Calvert County, the smallest of Maryland’s 24 subdivisions, may pack more tourism activities per square mile than any other in the state. Its visitor guide and website lay out a wide range of attractions, amusements, art galleries, beaches, and water-related activities that should appeal to all vacationers.
A true peninsula, Calvert offers 143 miles of shoreline on the Patuxtent River and the Chesapeake Bay that dictate its maritime heritage and its on-the-water fun.
Still quite rural and agricultural, and a place where tobacco once reigned as king, Calvert County is one of America’s oldest, founded in 1654. Today, it has a population of more than 91,000 people.
The location? That’s easy. From the Washington, D.C., Beltway’s southeast section to the county line, it’s only 14 miles. Calvert County is 35 miles from top to bottom, with most attractions located in the middle or south.
Mid-county, about 4 miles from the town of Prince Frederick, the 500-acre Battle Creek Cypress Swamp Sanctuary treats visitors to a nature center and nature trail. It’s among the northernmost stands of the majestic creek cypress.
Active-minded visitors to Calvert County can check out wildlife viewing, nature walks, beaches, and swimming in nine parks.
The wooded, 1,460-acre Calvert Cliffs State Park remains the most popular destination for its beach, hiking, picnicking, fishing, and hunting for shark teeth and shell fossils.
Flag Ponds Nature Park offers a 500-acre recreational area that includes a Chesapeake Bay beach that is fun for fossil-hunting, a fishing pier, and trails leading to observation platforms at two ponds where visitors can check out the wildlife.
At the Annmarie Garden, take a walk and view the beautiful gardens, as well as the permanent collection of sculptures and those on loan. The Antique and Flea Faire, May 5–6, is a true “pickers’ weekend,” with more than 100 booths featuring antiques and collectibles.
Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum is among the best documented spots of continuous human habitation. It has 70 acres of archaeological sites and hiking, and a replica of an Indian village. The Maryland Archaeological Conservation Lab is there, too.
Insider tip: You can get your hands dirty in the lab or doing field work during Public Archaeology Days, Tuesdays through Saturdays in May and June.
St. Leonard’s Creek, off the park’s shoreline, was the site of a major naval battle conflict between the Americans and the British during the War of 1812.
Scenic bike rides
In Solomons, at the very tip of the county and the site of several attractions, you can rent a bike from Patuxent Adventure Center (or bring your own) for two scenic rides.
A linear route leads riders to the central district and the home of the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory. It also passes the Calvert Marine Museum.
A loop trail goes past residential areas, the Calvert Marina, and near the Solomons Naval Amphibious Training Base. There, visitors will find a bronze statue of a World War II sailor holding binoculars; during WWII, the Solomons area was used to train American troops for amphibious landings on foreign shores. The Solomons visitor center expands its hours from May 1 through Sept. 30 to six days a week, Wednesdays through Mondays, 10:00am–5:00pm.
If boating is your thing, choose a kayak for a water tour or pick the Patuxent River Heritage Tour to view sites of War of 1812 naval battles.
For pure pleasure, board The Tennison at Calvert Marine Museum in Solomons for a one-hour cruise around Solomons Harbor and the Patuxent River. The log-hulled vessel is a National Historical Landmark.
Calvert Co. Tourism: choosecalvert.com