By: David M. Higgins II

Hollywood, MD- That little plot of land jutting into the Chesapeake Bay, bounded by the Potomac and Patuxent Rivers is a laid back region called Southern Maryland or SoMd for short. The region boasts over 1000 miles of shoreline and includes national parks, sandy beaches, maritime museums, lighthouse, historical landmarks, monuments and more.

The counties that makeup SoMd are Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary’s. Sometimes the southern portions of Prince George’s( Aquasco, Brandywine, Clinton) and Anne Arundel( up to Shady Side) Counties are included in it.

You can get into SoMd multiple ways. Coming from Virginia you can take the 301 Bridge( also called the Gov. Harry W. Nice/Senator Thomas “Mac” Middleton Bridge) or take the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and travel down Route 5 to Route 301. Coming from the north you can take I95 to Rt.5 to Rt 301 or just stay on Rt 301. Or if you feel like a REALLY scenic and winding route, you could take Route 4 through Prince Frederick.

But once you are here, there is tons to see. Below are some of the top spots not only tourists love but even Southern Marylanders, in no particular order.

Patuxent River Naval Air Museum

The Navy’s aircraft and flight systems have been evaluated and refined here since World War II. Located in the heart of Southern Maryland, the museum is the nation’s only official Navy Museum dedicated to naval aviation research, development, testing, and evaluation. Exhibits include a propulsion display, unmanned aerial vehicles, crew system artifacts, ejection seats, radars, and test instrumentation. An outdoor aircraft park displays 21 naval aircraft, including the X-32B and X-35C Joint Strike Fighter concept demonstrators. A new Visitor Center building opened in 2016 and the whole campus has been recently updated. 

The Patuxent River Naval Air Museum

Annmarie Garden Sculpture Park and Arts Center

Located in Solomons Island, the 30-acre sculpture garden features a 1/4 mile walking path featuring over thirty works on loan from the Smithsonian Institution and the National Gallery of Art. The arts building includes rotating exhibitions, a gift shop, and café. A variety of annual festivals, family activities, and public programs are available.

Annmarie Sculpture Garden and Arts Center, Courtesy Visit Maryland
  • 13470 Dowell Road, Dowell, Maryland

Point Lookout State Park

With its location along the Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac River, the park offers recreational opportunities including swimming, fishing, boating, and camping. The Civil War Museum/Marshland Nature Center offer seasonal public programs and demonstrations highlighting the history of Point Lookout and the natural environment.

Point Lookout State Park
  • 11175 Point Lookout Road, Scotland, Maryland

Flag Ponds Nature Park

Flag Ponds Nature Park was once a pound-net fishing station on the Chesapeake Bay. Today, it offers a half-mile hike down to view the Calvert Cliffs, one of the top ten shelling beaches in the United States. There are observation platforms at two ponds and a Visitors Center with wildlife displays.

Flag Ponds Nature Park

Historic St. Mary’s City

Southern Maryland’s most famous attraction, the outdoor living history museum is located on the site of Maryland’s first colony and first capital. Exhibit areas include a tall ship, a Woodland Indian Hamlet, a tobacco plantation with livestock and Town Center. Costumed interpreters provide visitors with hands-on activities about colonial life.

Image courtesy of Historic St. Mary’s City

Calvert Cliffs State Park

Located in Calvert County, Maryland, the park offers a sandy beach, freshwater and tidal marshland, hiking trails, picnic areas, and a recycled tire playground. The massive cliffs were formed over 15 million years ago. Today, visitors explore the cliffs to search for unique fossils and the remains of prehistoric species including sharks, whales, rays, and seabirds.

Calvert Cliffs State Park
  • 9500 H. G. Trueman Road, Lusby, Maryland.

Mallows Bay Park

Mallows Bay Park is an archaeological wonder and a unique destination for kayaking, fishing, wildlife viewing, and hiking. The waters of the Potomac River along Mallows Bay are home to the WWI Ghost Fleet, the largest ship graveyard in the Northern Hemisphere.  This diverse collection of historic shipwrecks totals nearly 200 known vessels dating back to the Revolutionary War and World War I. Please note that kayak trips must be prearranged through Atlantic Canoe & Kayak.

Mallows Bay Park, courtesy Potomac Riverkeeper

Sotterly Plantation

Sotterley Plantation is the sole surviving Tidewater plantation in Maryland that is fully interpreted and open to the public. It overlooks the scenic Patuxent River and includes nearly 100 acres of open fields, gardens, and shoreline. The site includes more than 20 outbuildings including a Customs Warehouse, Smoke House, and an original Slave Cabin dating to the 1830s. 

Sotterley Plantation. courtesy Visit St. Mary’s

Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum

Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum is a 560-acre park and museum located in Southern Maryland that features a Visitor Center with interactive exhibits that tell the archaeological history of Calvert County and the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. The Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory (MAC Lab) houses over 8 million artifacts. The property has more than 70 identified archaeological sites, with current excavation and research being done. The park offers hiking, walking, and bike trails, canoeing, and kayaking.

Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum courtesy Find Your Chesapeake

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...