7 Family-Friendly Things to do in Maryland

by author David Jones
7 Family-Friendly Things to do in Maryland

Known for its blue crabs, Old Bay seasoning, and being the headquarters of world-renowned sports footwear and apparel company Under Armour, Maryland is full of interesting sites and attractions that are fun for the entire family. The state has everything from resort towns like Ocean City to alpaca ranches in the countryside. No matter what your interests are, you can plan a memorable holiday that everyone from toddlers to the elderly will be talking about for years. If you’re planning your vacation itinerary, here are seven activities that are sure to blow everyone’s mind away.

Visit one of the state’s many theme and adventure parks.

Six Flags America Maryland

Six Flags America Maryland

Maryland has several theme and adventure parks, some of which are recognized nationally like Six Flags America, while others are family-owned hidden gems you shouldn’t miss. These parks feature an array of games, rides, roller coasters, shows, attractions, and separate areas with water rides and wave pools.  There’s usually something for everyone in Maryland’s parks: little ones can enjoy designated toddler areas filled with age-appropriate activities while those who are looking for a more tame time can spend their day playing mini-golf, lounging by the ‘beach’, or even opting for a round of paintball or laser tag. True adventurers are going to want to head straight to the tallest, fastest, roller coaster in the park, and Maryland has a fair share of thrill rides that’ll blow your mind. If you’re only there because the rest of the family voted on it, don’t worry; most of these adventure parks have designated adult zones complete with bars, fine dining, and lounges. Some of our favorite theme and adventure parks in Maryland include:

  • Adventure Park USA
  • Six Flags America
  • Urban Air Trampoline and Adventure Park
  • Jolly Roger Amusement Park/ Splash Mountain Water Park
  • The Adventure Park at Sandy Spring
  • Frontier Town Western Theme Park/ High Ropes Adventure Park
  • Trimper’s Rides
  • Field of Screams Maryland

Spend a day with the animals (farms, zoos, and aquariums).

National Aquarium in Baltimore

National Aquarium in Baltimore

Who doesn’t love spending a day watching friendly pandas play, hugging soft alpacas, or feeding a dangerous-looking alligator? Maryland has so many aquariums, farms, and zoos, and is even home to the National Aquarium in Baltimore. You can spend hours exploring these places, learning about different species, seeing what they eat and how they live. Particular favorites include watching the jellyfish at the aquarium and feeding the parakeets at Catoctin Wildlife Preserve. The entire family can also enjoy a tranquil day at Butler’s Orchard or one of the state’s many other family owned and operated farms where they can find fresh, local cuisine and yummy incomparably yummy baked goods. Some of the farms even have their own vineyard, if it’s a more adult beverage you’re craving. Some of our favorite farms, zoos, and aquariums in Maryland include:

  • National Aquarium
  • The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore
  • Bell House Alpaca Farm
  • Butler’s Orchard
  • Robin Hill Farm and Vineyard
  • Orchid Cellar Meadery and Winery
  • Plumpton Park Zoo
  • Catoctin Wildlife Preserve

Unwind at the beach.

Ocean City Maryland

Ocean City Maryland

One of the best parts of being located on the east coast is that Maryland has some of the best beaches you’ll come across on this side of the nation. Ocean City is by far the most famous beach in the state; the resort town has miles and miles of swimmable beach area, a boardwalk filled with restaurants and trinket shops, and even its very own theme park. There are tons of hotels and other accommodations to choose from, so if you plan on heading to Ocean City, plan in advance as it can get booked up pretty quickly. Other popular beaches include Sandy Point State Park and Rocky Point Park, both of which have an array of amenities ranging from boardwalks and famous restaurants to on-location campsites and water sports like jet skiing. Some of our favorite beaches in Maryland include:

  • Ocean City
  • Gunpowder Falls State Park Hammerman Area
  • Sandy Point State Park
  • Brownies Beach
  • Rocky Point Park and Beach
  • Sparrows Beach

Stay at a state park, whether it’s to hike a few hours or to camp overnight.

Susquehanna State Park Maryland

Susquehanna State Park Maryland

Speaking of camping, Maryland has some of the most breathtakingly beautiful campgrounds you’ll ever come across. Whether you want to wake up to views of mountains and lakes or dense forests and lush greenery, you’ll want to go camping in Maryland. There are over 50 general state parks, which combined, cover nearly a million acres. You’ll find these parks to have a number of amenities and features; in addition to campgrounds that range from basic to luxurious, you’ll also find miles and miles of walking trails, horseback riding trails, hunting ground, fishing spots, swimming holes, and biking paths. You can spend time out on the water since many of these parks also have boat launches and facilities to go canoeing or kayaking if you choose to. The parks don’t close during the winter months so get ready for some snowboarding and cross-country skiing. Some of our favorite state parks in Maryland include:

  • Patapsco Valley State Park
  • Susquehanna State Park
  • Rocks State Park
  • North Point State Park
  • Hart-Miller Island State Park
  • Gunpowder Falls State Park Hammerman Area
  • Seneca Creek State Park

Visit historic sites and attractions.

