Maryland is the perfect setting for your all-American Independence Day vacation. While visiting the “Old Line State”, you and your family can learn a little about the history of our great nation, and even visit the birthplace of the U.S. National Anthem. As for more outdoorsy recreation, take in some fresh air and breathtaking scenery during a whitewater rafting adventure. Book a stay at one of thousands of vacation rentals in Maryland, which range from spacious Victorian houses, to impressive waterfront condos and cabins. Whether you prefer to embark on an educational historic tour, enjoy the great outdoors, or both, here are the top places in Maryland to visit this Fourth of July.

1. Solomons Island

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Solomons Island is the perfect place to learn about Chesapeake Bay’s unique history and an even better place to spend a day by the shore. Stroll Riverwalk, or set sail for a day of fishing or just a leisurely cruise. The kids will love learning about ancient fossils at the Calvert Marine Museum and the whole family can finish the day with a delicious seafood dinner on the waterfront. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a table with a great view of the fireworks on July 4th between 9:15 and 9:30 pm.

2. Ocean City

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This iconic coastal town will be the perfect backdrop for your dream beach vacation. Head “down the ocean” for some fun int he sand, stroll the three-mile long boardwalk and definitely stop for a snack at Thrasher’s French Fries or Dumser’s Dairyland while your kids catch their thrill on the rollercoasters. Or, just dig your toes in the sand and listen to the crash of waves and calling gulls. July 4th is a busy weekend so make your plans in advance. Celebrations are happening all over town! There will be live music as well as fireworks spectacular from the Boardwalk to Fenwick Island. Compete in the Family Beach Olympics with events for all ages including a sand castle contest, tug-of-war, relay races and more. Best of all, all activities are free!

3. Fort McHenry

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What better place to celebrate Independence Day than the birthplace of The National Anthem? After the historic bombardment during the War of 1812, a young lawyer and amateur poet, Francis Scott Key, was so moved by the battle that he penned the poem that would become The National Anthem. Two years later, the Fort’s successful defense during the Battle of Baltimore in 1814 inspired the writing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” While you’re here, be sure to visit Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, and check out the interpretive programs, living history, special events like The Glorious Fourth!, An Old Fashioned Fourth of July at Fort McHenry. There will be fife-and-drum music, cannon firing, a musket salute for 18 states, period dancing and games, and a public reading of the Declaration of Independence.

4. Assateague Island

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On Assateague Island, you’ll find wild horses roaming the beaches. No one knows just how they got there more than 400 years ago, but they have since made this island iconic. This 37-mile long barrier island is also famous for its beautiful, pristine beaches and abundant birds. Camp by the ocean or pick a vacation rental with a view because you’ll never get sick of watching the majestic beasts gallop across the sand. programs. Get your kids involved with Assateague State park’s 4th of July Bike Parade. Decorate your bike with all things 4th of July and ride in the parade from the Ranger Station to the Nature Center. Prizes will be given for the best decorations as well as a hot dog to celebrate independence. The event is free and all ages are welcome!

5. Rocks State Park

rock formation
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It’s easy to forget how marvelous our great country really is, but Rocks State Park is here to remind you. Soak in nature’s stunning beauty in this majestic wooded wonderland. You’ll get spectacular views of the park’s lush forest at the “King and Queen’s Seat,” a 190-foot outcrop that was once a gathering place for the Susquehannock Indians and the second-highest vertical drop waterfall in Maryland. The park is also home to Kilgore Falls which offers fantastic fishing, swimming, hiking, and hunting.

6. C&O Canal

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When it was built, the 184.5 miles long Chesapeake and Ohio Canal was a marvel of engineering and a vital conduit for trade and travel, acting as a lifeline for communities along the Potomac River. Today, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park provides stunning vistas and a pastoral backdrop for hiking, biking, horseback riding and water sports like kayaking. Come for July 4th to celebrate Independence Day the way Americans did in the nineteenth century. There will be live ice cream making and boat rides on the festively decorated Charles F Mercer.

7. Baltimore Harbor

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There’s an endless amount of activities to see and do and Baltimore’s Harbor like the world-renowned National Aquarium, Maryland Science Center, Port Discovery Children’s Museum and The American Visionary Art Museum, and so much more. You’ll love the boutique shopping at Harbor East, Harborplace and The Gallery, and even the pickiest of eaters will be delighted with some of the best seafood in the country. Catch a game with the Orioles or Ravens, and definitely, do not leave without trying a crab cake. Celebrate Independence Day in the heart of downtown Baltimore at Greater Baltimore’s biggest Fourth of July celebration. At 7 pm, you can enjoy live music from the U.S. Navy Band Commodores at the Inner Harbor Amphitheater at Pratt and Light streets, and the fireworks show choreographed to patriotic and contemporary music, begins at 9:30 pm. For the best view of the fireworks, Top of the World Observation Level offers the Picnic at the Top from 7-9:30 pm. You can take in a 360-degree view of Baltimore along with family-fun activities, food, and beverages. Tickets cost $50 for adults and $30 for children ages 3-12.

8. Adventure Sports Center International

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Get ready for the ultimate outdoor family summer adventure! No matter what your skill level (we’re looking at you grandma), Adventure Sports Center International has got the thrill for you. ASCI offers rafting kayaking and river boarding with instruction for beginners on their safe, man-made rapids. For more advanced thrill-seekers, they also have a slalom course so challenging it hosted the 2014 International Canoe Federation World Championships. ASCI also offers hiking, biking, mountain geocaching, elite rock climbing and rappelling if you’re feeling a little waterlogged. No matter what type of adventure your family is seeking, ASCI has you covered!

9. National Harbor

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If you still love the water but don’t necessarily want to get in it, there are plenty of waterfront attractions to enjoy at National Harbor. From boating to culture, National Harbor has something for everyone. The kids will love riding the Capital Wheel, a climate-controlled gondola soaring 180 feet over the Potomac. Cozy up on a blanket every Sunday at 6 pm for Movies on the Potomac, taking movie night to a whole new level. Set out on a mini-voyage together in a four-seat pedal boat, or kayak, or stand up paddle board. Or, stroll the boardwalk and stop in Peeps & Company where your kids will be thrilled by all the classic and specialty flavors of Peeps, Mike and Ikes, and Hot Tamales lining the walls of this colorful store.

10. Historic St. Mary’s City

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Journey through history in this 17th-century colonial village which served as Maryland’s first capital. Tour an archaeological dig, mingle with living historians and get a taste of 17th-century life. The kids can play colonial games, wander through an Indian witch ott and then the plantation household will show you what’s growing in the kitchen garden and introduce you to heirloom livestock. It’ll be so fun, your kids won’t even know they’re learning!