With five scenic counties and one large city, Central Maryland features Chesapeake Bay charm—and a “choose your own adventure” experience for any visitor. Whether you’re craving arts and culture, food and drink or history and heritage, the state’s cultural crossroads have you more than covered.
1 Find a Real-Deal Crab House
Some of Maryland’s best crab houses are in the Central Region, with no-frills hotspots luring locals and tourists alike for some of the meatiest bites around. Baltimore County is full of such establishments, like decades-old Ocean Pride in Lutherville, Schultz’s Crab House and Mr. Bill’s Terrace Inn in Essex and Costas Inn in Dundalk. Meanwhile, in Anne Arundel County, Cantler’s Riverside Inn boasts a quintessential crab feast setting overlooking a quiet creek in Annapolis. How do you know you’re in the right place? Brown-paper wrapped tables, wooden mallets and spicy seafood seasoning—sometimes J.O. Spice, Old Bay or a secret recipe. Check out the Maryland Crab & Oyster Trail.
2 Indulge in Baltimore’s Food Boom
Charm City—a nickname to acknowledge the city’s slew of hidden gems—has quickly become one of the hottest food scenes on the East Coast, with rave reviews rolling in as local chefs shine at both chic, cheap eats and five star fine-dining experiences. With so many options from freshly caught fish, to exotic Ethiopian to local specialties, it can be hard to decide just how to treat your tastebuds. Lucky for you that Baltimore offers market-inspired food halls, like the newly renovated Cross Street and Mt. Vernon Markets and the modern, eclectic R. House, that let you have it all.
3 Toast to a Good Knight at Medieval Times and have (REALLY) Old School Fun at Renn Fest
Evenings are all about chivalry, rivalry and revelry at Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament. Cheer on daring knights, as they sword fight and joust on horseback, while feasting on scrumptious roast chicken and hearty Middle Age fixings. Lace up your bodice and jerkins, grab a turkey leg and prepare for some good “Olde”-fashioned fun at the Maryland Renaissance Festival, one of the biggest Renn fests in the country.
More about Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament
7000 Arundel Mills Cir
Hanover, MD 21076
4 Feel the Funk at Merriweather Post Pavilion
The lawn at Merriweather is where music memories are made. This legendary outdoor amphitheater, nestled into Symphony Woods in the heart of downtown Columbia, is the perfect place to catch the biggest bands around. The annual Capital Jazz Fest is a can’t-miss event.
More about Merriweather Post Pavilion
10475 Little Patuxent Pkwy
Columbia, MD 21044
5 Wine Along the Trails and Vineyards
With a mild climate, rich piedmont soil and a varying topography that makes a rich diversity of styles possible, it’s no wonder five Maryland Wine Trails cross this region. Take the Carroll Wine Trail through Carroll County or travel the Piedmont Trail with eight wineries in the region. Spring, summer and fall weekends mean concerts and gatherings at idyllic local vineyards and exceptional tastings year-round.
6 See the Historic Sites
The Central Region features many a historic landmark from the State House in Annapolis, where the Continental Congress signed the Treaty of Paris in 1783, officially ending the Revolutionary War, to Fort McHenry in Baltimore, which protected the city from the British bombardment in the War of 1812 and inspired Francis Scott Key to pen “The Star-Spangled Banner.” For a small fee, you can take self-guided tours of these historic landmarks that made American history.
More about Fort McHenry National Monument & Historic Shrine
2400 E Fort Ave
Baltimore, MD 21230
7 For Rail Riding Fun, Choo-Choo-Choose to Visit the B&O Railroad Museum
Train buffs can touch—and even ride—the amazing collection of historical iron at this one-of-a-kind museum. For kids, the rides, games and occasional visits from Thomas make this museum a must. Plus, how often do you get to visit a site from the Monopoly board?
More about Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum
901 W Pratt St
Baltimore, MD 21223
8 View Acclaimed Art
Baltimore is home to some of the finest art collections on the East Coast, and best of all, many museums offer free admission. The Baltimore Museum of Art, for instance, houses an exceptional array of classic and contemporary work, including pieces by Picasso and Degas, and more than 1,000 works by Matisse (the largest holding of his work in the world!) in the esteemed Cone Collection. The Walters Art Museum features objects from around the globe dating back 7,000 years, like ancient Medieval armor, Grecian sculptures and Egyptian mummies. The American Visionary Art Museum offers one-of-a-kind exhibits, for a small fee, that would make John Waters proud.
9 Encounter African-American Roots
Explore an extensive collection at the African Art Museum of Maryland in Fulton. Come face to face with American heroes like Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman at the National Great Blacks in Wax Museum and discover the breadth of the African-American experience at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of African American History & Culture and the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore. Or get in touch with history at the Howard County Center of African American Culture and The Benjamin Banneker Historical Park and Museum in Oella.
More about Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture
830 E Pratt St
Baltimore, MD 21202
10 Fly High & Dive Deep at the Aquarium
Everyone must see the National Aquarium, with its soaring glass pyramids rising above the harbor like shark fins. Try a “Fly & Dive Package” by Charm City Helicopters for an unforgettable journey that combines an aerial tour of Baltimore with a rare chance to scuba dive with sharks, rays and more in the aquarium’s 335,000-gallon Atlantic Coral Reef tank.
