15 Best Things to Do in Maryland

Written by Veronique Raes
Updated on
Our travel recommendations are based on our personal experiences and research, written by locals and travel experts with deep familiarity with the destination. When you book a hotel or tour that we link to, we may earn a commission.

Maryland boasts a stunning Mid-Atlantic coastline and mountains that pack this small state with colorful character and plenty of diverse activities sure to entertain you. Rich in history stretching back to colonial times, Maryland is the birthplace of the United States’ national Anthem and its state capital, Annapolis, was once the capital of the U.S.! Visit its preserved colonial towns or beautiful Chesapeake Bay; you won’t ever be lacking in fun!

Lets explore the best things to do in Maryland:

1. Swallows Falls State Park

Swallows Falls State ParkSource: flickr
Swallows Falls State Park

Located in the mountains and less than 10 miles north of Oakland, Swallows Falls State Park is home to some of Maryland’s finest scenery. The Youghiogheny River runs along the border of the park and winds through its lush greenery, creating rippling rapids. Both this river and nearby Muddy Creek are white water rivers, with waterfalls, strong rapids, and swift currents.

Keep this fact in mind and use proper caution when out along the rivers, but don’t miss out on seeing the Muddy Creek Falls – a tall, 53 foot waterfall. Bring your hiking boots to explore the 1.25 mile trail through the park and your camera to snap some shots for posterity! You’ll find the quiet of the woods and its tall hemlock trees calming and perfect for a getaway.

2. Washington County Museum of Fine Arts

Washington County Museum of Fine ArtsSource: visithagerstown
Washington County Museum of Fine Arts

The Washington County Museum of Fine Arts is an art museum located in Hagerstown, Maryland, just off Park Circle and features 18th through early 20th century American Art, as well as a rotation of exhibitions, art classes and concerts. It is the centerpiece of Hagerstown City Park and was donated by the Singers family in 1929; the original museum completed in 1931 and the additional two wings in 1949.

Visit this hub of art and enjoy all it has to offer without paying an entrance fee – the museum relies on public and private donations to stay open to the public! Browse the art collections from artists like Benjamin West, Thomas Sully or their famous landscapes painted by Thomas Cole or Thomas Moran, to name just a few. There is plenty of American Decorative and Folk art to keep you busy for the day, as well as some contemporary art by people such as Norman Rockwell or Robert Indiana – this art museum has a little of something for everybody!

3. House of Yoder

House of YoderSource: houseofyoder
House of Yoder

Located in the Spruce Forest Artisan Village and surrounded by lovely greenery, this house is a living museum for visitors interested in experiencing and learning more about the heritage and important role the Yoder immigrants played in American history. Christian Yoder, one of the original Yoder immigrants, was a leader in establishing the Amish brotherhood in the U.S. and served as the first Amish Bishop in America from 1785-1836.

Regardless of faith, there is plenty to see here: antiques, genealogy, architectural style and period history. The Yoder house design is modeled after the architecture of buildings by the original Swiss immigrants in the 1700s. It is open from the last week in May to the last week of October to visitors. Don’t miss out on experiencing history firsthand – ask to see the root cellar or soul window while you are there!

4. Canal Place

Canal PlaceSource: commons.wikimedia
Canal Place

The first certified Maryland Heritage Area, each one of which is locally a designated and state-certified area dedicated to preserving historical, cultural and national resources through heritage tourism, Canal Place in Western Maryland features the heritage of the canal basin and its surrounding under the theme “Crossroads of Transportation”. It is crisscrossed by trails that historically wound their way through the basin – in centuries past, Native Americans walked these trails, and during the French and Indian War, the British used one as a wagon road.

Visit now to walk these trails yourself. There is a pedestrian bridge that leads you to George Washington’s headquarters, part of Fort Cumberland. Check out the station plaza, or the canal boat replica, or experience Western Maryland Railway Station, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. There are interactive displays at the Cumberland Visitor Center, offering you plenty of opportunities to experience how life used to be in the canal basin.

5. Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park

Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic ParkSource: flickr
Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park

The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park is a National Historic Park nestled in three different regions: Maryland, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. It was established by President Eisenhower to preserve the canal structures along the Potomac River, which stretch over 180 miles from Georgetown, Washington D.C. to Cumberland, Maryland.

