Top 15 Southern Maryland Attractions

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    Best Places to Visit in Calvert, Charles and St. Mary's Counties

    St. George Island / Southern Maryland
    © Rachel Cooper

    Southern Maryland is a breathtaking region boasting a thousand miles of shoreline along the Chesapeake Bay and the Patuxent and Potomac Rivers and offers a diverse variety of attractions including state and national parks, sandy beaches, maritime museums, lighthouses, and much more. The region known as Southern Maryland includes Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary's Counties. Just a short drive from Washington, DC, this area is a great one to explore. Here is a guide to the top attractions. 

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    Historic St. Mary's City

    Historic St. Mary's City
    © Historic St. Mary's City

    18751 Hogaboom Lane, St. Mary's City, Maryland. Southern Maryland’s most famous attraction, the outdoor living history museum is located on the site of Maryland`s first colony and first capital. Exhibit areas include a tall ship, a Woodland Indian Hamlet, a tobacco plantation with livestock and Town Center. Costumed interpreters provide visitors with hands-on activities about colonial life. For more information, visit www.stmaryscity.org

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    Calvert Cliffs State Park

    Calvert Cliffs State Park
    © Rachel Cooper, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    9500 H. G. Trueman Road, Lusby, Maryland. Located in Calvert County, Maryland, the park offers a sandy beach, freshwater and tidal marshland, hiking trails, picnic areas and a recycled tire playground. The massive cliffs were formed over 15 million years ago. Today, visitors explore the cliffs to search for unique fossils and the remains of prehistoric species including sharks, whales, rays, and seabirds.

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    Calvert Marine Museum

    Calvert Marine Museum
    © Rachel Cooper, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    14200 Solomons Island Road, Solomons, Maryland. The museum interprets the cultural and natural history of Southern Maryland with three themes: regional paleontology, the estuarine life of the tidal Patuxent River and the adjacent Chesapeake Bay, and maritime history of the regionIndoor exhibits feature models, paintings, woodcarvings, aquariums, fossils, and boats. Outdoor exhibits include a boat basin, river otter habitat, and a recreated salt marsh. The museum is home to the Drum Point Lighthouse, a beautifully restored landmark, complete with furnishings of the early 20th century. For more information, visit www.calvertmarinemuseum.com

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    Patuxent River Naval Air Museum

    Patuxent River Naval Air Museum
    © St. Mary's County Division of Tourism

    22156 Three Notch Road, Lexington Park, Maryland. The Navy`s aircraft and flight systems have been evaluated and refined here since World War II. Located in the heart of Southern Maryland, the museum is the nation`s only official Navy Museum dedicated to naval aviation research, development, testing, and evaluation. Exhibits include a propulsion display, unmanned aerial vehicles, crew system artifacts, ejection seats, radars, and test instrumentation. An outdoor aircraft park displays 21 naval aircraft, including the X-32B and X-35C Joint Strike Fighter concept demonstrators. A new Visitor Center building opened in 2016. The whole campus is being updated in phases and should be totally complete by 2018. For more information, visit www.paxmuseum.com.

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    Mallows Bay Park

    Mallows Bay
    Catherine Herbert/Charles County Tourism

    1440 Wilson Landing Rd, Nanjemoy, MD. Mallows Bay Park is an archaeological wonder and a unique destination for kayaking, fishing, wildlife viewing and hiking. The waters of the Potomac River along Mallows Bay are home to the WWI Ghost Fleet, the largest ship graveyard in the Northern Hemisphere.  This diverse collection of historic shipwrecks totals nearly 200 known vessels dating back to the Revolutionary War and World War I.

    For more information, visit www.charlescountymd.gov/GhostFleetofMallowsBay. Please note that kayak trips must be prearranged through Atlantic Canoe & Kayak. 

     

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    Annmarie Garden Sculpture Park and Arts Center

    Annmarie Garden Sculpture Park and Arts Center
    © Rachel Cooper, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    13480 Dowell Road, Dowell, Maryland. Located in Solomons Island, the 30-acre sculpture garden features a 1/4 mile walking path featuring over thirty works on loan from the Smithsonian Institution and the National Gallery of Art.  The arts building includes rotating exhibitions, a gift shop, and café.  A variety of annual festivals, family activities, and public programs are available.

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    Sotterly Plantation

    Sotterly Plantation
    © Rachel Cooper, licensed to About.com, Inc.

