Maryland is a beautiful state in America’s northeast that is rife with history, fantastic architecture, tourist attractions, and local culture. Maryland itself is small, so taking a day trip out to see most places in the entire state- and beyond- is possible. People most often visit historical sites, museums, government buildings, festivals, and all the cities throughout the state that have so much to do. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
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Baltimore is a large and prominent town in Maryland that has a good portion of the United States’ history within its borders. People who love craft beer and sports enjoy the culture of Baltimore because of the abundance of micro-breweries, special events for craft beers, and sports events happening throughout the city.
There are plenty of historical sites in Baltimore, including the Fort McHenry National Monument, the Maryland Historical Society, the original Washington Monument, the oldest-running market in the US, the Lexington Market, B&O Railroad Museum, and the Lord Baltimore Hotel which hides the LB Speakeasy hidden behind a wall. There are hundreds of other sites, attractions and special events to see and do in Baltimore, and visitors find most of it all on the historic Pennsylvania Avenue Heritage Trail that runs through town.
Annapolis is a large, bustling city located where the vast Severn River flows into the Chesapeake Bay. There is a lot of history, and visitors can see it all within the museums and by visiting the United States Naval Academy located on the east side of the city. Annapolis is famous for many things, but their food and entertainment is a top priority for most tourists. The city also provides plenty of areas for outdoor activities, including parks, trails, and beaches along the shore of the Chesapeake Bay.
The downtown area has a large number of unique shops and restaurants. Most of the buildings are quite old and still have the “colonial” type architecture the Northeast US is famous for. Annapolis also hosts many special events all around the city.
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3.National Children's Museum
© National Children’s Museum
The National Children’s Museum is located in downtown Washington, D.C. near the famous National Mall. The museum moved to a brand-new building in late 2019 and expanded the space for many exhibits, and hands-on learning experiences help kids learn sciences, technology, engineering, arts, and math in a fun way.
There are a ton of programs and special events happening all year round for kids and the whole family. The museum has a modern/futuristic design, and their goal is to provide useful information and to spark creativity within kids for generations to come. The museum is large, and takes most of the day to explore everything, so small shops and concessions with eating areas are available to rest throughout the day.
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The National Aquarium in Baltimore is among the largest and most state-of-the-art aquariums in the United States. There are over 20,000 animals with over 800 species of fish that call the National Aquarium home. It is also a conservation center where scientists and aquatic conservationists save animals and educate the public about water system preservation.
There are a large number of exhibits featuring aquatic life from all over the world. Some have special events and programs that allow the public to interact with the animals. There are plenty of concessions, food stands, and souvenir shops located throughout the park.
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This 37-mile long island runs between Maryland and Virginia. The entire island is populated with shops, rental places for boats and kayaks, and parks. There are several trails and loops for biking, hiking, and horseback riding. The wildlife is plentiful, and visitors can view wild horses and sea life. Programs are available to take guided tours of the island and into the waters to hunt for shellfish and other fun activities.
Beaches surrounding the island are perfect for swimming and surfing in the warmer months. The visitor center has plenty of information for the island along with some shops and how to further explore the restaurants that serve American cuisine and fresh seafood daily.
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Ocean City is a place full of attractions that are located on the very end of a large islet that stretches down the coast between the Isle of Wight Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. There are over 200 restaurants that serve virtually every kind of food. Visitors like to walk the boardwalk and hang out at the 10 miles of free beach after a day of shopping and visiting all the local businesses that offer fun services for the whole family.
Visitors love to rent a boat or take a tour on the ocean to do some fishing, swimming, and diving, play some rounds of golf on pristine courses, spend a day at the Jolly Roger Amusement Park, and participate in all the significant events that happen throughout the year.
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7.Sandy Point State Park
Sandy Point is a 786-acre state park located right on the Chesapeake Bay just north of Annapolis. Hiking and biking trails run throughout most of the park and have playgrounds and scenic areas for picnicking along the way. Crabbing and fishing are popular here, and there are a few places that offer several kinds of boats to rent near the beach.
The Nature Center is the central hub where visitors can find all the information about the park, including a map to get around quickly. There are also many kids’ activities, including events with the Park Rangers, wildlife viewing tours, playgrounds, and the beach. Other places to visit within the park are the Sandy Point Mansion, hiking and biking trails, Sandy Point Shoal Lighthouse, and the Corcoran Environmental Study Area.