The canal begins at its zero mile marker at Thompson’s Boat House. Start here and run, hike, bike or boat at least some of the miles along the canal, which is home to several wildlife and birdwatching varieties. There are six visitor centers, including those at Great Falls Tavern, Hancock and Cumberland. Especially beautiful in the spring, it is worth the stop to get out and stretch your legs.

6. Flying Dog Brewery

Flying Dog BrewerySource: flickr
Flying Dog Brewery

Flying Dog Brewery is located in Frederick, Maryland and is the largest brewery in Maryland. It is a craft beer brewery that was established in 2006 as part of the expansion of George Stanahan’s beer company that originated in Aspen, Colorado. Current production of beer here yields up to 100,000 barrels a year! The company continues to garner attention with its unusual and racy marketing campaigns.

See some of the artwork by Ralph Steadman and enjoy the unique vibe of the Flying Dog Brewing Company. You can also catch on of the summer concerts – the brewery supports the growing Frederick music scene! If you’re a fan of edgy art and marketing language, as well as a craft beer lover, take a tour of the brewery and enjoy either a tour, or skip over that and go straight for the tasting room!

7. Maryland Crab Fest

Maryland Crab FestSource: pinterest
Maryland Crab Fest

Steamed blue crab is a signature meal in Maryland, and residents, especially those from Baltimore, take crab fests VERY seriously. Whether you are from the city, or venturing in for the summer or early fall, be sure you don’t miss out on a crab fest! In case you’re wondering what this entails, we’ve included a delicious description detailed here below.

These crabs are most abundant in summer and early fall, which is a great excuse to have a feast of crab with some ice-cold beer out along the water! Come out with some friends or make some new ones as you use a mallet and knives to feast on crabs. Be a local and skip the crab bibs, those are instant tourist giveaways! Just wear some old clothes and get ready to jump in! Check on the city website for dates and locations, but there are many options to choose from, such as some popular places like the Rusty Scupper, or Captain James Landing.

8. Schifferstadt Architectural Museum

Schifferstadt Architectural MuseumSource: commons.wikimedia
Schifferstadt Architectural Museum

The Shifferstadt Architectural Museum is housed under the roof of the oldest standing house in Frederick, Maryland. It was built in 1758 by the family of German immigrant farmer Josef Brunner, who named his house after Schifferstadt, his hometown back in the Rhineland-Palatine region of Germany. After changing hands several times over many decades, it was eventually purchased by Frederick County Landmarks Foundation and restored to operate as a local museum.

Come visit to get to see this preserved piece of history! The sandstone was cut at a local quarry, and was used to build walls up to two feet thick! A treat for architecture buffs, the roof is a unique feature of the house with flared eaves and a wishbone chimney. The house has preserved well the original construction and detailing, which bear German architectural influences and makes this one of the best existing examples of German colonial architecture in the US.

9. Days End Farm Horse Rescue

Days End Farm Horse RescueSource: flickr
Days End Farm Horse Rescue

This farm was founded as a non-profit shelter for horses and has since transformed into a full-scale and respected national rescue and rehabilitation facility that houses up to 150 horses annually. It provides a safe place for horses from animal protection agencies that sent them out to the farm to be rehabilitated and trained for adoption and a unique opportunity for any horse lover to come and spend some one-on-one time with the beautiful creatures.

This Horse Rescue provides a great opportunity for some hands-on experience with horses, and offers experiential learning opportunities for those interested. If you have some time, volunteer to work with the horses and make a difference for these abused or neglected creatures, or visit for one of their educational programs. It’s a beautiful place to reconnect with horses and contribute in a big or small way to making their lives better.

10. Ego Alley

Ego AlleySource: flickr
Ego Alley

The Annapolis City Dock and Waterfront is known to locals as “Ego Alley” because it is a weekend and evening hotspot for expensive yachts, shopping, and fine dining. If you’re visiting Annapolis for a few days, you should stop by to soak in the local color and the flashy, free people-watching entertainment!

Perfect for foodies, this stretch of restaurants and shops has plenty of places try seafood, such as the Harbor Grill and Crab Deck. Grab a seat with a view of the water to catch the yachts as they float by. Or, have a yummy crepe at Sofi’s Crepes and take it with you as you wander the waterfront! Browse the shops on Main Street, or, tf you’re there in the evening, have a drink or two at Middleton!

