BALTIMORE (December 1, 2015) – As the season of gift-giving approaches, shoppers are looking to find the perfect gifts for friends and family—and giving a Maryland experience is just right for the holidays. The unique Maryland culture goes beyond crabcakes and football; it includes history, food, learning and arts.
"Maryland has so much to offer for every season and every personality," said Liz Fitzsimmons, executive director, Maryland Office of Tourism. "Whether it's skiing tickets for the winter or cooking lessons with a chef, visitors and residents alike will find an authentic Maryland experience to give and share with others."
Annual memberships and season passes can provide the opportunity to explore an interest or give a family a fun outing to look forward to. Attractions like the B&O Railroad Museum or Calvert Marine Museum often offer annual memberships and unlimited opportunities to stop by and discover new exhibits. A yearly membership to the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore or the National Aquarium gives parents the chance to take their children to explore the natural world every weekend. For those seeking a thrill, consider season passes to Six Flags America, where the addition of Splashwater Falls arrives in spring 2016. Outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate an annual pass covering entry fees to Maryland's State Parks, which often offer programming like syrup making, bird watching or group hikes.
For the friend who loves the arts—consider purchasing tickets to concerts, plays or other performing arts shows, like the annual Maryland Film Festival. Search through the Maryland Arts Council Marketplace to find local artists and products.
Foodies will appreciate a variety of gift certificates to Maryland's favorite restaurants to taste some of the state's best cuisine. Visit the Restaurant Association of Maryland to find a gift certificate for restaurants across the state. Purchase an assorted mix of Maryland favorites to ship, from Smith Island Cake and steamed crabs to oysters and artisan cheeses. Cooking classes with top chefs at locations like the Bartlett Pear Inn or Robert Morris Inn will help friends re-create Maryland dishes in their own kitchens. Book a tour to explore one of Maryland's Wine Trails, or check the schedule of a favorite local brewery or distillery for concerts, tastings or special events.
Feeling sporty? Give your family and friends an athletic Maryland experience. Wisp Resort offers ski and snowboard season passes, or find fly fishing lessons along the Eastern Shore. Charter a boat to show off your fishing skills, or purchase whitewater rafting tickets at ASCI or river tours. Prefer watching from the sidelines? Consider season or individual game tickets to see minor league, college or professional sports teams play like the Delmarva Shorebirds, University of Maryland Terps or Baltimore Ravens.
Treat a loved one to a day of pampering. Many hotels in Maryland offer spa packages, including the Inn at Perry Cabin or Gaylord National Harbor. Experience a wellness retreat at Haven on the Lake or unwind at B&Bs like Woodlawn Farm or the Inn at Huntingfield Creek. Provide a certificate for an overnight stay for a romantic getaway or offer the unusual experience of a stay at a tiny house nestled in the woods or even in one of the historic C&O Canal Quarter lockhouses.
While many shoppers turn to mainstream retail for holiday gifts, Maryland's 28 designated Main Streets and 24 Arts & Entertainment (A&E) Districts offer unique gifts from locally-owned boutiques and art galleries. Situated in some of the state's most historic locations including Annapolis and the charming Ellicott City, Main Streets and the A&E Districts often host art walks or special holiday deals for visitors.
This gift-giving season, think outside the box. From delicious food to the performing arts to sports, give someone the gift of the Maryland experience—in quality time spent together, whether it is with family or friends. These are gifts that create memories that will last a lifetime.
For more information on holiday shopping options and ideas for gifts this season, go to www.VisitMaryland.org.
About Maryland Tourism
The Maryland Office of Tourism is an agency of the Division of Tourism, Film and the Arts within the Maryland Department of Commerce. Visitors to the state spent $16.4 billion on travel-related expenses in 2014. The Maryland tourism industry also generated $2.2 billion in state and local taxes, and provided 140,288 jobs.