One of the lesser-known vacation gems in the U.S., Maryland isn’t called “America in Miniature” because its total land measurement is only 10,000 miles.
Instead, Maryland earned this state slogan by providing just about every kind of natural environment tourists would want–from sandy beaches along the coastline to large portions of the Appalachian Mountains to delightful rolling hills and dynamic cities.
Here are eight of the most popular places in Maryland to visit during the fall:
Gunpowder Falls State Park
Located in Baltimore and Harford counties, Maryland’s Gunpowder Falls State Park offers 18,000 acres of wetlands, protected wildlands, steep mountain slopes, beaches, and numerous historic sites.
Hiking, kayaking, fishing, canoeing, swimming, horseback riding, and mountain biking are just some of the fun activities families and couples will find at Gunpowder Falls State Park. The park’s Hammerman Area provides playgrounds and picnicking areas while Dundee Creek Marina has boat rentals, fishing tackle, and boat launching services.
Annapolis is the capital of Maryland and home to the prestigious U.S. Naval Academy where future officers of the Navy train to be ensigns, commanders, and hopefully, captains. Annapolis in the fall is the place to go for festivals, such as the Kunte Kinte Heritage Festival, the Annapolis Bluegrass Music Festival, and the Maryland Renaissance Festival. In addition to hundreds of 5-star restaurants, shops, and nightclubs, Annapolis offers dozens of public parks with small lakes, playground areas, paved trails, and ice-skating rinks.
Seneca Creek State Park
Gaithersburg, Maryland is home to Seneca Creek State Park, a large, scenic swathe of forests, lakes, and grassy fields spread over 6,300 acres. Seneca Creek winds through the park for 14 miles until it reaches the Potomac River. Nestled within Seneca Creek State Park is Clopper Lake, where vacationers can picnic, rent boats, hike trails, or ride bicycles on the 50 miles of trails around the lake.
Fall foliage lovers flock to Chestertown, MD in late September when this Eastern Shore town dazzles vacationers with vivid red, orange, and gold-leafed trees flanking the edges of the Chester River. This historic college locale will charm vacationers with its brick sidewalks, restored colonial homes, cozy inns, seafood restaurants, and unique boutique shops.
Affectionately called the “Grand Old Ditch”, the Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) Canal connects Cumberland, MD to Washington, D.C. running parallel with the Potomac River. Constructed in the late 19th century, the C&O Canal is home to hundreds of outdoor activities, including biking, over 100 miles of hiking trails, mule-drawn barge rides, bird-watching, and camping. The canal’s towpath is open every day of the year from sunrise to sunset. The Brunswick Visitor Center, located in Frederick County at the mile 55 marker, is a great place to find more information about the C&O Canal’s history and upcoming events.
For vacationers looking for a place where they can fish, hike, boat, and ride bikes during the day, the Liberty Reservoir offers these activities and more. Be aware that swimming and camping are not allowed at Liberty Reservoir. Fishing enthusiasts can expect to catch largemouth and smallmouth bass, crappie, white perch, walleye, and bluegill in this well-stocked reservoir. Baltimore’s residents receive their tap water via the reservoir after water has been treated at the Ashburton Water Filtration Plant.
Just a five-minute drive from Frederick, MD, Sugarloaf Mountain emerges with a peak of 800 feet above the surrounding landscape. Established as a National Natural Landmark in 1969, Sugarloaf Mountain is a privately owned, admission-free park providing plenty of outdoor activities for vacationers. Sightseeing, rock climbing, hiking, picnicking, and horseback riding along the park’s yellow or blue train system are all open to the public throughout most of the year.
Eastern Neck Wildlife Refuge
A 2200-acre refuge located at the junction of Chesapeake Bay and the Chester River, the Eastern Neck Wildlife Refuge was originally developed as a migratory bird sanctuary. Today, nearly 250 different species of birds live in or migrate to the refuge, including peregrine falcons, tundra swans, and American bald eagles. Fall visitors to this refuge can fish in the Chester River and the Chesapeake Bay, take bicycle rides on specially made dirt and paved roads or walk trails to view wildlife in their natural habitat. Bogles Wharf offers access to launching non-motorized boats such as canoes or paddle boats. Picnic sites within the refuge can be found at the Ingleside Recreation Area located in the northwest region of the Eastern Neck Wildlife Refuge.