More about National Aquarium in Baltimore
501 E Pratt St
Baltimore, MD 21202
11 Dig Into Barbecue Along Korean Way
Central Maryland is home to a large Korean community. To get a taste of the authentic Asian cuisine, head to Route 40 for a bevy of mouthwatering barbecue spots. Perhaps most famous is Honey Pig Restaurant in Ellicott City, open 24/7 and always buzzing with energy. Other spots like Shin Chon, also in Ellicott City, and Iron Age in Catonsville are family-friendly favorites for traditional DIY dining experiences with tabletop grills. Find out more....
12 Experience Equestrian Tradition
Throughout the spring and fall, the sound of hooves fills Maryland’s horse country as one of the state’s greatest equine traditions takes to local farmland, much as it has for the past hundred years. From April through May and again in September and October, cross-country steeplechase races and equestrian events take place across Baltimore, Howard and Harford counties, with the region’s top riders competing across fields and over timber fences. Be sure to arrive early for the epic tailgate parties.
13 Be “Fore” You Golf Bulle Rock
Bulle Rock is a Pete Dye-designed course that has hosted the LPGA championship. This vast green in Havre de Grace is an ideal place to test your skills across 18 holes with challenging terrains and serene leisure scenes.
More about Bulle Rock
320 Blenheim Ln
Havre de Grace, MD 21078
14 America’s Oldest Sport
The U.S. National Lacrosse Hall of Fame and Museum in Baltimore County tells the story of lacrosse, America’s oldest sport, and honors notable men and women for their contributions. Follow along with a field and exhibits that recollect the history of this popular pastime originating with the Native Americans.
More about Lacrosse Museum and National Hall of Fame
2 Loveton Cir
Sparks, MD 21152
15 Catch a Ballgame
Whatever the time of year, Maryland sports fans show up to support their ball-playing birds in and around Baltimore. In the fall and winter, the M&T Bank Stadium parking lot packs with tailgate parties for Ravens games, while in the spring and summer, Camden Yards fills with friends and families for a quintessential evening with hot dogs, peanuts and cold beers as the Orioles rule the roost. Also, just outside the city, Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen hosts the Ironbirds. The stadium offers family-friendly experiences. Throughout the summer, kids can run the bases, play catch on the field, watch fireworks displays and even meet members of each team—some of whom might one day become Os.
More about Oriole Park at Camden Yards
333 W Camden St
Baltimore, MD 21201
16 A Kid’s Day at the Museum
Baltimore offers a world of scientific exploration for kids at Port Discovery Children’s Museum with multiple floors of adventurous hands-on activities, while the Maryland Science Center hosts 10 full-sized dinosaurs for aspiring paleontologists. Kids also love the interactive exhibits and old antiques and relics of firefighting past at the Fire Museum in the Lutherville, the third-largest of its kind in the world.
More about Port Discovery Children's Museum
35 Market Pl
Baltimore, MD 21202
17 Hit the Jackpot at Maryland Casinos
When it comes to world-class nightlife, fantastic food and great gaming, three is the magic number in Maryland’s Central Region. Maryland Live! brings 2,200 slots, high-rolling table games and an elegant 17-story hotel to Arundel Mills. Don’t miss the baccarat table to live out your James Bond dreams. Baltimore’s Horseshoe Casino ups the culinary ante with restaurants by celebrity chefs Gordon Ramsay, Guy Fieri and Giada De Laurentiis. And Hollywood Casino Perryville rolls out the red carpet with topflight entertainment featuring world-class comedy and music.
18 Make Friends with the Animals
The Central Region claims two of the top ways to experience the animal kingdom in the midAtlantic—the renowned National Aquarium and Maryland Zoo, both located in Baltimore. At these family-friendly institutions, kids get an up-close look at everything from sharks and jellyfish to giraffes and penguins through worldclass exhibits. Both even host slumber parties for bedtime stories beside the wildlife.
19 Discover Maryland Legends and Legacies
Sign up for the Legends and Legacies Heritage Pass online at Balitmore.org and celebrate the lives of Marylanders who changed the course of American history. The pass provides discounted entry to three of Baltimore’s most popular attractions honoring AfricanAmerican history and culture—The National Great Blacks in Wax Museum, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture and the Frederick Douglass Isaac Myers Maritime Park Museum in addition to other deals.
20 Set Sail on the Chesapeake
With the Chesapeake Bay watershed spanning some 64,000 square miles, it’s no surprise that sailing is somewhat of a state sport. In fact, Annapolis just so happens to be the “Sailing Capital of the U.S.” Take to the seas yourself aboard the Schooner Woodwind for two-hour cruises past the Naval Academy and along the historic seaport. On land, learn more about maritime history at the Annapolis Maritime Museum or the U.S. Naval Academy Museum. Then take a drive to Baltimore and visit the Living Classrooms Foundation’s on-water fun, paddling a Chessie Dragon boat or scooting around in an electric pirate ship!