If you’ve lived in Southern Maryland(SoMd) for any significant time, you’ve probably realized there are several places you’ve never visited, or maybe just passed through without a second thought. I know through my first 20 years or so in St. Mary’s I never visited Golden Beach, 7th District, St. Mary’s City; just to name a few. But there are several places in Southern Maryland we all know about, and typically you visit these places on school field trips, or with the family. So when people visit the area, they ask, “what’s there to do around here”? Here are ten locations around SoMd that are must-sees!
- Calvert Marine Museum
Among its exhibits are the Drum Point Light, the bugeye Wm. B. Tennison, and the J. C. Lore Oyster House; the latter two are National Historic Landmarks. It also houses artifacts from the old Cedar Point Light and maintains the Drum Point Light and grounds.
The museum also features several aquatic exhibits including an outdoor habitat for the North American river otter, and indoor aquarium exhibits for the stingray, skates, the non-native lionfish, and numerous other species native to the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.
Since 2018 there is a new exhibit Dinosaurs of Maryland which showcases the diversity and history of Maryland fossils from the age of dinosaurs. The exhibit is a collaboration between the Calvert Marine Museum, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, Prince George’s County Government, and local fossil collectors. The museum is located at 14200 Solomons Island Road S, Solomons, MD 20688.
2. Point Lookout State Park
Point Lookout State Park is a Maryland state park occupying Point Lookout, the southernmost tip of a peninsula formed by the confluence of the Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac River in St. Mary’s County, Maryland. The state park preserves the site of an American Civil War prisoner of war camp and the Point Lookout Light, which was built in 1830. It is the southernmost spot on Maryland’s western shore, the coastal region on the western side of the Chesapeake Bay.
Captain John Smith, the famed explorer who surveyed the Mid-Atlantic region for the British Crown, came ashore at Point Lookout in 1608. He surveyed the lands and waters of the area, including the mouth of the Potomac River on the south side of Point Lookout and its small nearby tributary, the St. Mary’s River. Smith gave very favorable reports on the area to the king of England, remarking on the abundant game and fishing opportunities, the fertile soil and the strategic military value of the area, overlooking the confluence of the Potomac River, Patuxent River, and the St. Mary’s River, along with its key vantage point on the Chesapeake Bay itself. All of these factors led him to describe it as a prime spot for a potential British colony.
The first settlement in Maryland occurred in 1634, in nearby St. Mary’s City. At that time, Point Lookout became part of St. Michael’s Manor, one of the main holdings of Leonard Calvert’s, the leader of the new colony and the first proprietary governor of colonial Maryland.
Today, Point Lookout State Park retains Point Lookout Light, the original lighthouse built in 1830, a fishing pier, boat launch facilities, public beaches and facilities, overnight camping, Civil War historical remains, and, reputedly, ghosts. The Civil War Museum/Marshland Nature Center has seasonal hours and is closed in winter.
3. Historic St. Mary’s City
St. Mary’s City is a former colonial town that was Maryland’s first colonial settlement and capital.It is now a large, state-run historic area, reconstruction of the original colonial settlement, living history area and museum complex, also known as Historic St. Mary’s City.
Half of the area is also the campus of the public honors college, St. Mary’s College of Maryland.
St. Mary’s City is the historic site of the founding of the Colony of Maryland (then called the Province of Maryland). The original settlement was also the fourth oldest permanent English settlement in the United States.
St. Mary’s City is also considered the birthplace of religious freedom in the United States, with the earliest North American colonial settlement ever established with the specific mandate of being a haven for both Catholic and Protestant Christian faiths.
It is also an internationally recognized archaeological research are and training center for archaeologists and is home to the Historical Archaeology Field School. There have been over 200 archeological digs in St. Mary’s city over the last 30 years. Archaeological research continues in the city.
It is an unincorporated community under state law and is located in southern St. Mary’s County, Maryland, which in turn is the southernmost tip of the state of Maryland on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay St. Mary’s City is bordered by the St. Mary’s River, a short, brackish water tidal tributary of the Potomac River, near where it empties into the Chesapeake.
4. Calvert Cliffs State Park
Calvert Cliffs State Park is a public recreation area in Lusby, Calvert County, Maryland, that protects a portion of cliffs that extend for 24 miles along the eastern flank of the Calvert Peninsula on the west side of Chesapeake Bay from Chesapeake Beach southward to Drum Point. The state park is known for the abundance of mainly Middle Miocene sub-epoch fossils that can be found on the shoreline.
Calvert Cliffs State Park is mostly forested, with some wetland areas and a small pond for fishing. The park has 13 miles (21 km) of marked hiking trails. A quarter-mile-long sandy beach is accessible via a 1.8-mile (2.9 km) trail. Some 550 acres are open to hunting upland game, turkey, and deer. The park is rich in biodiversity and is home to numerous species of plants and animals, with at least 163 species of birds observed in the park.