     44300 Sotterley Lane, Hollywood, Maryland. Sotterley Plantation is the sole surviving Tidewater plantation in Maryland that is fully interpreted and open to the public. It overlooks the scenic Patuxent River and includes nearly 100 acres of open fields, gardens, and shoreline. The site includes more than 20 outbuildings including a Customs Warehouse, Smoke House, and an original Slave Cabin dating to the 1830s. For more information, visit www.sotterley.org

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    Point Lookout State Park

    Point Lookout State Park
    © Rachel Cooper, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    11175 Point Lookout Road, Scotland, Maryland. With its location along the Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac River, the park offers recreational opportunities including swimming, fishing, boating and camping. The Civil War Museum/Marshland Nature Center offer seasonal public programs and demonstrations highlighting the history of Point Lookout and the natural environment. Read more about Point Lookout State Park.

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    Flag Ponds Nature Park

    Flag Ponds Nature Park
    © Joyce Baki/Calvert County Department of Economic Development

    Calvert Beach/Ball Rd. Prince Frederick, Maryland. Flag Ponds Nature Park was once a pound-net fishing station on the Chesapeake Bay. Today, it offers a half-mile hike down to view the Calvert Cliffs, one of the top ten shelling beaches in the United States. There are observation platforms at two ponds and a Visitors Center with wildlife displays. For more information, visit www.co.cal.md.us.

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    Piney Point Lighthouse

    Piney Point Lighthouse
    © Rachel Cooper, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    44720 Lighthouse Road, Piney Point, Maryland. The oldest lighthouse on the Potomac River, constructed in 1836, is today set on a 6-acre park with a picnic area, kayak launch, a boardwalk, pier and sandy beach. The museum features artifacts from the WW II U-1105 Black Panther German submarine which lies just offshore in an area designated as the state`s first Historic Shipwreck Dive Preserve. A maritime exhibit of historic wooden boats that once plied the waters of the Chesapeake Bay is housed in a separate building. For more information, visit www.co.saint-marys.md.us.

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    Chesapeake Beach

    Chesapeake Beach
    Renee Sklarew

    The town of Chesapeake Beach, located in Calvert County, Maryland, offers quiet secluded beaches, waterfront restaurants, a water park and family fun events. The Cheseapeake Beach Resort and Spa  is a prime getaway destination that features 72 guest rooms, two restaurants, a full-service spa, a 120-slip marina, an indoor heated swimming pool, a fitness center, and more. For more information, visit www.chesapeake-beach.md.us.

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    North Beach

    North Beach
    © Renee Sklarew

    Nestled on the Chesapeake Bay’s western shore at the northern tip of Calvert County, the Town of North Beach is a pedestrian-friendly town with boardwalk, a fishing pier, a public beach, a wetlands park, the Bayside History Museum, shopping, and restaurants. North Beach was recently voted “Best Bay Beach” and “Best Bay Town”. For more information, visit www.northbeachmd.org.

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    American Chestnut Land Trust

    American Chestnut Land Trust
    © Renee Sklarew

    676 Double Oak Road, Prince Frederick, MD. The American Chestnut Land Trust, established in 1986, protects over 3,000 acres of wetlands, forest, and farmland in Calvert County, Maryland. Visitors can paddle a canoe over a mile and a half through unspoiled salt marshes and wooded freshwater wetlands and see little sign of human activity. The trust maintains 19 miles of self-guided hiking trails. Guided hikes and canoe trips are offered seasonally. For more information, visit ​acltweb.org.

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    Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum

    Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum
    © alliecat1881

    10515 Mackall Rd, St Leonard, MD. Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum is a 560-acre park and museum located in Southern Maryland that features a Visitor Center with interactive exhibits that tell the archaeological history of Calvert County and the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. The Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory (MAC Lab) houses over 8 million artifacts. The property has more than 70 identified archaeological sites, with current excavation and research being done. The park offers hiking, walking, and bike trails, canoeing, and kayaking. For more information, visit www.jefpat.org

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    Maryland International Raceway

    Maryland International Raceway
    © Maryland International Raceway

    27861 Budds Creek Road, Mechanicsville, Maryland. The facility is the largest motorsports raceway in the state of Maryland and hosts more than 100 events throughout the year. See exciting machines including Pro Stocks, Pro Mods, Funny Cars, Jet Cars and more. For more information, visit www.mirdrag.com.