Buzzing, cosmopolitan, progressive Maryland may be the most quintessentially American of all the 50 states, most saliently because of its dense concentration of national founding history in a relatively small area (Maryland ranks ninth in a list of smallest states by area). Other contributing factors include the proximity of the nation’s capital (which one could be forgiven for mistaking as Maryland’s own first metropolis) as well as the distinctive melding of North and South. America’s original battle of cultural brethren climaxes here to yield something more than the sum of their parts, a lively and diverse festival of backyard crab-and-beer feasts, beach fun, smoky Appalachian splendor, and urban political intrigue.
No Maryland tour is complete without a stop in D.C. While Washington may not officially fall within state lines, it’s never far away and there’s really no excuse to pass it up if you’re in the neighborhood. This is the nexus of the U.S. governing elite, and thus home to a whole host of world-famous cupolas, statues, monuments, and powerful people. It would take a lifetime to get to know all of D.C.’s museums, which cover everything imaginable. The Lincoln Memorial, U.S. Capitol, Washington National Cathedral, and National Gallery of Art all earn especially high marks as popular D.C. attractions. Don’t miss out on some of America’s finest dining and cocktails, either.
While cosmopolitan D.C. is more of a national treasure, Baltimore – or “Charm City” – exudes a down-home Maryland blend of Northeast urbanity and Southern hospitality. This diverse, feisty port town tempts all who enter with its eclectic mix of excellent museums, historic neighborhoods, and quirky, inspiring food. Explore this city’s many, unique neighborhoods and discover the treasure trove of all-American (and African-American) history stashed away.
State capital Annapolis throws even more history the visitor’s way, as well as a goldmine of quaint colonial architecture and classic views of Chesapeake Bay. A hub of U.S. Navy activity and general sailing and seafaring enthusiasm, this is a place for those with a love of, or interest in, the sea and those who traverse it. It’s also great for anyone who loves to eat what comes out of the sea, with great restaurants catering both to high-end and casual clientele.
Those seeking a more rollicking seaside experience will find it in Ocean City, one of America’s most popular beach towns. Summer is far and away the best time to visit Ocean City, when the beach and boardwalk explode with activities, performances, and visitors. This is a gaudy, bawdy East Coast beach carnival at its finest and most typical, and rivals anything on offer on the Jersey Shore.
History is inescapable in Maryland, but those looking for a different breed of it can find it west, in the Appalachian towns and hamlets. There is also pleasant and varied hiking in the forested mountains. The town of Frederick is a pleasant stop for those with a penchant for quaint towns backed by misty, thickly vegetated mountainsides and studded with Civil War history.
Annapolis is a masterpiece of historical preservation, an active port city with enough colonial atmosphere to have visitors believing they’ve walked into the 18th century. Adding to the sense that this is still a colonial settlement, Annapolis retains a strong connection to maritime life, with local cuisine focused on seafood from beautiful, pleasant Chesapeake Bay and the US Naval Academy still in operation. The Academy itself is an attraction beyond its sharply dressed students, with tours and a great museum for anyone with even a passing interest in U.S. history, particularly naval history. The old city features authentically furnished 18th-century homes with tours available, the Maryland State House (the oldest American state house still in use), and learning opportunities like the Banneker-Douglass Museum on African American history and the William Paca House & Garden.
Ample high-end shopping and seafood can more than make it up for those who’d rather spend the morning in bed or lingering over breakfast than touring centuries-old buildings. Ego Alley, where well-heeled boat owners anchor their vessels and sailors have been navigating since before boats had motors, serves as a picturesque shopping, dining, and people-watching neighborhood, attractive even for those with zero interest in the city’s historic surroundings.
2002 Annapolis Mall
Annapolis, MD 21401