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This small town sits right on the western side of the Chesapeake Bay. People often refer to the town as the “Baydream.” The town is picturesque with several blocks that run along the bay with piers, picnicking areas, a large swimming beach, and fishing locations.
North Beach is a small town, so it is easy to get around to visit everything along the bay and all the other places in town. Taking a stroll through the historic downtown will take visitors to small businesses like antique shops, small eateries, and unique shops. The restaurants in town serve a wide variety of foods and are known to be some of the best places to dine in the area.
9.Day Trips from Baltimore: Gunpowder Falls State Park
This large state park sits just northeast of Baltimore and is open year-round for fun and unique outdoor experiences.
There are six areas to explore within the park. The Hereford Area has places for hiking, fishing, and boating. The Torey C. Brown Rail Trail runs for just under 20 miles and is paved for easy access for everyone. The Sweet Air Area has hiking and equestrian trails. The Center Area has both the Big and Little Gunpowder Falls and the Jerusalem Mill Historic Village with trails for horses, bikes, and for hiking. The Hammerman Area has picnicking areas, pavilions, and a beach to swim. And finally, the Dundee Creek Marina houses a boat launch that is near the Dundee Archery Range and other fishing areas.
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10.Oregon Ridge Park and Lodge
This large park is over 1,000 acres of trails, beaches, fishing areas, playgrounds, and more. The park is open all year and provides all kinds of fun outdoor activities for anyone, including special events throughout the year, and people are welcome to rent just a pavilion or the entire park. There are hiking and biking trails that run throughout the whole park that have great scenic areas.
The park’s history is apparent within the Oregon Ridge Nature Center, which has a museum and exhibits to see how the area became so popular in the early 1800s. Marble and iron mining was prominent in the park, and the nature center displays current excavations and artifacts.
11.Cunningham Falls State Park
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This large state park lies within the scenic Catoctin Mountain Park. Hiking, fishing, hunting, swimming, boating, and picnicking are just some of the most popular ways to enjoy the area. The park is separated into two sections. The William Houck Area is the first section of the park that has camping areas, hiking, and biking trails, the lake with swimming beaches and fishing areas, and Cunningham Falls.
The Manor Area is the second section of the park. It houses the locally famous Catoctin Iron Furnace, which is an old building that used to be an iron furnace that visitors are welcome to visit. This section also includes the Scales and Tales Aviary, more hiking and biking trails, and some camping areas.
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12.Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum and Sports Legend Museum
© Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum and Sports Legend Museum
George Herman Ruth, most commonly called “Babe Ruth,” was baseball’s first legend. The museum provides information and artifacts for baseball fans who wish to know more about the icon. Babe Ruth grew up in Baltimore and spent much of his life there, so that is where the museum is conveniently located.
While the museum is named after Babe Ruth, it is also a place to see exhibits on many other sports legends in basketball, football, baseball, and other sports. There is a large shop located within the museum to get sports memorabilia and other items as well.
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Smith Island is a significant hub for soft-shell crab fishing. Most soft-shell crab shipped throughout the United States comes from Smith Island. During the crabbing season, the island is extremely busy with crabbing vessels at the docks and factories processing crabs. But the large industry also provides a need for entertainment and attractions on the island for both tourists and the local crab fishers.
There are only around 250 people who live on Smith Island all year round, but there are tons of places to explore with beaches, parks with trails and playgrounds, and areas with abundant shopping and restaurants. The scenic beauty and fun outdoor activities are what drives tourism to Smith Island, and most people visit during the warmer months to get the most out of their trip.
14.Havre de Grace
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This humble town is located at the very northern edge of the Chesapeake Bay, where the towns and attractions are a bit spread out, and visitors can stretch their legs. It is a beautiful maritime town with scenic areas both on the water and inland, a rich history, and amazing food and shops unique to the area.
Boating, fishing, and other water activities are abundant on the Chesapeake Bay and the Susquehanna River, and stores on the shoreline offer boat rentals and fishing gear. Swimming and crabbing are also very popular in the beach areas. The downtown area is rife with traditional American culture and businesses. Lafayette Square is in the center of it all and has fountains, benches, and some historical sites to visit nearby.
