Baltimore, Maryland is one of the most iconic cities in America known for its harbors, John Hopkins Hospital, and deep-rooted American history dating back to its settlement in the early 17th century. One of the best things about Baltimore is how easy it is to take a day trip to other great places around the city during your extended stay.
There is no better place to learn about the history of democracy and American history than Washington, D.C. Not only are there plenty of historical and political landmarks to be seen, but visitors should also explore the cosmopolitan downtown area with high-end restaurants and shopping, world-class entertainment and nightlife, and cultural hot spots.
Some of the best attraction in Washington DC include The White House, The Washington Monument, The Lincoln Memorial, The Smithsonian, The National Holocaust Museum, Mount Vernon, Historic Congressional Cemetery, The Pentagon, United States Botanic Gardens, Ford Theater, and much more.
2.American Visionary Art Museum
© American Visionary Art Museum
The American Visionary Art Museum, AVAM, is dedicated to art produced by artists who have not received formal art education and instead harbor unique personal vision with an ability to be self-taught and visionary. The AVAM keeps it all new and exciting due to their exhibitions changing and rotating with some exhibits curated from the permanent collection and others featuring traveling art exhibits.
Not only can visitors take self-guided tours through the AVAM, but there are also workshops, classes, and special events to attend. The AVAM can also be rented for private events such as weddings, corporate functions, or fundraisers. Visitors can access AVAM by water taxi or land.
800 Key Highway, Baltimore, Maryland, 21230, Phone: 410-244-1900
Visit the capital of Maryland for a great day trip from Baltimore. Annapolis is on the Chesapeake Bay between Baltimore and Washington D.C. Annapolis is a politically significant city in American history and was once the seat of the Confederation Congress, the national capital of the US, and where the 1786 Annapolis Convention happened. Today, visitors to Annapolis can explore The Maryland State House, United States Naval Academy, and a host of history, science, and cultural museums.
Visitors not interested in politics and history can enjoy a plethora of outdoor activities on the Chesapeake Bay, or stay for festivals and special tours such as the Annapolis Seafood Crawl, Irish Festival, Oktober Fest, and other family-friendly events.
26 West Street, Annapolis, MD, 21401, Phone: 410-280-0445
4.Antietam National Battlefield
Antietam National Battlefield is a National Park that is the site of one of the bloodiest days in U.S. history. Over 23,000 soldiers were killed on September 17, 1862, after a 12-hour battle that stopped the Confederate army from invading Northern Virginia. This was the event that led to the first Emancipation Proclamation being declared by Abraham Lincoln.
The Antietam Battlefield is a beautifully preserved historic landmark for visitors to tour that includes places like Dunker Church, Bloody Lane, Burnside Bridge, and the National Cemetery. A visitor’s center has additional information and exhibits. Some historic buildings are only open in the summer and/or weekends.
PO Box 158, Sharpsburg, MD, 21782, Phone: 301-432-5124
5.Appalachian Trail Museum
© Appalachian Trail Museum
The Appalachian Trail Museum is housed inside a building more than 200 years old that was once used as a grist mill in Gardners Philadelphia. Located in Pine Grove Furnace State Park, the museum outlines the history of The Appalachian Trail. Some of the exhibits at the museum are a trail shelter that was built by legendary trail hiker Earl Shaffer and more than 12,000 photographs of hikers on the trail and Harpers Ferry. A research library is also a part of the museum. Hiking is available on the museum property, and there is also a Children’s Discovery Area for little ones.
The Appalachian Trail Museum is across from the historic Pine Grove General Store and nearby the Ironmasters Mansion and The Old Mill. If visiting the museum in person is a problem, you can access the digital archives online through the museum store.
