Arts and Culture Trip Ideas

Maryland is a mecca for world-class art museums, art fairs and performing arts arenas. Explore them all in this Insider Guide to the Arts.

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25 Top Arts and Culture Things to Do

Find African-American artifacts, symphony orchestras, woodcarvings, poetry slams, sculptures, Shakespeare, stoop storytelling and more in the diverse arts and culture scene of Maryland.

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Photo By: Maryland Symphony Orchestra

1 Maryland Symphony Orchestra, Hagerstown

Visit The Maryland Theatre to enjoy the big and bold sounds of this orchestra that regularly draws audiences from surrounding states. The Maryland Symphony Orchestra plays everything from classics to popular to traditional holiday tunes, so you’re sure to find music you love.

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Photo By: Allegany Museum

2 Thrasher Carriage Museum, Cumberland

You’ll appreciate today’s cars, trains and planes even more after a visit to this restored 19th-century warehouse where the horse-drawn carriages on display harken back to a time when transportation wasn’t so simple. See funeral wagons, sleighs, milk carts and more, as well as the travel accessories of the day, like bearskin lap covers and charcoal feet warmers.

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Photo By: Dante's Bar

3 Dante’s Bar, Frostburg

This multipurpose space in the Arts District will satisfy your taste for art and culture, as well as dinner. Order from an eclectic menu with plenty of drink specials, then feast on exhibits of local and regional artists, poetry slams and open mic nights held throughout the year.

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Photo By: Sarah Duck Garrett County

4 Music at Penn Alps, Grantsville

On Saturday summer evenings, listen to classical and pop music performances at the Great Hall, part of the Penn Alps Restaurant and Crafts Shop complex that also houses the Spruce Forest Artisan Village, home to a cooperative community of artists and artisans.

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5 Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art, Salisbury

Fittingly situated next to Shumaker Pond, this popular museum features the world’s largest collection of antique and decorative decoys. Traverse 12,000-square feet of gallery and theater space for a primer on wildfowl and the chance to marvel at the realistic beauty of some of the best wildfowl wood carvings in the world.

6 AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, Silver Spring

Cinephiles and all those searching for an alternative to mainstream movie-plexes, you can thank Montgomery County and the American Film Institute who partnered to redevelop this historic 1938 theater into a state-of-the-art complex, where you can take in programming largely unavailable elsewhere. See independent features and documentaries, attend a foreign film festival, or watch a series of classic movies, then discuss what you saw at a post-screening reception.

7 Baltimore Museum of Art

If modern and contemporary art is your passion, don’t miss the exhibitions and collections at this museum, home to the world’s largest collection of Matisse, plus 90,000 other works of art. Special activities include drop-in tours, Family Sundays and other events. Admission is free.

8 Cumberland Theatre

The shows of the Great White Way make their way to this theater in Western Maryland, a multi-purpose community arts facility that has hosted more than 100 productions, including recent favorites such as Happy Days, the musical; On Golden Pond; Monty Python’s Spamalot; and the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Fun fact: Emmy Award-winning, Academy Award-nominated actor William H. Macy serves on the theater’s Board of Trustees.

9 The Music Center and Mansion at Strathmore, Bethesda

A variety of performing art shows take the stage at three venues: the Music Center, the mansion, and 16 acres of outdoor space. See internationally-renowned acts at the Music Center, attend a more intimate performance in the mansion or listen to a free concert under the stars. Stop by for afternoon tea in the Tea Room or to see one of the many art exhibits on display.

10 DC Glassworks and Sculpture Studios, Hyattsville

This public access studio offers art classes ranging from glass-blowing to welding and metal fabrication. So gather some friends and learn a new art form!

11 The Way Off Broadway Dinner Theatre & Children’s Theatre, Frederick

Who doesn’t love dinner and a show? This theater is perfect for a unique evening out in a casual environment. With performances of stage classics and favorite musicals in an intimate setting, you’ll be well entertained (and fed!). The Children’s Theatre makes for a perfect afternoon with the kids, too.

12 Busboys and Poets, Hyattsville

A community gathering place for artists, activists, thinkers and dreamers, this establishment regularly hosts open mic nights, poetry slams, book readings and art exhibitions. Grab a snack, debate big ideas, visit the bookstore, and come for a special author event.

