The Unexpectedly Awesome “Things to do in Maryland”: A Non-Tourist’s Guide to Exploring Like a Local

1. Get Lost in the Beauty of Chesapeake Bay:

As the largest estuary in the US, Chesapeake Bay is a haven for water enthusiasts. Here, you’ll find over 11,000 miles of shoreline dotted with quaint waterfront towns.

This place offers a spectacular playground for fishing, boating, and simply drinking in the remarkable water views that seem to stretch to eternity.

Traveler’s Tip: For a more enriching experience, pay a visit to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. It gives a fascinating glimpse into the Bay’s history and the culture that has sprung up around it.

2. Explore the Thrills of Six Flags America:

On the edge of Bowie, Six Flags America offers something for everyone.

From adrenaline-pumping roller coasters like BATWING and Joker’s Jinx to leisurely rides suitable for the kids, this amusement park offers a full day of fun.

Traveler’s Tip: To get the most out of your visit and avoid the rush, try to visit during weekdays when the park is less crowded.

3. Take a Stroll Through the Historic District of Annapolis:

Annapolis, with its well-preserved 18th-century buildings, feels like a town caught in a time capsule.

The historic district is a delightful tangle of narrow streets lined with structures echoing the city’s rich past, each with a story to tell.

Traveler’s Tip: While you’re here, make sure to visit the U.S. Naval Academy. Its campus is an integral part of the city’s identity.

4. Visit the Visionary Art Museum:

This museum is a treasure trove of creativity that sidesteps the traditional.

Expect to see anything from a mirrored mosaic suit to a 15-foot whirligig. Each piece showcases raw talent and vision that transcends established artistic norms.

Traveler’s Tip: The museum regularly holds unique events, so check out their calendar before your visit.

5. Revel in Nature at Catoctin Mountain Park:

Situated just outside Thurmont, this Park offers a diverse landscape of lush forests, tumbling streams, and wildlife.

Numerous hiking trails provide access to scenic vistas, and overnight guests can enjoy camping in rustic cabins.

Traveler’s Tip: Autumn is a fantastic time to visit when the foliage is ablaze with color.

6. Engage in Bird Watching at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge:

Home to over 250 bird species, the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is a birdwatcher’s paradise.

Explore its vast wetlands and woodlands and you might be lucky to spot rare species like the American Bald Eagle or the Delmarva fox squirrel.

Traveler’s Tip: The best time for bird watching is early morning or late afternoon when birds are most active. Don’t forget your binoculars!

7. Walk Down the Historic National Road:

Established in the early 19th century, the Historic National Road offers a journey through time.

It’s dotted with charming inns, unique antique shops, and spectacular vistas. Take your time exploring and feel the rhythm of a bygone era.

Traveler’s Tip: Pick up a map at the visitor center for an outlined trail of all the key sights along the road.

8. Uncover Maritime History at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor:

This vibrant harbor area brims with museums, restaurants, and attractions, including the Historic Ships in Baltimore museum – a collection of four historic military vessels that provide an immersive glimpse into maritime history.

Traveler’s Tip: For a truly memorable experience, take a sunset cruise around the harbor.

9. Hike the Maryland Section of the Appalachian Trail:

This 41-mile section of the trail offers a moderately challenging hike with stunning views of the state’s diverse topography.

Hike through dense forests, across rocky ridges, and past tranquil streams.

Traveler’s Tip: Remember to pack enough water, wear comfortable shoes, and check the weather before setting out.

10. Catch a Show at the Strathmore Music Center:

Located in North Bethesda, the Strathmore is an acclaimed venue for music and performing arts.

From classical concerts to contemporary performances, there’s something for everyone.

Traveler’s Tip: Check their calendar for upcoming shows and book tickets in advance.

11. Delve into Space at the Goddard Space Flight Center:

As NASA’s first space flight center, Goddard offers an exhilarating exploration of space science.

Visit the visitor center’s interactive exhibits and learn about space missions, climate science, and the universe.

Traveler’s Tip: Don’t miss the center’s Science on a Sphere presentations, showcasing Earth and space science in an innovative way.

12. Experience Serenity at Brookside Gardens:

These beautiful gardens sprawl over 50 acres, offering a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Enjoy the Japanese-style garden, the butterfly conservatory, or simply sit by one of the tranquil ponds.

Traveler’s Tip: The butterfly conservatory is a must-visit but is only open during specific months, so plan accordingly.

13. Explore Catoctin Mountain Park:

For outdoor lovers, the Catoctin Mountain Park is a haven.

With over 25 miles of hiking trails, campgrounds, and scenic vistas, it’s an excellent spot for a day out in the wilderness.

Traveler’s Tip: If you’re planning to camp, make sure to book your site in advance, especially during peak season.

14. Roam Around the Historic District of Annapolis:

Annapolis’ historic district is a well-preserved testament to its rich past.

Walk along the cobbled streets, visit the 18th-century homes, and don’t forget to stop by the US Naval Academy.

Traveler’s Tip: Take a guided tour to gain a deeper understanding of the area’s history.

15. Take a Cruise on Chesapeake Bay:

What better way to explore Maryland than by cruising along the beautiful Chesapeake Bay?

Enjoy the stunning views, spot local wildlife, and learn about the bay’s history and ecology.

Traveler’s Tip: Opt for a sunset cruise for an extra special experience.

16. Visit the Antietam National Battlefield:

The site of the bloodiest single-day battle in American history, the Antietam National Battlefield, is a poignant reminder of our past.

The park offers ranger-led tours, self-guided auto tours, and a museum featuring exhibits on the Civil War.

Traveler’s Tip: The park’s visitor center is an excellent place to start your visit.

17. Taste Fresh Seafood at St. Michaels:

This charming waterside town is known for its delicious seafood, particularly the Maryland blue crab.

Try some fresh catch at one of the many waterfront restaurants.

Traveler’s Tip: Try the local specialty, crab cakes, for a true taste of Maryland.


From exploring historical sites to enjoying outdoor adventures and relishing fresh seafood, there’s no shortage of things to do in Maryland.

Each of these experiences gives you a unique glimpse into the state’s culture, history, and natural beauty.

So, pack your bags and get ready for a memorable trip in the Old Line State.

David Kingston

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