The National Harbor is a place that celebrates the American culture and the beautiful lands where Smoots Bay meets the Potomac River. People love to visit the Capitol Wheel, a large Ferris wheel soaring above the Potomac River, the Carousel, the big screen that shows movies on the harbor, and famous works of art displayed throughout the harbor.
The Gaylord National, which is a 19-story atrium made entirely of glass, has shops and special events all year round. Other places to visit include the MGM Casino, Theater, and Conservatory, and Spa and Salon, TopGolf, the piano bar Bobby McKey’s, the Muse Paint Bar, Oxon Hill Manor, the National Colonial Farm, the Pose Nightclub, Relache Spa, and so much more. Much changes at the harbor with the seasons and every visit is quite different.
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The Chesapeake Bay is America’s largest estuary that flows right into the Atlantic Ocean and runs up the coast for many miles. Large cities lie on her shores, including Annapolis, Charlestown, Havre De Grace, Baltimore, Kent Island, Taylor’s Island, Bloodsworth Island, Smith Island, and the Chesapeake and Virginia Beaches. Several other smaller towns and fishing villages throughout her shores as well.
Other notable cities and towns along the Chesapeake Bay include the fine arts city of Chestertown, the famous port-town of Oxford, the adventurous Deal Island, Chesapeake City, the Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michael’s, Cambridge, the Hart-Miller Island, Hooper’s Island, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Calvert Cliffs, and so many more. Each unique place along the bay and the waters offers more than enough for a day trip.
17.Antietam National Battlefield
This large area is a place of remembrance as an old Revolutionary War Battlefield. Most of the area is full of historical sites, museums, and monuments. Many trails lead to each place, and the visitor center located within the grounds has all the information people need to fully explore the entire park.
The battlefield visitor center has a small shop for souvenirs, along with some concessions. The theater provides a welcoming video that is narrated by the famous James Earl Jones, which gives visitors the entire outlook on the battlefield’s history. The museum is also located within the visitor’s center. Out in the park, visitors go and see the Maryland Monument, the New York State Monument, and the 20th New York Monument. Other places to explore are the Dunker Church, the National Cemetery, and Pry House Field Hospital.
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18.Harriet Tubman Byway
© Harriet Tubman Byway
The byway runs through the Blackwater Wildlife Refuge and serves to honor and remember the courageous patriot Harriet Tubman, who made history during the time of the emancipation of slaves in America. The route has dozens of stops that mark essential sites in which Harriet Tubman made history. It is a driving tour that spans nearly 125 miles.
The main stop along the route is the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor’s Center. The center has some small shops, historical artifacts, exhibits, and outdoor scenery with a nature trail. There are 36 stops along the route, which include the Harriet Tubman Gardens, the Harriet Tubman Museum, and Education Center, with bridges, churches, historically significant buildings in several towns, and more. There are plenty of gas stations and eateries along the way as well.
19.Swallow Falls State Park
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This beautiful state park is located in western Maryland where the Youghiogheny River runs through a small mountain. Swallow Falls is a 53-foot high waterfall that is surrounded by some of the best-preserved natural forest lands in the entire country.
Visitors are welcome to camp at the campgrounds and explore the miles of trails on foot or with a bike. The area has some other scenic views of the river and other open pieces of land. The wildlife is abundant, and people come from all over to birdwatch and see other animals as well. Visitors can fish, hike, camp, take a picnic out to the scenic areas or to the pavilion area, and learn some of the history of the park along the way.
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20.Point Lookout State Park
Point Lookout is surrounded by beaches located on the Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac River. The area is famous for its history during the Civil War, where more than 50,000 confederate soldiers were imprisoned throughout the park area. Old military camps and jails still stand and can be explored. Volunteers re-enact some of the battles and the history of the life of the times during special events and public tours.
The scenery of the park is abundant with beaches, trails, cliffs, lookouts, and scenic, historical sites. The Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River offer water adventures such as boating, fishing, swimming, and crabbing. A few places are available to rent kayaks and canoes and places to eat delicious seafood. People can also rent a cabin, camp at the campgrounds, and go hunting within the designated area.
This small town is a historic place right on the Chesapeake Bay that is filled with marinas, piers, beaches, restaurants, unique local shops, museums, historical sites, and outdoor areas to have fun and explore. For foodies, St. Michael’s offers everything from casual American foods and seafood to fine dining.