13 Hammond-Harwood House Museum, Annapolis

Known for some of the best examples of woodcarving and plasterwork in the country, the architecture of this historic circa-1774 house has earned it the nickname “the jewel of Annapolis.” Make an appointment for the two-hour tour to get an in-depth look.

14 Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, Baltimore

Parting is such sweet sorrow, so this company is making sure you don’t have to say goodbye to its engaging Shakespearean works just because the weather’s changing. A move to a new indoor cultural center near the Inner Harbor keeps its performances going all year, while the Company-In-The-Ruins continues its under-the-stars summer performances at PFI Historic Park, Ellicott City.

15 Howard County Center of African American Culture, Columbia

Walk the halls of a gallery displaying the work of local African-American artists, listen to vintage and contemporary music, see a mural of images of Barack Obama, and peruse exhibits showcasing African- American inventions, military contributions, and local leaders and families at this unique museum that’s also home to a children’s library.

16 The Stoop Storytelling Series, Baltimore

More than 450 stories have been told about the highs and lows of city living in this popular series named after the famous marble “stoops” or steps that front many of the city’s iconic rowhomes. A theme is chosen and seven people share a true, personal story in seven minutes to the listening audience. Mainstage shows go on at the 540-seat Pearlstone Theater at Center Stage, while a spin-off series called “Second Stoop” pops up at venues around the city.

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17 Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center, Solomons

Follow the walking path that winds through the garden alongside St. John’s Creek, past the collection of permanent sculpture and loaned works from the National Gallery of Art and Smithsonian Institution. Then put all that inspiration to good use in the Center’s creative reuse artLAB, which also hosts Moms’ Club classes for the littlest art lovers.

18 Creative Alliance, Baltimore

Reclaimed from a historic neighborhood movie theater, the Creative Alliance at the old Patterson Theater has become Baltimore's cozy home for the funky, fun and fabulous. Home of the annual Maryland Folklife Festival, the Creative Alliance has hosted everything from polka to punk-rock and rock operas to Tibetian throat singers. And did we mention the top notch artisanal cocktails? It's a can't miss!

19 Bruce 'Snake' Gabrielson's Surfing Museum and Surf Art Gallery

Just three miles south of Chesapeake Beach sits a very different museum featuring artifacts tied to the history of surfing, gathered over the past 50 years by the shop’s owner. The gallery contains works from locals and others. The owner is an avid, longtime surfer so when the surf’s up, the museum’s closed, dude.

20 Port Tobacco Players, La Plata

Broadway classics like Oklahoma! and Much Ado About Nothing mingle with contemporary and family fare at this theater that has been putting on shows for 65 years. See one of their performances on their home stage inside a former 1940s-era movie theater, or catch a traveling production by their Encore and Encore Kids touring companies.

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21 Leonardtown Arts Center

If the purple stairs and green awning at the entrance didn’t tip you off to the creativity happening inside, all it will take is a step in the door to clue you in. At this colorful building you can view exhibits, purchase hand-crafted items, and watch artists at work, or even meet the painters, sculptors and jewelry-makers who call this studio space “home.”

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22 Harriet Tubman Museum & Educational Center, Cambridge

You may know that Harriet Tubman served as a “conductor” in the Underground Railroad to lead other slaves to freedom. But did you also know she was a Civil War Union Army nurse and spy? Learn about Tubman’s fascinating life at this museum that chronicles her early years and escape from slavery, and is part of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway.

23 Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, St. Michaels

Dive right in to maritime history at this 18-acre waterfront museum, which in addition to traditional indoor exhibits gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in nautical life. Chat with a master decoy carver, retired crab picker or visiting shipwright, tour the Hooper Strait Lighthouse, tong for oysters at Waterman’s Wharf, apprentice in the Museum’s working Boat Yard, and see the largest collection of historic Chesapeake Bay boats in existence.

24 Museum of Rural Life, Denton

Caroline County was solely dependent on its agriculture for more than 300 years due to its land-locked geography. Learn about the challenges its isolated residents faced when you visit historical dwellings of the time, including an 1824 log cabin, a 1787 “middling planter” home, a 1795 wealthy planter home, and an 1819 merchant home later owned by an African-American family.

