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Flowering trees, azaleas and tulips in Sherwood Garden, Baltimore, Maryland© VisualFieldFlowering trees, azaleas and tulips in Sherwood Garden, Baltimore, Maryland
© VisualField
Lots of small places claim to have a lot to offer, but in Maryland it's really true. Even though it's one of the smallest states (it ranks 42nd in size), it has both the Allegheny Mountains and a small stretch of Atlantic waterfront, as well as history galore.

The state was founded in 1634, when 140 settlers came ashore in southern Maryland. Today, you can visit Historic St. Mary's City, a living history museum, to visit a reconstructed 17th-century plantation and ship.

During the War of 1812, Francis Scott Key spotted an American flag flying above Baltimore's Fort McHenry and penned "The Star-Spangled Banner." You can now find out more about those times at a museum at the fort. Another key military site is Antietam National Battlefield in Sharpsburg in western Maryland, where 23,100 soldiers died during the Civil War's (and America's) bloodiest day, September 17, 1862.

On a happier note, Maryland entrepreneurs were also some of the first people in the U.S. to make umbrellas and wholesale ice cream, and you can learn all about that and more at the Baltimore Museum of Industry.

Marylanders love history—after all, the state sport is jousting—but there's more to Maryland than the past. Each May, the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore hosts the Preakness Stakes, the second horse race in the Triple Crown. Major League Baseball fans take in games at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Music aficionados patronize the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

Civil War cannons in row, Antietam Battlefield, Sharpsburg, Maryland© Geoffrey KucheraCivil War cannons in row, Antietam Battlefield, Sharpsburg, Maryland
© Geoffrey Kuchera
It's almost impossible to visit Maryland without trying its famous blue crabs, served whole or cooked into a tasty crab cake. One of the best places to sample fresh seafood is in one of the scenic towns along the Chesapeake Bay, America's biggest estuary. With its secluded inlets and brisk breezes, the bay is also popular with sea kayakers, bass fishers and sailors.

by Laura Byrne Paquet

Stock Photos from 123RF

Stock Photos from 123RF