Assateague Island National Seashore Beach Camping
Assateague Island National Seashore Beach Camping

25 Free (or Nearly Free) Things to Do in Maryland

You don’t need a big budget to experience big fun in Maryland. Here are 25 top free (or nearly free) things to do—sure to keep you coming back again and again!

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Horses on Beach Photo By: Laura Palescandolo

1 Assateague Island National Seashore

Less than 10 miles from the excitement of Ocean City are the serene shores of Assateague Island, beckoning you to romp on the beach alongside the wild horses that inhabit the island. The horses are smaller than normal horses, but a bit more aggressive, so watch your hands (and food)—but they’re definitely a sight not to be missed.

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7206 National Seashore Ln
Berlin, MD 21811

Mallows Bay Park Photo By: Ralph Eshelman

2 Mallows Bay

Search for shipwrecks in the “Ghost Fleet of Mallows Bay” at the largest ship graveyard on the East Coast, just off the Potomac River in Charles County. Take out a kayak for a hauntingly-beautiful afternoon spent drifting among the wrecked, World War I era ships that were supposed to be scrapped, but were abandoned instead.

Hop on your bike and see authentic sites like the Loys Station Covered Bridge. Photo By: Clark Vandergrift

3 Maryland Scenic Byways

Escape the highway, enjoy any one of Maryland's 18 Scenic Byways – for a relaxing road trip to explore charming towns, the splendor of nature and hidden gems.  More info...

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4 Washington County Museum of Fine Arts

Marvel at this museum’s more than 7,000 works, including paintings, sculptures and objets d’art. Considered one of the finest small museums in the United States, the museum was established in 1931 in Hagerstown’s historic City Park, and with its stunning neo-Georgian architecture, the museum itself is a work of art. 

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Visual Arts

401 Museum Dr
Hagerstown, MD 21740

This state park near Oakland will treat you to incredible views of mountains plus a 53-foot waterfall. Photo: Natural Artistry Photo By: ​Natural Artistry

5 Swallow Falls State Park

Commune with nature and take a walk through the woods of Western Maryland, known for its gorgeous mountain views. Just a few miles north of Oakland, Swallow Falls State Park  borders the Youghiogheny River and is nestled in the picturesque Allegheny Mountains. Let your spirit run wild at Swallow Falls with its rocky gorges, roaring rapids, centuries-old hemlock trees, and Muddy Creek Falls, with a cascading 53-foot waterfall that is the tallest in Maryland!

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222 Herrington Ln
Oakland, MD 21550

Chris Kopco at the William Brish Planetarium Photo By: AP

6 William Brish Planetarium

Take a spin around the solar system, bust astronomy myths and learn how to keep our skies free of pollution at one of the planetarium’s programs offered on the first and fourth Tuesdays of the month. ($3 adults/$2 kids; cash or personal checks only)

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820 Commonwealth Ave
Hagerstown, MD 21740

Jam to music outdoors in the summer months at this venue in Cumberland.

7 Canal Place

June through August, jam to live music at the Canal Place Ampitheater as part of downtown Cumberland’s Second Friday’s concert series featuring touring bands from Nashville, Knoxville, and New York City. Year-round, bike along the canal or hike one of two trails in Maryland’s first Certified Heritage Areas.

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Music Venues

13 Canal St
Cumberland, MD 21502

House of Yoder in the Spruce Forest Artisan Village

8 House of Yoder

History and architecture lovers will particularly enjoy this house in Grantsville’s Spruce Forest Artisan Village, which was modeled after early-18th-century Swiss homes. Tour four stories displaying a massive fireplace, drawstring latch, stone-arched root cellar, smoke house, and more, all while learning about the Yoder family’s European heritage.

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Visual Arts

177 Casselman Rd
Grantsville, MD 21536

Be rewarded with beautiful views of the Great Falls of the Potomac on this trail.

