Must-Visit Attractions in Maryland

Baltimore's Inner Harbor is one of the top places to check out in the state of Maryland
Baltimore's Inner Harbor is one of the top places to check out in the state of Maryland | © Clarence Holmes Photography / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Jasmine Eppes
Freelance Writer17 September 2020

Maryland is a state full of industry, history and vibrant activities. The capital is Annapolis, a must-visit city alongside the more famous Baltimore, but attractions aren’t limited to these two cities. From Kent Island to Edgar Allan Poe’s grave, here are 25 of Maryland’s must-see points of interest.

Visit Ocean City

Architectural Landmark
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Famous sign above the deserted boardwalk of Ocean City, Maryland, United States of America
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Ocean City, Maryland, is a great place to visit either for a weekend or as part of a last-minute vacation. Not only are there miles and miles of beach, but you’ll also have an opportunity to visit the famous Boardwalk, which offers games, rides, shops and plenty of food. For the full Boardwalk experience, order a bucket of Thrasher’s french fries, followed by a funnel cake from the stand opposite and then by pieces of fudge from Dolle’s and a bucket of caramel popcorn from Fisher’s Popcorn.

Visit Kent Island

Natural Feature
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Kent Island is a treasure trove of seafood restaurants and historic buildings, located close to Chesapeake Bay and the Queenstown Premium Outlets. Originally, it was the first permanent English settlement and served as a bartering station. Top spots are Stevensville – considered the biggest town on Kent Island – and Matapeake Beach, which offers great views of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and contains a picnic area, a dog beach and a café.

Take a stroll in Annapolis City Marina

Architectural Landmark
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Annapolis City Marina is a surprisingly peaceful place, given its location in downtown Annapolis, the state capital of Maryland. The marina features gated parking and free wifi, along with a picnic and grill area, and is a great place for a morning or early-evening stroll. If you are planning on being out on the water for most of the day, stop by the Dock Shop for essentials such as snacks, beer and wine.

Check out Baltimore Inner Harbor

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The Baltimore Inner Harbor boasts a vibrant nightlife, a good choice of restaurants and plenty of sightseeing and shopping opportunities. The Baltimore Inner Harbor is located in the downtown area of the city, and one of its highlights is the abundance of restaurants lining the shore. Try the seafood dishes at the Rusty Scupper, which claims, “If you haven’t dined with us, you haven’t seen Baltimore.” If seafood isn’t your thing, take a walk around the harbor to find another cuisine, or simply peruse the shops to work up your appetite. Either way, Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is a Maryland must-visit.

Atmosphere:

Accessible (Wheelchair), Accessible (Blind), Accessible (Deaf), Dog Friendly, Family Friendly

Visit Assateague State Park

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Assateague Island Maryland National Seashore State Park
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Assateague State Park is positioned on Assateague Island and is the only waterfront park located in the entire state of Maryland. As well as marsh areas rich in wildlife such as wild horses and waterfowl, there is a small, historic town called Berlin that is located only a few miles away from the park. Camping is also available for those who love to be at one with nature.

Get back to nature at Deep Creek Lake

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Deep Creek Lake is an enjoyable place to get away, especially in the fall and winter. In the fall, the area usually hosts an autumn festival, and many people enjoy staying in one of the roomy, comfortable vacation rentals during the winter. Entertainment options include a small roller coaster, white-water rafting, horse riding, mountain biking and kayaking. Oh, and make sure you bring plenty of beer, wine and hot cocoa.

Visit the Walters Art Museum

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The Walters Art Museum is a prestigious gallery in Baltimore that showcases numerous interesting exhibits throughout the year and a 36,000-item permanent collection spanning seven millennia, from ancient Egypt to Asia to the present day. This museum is not only educational, but also a great way to spend an afternoon with friends or family.

Attend a concert at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall

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Home to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the sleek Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall offers a busy calendar of classical concerts throughout the year. The resident orchestra, now under the baton of internationally-acclaimed conductor Marin Alsop, also engages in a variety of community outreach activities, encouraging talented young musicians from all over the state.

Watch a football game at the home stadium of the Baltimore Ravens

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M&T Bank Stadium erupts after Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed intercepts a Cincinnati Bengals for a touchdown. Lone Bengals fan Jason Ricart, from Columbus Ohio, has trouble feeling as festive. Baltimore beat Cincinnati 44-13 September 10, 2012. At half t
© UPI / Alamy Stock Photo
The M&T Bank Stadium is home to the city’s National Football League team, the Baltimore Ravens – a two-time Super Bowl Championship team that has a dedicated fan following in Maryland. The Ravens also host a variety of activities – such as Ladies’ Night Out and Pet Training Days – to keep fans involved before, during, and after the season.

Watch baseball at Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Sports Center, Stadium
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Oriole Park at Camden Yards is home to the Baltimore Orioles, a Major League Baseball team. Orioles’ tickets are significantly cheaper than football tickets, making their games a popular afternoon activity for families and groups of friends. Oriole Park is also located near the M&T Bank Stadium, so avid sports fans have two historic stadiums within easy reach of one another.

Take a walk in the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park

Park, Natural Feature
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The towpaths of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historic Park are the perfect setting for a stroll or jog. Running alongside the historic C&O Canal, which was a key industrial transportation route between 1828 and 1924, these shaded, well-maintained paths offer some great views of the Potomac River, as it winds its way up towards Washington DC. Plenty of locks and lock houses remain from the canal’s glory days.

