6 Must-Visit Historic Sites in Maryland

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure page for more details.

Last Updated on: 23rd January 2024, 12:49 pm

What is there to see and do in Maryland? Quite a lot, as it turns out! Maryland may not be the most renowned state when it comes to attractions, but for history buffs, it’s a treasure trove.

Maryland has historic sites aplenty, from important battlefields to state parks and more. We’ll take a look at some of the most popular and important sites and talk about some travel tips for seeing them all safely.

1. Fort McHenry (Baltimore)

Did you know that the “broad stripes and bright stars so gallantly streaming” from Francis Scott Key’s “Star Spangled Banner” was referring to Fort McHenry? It was during the defense of the fort at the Battle of Baltimore that our national anthem was first inspired. Fort McHenry has plenty of other history surrounding it, as well, all the way from the Civil War to World War II.

2. Antietam National Battlefield (Sharpsburg)

If you have an interest in the most famous battlefields on American soil, you might consider Antietam, the site of the bloodiest single-day battle in American history. As a visitor to the site, you can walk through the battlefield, visit historic landmarks, and learn about the site’s significance to the American Civil War.

3. Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Scenic Byway (Eastern Shore)

Emblematic of a grim but important time in America’s history, the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Scenic Byway lets you trace part of the path to freedom that Harriet Tubman and others took to escape slavery in the south during the Civil War. There’s a visitor’s center and museum / educational on site, as well as resources like maps and audio guides to help learn about this vital part of American history.

4. National Cryptologic Museum (Fort Meade)

Not every historic site is a battlefield, though. For example, the National Cryptologic Museum in Fort Meade offers an opportunity to learn about code-breaking and secret intelligence. Here, you can look at cryptological artifacts from various periods in the nation’s history. The museum even has a searchable database where you can learn more about these rare pieces of equipment.

See also
The Birthplace of "Gone with the Wind"

5. Catoctin Mountain Park (Thurmont)

National parks might not be the first thing you think of when you’re looking for places to indulge your inner history fanatic — but there are plenty of parks where you can do just that. For example, Catoctin Mountain Park has a fascinating history of its own — during and after the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt created a number of programs to help impoverished people rebuild their lives. Among these programs was the Works Progress Administration, under which places like Catoctin Mountain Park became the landmark site it is today.

USS Constellation (Baltimore)

The USS Constellation is notable as being the last sail-only warship built by the United States Navy. Built in 1854, she is now preserved as a museum ship, having been restored from 1996-1999 by a dedicated restoration and preservation staff. The ship has four decks available for exploration, as well as thousands of historic artifacts, photographs, and documents that visitors can view while on board. Some of these objects have even been donated by descendants of the Constellation’s original crew members!

Safety and Travel Tips

While visiting Maryland’s historic sites, there are a few strategies you can employ to help you get the most out of your trip — and stay safe while doing it.

First, if you’re going out for longer than a day trip, consider picking accommodations that help capture that historic charm. Maybe visit a historic inn or a quaint bed-and-breakfast to help spark the ambience, rather than a generic hotel.

While you’re at it, don’t be afraid to sample the local cuisine, particularly the local seafood and other delicacies. An authentic culinary experience can add a lot of fun to the trip and make it more memorable!

Of course, whenever you take a road trip of any kind, it’s important to be prepared. Make sure your vehicle is tuned up and all your fluids such as oil, gas, and windshield wiper fluid are topped off. Have a travel kit with first aid supplies, water, blankets, flashlights, and other necessities packed and ready to go.

See also
The Best National Parks in Maryland

And while you’re driving through Maryland, be sure to be mindful of the local traffic laws — a violation or accident could put an end to the fun very quickly, and as Renata Balasco at insurance comparison platform The Zebra points out, Maryland is very tough on reckless drivers — a reckless driving ticket could send your insurance rocketing up by 71%, potentially leaving you on the hunt for cheap Maryland car insurance.

You don’t have to be an expert in history to get a great experience out of visiting Maryland’s historic sites — the act of discovery and learning something new as you travel through Maryland can be a joy in itself.

Leave a Comment