Maryland is one of the smallest states in the United states, but it’s home to the nation’s capital and many other renowned attractions like Fort McHenry and the National Aquarium. There are also numerous hidden gems within its borders. After settling into your Maryland vacation rental, venture out to explore these unforgettable secret spots.

1. Weverton Cliffs on the Appalachian Trail

weverton cliffs
Source: Flickr/kirybabe

Perched at the southern tip of South Mountain, more than 500 feet above the Potomac River, Weverton Cliffs in central Maryland is easily one of the state’s most scintillating viewpoints. Less than a one mile hike up the famed Appalachian Trail from the small community of Weverton, this lookout point is also easily accessible.

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2. Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, Lothian

jug bay wetlands
Source: Flickr/Danielle Brigida

This stunning sanctuary consists of 1,700 acres of open water, marshes, wetlands, and more. Their mission is to create awareness and education of estuary conservation, and with over 15 miles of trails and boardwalks, this is one of the most serene outdoor experiences in Maryland.

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3. Rock State Park, Jarrettsville

kilgore falls
Source: Flickr/M F Flaherty

Rock State Park is located in northern Harford County, only about 30 miles north of Baltimore. Pets are allowed in the park so bring Fido along too! There are three main areas to explore, The White Trail Loop, the Falling Branch, and the Hidden Valley. The main attractions here are the King and Queen Seat, a spectacular 190-foot high rock outcrop overlooking Deer Creek, and Kilgore Falls.

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4. Belmont Manor and Historic Park, Elkridge

belmont manor
Source: Flickr/Preservation Maryland

This Howard County-owned mansion was built in 1738 as the home to Caleb and Priscilla Dorsey. Passed down through generations, the manor was eventually bequeathed to the Smithsonian Institute. Sitting on 68 acres of rolling hills and picturesque grounds, Belmont features lush gardens, historic outbuildings and a nature center in the carriage house. Check their calendar for fun events like ghost tours, movie nights, and afternoon teas.

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5. Ladew Topiary Gardens, Monkton

ladew topiary gardens
Source: Flickr/Amaury Laporte

Home to some of the most beautiful depictions of art in nature, Ladew Topiary Gardens has been named one of the “10 incredible topiary gardens around the world” by Architectural Digest. Meander through the 22 acres of Gardens, tour the historic Manor House, visit the seasonal Butterfly House, or hike along the Nature Walk. It opens in April every year, but there are several events available year round. Weather permitting, the entire Gardens are open on even days during the off season.

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6. Forest Haven Asylum, Fort Meade

forest haven asylum
Source: Flickr/Will Fisher

Forest Haven Asylum was once one of the most deadly institutions in the Unites States, and it’s located in Maryland! Opened in 1925 to serve residents of the District of Columbia, Forest Haven was once a beacon of progress and quality. However, by the 1960s, funding started to dry up and things at the asylum began to get worse and worse. Patients were abused and eventually began dying of neglect and related causes. The buildings still stand, and thousands of people visit the abandoned ruins each year.

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7. Fort McHenry, Baltimore

fort cannons on display

This five-pointed fort is primarily known for the Battle of Baltimore during the War of 1812, when American troops stopped a British invasion. That battle served as the inspiration for Francis Scott Key’s “The Star Spangled Banner,” which later became the National Anthem. This spectacular embodiment of the spirit of America offers some pretty inspiring views of the Inner Harbor. Plus, the fort’s grassy hills topped with cannons provide a lovely backdrop for its historic brick buildings. It’s open most days for a visit and is a must-see for any history fans.

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8. Dan’s Rock, Cresaptown / Bel Air

dans rock graffiti
Source: Flickr/Erin Eve

Located in Western Maryland, Dan’s Rock is the perfect spot to take in a breathtaking view and be one with nature. Unheard of by most Marylanders, Dan’s Rock overlooks the 20 mile Potomac Valley, and ranks among the best summits with expansive views in the state of Maryland. There are no hiking trails to get to the top, only a summit road leading to a 50 foot vertical rocky scramble. There is a section around the other side of the rock where some great bouldering can happen. Getting to the top might be a challenge, but it’s definitely worth the visit.

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9. St. Michaels

st michaels harbor area
Source: Flickr/Lee Cannon

St. Michaels is a picturesque harbor on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and was named as one of the Top 10 Best Small Coastal Towns in America by USA Today. The harbor and some of the homes date all the way back to the mid-1600s! The St. Michaels area is perfect for outdoor activities including sailing on historic Skipjacks, kayaking, golfing and bicycling. Once you’ve built up your appetite, dine in one of St. Michaels’ exceptional restaurants serving fresh seafood including the best tasting crab cakes. For overnight lodging, this charming historic town offers vacation rentals in addition to many small inns and several larger full-service hotels.

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10. George Peabody Library, Baltimore

inside the george peabody library

Within the Peabody Institute of Music in Baltimore lies a research library and event venue that contains more than 300,000 titles. Oddly enough, none of the books are related to music, but the collection is open to the public for perusal. You probably won’t be gawking only at the books. The George Peabody Library is widely recognized as one of the most beautiful library spaces in the world. The stack room contains five tiers of ornamental cast-iron balconies, which rise dramatically to the skylight 61 feet above the floor.

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