Several cruise boats are available to tour the town over the water with narration from a town historian. The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum and the St. Michael’s Museum are located within St. Michael’s and provide fun experiences for the whole family while they learn the important history of the area. Several wineries, distilleries, and breweries are available to tour, the farmer’s market has fresh food from the waters and the lands daily, and many other places provide unique experiences throughout the town that are worth checking out.
The capital of the United States has no shortage of attractions, historical sites, and fun adventures. Exploring the downtown area and Pennsylvania Avenue where the National Children’s Museum, the National Mall, and the White House reside is more than enough for a day trip. But there’s more.
Washington, D.C. is also a place with natural beauty, lakes, rivers, and parks that provide a place to go boating, fishing, hunting, camping, and more. Just a few of the famous sites include the FDR Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the National Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of Natural History, the National Portrait Gallery, the National Zoo, the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building, the National Museum of American History, Rock Creek Park, and the JFK Center for Performing Arts. There are hundreds more places to explore and visit within the Washington, D.C. area as well.
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Frederick is a small city in Frederick County, Maryland. The entire county has a vast number of outdoor areas for camping, hunting, fishing, boating, and more. The city was a historically significant place during the Civil War, and artifacts, monuments, and historic sites can be found within the Monocacy Battlefield, the Museum of Frederick County, the National Museum of Civil War Medicine, the National Shrine Grotto of Lourdes, the National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, and Rose Hill Manor Park & Museums.
There are plenty of parks, golf courses, spas, wineries, breweries, and other places to rest and relax. There is also the Catoctin Wildlife Refuge and Zoo and Adventure Park USA to visit and let loose. The city is also famous for visiting the Delaplaine Arts Center and Weinberg Center for the Arts.
24.Ohio Canal National Historical Park
This park isn’t just one area of land but stretches nearly 185 miles across Maryland along the Potomac River, with several stops along the way to explore different sites. The trail starts in Washington, D.C. and stops in Cumberland, Maryland. The C&O Canal can be seen at many points along the way and has a long history of being an important waterway in the area since America’s inception.
To enjoy the beautiful scenery within the park, visitors only need to move along the trail, where they will discover miles of shoreline on the Potomac, cliffs, winding paths, biking trails, forest adventures, smaller parks, playgrounds, and more. Other places to visit include the Billy Goat Trails, Great Falls, Big Slackwater, Capital Crescent Trail, Fletcher’s Cove Area, Angler’s Area, and the Williamsport Area.
24 Best Day Trips & Small Towns in Maryland
- Baltimore, Photo: Christian Hinkle/stock.adobe.com
- Annapolis, Photo: alpegor/stock.adobe.com
- National Children's Museum, Photo: National Children’s Museum
- National Aquarium, Photo: Zenaida/stock.adobe.com
- Assateague Island, Photo: Scenic Corner/stock.adobe.com
- Ocean City, Photo: refrina/stock.adobe.com
- Sandy Point State Park, Photo: Faris/stock.adobe.com
- North Beach, Photo: Navalaney/stock.adobe.com
- Day Trips from Baltimore: Gunpowder Falls State Park, Photo: jonbilous/stock.adobe.com
- Oregon Ridge Park and Lodge, Photo: cameravit/stock.adobe.com
- Cunningham Falls State Park, Photo: Zack Frank/stock.adobe.com
- Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum and Sports Legend Museum, Photo: Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum and Sports Legend Museum
- Smith Island, Photo: Karlos Lomsky/stock.adobe.com
- Havre de Grace, Photo: Christian Hinkle/stock.adobe.com
- National Harbor, Photo: avmedved/stock.adobe.com
- Chesapeake Bay, Photo: flownaksala/stock.adobe.com
- Antietam National Battlefield, Photo: Gary/stock.adobe.com
- Harriet Tubman Byway, Photo: Harriet Tubman Byway
- Swallow Falls State Park, Photo: Kenneth Keifer/stock.adobe.com
- Point Lookout State Park, Photo: Navalaney/stock.adobe.com
- St Michael's, Photo: alpegor/stock.adobe.com
- Washington DC, Photo: BRIAN_KINNEY/stock.adobe.com
- Frederick, Photo: jonbilous/stock.adobe.com
- Ohio Canal National Historical Park, Photo: lunamarina/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: jonbilous/stock.adobe.com
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