9 Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park

For nearly a century, this famous waterway carried lumber, coal and crops to market; now the park is perfect for biking, hiking or exploring on a boat ride. See the lockhouses and other historic structures, and catch a breathtaking view of Mather Gorge, the narrowest section on the lower Potomac River. ($5 for a 3-day car pass)

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1850 Dual Hwy, Suite 100
Hagerstown, MD 21740

Tour the Flying Dog Brewery for top craft beer

10 Flying Dog Brewery

Get a peek behind the scenes of the brewing process, along with the chance to do a little beer tasting, when you head to Frederick to visit a favorite among craft breweries. An important thing to know before you go, though: being a working brewery, you should come wearing closed-toe shoes, and children aren’t allowed. Tours run Wednesday through Sunday. ($5)

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4607 Wedgewood Blvd
Frederick, MD 21703

The Awakening - National Harbor

11 The Awakening at National Harbor

There’s no chance of waking this sleeping giant—but there’s a high probability of getting an amazing photo. “The Awakening” is a 15-foot-high, multi-piece sculpture of a bearded giant bursting from the ground.  For 30 years, the National Park Service had displayed the giant in Washington D.C.; now he makes his home on the beach at National Harbor. - Learn more

"Hop" over to these public gardens in Spring (and other times of year) to see hundreds of blooms.

12 Brookside Gardens

Admire the beautiful blossoms at these public gardens in Wheaton. Originally planned by landscape architect Hans Hanses based on European designs and utilizing plants that thrive in Maryland’s temperate climate, the gardens have grown to include the evocative Fragrance Garden, the Gude Garden with its Japanese tea-house, the glorious Rose Garden, and the fanciful Aquatic Garden. Brookside Gardens hosts several exhibitions throughout the year, including a live butterfly and caterpillar event.

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Arts & Culture

1800 Glenallan Ave
Wheaton, MD 20902

Schifferstadt Architectural Museum in Frederick

13 Schifferstadt Architectural Museum

One of the oldest buildings in Frederick (circa 1758), this stone farmhouse preserves the best example of early colonial German architecture in the country. Tour the museum on Saturdays from April to October, and if you can, plan your trip around the annual Oktoberfest celebration complete with a beer tent, German food, music and cultural activities. Oompah! ($5 suggested donation)

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History & Heritage

1110 Rosemont Ave
Frederick, MD 21701

Days End Farm Horse Rescue in Woodbine

14 Days End Farm Horse Rescue

This national rescue and rehab facility in Woodbine gives horses a second chance. Home to up to 80 horses rescued by Maryland’s animal control and humane agencies, Days End Farm offers daily tours. Come and learn about the rescue cause, hear the success stories, and, best of all, meet the horses!

Cruise up in your boat to Ego Alley, or come on foot and marvel at the beautiful boats.

15 Ego Alley

Stroll historic downtown Annapolis’ brick-paved streets and make sure to visit the city dock along “Ego Alley,” so nicknamed because the marina is home to some massive yachts. During the holidays, the yachts are decked out in sparkling Christmas lights and decorations.

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Boating & Sailing

One Dock St
Annapolis, MD 21401


16 Movies on North Beach

The line-up of free movies runs through the fall at this Chesapeake Bay Beach in Calvert County. Plop a beach chair in the sand, snuggle under a blanket, and catch a film projected on a large inflatable screen. In September and October, the beach’s visitor parking transforms into a drive-in where you can drive up and catch the latest flicks from the comfort (and warmth) of your car. Check out our full list of outdoor summer movies.

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Scenic Points & Landmarks

8916 Chesapeake Ave
North Beach, MD 20714

Discover a world of wonder inside the BMA--and best of all, it's free! Photo By: Maryland Office of Tourism

17 Baltimore's Free Art Museums

What’s better than one world class museum at the low, low price of free? How about two? And that’s just what you’ll find in Baltimore with both the Walters Art Museum and the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) offering free admission. The BMA features the famous Cone Collection with works by Matisse, Picasso, Degas and more. The Walters’ internationally-renowned collection of art spans the globe and the ages including one of the largest collections of ancient Egyptian art and artifacts in the world. Located in Baltimore’s Mount Vernon neighborhood, after visiting the museum, make sure to visit the Washington Monument right outside the Walters’ door. (Fees for special exhibitions)

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Visual Arts

600 N Charles St
Baltimore, MD 21201

The Anita C. Leight Estuary Center Photo By: Frank Marsden

18 The Anita C. Leight Estuary Center

At this family-friendly wildlife reserve in Abingdon, get a hefty dose of the great outdoors while learning how—and why--you should help preserve the health and beauty of the Chesapeake Bay. Explore the Bay’s ecosystem through interactive exhibits, a 300-gallon turtle pond and two miles of hiking trails. 

