Located southwest of Baltimore, Patapsco Valley State Park is Maryland’s oldest state park (established in 1907). A few years back, two of my friends (Anna and Rob) and I hiked a very small portion of the 70 miles of their maintained trails. You can also fish, camp, canoe, mountain bike, and horseback within the park. We stuck to the Avalon/Orange Grove/Glen Artney areas of the park. Trail maps are available on information boards located throughout the park or for purchase online, at the visitor center, or at the park’s headquarters. We walked past the Bloede’s Dam and walked across the swinging bridge. You can walk at Patapsco Park a lot and still not see the same thing twice. Perfect.
I spent many weeks as a kid on the New Jersey shore boardwalks. So when my friend, Ketina, took me to the Ocean City Boardwalk a few years ago, I was reminded of my summers as a kid – food, sand, food, people watching, ocean smells and sounds, food, walking along the boardwalk, did I mention the food? Ocean City Boardwalk isn’t as long as some of the ones in Jersey that I grew up with but it’s still nice. It’s the traditional boardwalk with popcorn (my friend Ketina likes Fisher’s popcorn), pizza, ice cream/frozen custard (Kohr Brothers is yummy), rides/games, tourist souvenir shops, etc, but Ocean City also has Maryland crab cakes and Thrasher’s Fries, which are great. Here’s a list of 100 free Ocean City activities you might want to check out if you plan to visit there.
Every state has beautiful back roads, and Maryland is no exception. One of those roads is the Historic National Road, which was the nation’s first federally funded interstate highway going from Baltimore, MD to the mighty Mississippi River in St. Louis, Missouri. It traverses 824 miles through six states, including 170 miles within Maryland. I drove along the eastern Maryland section (Baltimore to Hagerstown) back in May and it was beautiful. This section parallels I-70 and takes you through all the small towns you would normally bypass, such as Ellicott City, which I spoke of in my last post. It makes for a great lazy Sunday afternoon drive.Maryland has some beautiful Civil War Battlefields such as Monocacy and Antietam, both of which I visited for the first time this past May. Monocacy Battlefield is located two miles south of Frederick and it’s the battle that saved Washington, DC in the summer of 1864. It has a small visitor center that shows a great timeline of all the events before and after the battle. Before leaving the visitor center, be sure to pick up a helpful free self-guided auto tour brochure. The route totals approximately 6 miles round-trip. If you have kids, be sure to bring along a copy of the scavenger hunt for them to complete on your visit to keep them entertained.
The Battle of Antietam is said to be the bloodiest one-day battle in American history having 23,000 soldiers killed, wounded, or missing after only 12 hours of combat back in 1862. You should take the self-guided 8 ½ mile 11 stop auto tour through the battlefield.
My two favorite stops along the tour were climbing to the top of the tower on Bloody Lane and visiting the Burnside Bridge.
Whether you’re into the Civil War or not, I highly recommend the walking trails along both of the battlefields’ self-guided auto tours. They make great places to get out of the car, get some fresh air, and get some exercise.
I love covered bridges and I found out this past May that Maryland has two Covered Bridges Trails. I drove along the Frederick County Covered Bridge Trail that has three bridges (Utica Mills, Roddy Road, and Loys Station), and it was neat to explore some of the beautiful back roads, rolling hills, and history of that part of Maryland.
As I mentioned in the Delaware Blog Post, if you’ll be traveling through the Mid-Atlantic area (Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey), you might want to look into getting an EZ Pass for the toll booths. In Maryland, there are tolls on I-95 at the Baltimore/Delaware boarder area as well as crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge near Annapolis. If you pay cash for those tolls, you’ll be in a long line, however, the EZ Pass lines run much faster. Also, when traveling on I-95 north of Baltimore, you should stop at the Maryland House. It’s a great, clean, and well-light rest area with restaurants, restrooms, a convenience store, and a gas station.