While we usually think of the coastal state of Maryland as a place to go for crab dinners, views of the Chesapeake Bay, and swims in the Atlantic, these two landlocked counties in Northern Maryland have a lot of family fun to offer as well. Here are a few of our favorite destinations.
Washington Monument State Park
Wherever there’s a tower to climb and a view to be seen, we’re interested. This one is great because the climb up the hill to the tower from the parking lot is short and sweet – My soon to be two year old did it on her own, but I’d say we all raised our hear rates for a few minutes, so it was a win-win. It intersects with the Appalachian trail, which is always fun.
The tower I’m referring to is the monument itself. It is enclosed with windows so no risk of anybody falling out. (Am I the only person that worries about this every time we climb a tower?) There is also a playground and restrooms, so this park was a hit for us.
The hike up to Weverton Cliffs is what hiking people call “moderate” and what my family calls “challenging.” We had to leave the weak ones behind (I’m referring to our two year old). But, it was tough on the younger kids too.
Still, it was a lot of fun to scramble over rocks and roots and come out sweaty and tired to a lovely view of the Potomac, and cliffs are always interesting to look at. I was struck by the trees that seem to grow at odd angles directly out of rock, their roots intertwined with the cliffs. You can get way out to the cliff’s edge (and fall to your death if you’re being too risky with the selfies), so please exercise caution.
The Roads and Rails Museum
This is a fun roadside type of stop in Frederick, MD, at least if you have a train fan. And what family with small children doesn’t have at least one train fan?? It is not a train museum with actual trains, but rather a model train museum with bazillions of details including an amusement park, drive in theater, factories, and much more.
There is also a very impressive Lego room (Again, what family with small children doesn’t like Legos? All of the parents, obviously, because you step on them. But luckily, these Legos are not on the floor.) You can also get some glimpses of Thomas the Tank Engine for the fans in your house.
Crystal Grottos Caverns
Take a 30 minute tour of the caves for about $20/adult, $10/kid over 3 years old, and just enjoy the view and the creepy darkness at the end. (You know, when they turn all the lights off so you can see how it feels not to literally not be able to see your hand in front of your face). I like it better in the lights on.
The plethora of stalactites and stalagmites are really quite beautiful. They glisten deliciously (seriously, it makes me want to take a bite), and form all kinds of crazy shapes, including but not limited to: bacon, potato chips, and popcorn. I told you they look delicious.
Harper’s Ferry, WV
Lastly, it’s easy to pop over to Harper’s Ferry, WV, from either of these counties, and check two other states off your list. This historical town is right at the borders of West Virginia, Maryland and Virginia. You can take a shuttle (for about 5-10 mins) down to the town and walk up to “the Point” where the Shenandoah River, C&O Canal, and the Potomac Rivers intersect, and you can see all three states, which is neat-o for all geography dorks.
There are lots of historical buildings including famous abolitionist John Brown’s fort, and you can climb hundreds of steps up to Jefferson’s rock (where Thomas Jefferson supposedly sat and thunk smart thoughts).