Did you know that Maryland has the reputation of being “America in miniature?” Excluding the desert, almost every naturally occurring feature can be found somewhere in Maryland. Because of this, there truly is something to peak everyone’s interests when visiting the Old Line State.
Note that if you do plan to visit each of the cities/towns I’m mentioning in this Best of Maryland post, it is best to rent a car or drive your own. They are about 1-3 hours away from each other, and the public transportation options aren’t the greatest. You can save yourself a huge headache by driving yourself.
I’m a big fan of starting slow on vacations, so my first recommendation is spending three days in Ocean City. Many of my summer (and even winter!) nights and days were spent in Ocean City with family and friends. While the beach is great–and rest assured that you can always find a spot of sand–the real fun is on the boardwalk.
There is nothing better than cruising the boardwalk on a summer night with a tub of hot and delicious Thrasher’s boardwalk fries in your hand. It is absolutely vital to stop at one of their three locations every time you visit Ocean City. Trust me, when you smell them cooking, your nose will guide you right over anyway!
Aside from having easygoing restaurants and kitschy but cute stores, the boardwalk also has two areas for rides and carnival style games, both of which are located near the inlet. Trimper’s Rides is very family friendly, with all of the indoor rides and games geared toward smaller kids. Just a few yards away are the outside rides meant for bigger kids and adults, although there are some kiddie rides too. Riders can purchase single tickets (75 cents), sheets of tickets ($23/sheet), or wristbands ($28) which allow unlimited indoor and outdoor rides for the day of their visit. Jolly Roger at the Pier, located just a few steps away, keeps thrillseekers on their toes with even more rides and games. Here too little kids and big kids alike can hop on rides to their hearts’ content, and catch some great views of the ocean while they’re at it. Jolly Roger at the Pier offers guests various points packages that allow riders to board rides that cost $26.99-$145.99.
You’ll also want to check out Jolly Roger at its 30th St. location. Here you’ll find more rides for riders of all ages, carnival games, fun mini golf courses, and Splash Mountain, Jolly Roger’s water park. With a ton of huge water slides, a water playground, lazy river, wave pool, and the Splash Mountain mermaids, you are sure to find a million fun ways to beat the summer heat.
And after you’ve had enough of the sun and sand, head out in the evening to Seacrets for a lively night out. Located right on the water, you can hang out inside for the live music and dance floors, or move the party outside to their beach stage.
Staying in one of the hotels right on the beach is ideal, although it will be more expensive. Hotels on the bayside and just outside Ocean City proper will be your best options if you are looking for something more affordable.
The 4th day of your trip will take you away from Ocean City to just over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to spend some time in Maryland’s capital.
One of the biggest draws of Annapolis is the US Naval Academy. Visitors can take a public guided tour of the academy’s grounds, gain insights into the training midshipmen receive at the Academy, and visit the USNA Museum.
Just outside the Naval Academy is Ego Alley, a marina filled with docked boats. I’ve noticed during past visits that owners are so eager to talk about their boats. If you’ve ever wondered about anything boat-related, Ego Alley is definitely the place to get your questions answered. This area is also a prime location for people watching, grabbing a bite to eat from one of the many restaurants, or shopping for some Annapolis gear in one of the boutique shops.
After you’ve eaten, take some time to appreciate the cobblestone streets and colonial buildings surrounding you. Then, make your way to the Maryland State House (pictured above), where you will take a self-guided tour to see the assembly room for both houses as well as the room where George Washington delivered his final speech as President. So much incredible history is tucked away in the exhibits! (Fun fact: For a brief moment in our history, the Maryland State House was the nation’s capital.)
For me, Baltimore feels like a cozy city. Each neighborhood has its own unique vibe. To really get a feel for how interesting Baltimore can be, I strongly recommend making the American Visionary Art Museum one of your first stops. It is easily identifiable on Key Highway by its mirrored facade, the mirrored tree (pictured above) next to it, and a mosaic school bus parked alongside its entrance. While it features works of artists from all over the world, the environment “feels” very Baltimore. Each artist featured in the AVAM is self-taught, and walking in with this knowledge makes you appreciate the talent behind their pieces.
There is also a slew of other interesting museums located in or near the inner harbor including the Maryland Science Center, the Baltimore Museum of Industry, the historic ships, the Baltimore Civil War Museum, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum, and the National Aquarium. Each is worth taking the time to visit.
After museum hopping, head over to Fell’s Point for more cobblestone streets and trendy restaurants and bars. Cute boutiques can be found in this area too, if you’re looking to do some shopping. You could even opt to do a ghost tour if you’re feeling up for something spooky.
Nightowls looking for somewhere to socialize and experience the city can head to Power Plant Live!, an area where they will find a wide variety of bars, restaurants, comedy clubs, and night clubs. And if you’re still not ready to head home after last call, you could always head over to the Horseshoe Casino to try your luck.
Maryland has so much more to offer
. . . but if you only have one week to spend here, these three stops are your absolute musts. If you haven’t already visited Maryland, I hope this sparked your interest!
Elaine is a lifestyle blogger passionate about helping people live their best lives on a budget. She currently lives in Baltimore, MD with her husband, two cats Poppie and Jelly, and two dogs Kimchi and Shrimp.
Elaine Maryland has sparked my interest for sure! I would love to visit there someday!