St. John's Site Museum in St. Mary's City

19 St. John's Site Museum

In the heart of historic St. Mary’s City, this museum preserves the foundation of one of the largest enclosed spaces built in this colonial Maryland city back in 1638. Study archeological artifacts and learn about the history of the site where colonial legislators met to discuss policies 150 years before the existence of the U.S. Constitution. ($4 suggested donation for museum; additional fees for admission to all site exhibits.)

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Rt 5 and Rosecroft Rd
St. Mary's City, MD 20686

This Smithsonian affiliate showcases its art in surrounding gardens and makes for an affordable way to spend the day.

20 Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center

A colorful, six-ton ceramic gate stands sentry at the entrance to this whimsical 30-acre sculpture garden. More magic awaits inside: walk or bike the quarter-mile paved walking path to see unforgettable 3D art including a circle of granite standing stones and an interactive boardwalk inscribed with interviews of area residents. Check their calendar of events for rotating exhibits, public programs, and annual festivals.(Admission is $5 for adults 18+, $3 kids 6-17 and free to 5 & under)

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Performing Arts

13480 Dowell Rd
Dowell, MD 20629

Calvert Cliffs State Park in Lusby

21 Calvert Cliffs State Park

You’ll find a fishing hole, playground, beach, and—best of all--fossils at Calvert Cliffs State Park in Lusby. Hike the 13 miles of trails and search the beach where more than 600 species of fossils have been discovered through the years including the giant megaladon shark! Chances are pretty high you’ll collect a few fossilized shark’s teeth.

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10540 H.G. Trueman Rd
Lusby, MD 20657

F-35 Fighter at PAX River NAS Photo By: U.S. Navy

22 Patuxent River Naval Air Museum

Visit this museum to see an impressive display of aircraft, engines, radar and more. See how U.S. Naval aviation has progressed over the years, and take to the skies, virtually speaking, with a ride in a flight simulator. Open Tuesday through Sunday. ($5 adults; $3 students and seniors)

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History & Heritage

22156 Three Notch Rd
Lexington Park, MD 20653

The Globe in Berlin Photo By: Worcester County Tourism

23 Globe Theatre

Surround yourself with sound at this historic Berlin theater when you take in a show of live music performed by talented regional and national musicians. Or check out one of the art exhibits that showcase the works of curated local and regional artists at the Art Gallery & Lounge. Most shows are free to patrons of The Globe Restaurant & Bar

Salisbury Zoo Photo By: Salisbury Zoo

24 Salisbury Zoo

Get in touch with your wild side at this 12-acre zoo, home to critters including a jaguar, Andean bear and alligator. Scheduled events take place throughout the year, including story time for kids (human, not goats) and an overnight Bunk with the Beasts Camping Adventure.

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755 South Park Dr
Salisbury, MD 21804

Furnace Town Living Heritage Museum Photo By: ocbeachpro

25 Furnace Town Living Heritage Museum

This outdoor, living history museum in Snow Hill recreates life in a 19th-century village. The showpiece Nassawango Iron Furnace kept the town thriving between 1830 and 1850, and was the pinnacle of technology at the time. Visit the blacksmith, weaver, printer, and others. Families can also participate in archeological digs. ($6 adults/$5 seniors/$3 kids; $12 additional dig fee)

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Visual Arts

3816 Old Furnace Rd
Snow Hill , MD 21863

Things to Do Photos & Videos

C&O Towpath Trail
Bike the long stretches of trail along the C&O Towpath Trail, part of the Maryland Scenic Byways.
Turkey Point Lighthouse in Maryland
Turkey Point Lighthouse sits atop a 100-foot bluff and offers stunning views of the Chesapeake Bay.
Skiing at Wisp Resort
Hit the slopes at this popular resort in Western Maryland for your winter adrenalin fix.
Baltimore Inner Harbor 4th of July Fireworks
Baltimore is explosive all times of the year, including during the annual 4th of July festivities.
Photo By: Baltimore Office of Promotion & Arts
Sotterley Plantation
With wine tastings, concerts, and a preserved slave cabin, there's always something to discover at Sotterley.
The Record Exchange
Photo By: Record Exchange

Things to Do

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Browse Maryland attractions, from historic lighthouses to world-class museums to fun theme parks.
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