A Maryland Travel Bucket List
Make the most of your vacation in the best state in the nation!
Ok, we get it, there’s so much to do in Maryland, sometimes it can be hard knowing where to start. So we’ve put together this list to get your travel train on track. And remember, this is just the beginning! You’ll find endless travel inspiration at VisitMaryland.org where your next vacation memory is just a click away.
Harriet Tubman was an American hero, a conductor on the Underground Railroad, a valiant freedom fighter, a scout for the U.S. Army, and a pioneer of the women’s suffrage movement. Visit the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center for a deep and moving window into her life and struggle. Journey the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway and see the land where she toiled in slavery. Stand in the Bucktown Village Store, where she as a brave girl of 12 made her first stand for freedom. Paddle the Blackwater and explore small towns little-changed since Tubman made her daring and dangerous journeys, again and again risking all to lead her fellow men and women to freedom.
It’s the perfect ride for both day bikers just looking for an easy pedal and serious riders looking to put on the miles-- the 184.5 mile Chesapeake & Ohio Canal towpath should be on every cyclist's bucket list. Flat and easy if you’re just looking for a family excursion, and uninterrupted if you want to make the whole trip from the banks of the Potomac in Washington D.C. all the way to Cumberland. Not only is the ride amazing, you’ll trace your way through an engineering marvel and span nearly 200 years of American history. And bikepacking with campsites along the canal make it even more special and a perfect part of Maryland’s “Trail System Second-to-None.”
Everybody says “go to Maryland and try the crabs,” which makes sense. Steamed Maryland-style, they’re the most delicious food on the planet. The thing is, you can’t eat just one or two. You need to down a whole dozen jumbos along with an ice-cold Maryland beer, an Orioles game on the TV, and at least one friendly argument on the best way to get at the backfin meat. If you’ve never eaten a dozen crabs at a sitting, well friend, you haven’t lived!
Want to hit the National Aquarium and Maryland Science Center, the shops of Harbor East, the bars and restaurants of Fells Point, and the home of the National Anthem all in one day? The Water Taxi is your magic carpet. And if all of those amazing activities don’t work for you, the view from the water of Baltimore Harbor at night is the kind they write songs about.
White sand, salt spray, and the noble wild horses come together to make the dunes of Assateague a magical place. And when the sun rises over the Atlantic, it doesn’t just feel like the beginning of the day, it’s the beginning of the world. Camp, swim, fish and play on this American treasure of a beach. Plan your trip to view a launch from NASA’s nearby Wallops Island space center, and balance your morning sunrise with an evening rocket launch sending a streaking fire trail ablaze through the heavens.
Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay Storytellers are specially trained to bring the beauty, the majesty, the history, and the soul of the Chesapeake to you. Whether it’s a day under sail slicing through the whitecaps on an historic schooner, a “hook & cook” fishing and dining adventure, dipping a paddle with a kayak guide, or catching your limit on a Chesapeake fishing charter, our storytellers will help you make memories to last a lifetime.
Oh the layers! So many layers! Thin, sweet chocolate fudge. Perfect, moist yellow cake. Layer upon alternating layer, it’s so beautiful you almost don’t want to eat it. Almost. There’s nothing better than the sensory experience of biting through this decadent work of the baker’s art. Well, except for doing it ON the island. Why settle for a cake a few hours old when you can have one right out of the oven and with a view of the Chesapeake Bay?
There are certain things that just go together. Peanut butter and jelly, steamed crabs and cold beer, and of course, birding and Maryland. Set along the Great Atlantic Flyway, Maryland is a birders paradise. And, with 2022 being the 75th anniversary of the Baltimore Oriole assuming its rightful place as our beloved state bird, it’s the perfect time to get out and see all of our fine feathered friends. Whether it’s spotting rare songbirds along the C&O Canal or trying to count the myriad bald eagles soaring over the mighty Susquehanna, Maryland is a birders’ paradise.
With more than 100 inches of natural snow a year, 33 trails twisting through 137 acres of gorgeous mountain real estate, a thrilling 700-foot vertical drop, and a terrain park, Wisp Resort has got it all. There’s even the famous Mountain Coaster for warm weather thrills. Whether you’re a snowplowing newbie or a double-diamond daredevil, get out on that mountain!
If you’ve ever wondered, “Where’s the beef?” Well, it’s here in Maryland, piled high on one of our state’s signature delicacies, the pit beef sandwich! It’s Maryland’s own unique take on BBQ, usually grilled to order and piled high with fixins of your choice. For a little variety, mix it up and get a mix-and-match pit beef & ham or a figure-friendly pit turkey. It’s a Free State favorite!
Tall as a skyscraper rising along the Potomac River, the Capital Wheel has fast become an unmistakable symbol of the Washington region. With its kaleidoscopic colors creating a scintillating lightshow visible up and down the National Harbor boardwalk, the real show is from the wheel’s 42 gondolas that carry riders to a staggering height 180 feet above the Potomac River. Scraping the clouds, riders are treated to views of surrounding National Harbor, the long expanse of the Potomac bordered by Maryland and Virginia, and the National Mall with the Washington Monument and Capitol Dome the stars of the show. For a special treat, charter the luxury VIP gondola, for a truly unforgettable experience.
