Spend the Fall Season Exploring the Road Less Traveled in Maryland

Driving trips along Maryland's scenic byways reveal hidden gems, charming towns and beautiful countryside


Connie Yingling,
Leslie Cox,


BALTIMORE (October 1, 2014) – Take the scenic route this fall and wind your way through Maryland’s majestic landscape to discover historic places, culinary treasures, heart-pounding recreation and extraordinary wares from local shops.

The Maryland Scenic Byways program features carefully mapped driving routes into areas rich with beauty, history and culture. Maryland’s 18 designated byways stretch across every region of the state from the beaches of the Eastern Shore to the mountains of Western Maryland and range from day trips to longer excursions. The Scenic Byways Program is a collaborative effort of the Maryland State Highway Administration and the Maryland Office of Tourism.

“Driving tours are extremely popular among visitors to Maryland, especially in the fall when Mother Nature puts on a colorful show,” said Margot Amelia, executive director, Maryland Office of Tourism. “In partnership with the Maryland Scenic Byways Program, we developed The Maryland Scenic Byways Guide and Map to take travelers to some of the most picturesque and historic landmarks in the state.”

Maps and listings of these routes are included in the byways guide and online. Below is a list of a few of the byways and the attractions and events that can be found along the way:

Western Maryland

If taking the 193-mile Mountain Maryland byway from Keyser’s Ridge to Cumberland, pause in Oakland for the Annual Autumn Glory Festival Oct. 8-12. This charming town is nestled in the mountains surrounding Deep Creek Lake. Oakland celebrates with a grand parade and activities, including the official Maryland State Fiddle competition. From Oakland, head north to Swallow Falls State Park to witness water rushing over the 53-foot Muddy Creek Falls. Then visit Friendsville, where visitors can enjoy a winery tour and have access to the scenic Youghiogheny River.

Don’t miss Cumberland along the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Byway and experience the historic Western Maryland Scenic Railroad. Travel through the mountains in the comfort of a restored coach car. Then stop in Frostburg for a small-town lunch and main-street shopping before returning to the station.

In the 1800s, settlers crossed the Appalachian Mountains and headed west along what became the National Road, America’s first federally funded highway. Take this byway and you’ll find the Washington Monument State Park in Middletown, where in 1827 citizens erected a monument to George Washington that originally stood 15-feet high on a 54-foot circular base. Though it fell into disrepair after, the monument has been restored twice and remains a popular site for hikers and bird watchers. Or drive through Mount Airy, formerly a railroad town, which now features several vineyards open for tours and picnics.

Capital Region

The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Byway continues from western Maryland toward Washington, D.C. The Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center offers an hour-long mule-drawn barge ride through the canal’s lift locks. Trails from the visitor center offer powerful views of the falls. Off the canal route but not far, explore the Downtown Bethesda Arts and Entertainment District, where visitors can enjoy museums, gardens, galleries, performing arts and more.

The bloodiest, single-day battle of the Civil War took place in Maryland at the Battle of Antietam. Explore the troop movements along the Antietam Campaign Byway and visit the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick. Explore its five galleries to learn more about medical practices during the Civil War era, including the challenges faced by its doctors and surgeons and the resulting innovations that led to today’s military medical system.

In 1814, British troops fought their way up the Chesapeake Bay during the War of 1812. Visitors can trace the entire route on the Star-Spangled National Historic Trail, but it was in Upper Marlboro near D.C. where the British army and navy joined forces and prepared to invade capital city.

Central Maryland

Just off the National Road byway, take a “Haycation” in Howard County to explore Maryland’s “old west” through family-friendly farms, country views from posh bed & breakfasts, farm-to-table restaurants and even the rodeo. Stop at Clark’s Elioak Farm to visit the petting zoo and adventure through their new Enchanted Forest Maze. Enjoy the best of country music at Merriweather Post Pavilion on Oct. 3 for the WPOC Saturday in the Country. Ride horses at the Columbia Horse Center or visit the Woodstock Inn. In addition to delicious food, the restaurant features a hitching post out front.

Stop along the beautiful Hunt Country famous for its steeplechase races, fox hunts, and thoroughbred racing horses. The Horses and Hounds Byway features the 300-acre Shawan Downs, with a state-of-the-art steeplechase course, as well as Ladew Topiary Gardens in Monkton with its manor home and gorgeous garden walkways.

Wander the quaint main streets of towns such as Emmitsburg, Mount Airy and Taneytown on the Old Main Streets Byway. Visit downtown Westminster for a pedestrian-friendly unique dining and shopping experience or stop by Linganore Winery to wander the rolling hills of its vineyard and taste Maryland-crafted wine.

Southern Maryland

Nearly 150 years ago, John Wilkes Booth, a Maryland-born actor and Confederate sympathizer, shot President Abraham Lincoln in Washington, D.C. He then fled into Maryland and eluded Federal troops for nearly two weeks. Follow his escape route along the John Wilkes Booth: Escape of the Assassin Byway.

When you travel the Religious Freedom Byway, learn more about the Maryland’s first capital at Historic St. Mary’s City, a living history museum on a tributary of the Potomac River. Explore the living history exhibits throughout the town such as the Maryland Dove, a re-creation of the boat that carried St. Mary’s settlers from England. Or stop by Christ Church in Nanjemoy to see one of the oldest surviving Episcopal churches in Maryland.

Explore the maritime traditions of Western Shore towns on the Chesapeake Bay through the Roots & Tides Byway, which features Chesapeake Beach. This town features a Railway Museum that will be holding Fall Family Fun Day on Oct. 12. Take a leisurely bike ride on the Chesapeake Beach Rail Trail for spectacular views and possible glimpses of bald eagles.

Eastern Shore

Named the “Coolest Small Town in America” by Budget Travel in 2014, Berlin is a stop on the Cape to Cape Byway. Grab tickets to the two-day, outdoor Southern Comfort Country and Bluegrass Festival Oct. 4-5 and explore the town that was the setting for films such as Runaway Bride and Tuck Everlasting. Berlin's downtown is a National Register Historic District and plays host to events year-round from farmers’ market to one-of-a-kind festivals.

The tidewater region on the Chesapeake Country Byway features an abundance of pristine waterways and historic waterfront villages. Check out small-town favorite Easton, a center for arts and culture. Here, visitors can see the Academy Art Museum Craft Show Oct. 18-19. Then visit the Chesapeake Brewing Co. in Crisfield for a taste of Maryland’s blue crab and other Bay favorites.

Harriet Tubman has been hailed “the Moses of her People,” and she is honored along the 125-mile Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway. Visit the Harriet Tubman Museum and Educational Center in Cambridge, just a few miles from where Tubman was born. See where she first attempted to help an enslaved person avoid capture at the Bucktown Village Store when Tubman was just a teenager, leading to a near-fatal blow from an overseer that caused lifelong health issues.


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 Business and Economic Development. Visitors to the state spent more than $14.9 billion on travel-related expenses in 2012. During 2012, the Maryland tourism industry also generated $2 billion in state and local taxes, and provided more than 135,000 jobs for Maryland residents.