5. Mallows Bay
Mallows Bay is a small bay on the Maryland side of the Potomac River in Charles County, Maryland, USA. The bay is the location of what is regarded as the “largest shipwreck fleet in the Western Hemisphere” and is described as a “ship graveyard.”
Charles County operates Mallows Bay Park (1440 Wilson Landing Road in Nanjemoy, Maryland). This small park contains the graves of more than 230 United States Shipping Board Merchant Fleet Corporation ships sunk in the river. Almost ninety were poorly constructed steamships built during World War I; in 1925 they were burned and scuttled in the bay. Bethlehem Steel then built a salvage basin during World War II to recover metal from the abandoned ships. The ships form a reef that hosts an array of wildlife. A 0.8-mile trail loops around Mallows Bay Park and the salvage basin
In 2010, a boat ramp and pier for recreational use were constructed to provide access to the Potomac River at Mallows Bay. It is popular with canoe or kayak among the ship ruins.
Mallows Bay has passed the nomination process to become a National Marine Sanctuary and will be entering the next phase of designation involving a highly participatory and transparent public review process.
6. Patuxent River Naval Air Museum
The Patuxent River Naval Air Museum (PRNAM) preserves and interprets the Patuxent River Naval Air Base history and heritage of advancing US Naval aviation technology. This museum is the repository of artifacts, photographs and film, documents, and related heritage memorabilia from Patuxent River and other stations, such as Warminster, PA, and Trenton, NJ, that have been consolidated at Patuxent River. The museum is dedicated to those who have employed their talents in advancing Naval aviation research, development, testing, and evaluation.
The shared vision for historical preservation and education gradually coalesced into reality with the establishment of a steering group in late 1974. This group prepared the necessary incorporating papers and bylaws and introduced legislation to the Maryland General Assembly. The Naval Air Test and Evaluation Museum (NATEM) Association was approved and established as a non-profit, tax-exempt organization in the State of Maryland on 14 March 1975. The Navy provided the current building and grounds in 1976, and the museum opened its doors to the public in July 1978. In 1978, the Museum was recognized by the Secretary of the Navy as one of the ten official Navy museums
The museum opened a new building on May 28, 2016
7. Flag Ponds Nature Park
Flag Ponds Nature Park is a nature preserve located in Lusby, Maryland along the Chesapeake Bay in Calvert County, Maryland. It is operated by the Calvert County Department of Natural Resources. The park includes nature trails and a beach for swimmers.
Fossil shark’s teeth eroded from the Calvert Cliffs formation may be collected on the beach. The area included in the park was once a center for pound net fishing from the early 1900s through 1955. One fishing shanty remained until October 2012 when it burned down. It has since been rebuilt.
8. Annmarie Sculpture Garden and Arts Center
Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center is located in scenic Solomons, Maryland, where the Patuxent River meets the Chesapeake Bay. The sculpture garden features a 1/4 mile walking path that meanders through the woods past permanent and loaned sculpture, including over thirty works on loan from the Smithsonian Institution and the National Gallery of Art. Artists in the collection include Antonio Tobias Mendez, Barbara Hepworth, Cesar, Robert Engman, Jean Arp, Kenneth Snelson, and Fransisco Zuniga.
The award-winning Arts Building includes rotating exhibition space, a gift shop, and a sunny patio. Annmarie presents a variety of popular annual festivals, rotating exhibitions, family activities, and creative public programs. The Studio School offers classes for all ages and abilities – from pottery to dance – taught by professional artists and arts educators. Come explore this special place where art and nature meet!
9. Historic Sotterley Plantation
Sotterley Plantation is a historic landmark plantation house located at 44300 Sotterley Lane in Hollywood, St. Mary’s County, Maryland, USA. It is a long ?1 1?2-story, nine-bay frame building, covered with wide, beaded clapboard siding and wood shingle roof, overlooking the Patuxent River.
Also on the property are sawn-log slave quarters of c. 1830, an 18th-century brick warehouse, and an early-19th-century brick meat house. Farm buildings include an early-19th-century corn crib and an array of barns and work buildings from the early 20th century. Opened to the public in 1961, it was once the home of George Plater (1735–1792), the sixth Governor of Maryland, and Herbert L. Satterlee (1863–1947), a New York business lawyer and son-in-law of J.P. Morgan.
The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. Sotterley was declared a National Historic Landmark in 2000, its national significance due to the extremely rare surviving elements of the main house’s oldest phase, a c. 1717 post in ground structure, and the other elements of its later historical architecture and landscape.
Southern Maryland has several award-winning wineries. Port of Leonardtown Winery, Slack Winery, Solomons Island Winery, Still Creek Vineyards, Perigeaux Vineyards, and Winery, Running Hare Vineyard, & Cove Point Winery