1120 Pine Grove Road, Gardners, PA, 17324, Phone: 717-486-8126
6.Assateague State Park
© Zack Frank/stock.adobe.com
Families who love water recreation and the great outdoors will enjoy Assateague State Park on Assateague Island at the National Seashore. The island is known for its heard of wild horses, sandy beaches, salt marshes, coastal bay, and maritime forests. Visitors to the state park can enjoy hiking, kayaking, fishing, biking, and even clamming.
There are two visitors’ centers at Assateague State Park. Toms Cove Visitor Center is found on the Virginia side of the island in the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. Assateague Island Visitor Center is on the Maryland side of the island near the Verrazano Bridge park entrance.
7206 National Seashore Lane, Berlin, Maryland, 21811, Phone: 410-641-1441
7.Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge
© Mary Swift/stock.adobe.com
Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is a tranquil waterfowl sanctuary established in 1933 for migrating birds traveling the Atlantic Flyway. The refuge features three different habitats—marsh, shallow water, and forest and is home to 1/3 of the tidal wetlands of Maryland. Blackwater also helped the Delmarva Peninsula fox squirrels come off the endangered species list and are where visitors to the east coast can see the largest population bald eagles north of Florida.
Visitors to Blackwater can hunt with a permit, fish, crab, walk several trails, participate in environmental education programs, and cycling. The visitors center has restrooms and exhibits, a library, upper deck observation area, and TV monitors that allow you to see inside the osprey and eagles nests. There is also a butterfly garden, bookstore, and gift shop.
2145 Key Wallace Drive, Cambridge, MD, 21613, Phone: 410-228-2677
8.Calvert Cliffs State Park
Calvert Cliffs State Park runs the Chesapeake Bay seashore for 24 miles. The majestic cliffs were formed almost 20 million years ago when Maryland was covered by ocean water. Today, visitors to the cliffs can see fossils of prehistoric sharks, whales, birds, and stingrays. Some of the birds are the size of small airplanes. Fossil hunting can be done on the beach connected to Red Trail.
When visiting Calvert Cliffs State Park children can play on the recycled tire playground. There are sandy beaches for relaxing and swimming, places to fish, and both fresh and tidal marshes to explore through the 13 miles of hiking trails. Camping for youth groups is available, and there are several picnic shelters for visitors spending the day.
580 Taylor Avenue, Annapolis MD, 21401, Phone: 877-620-8367
Visitors looking for pristine beaches and a seaside getaway full of rich history and amazing restaurants should visit Cape May, New Jersey. This small town is full of amazingly preserved architecture and the Cape May Historic District is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Car, plane, ferry, or public transportation can access Cape May, and most visitors choose to park and spend the day getting around by bicycle or trolley. There are campgrounds, hotels, bed & breakfasts, and Guest Houses that accommodate visitors who come to Cape May for the amazing beaches, world famous oceanfront dining and boutique shopping. Cape May is also home to several museums, a lighthouse, old homes tours, and seaside spas.
513 Washington Street, Cape May, New Jersey, 08204
Chesapeake Beach is a quaint bayside town in Calvert County, Maryland along the Chesapeake Bay. The town was founded in 1896 by the Chesapeake Bay Railway Company who create a resort along the railway for people who wanted to take day trips from Washington D.C. which is only 28 miles away. The Chesapeake Beach Railway Resort was closed in 1935, but the communities from Chesapeake Beach and North Beach support the area with popular outdoor bay activities, a public school and both year-round and summer homes.
This beach is a great place for families who love water recreation. Chesapeake Beach features a marina with boating opportunities, a water park, Bay Front Park, the Railway Museum, and Veterans Memorial Park. There are also many places for world-class oceanfront dining and several festivals that occur annually.
American history buffs will enjoy Cumberland, a historic town once used as one of George Washington’s military outposts. Cumberland was also nicknamed “gateway to the west” by the early pioneers. You can still visitor George Washington’s one-room cabin headquarters from when he worked for General Braddock. The Cumberland Arts and Entertainment District is just over two hours from Baltimore.
