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

    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.

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    Calvert Cliffs State Park

    Calvert Cliffs State Park
    Rachel Cooper

    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.

    • 9500 H. G. Trueman Road, Lusby, Maryland.
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    Calvert Marine Museum

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

    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​ the 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.

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    Patuxent River Naval Air Museum

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

    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 and the whole campus has been recently updated. 

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    Mallows Bay Park

    Mallows Bay
    Catherine Herbert/Charles County Tourism

    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. 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

    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.

    • 13480 Dowell Road, Dowell, Maryland
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    Sotterly Plantation

    Sotterly Plantation
    Rachel Cooper

    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. 

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    Point Lookout State Park

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

    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.

    • 11175 Point Lookout Road, Scotland, Maryland
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    Flag Ponds Nature Park

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

    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.

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    Piney Point Lighthouse

    Piney Point Lighthouse
    Rachel Cooper

    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.

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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 Chesapeake 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.

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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”.

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    American Chestnut Land Trust

    American Chestnut Land Trust
    © Renee Sklarew

    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.

    • 676 Double Oak Road, Prince Frederick, Maryland
    • acltweb.org
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    Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum

    Reed Wiedower
    Reed Wiedower/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

    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.

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    Maryland International Raceway

    Maryland International Raceway
    © Maryland International Raceway

    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.

    • 27861 Budds Creek Road, Mechanicsville, Maryland
    • racemdir.com