The distinguished glow enshrouding Annapolis stems from its maritime history and its role as Maryland's state capital. Stately historic brick buildings
line the streets of the downtown area. The most recognizable building, the Maryland Statehouse, is the oldest state Capitol in the country still in
continuous legislative use. So prestigious is the Capitol that it was deemed worthy enough to be minted on the back of the new state quarters. Save
up a couple bags full to shop at the upscale art galleries and exclusive gift shops surrounding the downtown area or dine on crab cakes at the many
seafood restaurants where you'll sit next to legislators and lawyers engaged in heady power lunches.
Annapolis also racks up points for scenic and nautical attractions. The downtown area has just enough quaint-appeal to attract everyone from ladies-who-tour to
thirty-something Washingtonians slipping into Banana Republic and Starbucks, cell phones to their ears. You don't have to go far to take in the view of the Chesapeake
Bay by land or by water. The city dock is known as "ego alley," where yachters pull up each evening vying for coveted happy hour docking space. Spend
time sipping cocktails and seeing who has the bigger boat. Water taxis transport those forced to anchor farther out in harbor. There are sailing races and regattas
in the bay each weekend, and it isn't hard to see why Annapolis is easily the Sperry Topsider capital of the world.
Eastern Shore –
Along Maryland's Eastern Shore, it's not an insult to call someone a crab picker or an oyster shucker. In fact, most people who visit the Maryland
area that lies between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean make a point of savoring the scrumptious local seafood. In addition to being an epicurean
wonderland for seafood lovers, the area is a haven for vacationers seeking waterfront activities such as fishing and boating.
Wherever you go on the Eastern Shore, you're never far from the water — over 600 miles of scenic shoreline are interwoven by hundreds of creeks and coves that
flow into the Wye, Miles, and Choptank Rivers. Charming harbor towns line the waterfront, from upscale St. Michaels and Oxford to fishing villages like Tilghman
Island, Bozman, and Neavitt. Many homes and buildings date back to the Civil War or earlier, and area ports are steeped in the maritime history of the Chesapeake.
Great expanses of farmland stretch over much of the landscape, surrounding quiet towns like Salisbury and Snow Hill. Year- round residents — many retirees and
long-time natives — populate most towns, which also attract golfers, anglers and cyclists seeking relaxing vacations. Shoppers flock to St. Michaels for its antique
stores and boutiques, while Chestertown draws couples with its romantic bed and breakfast inns. Ocean City is a beach magnet that draws in droves of graduating
high school seniors experiencing their first taste of freedom.
Maryland's second largest incorporated city (nearly 50,000 residents) is the center of the state's largest antique marketplace, Frederick County,
known as "The Crossroads of American History." Founded in 1745, the historic downtown has been elegantly preserved and revived, beckoning
visitors to browse in several hundred antique shops and dealer spaces.
In the sprawling Emporium Antiques complex at 112 E. Patrick St., more than 130 antique dealers showcase everything from fine furnishings and original Fiesta ware
to Civil War memorabilia and old license plates. Dozens of other antique shops and contemporary boutiques line Patrick and Market streets, offering a wide variety
of quality collectibles, decorative art, glassware, silver, vintage apparel, toys, exquisite dolls and toy bears (DOLLectible Collectables Inc.) and Christmas
On the edge of downtown, at the corner of East and Church streets, is Everedy Square and Shab Row, where more than 30 antique/specialty shops and eateries are
nestled in handsomely renovated 19th-century buildings (Antiques in the Ice House at 221 East St.). Away from downtown are a number of large antique malls like
Antique Station, 194 Thomas Johnson Drive (off Opossumtown Pike), with more than 200 dealers under one roof.
When weary of antiquing, try one of downtown Frederick's many restaurants, coffeehouses or pubs like Brewer's Alley or Bushwallers on Market Street. Also check
out mid-Maryland's premier museum of American history at the Historical Society of Frederick County, 24 East Church St., housed in a beautifully decorated 1820
mansion. Frederick is also known for the "Clustered Spires" of its steepled historic churchesm as well as Hood College, Fort Detrick and nearby Monocacy
The countryside is gently rolling, with creeks and streams criss-crossing open fields and stands of trees. It's a quiet place, dotted with monuments
and a few historical buildings; a cemetery provides rest for fallen soldiers.
During the Civil War, this land saw the death or wounding of over 100,000 men in two years. It's considered the bloodiest ground in the United States. The fighting
saw fundamental changes in the way soldiers engaged in war, changing from open-field battle tactics to trench warfare.
Today, the region is preserved as the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. It's expansive, containing the Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania Courthouse,
Wilderness and Chancellorsville battlefields, as well as several prominent historical sites (Chatham, Ellwood, the Stonewall Jackson Shrine). The Fredericksburg & Confederate
Cemetery and the Spotsylvania Confederate Cemetery are also part of the park's property.
Each battlefield has exhibit shelters and walking trails that offer in-depth historical information, offering both location specific documentations as well as
perspective of each battle's place in the history of the war. Informative driving tour routes link the major sites in the 8,300-acre park, and all buildings at
the park are at least partially wheelchair accessible. Walking paths vary in pavement type — call to inquire regarding accessibility prior to visiting.
Not sure where to start? Make the Fredericksburg Battlefield Visitor's Center a first stop: Maps and schedules are available to all park guests.
