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25+ Top Maryland Attractions

By Chris Landers

Dive into our bucket list of things to do in Maryland.

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When we say Maryland’s got it all, we do mean all—our list of top attractions include diverse terrain and natural splendors; naval and space facilities; museums and historic sites; wild horses and gardens; theme parks and casinos; music and film; sports and resorts; eclectic shopping and cutting-edge dining. Pick one of these top things to see and do—or see how many you can do all in one trip. Now get out there and start doing!

Ocean City Boardwalk
Ocean City Boardwalk at Night

It’s not cliché, it’s fact: there’s something for everyone to do on vacation in Ocean City, bounded by the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Chesapeake Bay on the other. Thrilling amusement rides, peaceful sunsets over the Bay, fresh steamed crabs, fireworks, surfing, fishing... no matter what you’re looking for in a vacation, whether it’s adventure or relaxation, you’re bound to find it by heading straight for the boardwalk in OC.

Assateague Island
Visit the national park famous for its horses that roam free.

Just a short hop from Ocean City but seemingly a world away lie the beautiful beaches and lovely nature walks of Assateague, where the wild horses of Assateague Island National Seashore roam. They're all over the place—literally just wandering around—but don’t take our word for it: you have to see it to believe it.

Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum

This museum in charming St. Michaels has a huge collection of work and pleasure boats in and out of the water. Visit the working shipyard, spend the night at the historic 1879 lighthouse, and learn all about the lives and trade of Chesapeake Bay watermen through the museum's unique collection of indigenous watercraft.

Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center and Scenic Byway
Harriet Tubman Mural
Jill Jasuta

Harriet Tubman became famous as a “conductor” of the Underground Railroad as she led other enslaved people to freedom at least 13 separate times over a 10-year period, garnering her the title “Moses of her people.” Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center showcases the remarkable life of Tubman. The center is the perfect place to become oriented to sites along the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad  Scenic Byway.

Smith Island
A slice of the famous Smith Island Cake
Somerset County Tourism

Smith Islanders are known for their distinctive Elizabethan accents and their delicious many-layered Smith Island cake, Maryland’s official dessert (try one at the Smith Island Baking Co.). Settled in the 17th century by the British, Smith Island is only accessible by boat; luckily, it’s easy to go on an excursion there, with ferries that run daily from the eastern and western shores of the Chesapeake. Cake, anyone?

Ft. McHenry
Be inspired at this important War of 1812 site and birthplace of The National Anthem.
Ken Stanek Photography

Fort McHenry is a great place to relax and watch the boats on a sunny day, but it also holds a special place in American history. Here you can stand on the spot where, during the War of 1812, the defenders of Baltimore turned back the invading British, fresh from the burning of Washington, D.C. It’s also where the original “Star-Spangled Banner” flag flew in victory, as seen by Francis Scott Key, the lawyer and amateur poet who went on to pen the poem that became the lyrics to our National Anthem.

U.S. Naval Academy
Noon Formation at U.S. Naval Academy - Annapolis
Visit Annapolis

One of the country's elite military institutions, visit the Naval Academy to see the final resting place of John Paul Jones, father of the U.S. Navy.

Carroll County Farm Museum
Carroll County Farm Museum
Carroll County Farm Museum

Step back in time at this popular museum in Westminster. Built in 1852, explore its six rooms filled with antiques like those that would have been found in a 19th-century farmhouse. Weaving, blacksmithing and other artisan demonstrations happen in the barn and outbuildings, and wine connoisseurs flock here for the Maryland Wine Festival, held every September.

Downtown Frederick
man walking past shops and restaurants in Frederick
Visit Frederick

More than 200 specialty shops, art galleries and restaurants can be found in Historic Downtown Frederick. One of the region's premier Arts & Entertainment districts. Downtown Frederick is A Great American Main Street and a wonderful place to shop, eat, and play.

Inner Harbor
Head to the harbor for family-friendly museums, great shopping and fun dining options.

The Inner Harbor is the world-class centerpiece of the city of Baltimore, with visiting tall ships, museums, restaurants and shops all within walking distance of each other. Close to The Baltimore Convention Center and downtown hotels, with a water taxi to take you to other waterfront neighborhoods and attractions, you could spend a week here and never make it to shore.

Annapolis City Dock
Come tour historic Annapolis, stroll the waterfront, and visit the State Capitol.
Bob Peterson Photography/Visit Annapolis

The brick-paved streets of Annapolis are a shopping and sight-seeing mecca. It once played a darker role in American history, though, as a slave market, and it was used as a setting for Alex Haley's Roots. Annapolis is also Maryland's political center, and politicians from across the state can be found next to tourists, midshipmen, and college students at Chick N' Ruth's Delly on Main Street, just up from the water. Come in the fall to see the boat shows that take over downtown.

Antietam National Battlefield
Pay tribute to those who were sacrificed at this tremendous Civil War battle.