Visitors to Cumberland can take Western Maryland Scenic Railroad trip to the town of the Allegheny Mountains to learn about railway history and take in the beautiful mountain scenery. The city is also home to C & O Canal National Historical Park and Visitors Center, several historical landmarks, and host to several annual festivals.
© High Castle Tech/stock.adobe.com
Thrill-seeking and American history go hand-in-hand when visitors come to Frederick where they can kayak on the bay before visiting a museum then spending the evening at a lush martini bar. Many of the Civil War-era buildings still stand amongst boutiques, art galleries, performance theaters, and museums.
Frederick is centrally located to Baltimore, Washington D.C. and Gettysburg and has some of the best water and mountain views along the east coast. Visitors who want to spend time outdoors can tour the wineries, hike the Appalachian Trail, or visit the remnants of battlefields. The family-friendly town also features a wildlife preserve, children’s museum, Adventure Park USA, Harpers Ferry Adventure Center, and several orchards.
13.Gettysburg National Military Park
The famous Battle of Gettysburg was a battle that scarred American History during the Civil War, and visitors to Gettysburg National Military Park can still find remnants of the historic battle. The Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitors Center offers free admission and park maps with guidebooks that help visitors navigate the battlefield and inform them of special events. The museum focuses on the battle of Gettysburg but also gives details on the Civil War history as a whole.
Visitors can sign up for the guided tours offered of the battlefield or use the driving map to take a self-guided tour. Visitors should plan to spend four to six hours at the park. Conclude your day with a trip to the National Cemetery and see the site where Abraham Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address. You can also stop by the David Wills House, where Lincoln wrote the address.
1195 Baltimore Pike, Gettysburg, PA, 17325, Phone: 717-334-1124
14.Great Falls Park
© Christian Hinkle/stock.adobe.com
Great Falls Park is home to one of the very first canals to be built in the United States and where visitors can explore the Great Falls of Potomac and Mather Gorge. There are three overlooks for the falls within a few minutes’ walks from the visitor’s center and parking lots. The park is popular, and when the weather is nice, there are substantial crowds.
Visitors who enjoy outdoor adventures can find whitewater boating, climbing, fishing, cycling, and hiking opportunities. There are educational movies to watch in the visitor’s center as well as a touch table in the Children’s Room. Educational programming and junior ranger programs are also available, and special events happen year-round.
9200 Old Dominion Drive, McLean, VA, 22102, Phone: 703-757-3101
15.Gunpowder Falls State Park
The Gunpowder Falls State Park was established to protect and preserve the Gunpowder River and waterfalls around 1959. The area is one of the biggest state parks in Maryland spanning 18,000 acres across two counties. The park is ideal for outdoor recreation lovers and features 120 miles of trails for hiking and biking, horseback riding, fishing, kayaking, exploring wildlands, canoeing, swimming, a marina with boating, and much more.
Gunpowder Falls State Park is separated into six zones—Hereford Area, Torrey C Brown Rail Trail, Sweet Air Area, Central Area, Hammerman Area, and Dundee Creek Marina. There are several historic building within the park, including Mill Pond Cottage, Jerusalem Mill Historic Village that can be visited.
580 Taylor Ave, Annapolis MD, 21401, Phone: 877-620-8367
© Hershey Park
Everyone who loves chocolate must visit Hershey Park. Milton S. Hershey created the family-friendly theme park as a leisure park for his employees at the chocolate factory. Today. There are more than 70 attractions, including a massive water park—The Boardwalk, and more than a dozen roller coasters. Visitors to the park can also access ZooAmerica, a North American Wildlife Park.
The best time to visitor Hershey Park is during one of the annual special events including Hershey Park in the Dark during Halloween, Hershey Park Christmas Candylane, and Springtime in the Park. Plan to spend the day at the park where there are dozens of restaurants to choose from, and the brand-new Chocolatetown expansion. For the ultimate experience, stay at one of the property resorts.
