It’s only been two years since I moved to Maryland with my family from 2,000 miles away. But we wanted to feel at home as fast as possible, so we began to acquaint ourselves with our new state by traveling around, learning, seeing, and experiencing as much as we could.
Now, we’ve been no slouches and have seen much of what this great state has to offer regarding family outings, nature, history, charm, and culture (especially in researching articles for Maryland Road Trips). But we still have plenty of gaps—glaring ones even—of some obvious places, or maybe not so obvious ones, on our Maryland map that we hope to remedy by visiting in 2024. Here are my top six bucket list picks for where I want to go and what I want to see, taste, and experience this year in the Old Line State. As always, I rely on MRT to help me know what to know and where to go. Happy travels, see you out there!
Crack Crabs in Crisfield
It may come as a shock, but I haven’t yet had the quintessential Maryland meal. You know, the kind that involves little wood mallets, butcher-paper-covered tables, and steamed blue crabs by the bucketful?
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Luckily, when it comes to the best places to crack into everyone’s favorite crustacean, MRT has done the work to point me in the right direction. I hope to make it to Crisfield, the Crab Capital of the World, to get elbow-deep in exoskeleton and J.O. Seasoning.
Scramble Along the Billy Goat Trail in Potomac
The Billy Goat Trail is one of the places on my 2024 bucket list I’ve been to before, but not when I had a kid of my own. Now that I have a little buddy who loves a good rock scramble as much as I do, revisiting the Billy Goat Trail is at the top of my list!
Naturally, as the trailhead is in the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park at Great Falls, watching daring kayakers and taking in the pristine natural beauty is a given.
What we haven’t experienced yet is nearby Glen Echo Park; we may need to make a detour to more adventures on the way home.
Sip Bloody Marys in Ocean City
Ocean City: the place where everyone who’s been has no fewer than 807 opinions about it. The cacophony of hot takes has only strengthened my resolve to experience Ocean City firsthand. Of course, the legendary Thrasher’s french fries are waiting, as well as riding the tide of humanity along OC’s boardwalk. But my eye will be on the prize as Old Bay Bloody Marys with an entire seafood feast as the “garnish” will beckon me away from the throngs to find my mid-Atlantic beachside bliss. You know the one.
Obviously, I plan on doing much more than day-drink a spicy cocktail. I have a kid, after all, and I look forward to OC’s many family-friendly experiences. Pedaling a surrey seems like the perfect way to cruise down the beach, and saying “hi” to the horses of Assateague Island is a definite must.
Let Them Eat Cake on Smith Island
If I make it to Crisfield and don’t at least try to go the extra mile (OK, twelve miles…by boat) to Smith Island to try the official state dessert in its location of origin, then I’m not sure I can consider myself a travel writer!
Sure, there’s more to do there than eat cake, like kayak across marshes or enjoy a nature walk in quiet solitude without a car in sight, but who wouldn’t want to dive into the many layers of yellow cake and chocolate icing that is Smith Island Cake?
Take the Scenic Line from Cumberland to Frostburg
There’s something about the Rust Belt vibe from places like Cumberland amidst a gorgeous hilly landscape that calls to me. Plus, I love a good train town, so Cumberland and the rest of “Mountain Maryland” are beckoning to me.
What better way is there, then, to take in the Appalachian vistas in this region if not from a passenger car on the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad? With various kinds of themed train rides throughout the year, including a wintery Polar Express, the trick will be deciding when to go.
Channel a Poet’s Ghost in Baltimore
I tried going to Baltimore to see the Poe House a decade ago, only to find it was indefinitely closed. I’m thrilled to see it open again for reserved tours! I am ready for a Poe-themed Baltimore excursion, as I came to Maryland already obsessed with the local writer of macabre renown.
I also want to visit his final resting place at the Westminster Burial Ground and head to Fells Point to sip a cognac at The Horse You Came In On Saloon, just like ol’ Edgar did right before he died. (Hold the death for me, please, bartender.) Who knows, I might even get a chance to write about all things Poe in Baltimore and beyond for Maryland Road Trips. Stay tuned!
There they are—my top bucket list picks winnowed down from a much longer list of what I want to see, taste, and experience in the Old Line State. Whether I get to them all remains to be seen, but what are travel aspirations if not a little unrealistically ambitious? We all need something to strive for in pursuit of enjoying all Maryland has to offer its intrepid road trippers! Cracking crabs, however? Now, that’s nonnegotiable.
Lead Photo Credit: The Crab Place
About the Author
New to exploring Maryland, Joseph is always searching for that unexpected gem in unassuming places. From forgotten corners in big cities, to hidden historical markers in the middle of nowhere, he wants to find them all, and hit up every small town, museum, craft brewery and point of interest in between.