25 Academy Art Museum, Easton

This impressive museum is housed in a regionally-historic building, site of Easton’s first chartered school in 1820. When you take in an exhibition, workshop or event here, you’ll be in good company—more than 50,000 people visit the museum each year, making it the cultural hotspot of the Eastern Shore. Recent attractions include a display of Downton Abbey costumes, a concert by the Peabody Consort, and a Frank Lloyd Wright exhibit.

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Art Festivals Around Maryland

There’s nothing better than spending the day outdoors, listening to live music and seeing just how creative the people of Maryland can be—not to mention picking up a hand-crafted souvenir of your trip.

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1 Annual Mountain Maryland Plein Air

June 8-12, 2016
Artists and art lovers alike flock to Allegany and Garrett counties each summer for this juried exhibition and competition. Surrounded by gorgeous scenery, from the sparkling C&O Canal to the majestic mountainsides, artists create one-of-a-kind works, and visitors rush to acquire them after seeing the art created right before their eyes.

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Photo By: Garrett County Chamber of Commerce

2 Art in the Park, Deep Creek Lake State Park

July 9-10, 2016
This state park is a perfect weekend destination, so plan a visit to coincide with this summer art event featuring more than 40 local artists selling their creations, from pottery to paintings to jewelry to photography. Make your own art at the Tye-Dying stations where you can make your own t-shirts (for a small fee). Whether you arrive by boat or car, come spend the day to listen to Dixieland music and soak in art—along with some summer sunshine.

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Photo By: Bethesda Urban Partnership

3 Bethesda Row Arts Festival

October 15-16, 2016
Bethesda Row is a destination in its own right, with high-end shops and restaurants. But for a weekend in the fall, four blocks of the downtown area are turned into a bustling display of carefully curated arts and crafts. After browsing and shopping, take in a little live music and an evening of fine dining along Bethesda Row.

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Photo By: Hyattsville-CDC

4 The Annual Downtown Hyattsville Arts Festival

September 17, 2016
See what Prince George’s County and D.C.-area artists have to offer as they line the streets with their goods, while musicians show off their skills. Grab a locally made beer and take in all the Gateway Arts District has to offer, including shops, markets and restaurants.

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5 Artscape, Baltimore

July 15-17, 2016
The largest free arts festival in the United States, Artscape takes over the Bolton Hill and Station North neighborhoods three days every summer.  From fine artists and outdoor sculptures to live performances and street theater, Artscape is a must-see for the art—as well as the street performers.

6 Annapolis Arts, Crafts & Wine Festival

June 4-5, 2016
Held annually, this arts and crafts event comes with a fun perk—festival-goers can try wines from more than 25 local wineries and listen to live music while perusing the wares.

7 Artsfest Fine Arts Festival, Solomons

Spend a weekend at the Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center and enjoy the works of more than 165 artists at this juried arts festival. There isn’t just art on display, though. From bands to stilt walkers to living statues, there’s entertainment for the whole family, including activities in the Discovery Tent and Zany Zone. Enjoy microbrews, hard cider and a whole array of snacks, such as hush puppies, fried pickles and barbecue.

8 ArtsFest, La Plata

What better way to spend a Saturday in June than at the largest outdoor arts festival in Charles County? Start your day with an outdoor yoga class, then bring the kids to the children’s art tent. With all that is going on, don’t forget to browse the wares of more than 40 artists that are on display.

9 Artists Paint OC

For two days in the summer, artists flock to the streets of Ocean City to paint what they see before them, en plein air. Watch the artists create their works right before your eyes, and get the chance to purchase something straight off the easel, even while the paint’s still wet!

10 Eastern Shore Sea Glass & Coastal Arts Festival, St. Michaels

One of the coolest arts festivals around, this event features the work of more than 20 sea glass and coastal artisans. A festival wristband also scores you free admission to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum and discounts all weekend long at participating area shops and restaurants.