There’s no greener pasture for horse lovers than here, in the Old Line State. Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Track is home to the Preakness Stakes, middle jewel of horse racing’s famed Triple Crown. Laurel Park is home to the thrilling Jim McKay Maryland Million Day of epic racing. The Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill and the Washington International Horse Show at the Prince George’s Equestrian Center bring world champion eventing. And if you want to ride, Maryland’s Horse Discovery Centers will get you up in the saddle. When it comes to horses, we say giddyup!
The Ocean City Boardwalk may only be 2.5 miles end-to-end, but it would take 2,000 books to name all of the possible adventures. Find your perfect beach t-shirt. Fill that hole in your heart only a pet hermit crab can fill. Dine on Thrashers Fries, Dayton’s famous fried chicken, Dolle’s saltwater taffy, and a chocolate malted from Dumser’s Dairyland. But do that after you ride the terrifying Tidal Wave roller coaster at Trimper’s, the oldest family-owned amusement park in the world. Oh, and did we mention, you never have to lose sight of that beautiful Ocean view? Only on the OC Boardwalk, a bucket list must-do since 1902!
With great guides and rapids that range from beginner-friendly to flat-out raging, Maryland is a white water enthusiast’s paradise. But if you’re looking for a whole new challenge, head to McHenry’s Adventure Sports Center International (ASCI), an Olympic-standard white water rafting, canoe, and kayak center located at the top of a mountain. This man-made wonder is a revolution in the paddling sports, perfect to ease you into your first white water experience. Or, for the paddling pros, amp things up to 11 while enjoying spectacular views of Deep Creek and the surrounding wilderness. If you haven’t been, what are you waiting for?
What’s this? A bucket list inside of a bucket list? Well, with 18 amazing Maryland Scenic Byways to choose from, an extra bucket seemed like a must. Crisscrossing the state from the mountains out west to the Atlantic shore, Maryland’s unforgettable scenic byways are a must for road trippers of all stripes. Filled with stunning scenery, rich history, great attractions and so much more, Maryland’s 18 Scenic Byways are sure to build amazing memories mile after beautiful mile.
Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The best stadium in baseball. Sure, it’s on everyone's bucket list. But real fans' buckets go a bit deeper. How about the Maryland Mountains to the Beach Baseball Road Bash? With award-winning minor league parks from trendsetting Ripken Stadium, home of the Aberdeen IronBirds, to fan-favorite Purdue Stadium in Salisbury, home to both the Delmarva Shorebirds and the Eastern Shore Baseball Hall of Fame. Get some buddies together, and touch ‘em all!
As Maryland’s wine growers approach a half-century of tradition and innovation, wine lovers are reaping the rewards, and there’s no better place to taste the fruits of the vintner’s art than at the place of its birth. So get out and discover fantastic Maryland wines, and since finding the right place can be a challenge, we’ve already done the work. Maryland’s Wine Trails explore the state’s unique and varied microclimates while crisscrossing beautiful Chesapeake Bay country, the rolling hills of the Piedmont, our western mountains with rich soil and richer history. Take your time. Cross one off a year. In a dozen years, maybe you’ll have a favorite wine. Or, more likely, you’ll want to refresh your memory and your palate and begin again.
A new wave of master distillers has emerged to resurrect Maryland’s signature spirit, smooth as silk Maryland rye whiskey. Unlike the over-spiced ryes of other regions, Maryland ryes balance the signature grain’s stinging flavor with sweet corn and subtle grains. The result is still bold and spicy, but with a subtle sweetness and overriding smooth finish. You can’t go wrong with any of Maryland’s innovative distilleries, but Sagamore Spirits, Old Line Distilling, and the Baltimore Spirits Company, all in Charm City are notable pioneers, along with Kent Island’s Blackwater Distilling, Lost Ark Distilling in Columbia, and Tobacco Barn Distillery in St. Mary’s.
Start at the Concord Point Light at the top of the Chesapeake near Havre de Grace and head south on an unbelievable journey. Spend a romantic night in the keeper’s quarters at Cove Point Lighthouse. Explore the Hooper Strait Lighthouse at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, the Drum Point Lighthouse at the Calvert Marine Museum in Solomons, and the Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse and Lightship Chesapeake, both part of Historic Ships in Baltimore. There are 30 beautiful, historic lighthouses in Maryland-- how many can you fit in your bucket?
Mallows Bay - Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary is an absolute must for every kayaker from first-timer to seasoned paddler. Home to more than 100 abandoned ships, most dating all the way back to World War I, but some even older, it’s a truly remarkable place. Paddle among the wrecks and witness the interplay of nature and human creation as the river reclaims this incredible fleet.
The Calvert Marine Museum on beautiful Solomons Island is an absolute must-see. Where else can you come face-to-face with adorable otters, sift for take-home fossils, climb into an historic Chesapeake lighthouse, and board working bay fishing boats. And did we mention the 35-foot prehistoric shark skeleton? Oh yeah, the Megalodon! Reconstructed based on fossil finds from the nearby Calvert Cliffs fossil beds, this school bus-sized terror of the deep is totally JAWSome!