Enjoy live music at Merriweather Post Pavilion

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Located in the town of Columbia and surrounded by acres of forest, the Merriweather Post Pavilion hosts a variety of musical shows, including rock, rhythm, blues, pop and jazz. There are seats located under the pavilion, with a wide space surrounding the stage for those wishing to stand up during concerts. There are also spaces available for those who wish to picnic and sit on the grass behind the seats in the pavilion.

Maryland Science Center

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USA Maryland Baltimore Inner Harbor Chesapeake Bay MD interior of the Maryland Science Center Museum
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The Maryland Science Center is a great place to learn about science and the world in which we live, offering tons of activities and installations for children as well as for adults. There’s a great deal of information on dinosaurs, bugs and the planets, to name just three of the topics explored here. For those who love learning how things work and want to know more about scientific phenomena, this is a top place to visit.

Visit Ellicott City's historic district

Historical Landmark
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The historic district of Ellicott City, Maryland, is rich in culture, history and places to eat. There are many outdoor activities to participate in, such as hiking, yoga and outdoor entertainment, and dozens of pubs, cafés and restaurants in which to eat, drink and relax. Or you can simply walk along Main Street soaking up the ambience and admiring the grand old buildings.

Party at Power Plant Live!

Music Venue, $$$
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Located near the Baltimore Inner Harbor, Power Plant Live! is a medley of alcohol-fueled activities – provided that you are at least 21 and can show proper identification at the entrance. There are loads of bars located inside of Power Plant Live!, hosting happy hours where you party with friends and family while enjoying discounted drinks. This lively complex of eating and drinking venues also provides free valet service if you mention that you are a part of a happy hour party.

Meet exotic creatures at the National Aquarium

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Appropriately located at the forefront of Baltimore’s harbor, the National Aquarium teems with 8,000 species and 20,000 animals, including frogs, turtles, monkeys and sloths. Key attractions include a five-storey-high replica of a South American rainforest, packed with all kinds of exotic creatures, and the hugely informative Shark Alley. To avoid the worst of the crowds, visit the aquarium during the week or before 11am.

Visit St. Michaels, Maryland

Architectural Landmark
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Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, St. Michaels, Maryland Hooper Strait Lighthouse (1879) with skipjack sloop HM Krent
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Located on Maryland’s Eastern shores, St. Michaels is a small coastal town with a great deal of character and things to do. The harbor has a variety of outdoor activities and delicious restaurants, and in the summertime, many people take their boats out onto the water in order to enjoy the views and watch the sunset. If you are also looking for quaint, romantic restaurants, there are plenty with picturesque views of the ocean and harbor.

Try your luck at Maryland Live! Casino

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The Maryland Live! Casino is one of the largest such establishments in America, and it’s a fun and fast-paced place to be if you like to gamble, shop and eat. There are also high-stakes poker rooms, 4,000 of the latest slot machines and more than 200 live-action table games in which to try your luck. This casino is also attached to the Arundel Mills mall, a lively place to be in its own right.

Visit Johns Hopkins Hospital

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Located in downtown Baltimore, the Johns Hopkins Hospital is a world-renowned teaching hospital that focuses on first-class research, education and exceptional patient care. People from around the world travel to this hospital in order to be seen, study or simply visit. This hospital also has residences for their doctors, along with the Johns Hopkins University attached to its grounds.

Catch a show at the Hippodrome Theatre

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Re-opened after a makeover in 2004 (it used to be a movie theatre), the Hippodrome Theatre hosts a variety of shows throughout the year, such as comedy performances and traveling Broadway hits. Patrons of this establishment are also able to purchase yearly subscriptions so that they never miss a show when it comes to town.

Explore the Antietam National Battlefield

Historical Landmark
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Antietam National Battlefield, Sharpsburg, Maryland, USA
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Located in the town of Sharpsburg, 70mi (113km) to the west of Baltimore, the Antietam National Battlefield was the scene of one of the worst clashes in the Civil War, which played out on September 17th, 1862. Learn about the details of this historic battle – in which almost 23,000 soldiers were killed or wounded – by completing the self-guided, 8mi (13km) walking tour and by visiting key sites such as Dunker Church and Sunken Road.

Visit Edgar Allan Poe’s grave

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American writer Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849), master of the macabre and creator of the detective fiction genre, is remembered by an elegant monument at 515 Fayette Street, in front of Westminster Hall. Indecision over the best location and the loss of the original grave in a railway accident delayed the process, meaning it wasn’t until 1975 – 26 years after the poet and author had passed away – that the present stone was inaugurated.

Explore the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum

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For an in-depth look at America’s railway history, head to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum, located in downtown Baltimore. Housed in historic buildings – including the Mount Clare Station, from where the country’s first passenger train departed in 1830 – it shows off old carriages and engines in all their former glory. The star attraction is a giant turntable connecting 22 lines.

Check out an abandoned village

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For something a little different, head into the dense greenery of the Patapsco Valley State Park, 18mi (29km) west of Baltimore. Here you’ll find the forlorn remains of Daniels: originally known as Elysville, it was founded by Thomas Ely in 1820 and, by the beginning of the 20th century, was a successful mill town, with shops, churches and a school. But the mill closed in 1960, and a tropical storm further hastened the buildings’ decline in 1972.

Go birdwatching at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

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Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is an absolute must for birdwatchers and travellers with a love of the outdoors. This 26,000-acre (10,523ha) expanse of marshes, forests and ponds is home to the largest population of breeding bald eagles on the east coast north of Florida, as well as the up-until-recently endangered Delmarva Peninsula Fox squirrel. It’s best explored by walking along one of the many trails that crisscross the park.

Additional reporting by Mark Nayler

These recommendations were updated on September 17, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.