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Maryland's Theaters and Performing Arts Venues

Maryland’s thriving cultural scene offers world-class sound stages and amphitheaters that host world-renowned local talent and leading stars from around the world. Take a peek inside some of the best theaters and performing arts venues in Maryland and start planning your theater trip today.

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1 Maryland Theatre, Hagerstown

This gorgeous historic space dates back to 1915, when it hosted silent films. Today, its stage is regularly graced by the Maryland Symphony Orchestra, and notable stars in every genre—from country to comedy to classical—regularly perform in its 1,300-seat auditorium.

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Photo By: Ken Stanek Photography

2 Hippodrome Theater at the France-Merrick Performing Arts Center, Baltimore

This legendary building opened in 1914 as a movie palace and stage for vaudevillians. Its restoration more than 10 years ago has provided a world-class stage to Broadway’s biggest touring productions.

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3 Imagination Stage, Bethesda

At the largest and most respected multi-disciplinary theater arts organization in the mid-Atlantic region, children are spellbound by Imagination Stage’s professional shows, but they can also flex their own creative muscles in one of its many acting, film or dance classes and camps.

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4 Music Center at Strathmore, Bethesda

Major international folk, rock, R&B, pop and jazz artists love to perform in this concert hall, noted for its crisp acoustics. The Strathmore is also home to resident organizations like the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Washington Performing Arts Society, National Philharmonic, Levine Music, CityDance Center, Maryland Classical Youth Orchestra and InterPlay.

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5 Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, Baltimore

This 2,400+ seat concert hall is home to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, which performs weekly with a variety of top guest artists. Try one of the BSO’s seven-themed concert series, such as SuperPops, Family Concerts, Music Box or the secrets-spilling Off the Cuff series.  

6 Modell Performing Arts Center at the Lyric, Baltimore

Take a complimentary guided tour of this gorgeous building to see the dramatic high ceilings fashioned after Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw. Its diverse shows include famous singers, classical ballets, touring comedians and children’s concerts.

7 Center Stage, Baltimore

Lauded playwright, actor and director Kwame Kwei-Armah took the helm of this Baltimore theater staple a few years ago as its Artistic Director. He and Managing Director Stephen Richard offer not only popular Broadway musicals and classic theater but also productions by emerging playwrights that push the artistic envelope.

8 Theatre Project, Baltimore

In the 1970s, this theater would support itself and its performers by passing a hat to collect donations instead of charging for tickets. Today, artists are still being nurtured to create experimental theater, dance and music in this 150-seat blackbox venue.

9 Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, Annapolis

Maryland Hall is a multi-disciplinary arts center. Its stage is home to the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, Annapolis Chorale, Annapolis Opera and The Ballet Theatre of Maryland. This repurposed former high school also utilizes its many classrooms to host creative classes of all varieties.

10 Bowie Center for the Performing Arts

You’ll enjoy off-Broadway theater shows and concerts at the Bowie Center, but you can also take workshops, attend lectures, learn stage craft and more.

 

11 Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, College Park

The premiere venue of The University of Maryland College Park, The Clarice hosts high-caliber undergrad and graduate student performances as well as a roster of internationally acclaimed visiting artists.

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About Arts & Culture

This sumptuous concert hall is home to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
Maryland's Theaters and Performing Arts Venues

Maryland’s thriving cultural scene offers world-class sound stages and amphitheaters that host world-renowned local talent and leading stars from around the world. Take a peek...

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Discover a world of wonder inside the BMA--and best of all, it's free!
25 Top Arts and Culture Things to Do

This smorgasbord of arts and cultural offerings serves up something for every taste.

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woman painting in a park
Plein Air

Enjoy art and the outdoors at these fun, local events.

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Arts and Culture Listings

Find museums, art galleries, theatres, music venues, and other places to enjoy arts & culture things to do in Maryland.

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This world-class museum houses art from ancient Egypt through the 20th Century.
Budget-Friendly Arts & Culture Things to Do

World-renowned museums at out of this world prices.

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The Cumberland Arts & Entertainment District is home to the annual Mountain Maryland Plein Air Event.
Maryland's Arts & Entertainment Districts

Maryland’s vibrant Arts & Entertainment Districts provide endless opportunities for dining, shopping, creating and exploring. From west to east, there are many A&E...

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