrounding area from its towering heights.
Take a leisurely stroll along the marina, where you can admire the beautiful yachts and enjoy the picturesque views.
Definitely stop by the impressive “The Awakening” sculpture, a 72-foot statue by J. Seward Johnson, Jr. that depicts a giant embedded in the earth, struggling to free himself.
The National Harbor is also known for its vibrant nightlife, with live music, comedy shows, and bars offering a lively atmosphere. Stop by MGM to visit their beautiful atrium usually decorated based on the season. Or have a drink at the 90s-inspired rooftop bar Replay at Pose inside the Gaylord National Resort.
Additionally, the harbor hosts various events and festivals throughout the year, so be sure to check the calendar for any exciting happenings during your visit. Whether you’re seeking shopping, dining, entertainment, or simply enjoying the waterfront ambiance, the National Harbor has something for everyone to enjoy.
Visit a Wild Field of Peonies in Maryland
Schwartz Peony Garden inside Seneca Creek Park comes to life in the springtime with a field of peonies!
There’s both a formal garden of peonies and just a field of peonies. If you are visiting Maryland in May, this Maryland activity is perfect!
Hike Annapolis Rock
The Annapolis Rocks hike, located in Boonsboro, Maryland, is a popular trail that rewards hikers with stunning vistas and a memorable outdoor experience. The trail begins at the Appalachian Trail parking lot and meanders through a picturesque forested area.
As hikers ascend, they are greeted with rocky outcroppings that offer breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. The highlight of the hike is reaching Annapolis Rocks, a large rocky ledge that overlooks the scenic Cumberland Valley.
From this vantage point, visitors can admire the rolling hills, verdant forests, and the meandering path of the Potomac River. It’s an ideal spot for picnicking, capturing photographs, or simply immersing oneself in the beauty of nature. The Annapolis Rocks hike is a moderately challenging trail, suitable for hikers of various skill levels, and provides a memorable opportunity to connect with the natural splendor of Maryland’s countryside.
For more information read this article on Hiking Annapolis Rock.
High Rock in Maryland
High Rock, located in Cascade, Maryland, is a magnificent natural landmark that offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Perched atop South Mountain, High Rock provides visitors with a vantage point to marvel at the expansive vistas that stretch across the rolling hills and valleys of Maryland and Pennsylvania. There’s a staircase built into the view point and it’s right next to the parking lot so no hiking is required!
Visitors are rewarded with sweeping views that encompass the Appalachian Mountains, lush forests, and charming farmlands. The awe-inspiring scenery, particularly during sunrise or sunset, is a favorite among photographers and nature enthusiasts. There’s also tons of street art on the rocks here to add more color to your visit!
Eat all the Blue Crabs
If there was a state cuisine in Maryland then it has to be the Maryland Blue Crab. At one time Maryland Blue Crabs were so plentiful that you could buy a full bushel from the side of the road on the way back from Ocean City, Maryland.
Prices have skyrocketed since those times, but you cannot come to Maryland in the summer and fall without enjoying a feast of blue crabs! The best most meaty crabs are available in September. I love steaming them in beer and adding just a touch of Old Bay.
Visit the Wineries in Maryland
Did you know there are wineries in Maryland? Wineries in Maryland are actually quite stunning the further west out you go! There are several wine trails put together by the Maryland Wineries Association that offer you a guide to follow to sample some of the best Wines in Maryland!
Some of my favorite wineries include:
- Catoctin Breeze Vineyard
- Windridge Winery
- Lone Oak Brewery
For more information check out my article on the Best Wineries in Maryland.
If hiking is your vibe you won’t want to miss one of the best hikes in Maryland.
The Maryland Heights Trail is about a 5 mile out and back trail that leads to the most gorgeous views of Harper’s Ferry. The hike itself is not too hard and you can enjoy a nice drink and lunch after in Harper’s Ferry!
For more information read this article on Maryland Heights Trail.