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Best Places to Visit in Maryland

Maryland is often called America in Miniature thanks to its varied landscape and diversity of cultures and attractions. But while the state may be small, its sprawling shorelines, lively cities and historical sites make it an ideal vacation destination. U.S. News took into account a number of factors, including the state's variety of things to do, affordability and accessibility, to determine the best places to visit in Maryland. Help determine next year's list by voting for your favorite spots below. (Note: Some of the below destinations may be affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Check with the CDC and the U.S. Department of State before traveling.)


Best Places to Visit in Maryland

  • Ocean City, MD
  • Annapolis
  • Baltimore
  • Assateague Island
  • Frederick
  • National Harbor
  • Deep Creek Lake
  • Chesapeake Beach
  • Patapsco Valley State Park
  • Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park
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    Ocean City, MD

    #1 in Best Places to Visit in Maryland

    With its pristine stretch of sand and bevy of kid-friendly attractions, Ocean City is the quintessential family vacation destination. Its 10-mile-long beach offers gentle waves that are great for swimming and boogie boarding, plus superb sunrises and fishing opportunities. What's more, Ocean City boasts an impressive boardwalk with all kinds of amenities. In addition to featuring plenty of souvenir shops, bars and restaurants, the boardwalk offers amusement park rides, arcade games and fun attractions, such as Ripley's Ocean City.

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    #2 in Best Places to Visit in Maryland

    Overlooking the Chesapeake Bay, Annapolis is a prime spot to get out on the water. The Sailing Capital of the U.S. provides countless opportunities to explore by boat. Additionally, Annapolis hosts multiple sailing-focused events throughout the year, including boat shows and sailboat races. But if you'd rather stay on land, don't fret: The town is home to the beautiful United States Naval Academy campus, as well as Historic Annapolis, where you'll find art galleries, shops and attractions like the Banneker-Douglass Museum. When you're ready to eat, visit Main Street to try a local specialty: steamed crabs.

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    #3 in Best Places to Visit in Maryland

    Despite its gritty reputation, Baltimore is a lively city with attractions that appeal to a variety of travelers. Art lovers will want to check out the collections at the Baltimore Museum of Art and The Walters Art Museum, while sports enthusiasts should time their visits around catching a Baltimore Orioles baseball game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards or a Baltimore Ravens football game at M&T Bank Stadium. For those traveling with children, Baltimore offers all kinds of family-friendly attractions in its popular Inner Harbor neighborhood, including the National Aquarium, the Maryland Science Center and Port Discovery Children's Museum.

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    Assateague Island

    #4 in Best Places to Visit in Maryland

    Head to Assateague Island, which sits 8 miles southwest of Ocean City, to enjoy a relaxing, nature-filled vacation. The Maryland side of this barrier island is mostly occupied by Assateague Island National Seashore, where miles of sandy beaches and several hiking and bike trails are available. There's also Assateague State Park, with an oceanfront park and wildlife-filled marshes. While swimming, surfing, beachcombing, sunbathing or surf fishing, keep your eyes peeled for Assateague Island's famous wild horses. But remember, these majestic creatures are wild, so you'll want to admire them from a safe distance.

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    #5 in Best Places to Visit in Maryland

    If you're a fan of history, make a beeline for Frederick, a western Maryland city with deep ties to the Civil War. Start your trip exploring Monocacy National Battlefield and the National Museum of Civil War Medicine, or rent a bike and follow the 10-mile Frederick History Bicycle Loop, which stops at more than 20 historical sites. When you've gotten your fill of history, head to Downtown Frederick to check out its hundreds of shops, art galleries and restaurants. The city center is also where you'll find the Public Art Trail and the Frederick Wine Trail.

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    National Harbor

    #6 in Best Places to Visit in Maryland

    National Harbor is home to some of Maryland's best shops, restaurants and entertainment venues, so you can expect to never feel bored when you visit. Make your way to Tanger Outlets at National Harbor for some retail therapy, dine at a waterfront restaurant, enjoy a bird's-eye view of nearby Washington, D.C., while riding the Capital Wheel or listen to live music during a complimentary summer concert. If you're looking for a bit more excitement once the sun goes down, stop by MGM National Harbor to test Lady Luck in its casino or catch a show in its 3,000-seat theater.

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    Deep Creek Lake

    #7 in Best Places to Visit in Maryland

    Maryland's largest freshwater lake offers endless opportunities for outdoor recreation. In summer, the weather here is warm and dry, making this season an excellent time to go fishing, swimming and kayaking. Meanwhile, winter is when the lake freezes and its shores get covered in snow, giving visitors the chance to go ice fishing, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing. To avoid winter's chilly temps without rubbing elbows with hordes of summer tourists, arrive in spring or fall. These shoulder seasons are terrific times to go biking and hiking around the lake and admire Muddy Creek Falls in nearby Swallow Falls State Park.

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    Chesapeake Beach

    #8 in Best Places to Visit in Maryland

    In its heyday, Chesapeake Beach was a thriving resort destination for travelers arriving by train or steamboat. But now, this bay front locale is better known as a quiet beach town ideal for relaxing getaways. Venture to cliff-filled Bayfront Park to swim and look for fossils at its beach, or spend some time fishing or crabbing at one of the town's marinas. Those traveling with children will also want to check out the Chesapeake Beach Water Park, which offers everything from waterslides to a lazy river to character meet-and-greets.

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    Patapsco Valley State Park

    #9 in Best Places to Visit in Maryland

    Patapsco Valley State Park's more than 16,000 acres are home to 200-plus miles of scenic trails and eight recreational areas, making it especially appealing to outdoorsy types. The Daniels and Hollofield areas are prime spots for fishing, while the Hilton, Pickall and Avalon areas are great for families thanks to their playgrounds and picnic facilities. Travelers can also take advantage of the multiuse trails in the McKeldin Area – which are popular with equestrians and mountain bikers – or hike the Cascades Falls Trail. The path starts by the Orange Grove Area's swinging bridge and offers spectacular views of several waterfalls.

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    Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park

    #10 in Best Places to Visit in Maryland

    Nicknamed The Grand Old Ditch, this waterway that once transported coal, agricultural products and lumber from Washington, D.C.'s Georgetown neighborhood to Cumberland, Maryland, is now a must-visit destination when visiting Maryland and our nation's capital. Inside the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park, you'll discover miles of hiking trails and a wide towpath that's suitable for biking, horseback riding and jogging. Plus, the park's Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center in Potomac offers seasonal mule-drawn boat rides (for a fee), giving you the chance to learn more about how people used the canal during the 19th century.

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