100 Hersheypark Drive, Hershey PA, 17033, Phone: 717-534-3900
17.Ladew Topiary Gardens
Ladew Topiary Gardens is one of the Top 5 Gardens in North America and spans 22 acres including a historic manor home and seasonal Butterfly House. The gardens include the Rose Garden, Iris Garden, Garden of Eden, White Garden, Sculpture Garden, Yellow Garden, and Hunt Scene which features lifesize topiary horses and riders, dogs, and a fox. There are over 100 topiary creations total in Ladew Gardens.
Visitors can hike the nature trails or participate in educational programming and special events when not exploring the lush gardens. The Ladew Café and Courtyard is open daily from April through October, and a gift shop and visitors center is also available.
3535 Jarrettsville Pike, Monkton, Maryland, 21111, Phone: 410-557-9570
Just under an hour’s drive from Washington, D.C., and less than two hours from Baltimore is one of the most iconic places in Presidential history. Mt. Vernon is where George Washing, first president of the United States, lived. There is no shortage of attractions in Mount Vernon related to history as well as nature, fine dining, and family-friendly museums and special events.
Visit the Education Center to learn all about the American Revolution and George Washington or visit in May for life action reenactments. Visitors can also take sightseeing boat tours on the Potomac, visit with the livestock on the Pioneer Farm, walk the forest trails and complete a scavenger hunt.
3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway, Mount Vernon, Virginia, 22121, Phone: 703-780-2000
Ocean City is one of the best seaside towns for families that want to spend ample time on the beach. Ocean City has more than 10 miles of free beaches, a three-mile boardwalk that attracts thousands of visitors each summer and more than 200 restaurants packed into one great city that hosts special events all year around.
The Ocean City Boardwalk was featured on the Travel Channel as the best boardwalk in America and by National Geographic and one of the top 10 in the US. Most boardwalk visitors walk or rent a bike to explore the three miles of amusements and arcades. There is also a tram that travels up and down the boardwalk and a 1902 carousel that is iconic to the pier.
20.Ohio Canal National Historical Park
This massive National Historical Park spans DC, Maryland, and West Virginia and is visited by more than 5 million people each year that take part in hiking, trekking, cycling, and camping. The Ohio Canal National Historical Park is impossible to explore in just one day and features a trail that is 184.5 miles along the Potomac River.
There are several visitors centers along the 185 miles National Park but no main entrance. Visitors should start at Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center, Georgetown, Williamsport, Cumberland, Brunswick, or Hancock Visitors Centers. There are many special events and educational opportunities through various visitor's centers and landmarks.
1850 Dual Highway, Suite 100, Hagerstown MD, 21740, Phone: 301-739-4200
21.Sandy Point State Park
The Chesapeake Bay’s Northwestern shore is home to Sandy Point State Park which encompasses 786 acres of beaches, cliffs, shoreline, hills, and forest. The park was opened in 1952 and is a popular location for boating, fishing, crabbing, swimming, kayaking, and canoeing. A marina store with boat rentals is one site and families are welcome to rent campgrounds or access the picnic shelters and outdoor grills. Playgrounds are scattered throughout the park, and bathhouses are available at the beaches and campgrounds.
Visitors to Sandy Point State Park should also visit Sandy Point Mansion and Sandy Point Shoal Lighthouse. Junior Ranger programs and educational programming is available as well as youth camping and several events for the community.
1100 East College Parkway, Annapolis, MD, 21409, Phone: 410-741-2149
Boaters and fisherman flock to Solomon’s Island, which is the center of boating in Maryland located on the Patuxent River. Just two hours from Baltimore, visitors can spend the day on the island exploring Calvert Marine Museum, Annmarie Sculpture Garden, Sculpture Park, and other attractions. The town is also known for its fresh seafood and elegant river cruising.
