Maryland has a plethora of beautiful state parks, both on the coast of the ocean and the Chesapeake bay, as well as inland. Here are a few of our favorites.
State Parks on the Water in Maryland
Elk Neck State Park
Elk Neck State Park is a gorgeous park along the Chesapeake with lots of birdwatching opportunities. You can also swim here if you are brave, though it’s not unheard of to come across a few dead fish, and the bottom is also quite rocky so you’ll need water shoes. There are restrooms with showers to rinse off afterwards.
Assateague State Park
Although wildlife is unpredictable, the chances are pretty good that you will see some horses if you visit Assateague State Park. If you go to the beach there, you may even see them enter the water for a little cool-down. You’re likely to find them strolling along the side of the roadway into the park in little groups with their foals, or even chilling in the parking lot. Watch out for plops. The trails are short and pretty as well, and sometimes you can see the tiny deer that live in the park. You will certainly see plenty of birds. Assateague State Park costs $5 per person (free for under ten years old).
Sandy Point State Park
If you’re wanting to swim, you can visit Sandy Point Park, which is a sandy beach area on the bay, almost under the Chesapeake Bay bridge. It has everything you need – there are restrooms, a playground, picnic tables and concessions. It does get crowded in the summer, especially on weekends!
Inland State Parks in Maryland
Patapsco Valley State Park
Patapsco is very easy to get to from I-95, and very close to Baltimore, so if you’re looking for a pretty stop on a road trip, this is a great one. It is fun to cross the swinging bridge and check out the ruins on the other side, and just across the parking lot on the other side you can follow a short, kid-friendly trail up to Cascade Waterfalls. There is plenty of parking, and you will pass restrooms, picnic tables and a playground on your way to the Avalon area where the bridge and waterfall are located.
Gunpowder Falls State Park
Gunpowder Falls State Park is another beautiful one, but it is enormous so you’ll probably want to do some planning before you visit. There are miles upon miles of trails, and wading in one of the rivers and tossing some rocks in is always a favorite activity for little ones. Although we put this under “Inland Parks,” there is an area of the park along the bay. If you want to swim in the bay, navigate to the Hammerman area. It is a large, clean area, with space to picnic on the grass, set up on the sand (water shoes not required), and take a swim in the bay. The water is often quite warm in the summertime, with little to no surf.
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.