Antietam National Battlefield Maryland

Antietam National Battlefield Maryland

History buffs will fall head over heels as they explore one of the thirteen original colonies. Maryland is home to several historic sites and attractions, being the birthplace of The Star-Spangled Banner and all. In addition to many of the nation’s most important civil rights leaders being born in the Old Line State, Maryland was also the site of some of the most significant battles such as the Battle of Antietam fought during the Civil War. You’ll be able to see national shrines, colonial towns, and much more dedicated to the state that helped shape our nation. Some of our favorite historic sites and attractions in Maryland include:

  • Antietam National Battlefield
  • USS Constellation
  • Maryland State House
  • B&O Railroad Museum
  • S. Naval Academy Museum
  • Fort McHenry
  • Fort Frederick
  • Mary’s City
  • Benjamin Banneker Historical Park and Museum
  • Star-Spangled Banner Flag House

Play your cards right at the casino.

Live! Casino & Hotel Maryland

Live! Casino & Hotel Maryland

Though nearby states such as Delaware or New Jersey may have had a longer history with casinos, Maryland joined them in 2008 and soon became the home of several big-name casinos in the industry. You can pass some time at slot machines or go big at the tables – whatever you prefer, you’ll find it in one of the state’s many Atlantic City-style gaming establishments. You’ll find these 24/7 destinations to have all the light, bling, and enthusiasm you’re looking for to spice up a weekend with a loved one or a group of friends. In addition to the never-ending slot machines and table games, these casinos also have tons of other family-friendly entertainment options like performances and concerts, comedy acts, and magic shows. Let’s not forget the award-winning dining establishments housed within these casinos such as Gordon Ramsay’s Steak and Guy Fieri’s Kitchen + Bar. Some of our favorite casinos in Maryland include:

  • Live! Casino & Hotel
  • Horseshoe Casino
  • Hollywood Casino
  • MGM National Harbor

Attend a sporting event.

Oriole Park at Camden Yards Maryland

Oriole Park at Camden Yards Maryland

Home of NFL champions, the Baltimore Ravens, and stars of the MLB, the Baltimore Orioles, you are definitely going to run across purple or orange marketing while in Maryland. The state is so proud of their teams and you’ll see them being supported whole-heartedly in bars and restaurants, grocery stores, retail shops, and in billboards across the state. In addition to these national-level sporting teams, Maryland is also home to several college-level athletes that have won the hearts of people across the nation – especially from the Maryland Terrapins basketball teams! Don’t miss an opportunity to attend a sporting event while in Maryland, and even if you can’t go to the stadium, head to a local restaurant or watering hole to really get into the enthusiastic feel of it all. Some of our favorite stadiums in Maryland include:

  • Oriole Park at Camden Yards
  • M&T Bank Stadium
  • FedEx Field
  • Baltimore Arena
  • Pimlico Race Course
  • Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium

Museums, Museums, Museums!

Baltimore Museum of Art Maryland

Baltimore Museum of Art Maryland

You’ll find enlightening exhibits for visitors of all ages in Maryland no matter if your interests range from art and history to science or maritime culture. You can marvel at the stars in one of the largest planetariums in the area or put the theories of Sir Isaac Newton into practice at the Maryland Science Center. Or you can spend your day going back to the 1950s at the themed diner in Port Discovery Children’s Museum – contrary to the name, even adults will love all the hands-on things to do here! While some of these museums are extremely popular, others on our list may be some hidden gems that the locals try to keep for themselves. You’ll be sure to find a museum, or even many museums, that the entire family will love spending time at while in Maryland. Some of our favorite museums in Maryland include:

  • Baltimore Museum of Art
  • Port Discovery Children’s Museum
  • Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum
  • Maryland Science Center
  • College Park Aviation Museum
  • Deep Lake Discovery Center
  • African Art Museum of Maryland
  • American Visionary Arts Museum
  • Walters Art Museum

Eat to your heart’s content.

Thrasher’s French Fries Maryland

Thrasher’s French Fries Maryland

No trip to Maryland is complete without feasting on some of the fabulous food this east coast state offers. Maryland-style crab cakes are famous across the U.S., so why would you come to the state and not have the dish it’s most famous for? Seafood, in general, is a big part of the state’s cuisine and you’ll find steamed crabs, fresh seafood, and of course, Old Bay seasoning, in almost every corner you go to. In fact, don’t forget to take some of the Old Bay seasoning back with you because you’ll want to put it on everything from your fries to chicken wings. Some of our iconic foods include Thrasher’s French Fries, Utz Crab Chips, and pit beef – a Maryland creation comprising a seasoned and grilled roast, crispy on the outside and rare on the inside, often served on a roll topped with grilled onions and horseradish. Some of our favorite restaurants in Maryland include:

  • Thrasher’s French Fries
  • Chap’s Pit Beef
  • Miss Shirley’s Cafe
  • Black Hog BBQ
  • Salty Dog’s Crab House
  • Dangerously Delicious Pies
  • Lewnes’ Steakhouse

With such a variety of natural parks, beaches, museums, restaurants, and more, it’s no wonder why Maryland is one of the most visited states on the east coast. Popular destinations such as Ocean City and the historic district of Annapolis have attracted people from far and wide for a fun-filled vacation with the family. If you have to find yourself in the Old Line State, head to some of these places and let us know what you think in the comments below.