The Riverwalk Boardwalk will give you access to dozens of retail shops, boutiques, and restaurants and ends at the Chesapeake Bay Biological Laboratory. Visit the Lab and stop by the Visitor Center to learn about Bay health and the research being conducted on the Bay.
St. Michaels is a quaint seaside town full of marinas, romantic inns, boutiques, and restaurants. The town is known for being the town that fooled the British back in 1813. After the British attack, only one house was damaged. This house, “the cannonball house” still stands and is in use as a private residence.
One of the most popular things to do while visiting St. Michaels is to take a boat tour or cruise that serve lunch or dinner onboard. The town is best explored on foot if not by boat, and many walking tours are also available. Visitors interested in history should stop by the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, St. Michaels Museum, and Hooper Straight Lighthouse. There are also several distilleries and breweries in the area.
24.The King and Queen Seat at Rocks State Park
Rocks State Park is found in rural North Hartford County and features 855 acres of cliffs, boulders, rocky hillsides, and rolling forests. The park is divided into three sections and features 3.5 miles of hiking trails. One of these trails leads to the King and Queen seat. The park was originally established to protect this natural feature in 1949. The cliff juts out over 190 feet above Deer Creek.
Visitors to the Rocks State Park can also access Deer Creek for fishing, tubing, floating, and swimming. Experienced climbers with a skill level of 4 to 5.12 can climb The King and Queen Seat with paths ranging from 8 feet high to 115 feet.
3318 Rocks Chrome Hill Road, Jarrettsville, MD, 21084, Phone: 410-557-7994
25.US Bureau of Engraving and Printing
If you’ve ever wondered where U.S. money is made, you can see the process up close at the US Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Visitors can tour the BEP in Washington DC along with the Visitor Center and learn about paper currency and history of money in the United States. Visitors will walk along with a gallery overlooking the printing room where millions of dollars are created. Tours are 40 minutes long and include a short film and gallery tour. Admission to the BEP is free and open to the public on weekdays only. Public and group tours are available, though, group tours need to be arranged in advance.
301 14th St SW, Washington, DC 20228, Phone: 202-874-2330
25 Best Weekend and Day Trips from Baltimore, MD
- Washington DC, Photo: lunamarina/stock.adobe.com
- American Visionary Art Museum, Photo: American Visionary Art Museum
- Annapolis, Photo: Gary/stock.adobe.com
- Antietam National Battlefield, Photo: Gary/stock.adobe.com
- Appalachian Trail Museum, Photo: Appalachian Trail Museum
- Assateague State Park, Photo: Zack Frank/stock.adobe.com
- Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Photo: Mary Swift/stock.adobe.com
- Calvert Cliffs State Park, Photo: jonbilous/stock.adobe.com
- Cape May, Photo: jonbilous/stock.adobe.com
- Chesapeake Beach, Photo: jonbilous/stock.adobe.com
- Cumberland, Photo: tamas/stock.adobe.com
- Frederick, Photo: High Castle Tech/stock.adobe.com
- Gettysburg National Military Park, Photo: eks_design/stock.adobe.com
- Great Falls Park, Photo: Christian Hinkle/stock.adobe.com
- Gunpowder Falls State Park, Photo: jonbilous/stock.adobe.com
- Hershey Park, Photo: Hershey Park
- Ladew Topiary Gardens, Photo: Peter/stock.adobe.com
- Mount Vernon, Photo: jonbilous/stock.adobe.com
- Ocean City, Photo: WideAwake/stock.adobe.com
- Ohio Canal National Historical Park, Photo: jonbilous/stock.adobe.com
- Sandy Point State Park, Photo: Faris/stock.adobe.com
- Solomon’s Island, Photo: Navalaney/stock.adobe.com
- St Michaels, Photo: tamas/stock.adobe.com
- The King and Queen Seat at Rocks State Park, Photo: flownaksala/stock.adobe.com
- US Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Photo: 4kclips/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: f11photo/stock.adobe.com