A Trip Through 3 Centuries in 3 Days through 3 Counties

Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s Counties
A Trip Through 3 Centuries in 3 Days through 3 Counties

Discover Southern Maryland’s unique past – richly preserved in its numerous historic sites, dynamic museums and rural byways.

DAY ONE

Arrive at the Chesapeake Railway Museum in Calvert County to experience life in the early 1900s and the Chesapeake Beach Railway Co. & Amusement Park history detailed in photos and artifacts in the Railway’s only remaining station. Learn the role the Chesapeake Bay environment had in shaping the cultures of Bayside communities, from prehistoric to present times, at the Bay History Museum. Before you leave, take off your shoes and wade into the waters of the Chesapeake Bay at North Beach Public Beach or stroll along the boardwalk and wander into eclectic shops and enjoy lunch at one of the restaurants serving mouthwatering seafood delicacies in this quaint seaside town. Traveling south to see the northernmost natural range of bald cypress trees in the United States at Battle Creek Cypress Swamp Sanctuary. Then ESCAPE TO SOLOMONS ISLAND! Visit the Calvert Marine Museum, which traces the rich maritime history of life found in the Chesapeake Bay. Climb up through the hatch of the Drum Point Lighthouse, constructed in 1883. Beautifully restored, complete with furnishings of the era, it has become the waterfront’s main attraction. Tour the Joseph C. Lore & Sons Oyster House, a restored seafood-packing house that flourished during the boom & decline of the region’s commercial seafood industries. Take a short cruise around the harbor on the historic “bugeye” boat, the Wm. B. Tennison and build up an appetite for dinner. After checking into a local hotel, have dinner at any number of waterside restaurants.

DAY TWO

Take a drive over the scenic Thomas Johnson Bridge to St. Mary’s County and travel south to Historic St. Mary’s City, the first permanent settlement in Maryland and Maryland’s first capital. The “city” is now one of the nation’s premier outdoor history museums and archeological parks. While there, get into the spirit of early colonial life with a visit to the Godiah Spray Plantation and the Maryland Dove, a working replica of the square rigged schooner that carried the first colonists from England. Head to Lexington Park where you’ll find manylunch choices, then visit the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum, one of the few official Navy museums. Explore the outdoor air park and test your mettle in a navy flight trainer. Travel a few miles north and several centuries back in time to Sotterley Plantation along the Patuxent River. Tour the rambling manor house and the colorful gardens. It’s just a few miles to Leonardtown for late afternoon shopping in the town’s shops and galleries, wine tasting at the Port of Leonardtown Winery and dinner at one of town’s numerous dining spots. After dinner, stroll the town’s waterfront park along Breton Bay. Spend the night at Leonardtown’s in-town hotel or chose lodging at one of the county’s B&Bs or hotels.

DAY THREE

Travel north to the Dr. Samuel A. Mudd House in Charles County. This early Victorian farmhouse was once home of Dr. Mudd, the physician who treated the broken leg of John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of President Abraham Lincoln. This site is included on Maryland’s Civil War Trail project entitled, “John Wilkes Booth: Escape of an Assassin. While on the way to the museum, you will travel some of the escape route, passing by the old Bryantown Tavern where Booth and other Confederate sympathizers met to discuss their plans and St. Mary’s Catholic Church, where Dr. Mudd is buried. Lunch at The Crossing at Casey Jones Restaurant or the Royal Tea Room in LaPlata. Travel west to the Thomas Stone National Historic Site for a visit to Harberdeventure, the plantation home of Thomas Stone, one of Maryland’s four signers of the Declaration of Independence. Both Stone and his wife are buried here. This historic site is managed by the National Park Service and includes a Visitors Center that features exhibits and a gift shop. Continue west to the Historic District of Port Tobacco, once Maryland’s second largest seaport and listed on early World Maps. Originally the site of the Indian Village of Potopaco, Port Tobacco was the first county seat until it was moved to LaPlata in 1895. At the Port Tobacco Courthouse (open seasonally), costumed docents tell the story of this historic area from 1620 to the present. The Port Tobacco area was also home to several Confederate sympathizers during the Civil War. End your visit to the Southern Maryland area by catching a minor league baseball game at the new Regency Furniture Stadium, home of the Atlantic League’s Maryland Blue Crabs, or enjoy a Southern Maryland dining experience in Popes Creek or further down the road on Cobb Island at any one of our waterfront restaurants. Relax by the water while feasting on hot steamed crabs and shrimp, local oysters on the half shell or the fresh catch of the day!

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America’s First Freedom

National Scenic Byway

America’s First Freedom: A suggested two day itinerary for the Religious Freedom National Scenic Byway

DAY ONE

Begin where Maryland began in St. Mary’s County with a visit to Historic St. Mary’s City, the first permanent settlement in Maryland and the first capital of the colony. Tour this historic landmark to see Godiah Spray Plantation, the reconstructed Brick Chapel, and a replica of the Dove, the early vessel that carried the first colonists from England. Head north and enjoy lunch in charming Leonardtown, where a number of restaurants and tea rooms will be available. If you have time, tour the Old Jail Museum and stop by Tudor Hall, a 250 year old Colonial house that is home to the St. Mary’s County Historical Society and operates a genealogical center. Continue north and turn left on Route 238 to St. Clements Island where the settlers celebrated mass before moving on to found the capital. The displays inside the museum give a thorough history of the first landing and the Calvert family. If weather permits, take a water taxi out to the island and tour the Blackistone Lighthouse. Along the byway and its side tracks in St. Mary’s County are a number of historic churches, among them are: Trinity Church, St. Francis Xavier, Christ Church, St. George’s, All Faith Church, St. Andrews, St. Ignatius, Trinity, All Saint’s, Dent Chapel, St. Mary’s Chapel and at Historic St. Mary’s is the reconstructed Brick Chapel of 1667. Spend the night in one of the hotels or inns in St. Mary’s and the next day continue your journey by traveling to Charles County.