Tread on hallowed ground at Antietam, the site of the bloodiest single day of battle in the Civil War, when Union troops turned back Confederate invaders, and over 23,000 soldiers lost their lives or were wounded or went missing. They were the armies of the Potomac and Northern Virginia, so in some cases, brothers were literally fighting against brothers. Visit to witness its importance in American history: the battle here led to Abraham Lincoln's preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.

Wisp Resort
Skiing at Wisp Resort

Hit the ski slopes at Wisp, the state's only four-season ski resort, where you can enjoy winter sports like snow tubing, and year-round outdoor fun like a zipline and all-terrain buggies. 

Rocky Gap Casino Resort
Plan a fun group getaway to Rocky Gap (and maybe you'll win big!).
Rocky Gap Casino Resort

If golf is your thing, Rocky Gap features a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course. Go fishing and hiking too, or put it all on black in the brand new casino. Located in the 3,000-acre Rocky Gap State Park, complete with a man-made lake, Rocky Gap is a true mountain getaway.

Deep Creek Lake
Fly Fishing in Deep Creek Lake

Deep Creek is the largest lake in the state at 3,900 acres, and there are at least 3,900 things to do there. Relax and enjoy the outdoors, go boating, or cast your line and do some freshwater fishing for bass and pike.

Allegany Museum
Allegany Museum
Allegany Museum

This museum in history-rich Cumberland pays tribute to the region’s role in a developing America, from serving as a western outpost for George Washington to a manufacturing and transportation center in the 20th century. While you’re in the area, take a ride on the nearby Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, and tour the vibrant arts community of Cumberland itself.

NASA Goddard Visitor Center
Goddard Space Flight Center

You know the expression “it's not rocket science”—well at NASA Goddard, it is! The Goddard Space Flight Center is the country's largest gathering of scientists and engineers who build spacecraft and invent new technology to study the Earth and space. Drop by and learn amazing things about our solar system.

Six Flags America
Mind Eraser at Six Flags America in Upper Marlboro

Sometimes you just want to ride on a roller coaster, you know? Feel like a kid again at Six Flags America. With concerts, exciting rides and a waterpark, it really is fun for the whole family.

Strathmore Music Center

Built as a summer mansion for Captain James Oyster, Strathmore Hall has been expanded to include an art gallery, outdoor concert pavilion and indoor hall. Plan a visit around one of their many events: since opening the hall in 1983, Strathmore has hosted acts as diverse as composer John Cage and go-go legend Chuck Brown.

Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Park
The Great Falls Tavern area of the C&O Canal features an overlook of the Great Falls of the Potomac.

The C&O Canal was once the commercial artery that brought goods to market from Maryland and West Virginia to Washington. Made obsolete by the railroad before it was even completed, the federal government bought the land in 1938 and ultimately turned it into a park, which today runs from The Watergate Hotel through Harper's Ferry and beyond, giving you 184 miles of parkland to explore.

National Harbor
Capital Wheel
Courtesy of National Harbor

Gorgeous National Harbor is a 300-acre waterfront development filled with shops, restaurants, and the 175-foot Capital Wheel, all on the banks of the Potomac in Prince George's County. A water taxi connects it to Alexandria, Virginia and the Washington Metro system, giving easy access to the free museums and monuments of our nation’s capital.

St. Mary's City
Colorful living history and amazing archaeology reveal the past at Maryland's first capital.
St. Mary's City

Home to St. Mary's College of Maryland, St. Mary's City is where the state began, with the landing of the Ark and Dove, the ships that brought the first settlers to the colony that became Maryland. See a full-sized replica of the Maryland Dove docked at St. Mary's, which is now home to a large historic area providing insight into what life was like for those first Maryland colonists and Native Americans.

Battle Creek Cypress Swamp Sanctuary
Battle Creek Cypress Swamp
Battle Creek Cypress Swamp

Cypress trees may be associated more with the bayous and swamps of the Deep South, but Southern Maryland is home to one of the northernmost cypress groves in America. Get an up-close view of these living fossils and the animals that rely upon them when you visit the nature center and boardwalk of this 100-acre swampland in Calvert County.

Maryland Indian Artifacts
The Indian Village at at JPPM
Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum

Seeing Maryland Indian artifacts on display at the  Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory (MAC Lab) and exploring the eastern woodland Indian Village, both at Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum, are immersive ways to experience native culture in Maryland.

Maryland International Raceway
Maryland International Raceway
Maryland International Raceway

Since 1966, the International Raceway has been the place to go to see fast cars and bikes in Maryland. Hosting more than 100 events during the warmer months, and seating 11,000 race fans, plan a visit for some high-octane action.

Parkers Creek Preserve
Parkers Creek Preserve

On foot or by canoe, Parker’s Creek offers stunning views of wetlands and forests, from bay cliffs to valleys of the coastal plains. The American Chestnut Land Trust maintains the preserve as it was 400 years ago when European settlers first saw it.