11. Baltimore Book Festival

Baltimore Book FestivalSource: flickr
Baltimore Book Festival

While kindles and nooks have been taking over the book world, there are those out there who still appreciate the physical weight of a book in their hands. The Baltimore Book Festival is just the place for such a person, which hundreds of appearances by local and national authors, as well as book signings and readings!

This festival is held each September at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore. Stop by to catch your favorite author or hear a poetry reading! It’s the perfect place to hunt for that next great read. Even if you’re just accompanying your book-loving friend, there is plenty here to entertain you: cooking demos by top chefs, live music, and a food, craft beer and wine program!

12. Charm City Cakes Bakery

Charm City Cakes BakerySource: whalelifestyle
Charm City Cakes Bakery

Founded in 2002 by classically trained pastry chef and metal craftsman Duff Goldman, this bakery is the fusion of his expertise in the kitchen and his musical creativity from his dream of playing guitar for a rock band that has resulted in outrageously fun cake creations. Together with his adventurous team, Goldman makes cake productions that go above and beyond, complete with sounds, special effects, and moving components! His bakery ideas were the inspiration for the Food Network Show, Ace of Cakes!

Stop in to see what all the fuss is about! The staff is very warm and welcoming, whether you are ordering a full cake or just there to have a cupcake or two. If you’re interested in learning the technicalities behind the magic, you can even sign up for a class there! You’ll see firsthand what all the fuss was about that drew the Food Network to this unique bakery in the first place!

13. Mallows Bay

Mallows BaySource: flickr
Mallows Bay

A small bay on the Potomac River, Mallows Bay is known as a “ship graveyard”. While it is now considered a National Marine Sanctuary, years ago, the bay was used as a salvage bay – more than 230 ships (its “Ghost Fleet”) sunk in the river, 90 of which were steamships scuttled in the bay. These ships then formed a reef that is now a host to a wide variety of wildlife!

Come visit this curious graveyard of ships. There is a boat ramp and pier allowing access to the Potomac River and you can take a canoe or kayak out among the ship ruins! Around 100 ruins are still visible, especially the S.S. Accomac. Visit this curiosity and imagine life back when the ghost fleet that now is docked at the bottom of the bay were all functional ships awaiting their next journey down the river!

14. Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center

Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts CenterSource: flickr
Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center

Located in Solomons, Maryland, at the mouth of the Patuxent River and the Chesapeake Bay, Annmarie Sculpture Gardens is a beautiful place to experience art while surrounded by scenic woods and a beautiful waterfront view. It boasts several works on loan from the Smithsonian Institution, as well as works by Robert Engman, Jean Arp and Barbara Hepworth!

Take a walk along their short path through the woods to experience the sculptures, displayed in the magnificence of the outdoors. Their Arts Building also includes an exhibition space and patio. Whether you visit for the sculptures or not, the center also hots annual festivals and public programs, or, you can take classes at the Studio School! Get in touch with your artsy side here in the middle of the best inspiration: nature!

15. Movies on North Beach

North BeachSource: visitmaryland
North Beach

Why not combine two of the best pastimes into one? North Beach offers both the relaxation of the ocean breeze and the sound of the waves, along with a big screen that brings the comfort of your living to the outdoors! A perfect activity for beach lovers and movie buffs, North Beach is popular with locals and visitors alike, and is free and open to all!

Enjoy kicking back on the sand in front of a large, inflatable screen. Whether you lounge on a blanket or bring your own chair, it’s one of the best outdoors movie environments around. You can even combine movie night with browsing the shops or grabbing a burger to bring with you to the beach! Check the North Beach website for movie listings and times and enjoy this budget friendly and fun activity!

15 Best Things to Do in Maryland:

  • Swallows Falls State Park
  • Washington County Museum of Fine Arts
  • House of Yoder
  • Canal Place
  • Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park
  • Flying Dog Brewery
  • Maryland Crab Fest
  • Schifferstadt Architectural Museum
  • Days End Farm Horse Rescue
  • Ego Alley
  • Baltimore Book Festival
  • Charm City Cakes Bakery
  • Mallows Bay
  • Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center
  • Movies on North Beach