Harpers Ferry —
Unique both historically and geographically, Harpers Ferry National Historic Park has long been associated with famous names such as George Washington,
Thomas Jefferson, John Brown, and "Stonewall" Jackson. Located at the junction of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers in West Virginia, Virginia
and Maryland, Harpers Ferry is a point in time and place, mind and heart where some of the most notable people and events have merged to influence the
course of our nation's history. It was this scenic spot that bore witness to the birth of the first successful American railroad, John Brown's attack
on slavery and the largest surrender of Federal troops during the Civil War. Gorgeous rock cliffs that tower above the calm, creeping blue river offer
breathtaking views in the late afternoon, bathed in a swath of orange sun. It was that very sight that inspired Thomas Jefferson's quote, "The
passage of the Patowmac through the Blue Ridge is perhaps one of the most stupendous scenes in Nature."
Harpers Ferry is the perfect destination for the traveler inspired by both natural beauty and a heavy dose of historical relevance. Today, visitors can enjoy a
wide range of experiences. Take a ranger-guided tour through John Brown's Raid or Stonewall's brilliant victory; embark on a slow and scenic canoe crawl down the
river or a fast and furious rafting slide through the rapids; venture on your own hike, 1,448 feet up Maryland Heights Mountain for a panoramic view of the town
and the rivers below. The park sponsors a series of special events and living history programs throughout the year that relate the history of the park and give
accounts of the men and women whose contributions have made Harper's Ferry such a significant part of our national heritage. It is truly an inspiring and required
destination on any trip through the mid-Atlantic.
Hershey Park –
Built in 1907 as "picnic and pleasure grounds" for employees of Milton S. Hershey's chocolate factory, HersheyPark has evolved into a 110-acre
amusement park with more than 60 rides and several world-class roller coasters. Although the park offers no shortage of thrills, it's particularly notable
for its clean, nicely landscaped appearance. Chocoholics will want to visit nearby Chocolate World, where you can ride through an exhibit on chocolate-making
before ending up next to an ice-cream parlor and candy shop. Other attractions include the ZooAmerica animal park just next door.
If ever a house expressed the personality and aspirations of its owner, Thomas Jefferson's Monticello is it. The first bricks for the house were made
in 1769 (right at Monticello from Virginia red clay), and Jefferson moved into the South Pavilion in 1770. Today, Monticello remains a tribute to the
man who was not only a president of the United States but also a great writer, educator, architect, philosopher and statesman.
The symmetrically domed main building sits atop a knoll — the ''little mountain'' that is the estate's namesake — overlooking the town of Charlottesville and
the university that Jefferson founded in 1819. With its white-columned porticos, the building is a stunning example of Roman neoclassicism. (Don't know what that
is? Take a look at the back of a U.S. nickel to see a small engraving of Monticello.) Monticello's architectural and historical significance is so great that it
is the only American house on the United Nations' list of World Heritage sites that must be preserved at all costs.
The estate grounds make a nice place to wander as you wait for your tour of the house to begin. And wait you will if you come during the summer months when tourists
descend on the area as part of the ''three presidents''" tour. The staff recommends postponing your visit until September, when the gardens are just as beautiful
and the crowds much thinner. — Kim Mattingly (Photo: Courtesy of Monticello)
New Market –
Founded in 1793, New Market has become the "Antiques Capital of Maryland." In those horse-and-buggy days, the village's strategic location
on the Old National Pike made it a convenient stop for the high-wheeled, six-horse Conestoga wagons en route to the Ohio Country and beyond. Eight hotels
and taverns lining Main Street provided travelers with a night's lodging for a quarter and a glass of whiskey for a nickel. Behind the hotels were barns
and pens for livestock being herded to Baltimore markets. Wheelwrights, blacksmith shops, a tannery, button and shoe factories, and a wrought-iron nail
shop met the needs of the farming community and travelers.
All that is long gone, yet New Market retains its historic, small-town flavor. Today's travelers, adventurers and antique collectors are welcomed by bed and breakfast
country inns, restaurants and more than 30 antique shops. (Caution: Don't expect to find many open midweek, when New Market resembles a ghost town.) On weekends,
however, this town of 500 residents is jammed with visitors, and flags fly along Main Street indicating that shops are open.
Shenandoah National Park –
Stretching 80 miles along one of the highest sections of the famous Blue Ridge, Shenandoah National Park offers some of the most beautiful scenery
east of the Mississippi. The park's elevation varies from 600 feet at the northern end to 4,050 feet at Hawksbill in the south. The main feature of
the park is the Skyline Drive, which hugs the crest of the ridge. To the west are views of the rolling Shenandoah Valley, while to the east are panoramas
of fertile farmland far below the crest. The park is long and fairly narrow. Once you leave the crest, it becomes heavily wooded with a great variety
of tree species and the wildflowers abundant practically all year, especially from spring through fall. This chapter explains in detail how to tour
the park. In addition to a park map the details include driving tours, outdoor recreation, accommodations, campgrounds, dining, and more.
Colonial Williamsburg –
Colonial Williamsburg, offers a look back into history. Much of the entire Williamsburg area is a large scale recreation of what times were like during the early
years of America. Colonial Williamsburg sells it self as "the world's premier living history site, an entire town that has been restored to the days when
Williamsburg was the political and economic center of the Virginia colony". So, when you have seen all the actual history in the Fredericksburg region,
drive on down to Williamsburg to see the recreation of what early life was like.
Luray Caverns –
Luray Caverns offers an amazing look underground. The Carverns are one of several caverns located in the State. Lurary Caverns date back millions of years. Come
and visit this wonderful site. The caverns feature thousands of amazing stalactite and stalagmite formations. This is a must see.
Natural Bridge –
See one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. The bridge is over 100 million years old, stands 215 feet tall and is 90 feet wide at it's widest point. The
Natural Bridge was first surveyed by George Washington in 1750. In 1774, Thomas Jefferson purchased the bridge and the surrounding land, today, it still remains