DAY TWO

Travel north to Historic District of Port Tobacco, the location of Maryland’s second largest seaport which was listed on early World Maps. Originally the site of the Indian Village of Potopaco, Port Tobacco was the first county seat until it was moved to La Plata in 1895. At the Port Tobacco Courthouse you can learn the story of this historic area from 1620 to the present. Travel west to the Thomas Stone National Historic Site for a visit to Haberdeventure, the plantation home of Thomas Stone, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. This historic site is managed by the National Park Service and includes a Visitors Center that features exhibits and a gift shop. In the town of La Plata are many restaurants and tearooms and while you enjoy your lunch break, decide whether to take the scenic drive north to Smallwood State Park, or to visit the Mt. Carmel Monastery, or to leave American History behind for a bit and sidetrack to Purse State Park to indulge in some fossil hunting along the Potomac River at Wades Bay. End your visit to the place where Maryland and Religious Freedom began with a relaxing dinner in Popes Creek where you can enjoy a waterfront view while feasting on hot steamed crabs and shrimp, local oysters on the half shell or the fresh catch of the day! In Charles County, the historic churches that are along the byway are: Old Durham Church, St. Ignatius Church, and Christ Church in Wayside.

For additional information about the sites listed here and other things to do along the Byway, visit one of our Welcome Centers where guides will help you find all the information you could wish for!

Planters and Plantations

Planters and Plantations

In 1634, early settlers established St. Mary’s City along the banks of the beautiful St. Mary’s River. By the late 17th century, the colony had grown and outlying plantations thrived along the creeks and rivers which formed the economic lifelines to the Chesapeake Bay and the greater world beyond.

Start the day with a visit to Historic St. Mary’s City, Maryland’s premier outdoor living history museum. While there, board the Maryland Dove, for a working lesson on colonial seamanship. The original Dove carried the first colonists from England to Maryland. Experience the life and daily concerns of an early colonial family at the Godiah Spray Tobacco Plantation and learn how colonists interacted with Native Americans at the Yacomo Woodland Indian Hamlet. Don’t miss the great new exhibits including the Print Shop, St. John’s Site Museum and the 1667 Brick Chapel. End you visit to the 17th century with a stop at Farthing’s Ordinary Shop. Stop in historic Leonardtown for lunch at one of the several group-friendly restaurants, then travel up the road and into the 18th century at Sotterley Plantation. Enjoy the breathtaking panorama of the Patuxent River and tour the Manor House, a unique post-in-ground structure that boasts some of the finest Georgian-period woodwork in America. Hear the stories of generations of planters who called Sotterley home as well as those of the slaves at the Slave Cabin. Stroll the picturesque garden and peek into the numerous outbuildings.

Tobacco Trail

Tobacco Trail

Encounter the famous and infamous around and about Port Tobacco, once Maryland’s second largest seaport and today, a sleepy small town steeped in history.

Start the morning with a visit to Smallwood State Park and tour General William Smallwood House Museum (open Sundays in-season) at Marbury. Continue on to the Port Tobacco Historic District to tour Thomas Stone National Historic Site on Rose Hill Road. Thomas Stone was one of four Maryland signers of the Declaration of Independence, and he and family members are buried there in the family cemetery. Proceed a short distance to Port Tobacco, one of the oldest continuous settlements in the U.S. Visit the reconstructed Court House (open in-season). The center section of the building was destroyed by fire in 1892, and the Court House was restored between 1965 and 1973. Continue along the designated Religious Freedom Byway for a visit to St. Ignatius Catholic Church, one of the oldest active Jesuit Orders in the US. Take in the fabulous view of the Port Tobacco and Potomac Rivers from the historic cemetery. Then enjoy a crab lunch at one of our Popes Creek restaurants or continue on to the maritime village of Cobb Island. After lunch, proceed to the Dr. Samuel A. Mudd House, home of the physician who set the leg of John Wilkes Booth, assassin of President Lincoln. For a change of pace, catch an evening performance with the Port Tobacco Players or a minor league baseball game at the new Regency Furniture Stadium.

Savor Solomons

Calvert County

Escape to Solomons at the confluence of the Patuxent River and the Chesapeake Bay.  When commercial oyster canning was big business, the village of Solomons was a bustling place. Now, Solomons is seeing new life as visitors search for a taste of the “old” Chesapeake.

Start the day with a visit to the Calvert Marine Museum, which traces the rich maritime history and diversity of the Chesapeake Bay. Climb to the top of the Drum Point Lighthouse, a screwpile, cottage-type lighthouse beautifully restored. Accessible via shuttle from the museum, you can tour a piece of history at Cove Point Lighthouse, the oldest continuously working light in Maryland. To truly appreciate the setting and Solomons, take a leisurely cruise around the island in the Calvert Marine Museum’s “bug eye”, the Wm. B. Tennison. Back on shore, walk into the village for lunch at a waterside restaurant, then stroll along the Riverwalk that borders the Patuxent and wander through the gift shops and galleries. The last stop is a visit to Annmarie Garden, a thirty acre sculpture park and arts center.  Enjoy an exquisite collection of outdoor sculpture, much of it on loan from the Smithsonian Institute.  The new Arts Center features rotating exhibits, a gift shop and café.  With a busy calendar of programs, special events, and art classes, you will enjoy exploring this exceptional park.