Looking for a new adventure without the international price tag? Set your sights a bit closer to home and discover what you can explore with just a days worth of travel. There are countless gems to be found within driving distance of Baltimore that are sure to satisfy your wonder lust. This list of attractions you can get to in less than a day and still have the time and energy to immerse yourself in the wonder of the unexplored. Be sure to pack a few snacks, grab your travel buddies and head out on the road, you never know what excitement you could stumble upon.
Just a few hours from Baltimore in the center of the Chesapeake Bay lies the scenic and restful Smith Island. Boasting some of the world’s best crab cakes, it offers extensive history of authentic island culture, from traditional fishing methods and unique dialect tracing back to its roots as one of the first chartered islands in the newly formed US. Today, there are only about 250 remaining residents, yet this loyal community continues to help teach new generations about a way of life from long ago. Smith Island is perfect for outdoor adventure from kayaking to fishing and bird watching, you can experience life at a slower pace, and reap the rewards of fresh air and open waters.
Website: Visit Smith Island
One advantage of Baltimore living is its close proximity to the capital’s monuments. The National Mall in Washington, DC is free and open to the public displaying some of our country’s most famous landmarks, museums, and monuments free of charge. There is so much to explore that one trip will barely scratch the surface, yet on your inaugural trip, you can’t go wrong with a visit to the Lincoln Memorial. The massive, towering statue dedicated to Abraham Lincoln features his quintessential Gettysburg address. In 1963 Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech was chiseled onto the steps. There are over 50 unique features of the Greek Statue style landmark, and guided tours are well worth the extra effort to sign up and wait. The monument exudes a sense of awe, inspired by the spirit of our country’s striving towards unity.
The Lincoln Memorial
Address: 2 Lincoln Memorial Cir NW, Washington, DC 20037, United States
Website: The Lincoln Memorial
If you’re up for a day of outdoor adventure, Blackwater Falls State Park is the perfect day trip to indulge in a light hike with great rewards. The rushing, black waters are famous for their strange color caused by hemlock and red spruce needles and are located in West Virginia, just a 3.5-hour drive from Baltimore. Once at the site you can hike along the mountainous trails increasing in difficulty and methods of travel including skiing, mountain biking and walking. There are areas for swimming, fishing and in the winter, sledding. You can also find lodging at the site if it gets a bit too late to travel back after your full day of activity.
Blackwater Falls State Park
Address: 1584 Blackwater Lodge Rd, Davis, WV 26260, United States
Website: Blackwater Falls State Park
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Appalachian Trail Museum is a monument inside of a monument. The museum tells the tale of the creation and evolution of the trail and the many people who braved the trials to complete this momentous task. The museum is located at the halfway point of the trail, and a short 1.5-hour drive from Baltimore. Today the museum is a tribute to hiking culture and the lives of those who helped to make this seminal route a must on the bucket list of daring explorers all over the world.
Appalachian Trail Museum
Address: 1120 Pine Grove Rd, Gardners, PA 17324, United States
Website: Appalachian Trail Museum
Along the Patuxent River, Solomons Island is a wonderful day trip for the whole family featuring several museums, Cove Point Lighthouse and an ecological preservation station and winery. A unique feature for younger visitors is the Calvert Marine Museum’s ‘please touch’ section that can introduce the magic of the natural world to children with local animals and plant life available to be experienced with the all the senses. Take to the water on Skipjack Dee of St. Mary, which hosts frequent tours of the Patuxent River with trained experts to point out the particular features of the Island and its ecosystem and end your day with oysters and live music at the PNC Waterside Pavilion during their summer concert series.
Address: Solomons, Maryland, United States
Website: Solomons Island
Cumberland is a quite town with much more to offer than can be noticed at first glance. The rustic charm and natural beauty can be found if you take the time to wonder. One of the most well known attractions is the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, a magnificent journey through Marylands mountain landscape with several tours to choose from, including a fun mystery themed ride perfect for young and old. The railway is part of the Great Allegany Passage best traveled by bike so that you can stop and explore the many historic sites such as the C&O Canal Museum and the C&O’s first winery.
Address: Cumberland, Maryland, United States
There are only two places in the US where money is printed. If you’re in the Baltimore area you are in luck as the US Bureau of Engraving and Printing is just an hour away. The process of printing has been greatly improved from its start in the 19th-century, adding new mechanisms and machinery to help automate the once human-centered process. See how our currency is crafted when you peak over the massive printing floor and tour the evolution of US money. The tours are available Monday through Friday 9 am to 7 pm free of charge, and to get the best experience try to plan your visit to avoid peak hours by going before 10:30 am and between noon and 2:30pm.
US Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Address: 301 14th St SW, Washington, DC 20228, United States
Website: US Bureau of Engraving and Printing
This resort town is a perfect getaway for couples looking to relax and unwind in New Jersey Shore style, with scenic beaches and the chance for an alpaca sighting. Cape May is an exciting escape 3 hours from Baltimore and well worth the trip with a diverse array of activities and dining options. Opportunities for whale and dolphin watching, boat tours and leisurely carriage rides await. There are so many places to watch the sunset, it’s hard to pick one, but be sure to choose a spot that’s close to one of the local wineries hosting daily tours and samplings to toast your latest adventure.
Address: Cape May, New Jersey, United States
Website: Cape May
Annapolis is a town with a great history, and you’ll even find some cobbled streets. Set beside the water, you will experience charming scenes of boats bobbing around near the dock. Restaurants and quaint bars and restaurants abound. Attractive homes and businesses make for a bright and colorful scene. The historic town used to be the United States Capitol, so history buffs will have an entertaining time.
The Quiet Waters Park is a patch of green space, where you can go paddleboarding, or enjoy nature by strolling through the hiking trails. The main buildings host art displays, and in summer, you may find concerts in the park for your entertainment. In the park, there’s a fountain pool, picnic spots, and a butterfly garden.
Quiet Waters Park
Address: 600 Quiet Waters Park Rd, Annapolis, MD 21403-2700
Website: Quiet Waters Park
St Michaels is about an hour’s drive from Baltimore. The quiet destination is packed with galleries, quaint stores, and cafes. if you like to indulge a bit, there are a number of wineries to choose from. Open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum provides an interesting three hours of entertainment.
People of all ages will enjoy a visit, and the kids especially love the lighthouse. The museum is very interactive. Take a step back in history and visit the working boatyard. Learn from the interesting displays that cover the history of pleasure boating, the environment, and the oyster industry. Other activities in the area include a short cruise on the Winnie Estelle. If you get hungry, the Crab Claw restaurant should fill those tummies.
Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum
Address: 213 N Talbot St, Navy Point, St. Michaels
Website: Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum
Travel by day
It may be tempting to focus on the exotic locations and far away destinations, but there is something special about taking the time to appreciate the unique aspects of a city or attraction near you. Travel is available to everyone creative enough to see the beauty in the seemingly ordinary.
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