Antietam National Battlefield - Sharpsburg, MD

Antietam National Battlefield serves as a reminder of one of the deadliest days in American history and a pivotal turning point in the American Civil War. The battlefield commemorates the Battle of Antietam, fought on September 17, 1862 which led to the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln freeing enslaved individuals in Confederate-held territories. 

The park features well-preserved historical structures, including the Dunker Church and the Pry House Field Hospital Museum, a visitor center housing exhibits, artifacts, and informative displays that provide context to the battle, the leaders involved, and the significance of the Emancipation Proclamation. Ranger-led programs and tours are available, providing in-depth historical perspectives and engaging narratives about the battle's unfolding events. 

Antietam National Battlefield was designated on August 30, 1890 and is one of the first to receive such a designation.

Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area - WV, MD

The Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area protects an area of sixteen counties spread throughout West Virginia's central Appalachian Highlands and two counties in western Maryland. Its aims are to "conserve, enhance, interpret, and promote a regional network of forest heritage resources." The AFNHA is a non-profit organization that works alongside the National Park Service, along with local communities to organize events, promote local tourism, and conserve the Appalachian forest, among other things. You can read more on the official AFNHA  website here.

Appalachian National Scenic Trail - CT, GA, MA, MD, ME, NC, NH, NJ, NY, PA, TN, VA, VT, WV

Appalachian Trail Tennessee

One of America's most famous trails, the Appalachian National Scenic Trail stretches an incredible 2,180 miles and runs nearly the entire length of the eastern United States from Maine to Georgia. The trail was constructed by private citizens and completed in 1937. Today, the trail is maintained by several federal and state agencies as well as volunteer groups.

Click here for more information on the Appalachian National Scenic Trail.

Assateague Island National Seashore - MD, VA

Lyndon B. Johnson designated Assateague Island National Seashore in 1965 preserving a remarkable coastal sanctuary located on the Delmarva Peninsula. This pristine barrier island is renowned for its diverse ecosystems, including sandy beaches, salt marshes, maritime forests, and shallow bays. Visitors can enjoy stunning beaches, birdwatching and wildlife, and see the famous Chincoteague ponies, a herd of feral horses that have roamed the island for centuries. The Park is also ideal for boating, kayaking, and fishing.

Baltimore National Heritage Area - MD

Baltimore National Heritage Area is a tribute to the rich history and cultural heritage of Baltimore, Maryland and  encompasses a diverse array of historic neighborhoods, museums, and cultural sites that tell the story of Baltimore's role in American history.

The heritage area includes landmarks like Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture among many others.

The Baltimore National Heritage Area was designated on November 6, 2009 by President Barack Obama.

Baltimore-Washington Parkway - Washington D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland, MD

With stops like the U.S. National Arboretum and the Smithsonian museumsThe Baltimore-Washington Parkway showcases a blend of natural beauty, historical landmarks, and accessibility to cultural attractions in both Washington D.C. and Baltimore. It not only serves as a key transportation route but also holds significance for its design and construction during the Great Depression. 

The parkway offers scenic views of the Patuxent Research Refuge, opportunities for picnicking, hiking, and fishing and access to various historic sites and attractions. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Parkway into law on October 28, 1940.

Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail - VA, MD, DE, DC, PA, NY

The Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail explores the stories, people, and landscapes documented by John Smith and his crew as they set out to map 3,000 miles of the Chesapeake area between 1607 and 1609. Today, you can still explore these areas, and popular activities include visiting Jamestown Island, boating, paddling, or canoeing the waters of the Chesapeake, sailing, learning about 17th-century America at a historical park, or just viewing the wildlife. There are literally hundreds of sites, hikes, and places to visit along the trail.

The Chesapeake National Historic Trail makes its way through parts of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Washington D.C., Pennsylvania, and New York. For more information about places to visit along the trail, visit the official website here. The trail is managed in partnership by the National Park Service and the Chesapeake Conservancy.

Catoctin Mountain Park - Thurmont, MD

Catoctin Mountain Park is a picturesque national park located in northern Maryland encompassing a portion of the Catoctin Mountain range. This area was originally chosen for its recreational potential, and the Works Progress Administration (WPA) played a significant role in developing the park's infrastructure during the Great Depression. 

The park boasts a network of hiking trails, with scenic overlooks and waterfalls that provide opportunities for hiking, birdwatching, and wildlife observation. The popular Cunningham Falls Trail leads to the state park's namesake, Cunningham Falls, the largest cascading waterfall in Maryland.

The park is also home to Camp David, the former presidential retreat known for Presidential vacations and hosting foreign dignitaries.

Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park - DC, MD, WV

The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal runs for 185 miles, and for over 100 years has connected people and places along the Potomac River with goods and services. Today, visitors can see many of these historical places along the route, as well as hike, camp, fish, and tour along the canal. There are several Visitor Centers and Park Passport Stamp locations along the canal. The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park also connects to three major trails that are part of the U.S. National Trails System:  The Potomac Heritage Trail, the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, and the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail.

Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park was established in 1961 by President Eisenhower as a National Monument and then later designated as a National Historical Park in 1971 by President Nixon. For a list of events and activities, be sure to check out the park calendar here.

Chesapeake Bay - Chesapeake Bay Watershed, DC, DE, MD, NY, PA, VA, WV

Chesapeake Bay and its watershed encompasses 64,000 square miles of area and is the largest estuary in the United States. In 2009 by Presidential Executive Order, a broad plan was put in place to protect Chesapeake Bay and to help preserve and restore the area for future generations. With the help of other organizations, along with the National Park Service, the strategy includes the addition of 300 new public access sites by 2025, while conserving an additional 2,000,000 acres.

Visitor Centers for the park are located at the Zimmerman Center for Heritage in Wrightsville, PA, Columbia Crossing in Columbia, PA, and Sultana Education Foundation in Chestertown, MD. See for information on things to do.

Civil War Defenses of Washington - Washington D.C., MD, VA

The Civil War Defenses of Washington highlights the extensive system of fortifications and defensive works built to protect the nation's capital during the American Civil War. These defenses encircled Washington, D.C. and played a critical role in safeguarding the capital from potential Confederate threats. 

The site features well-preserved remnants of the defensive works, including forts and earthworks, which offer insights into the challenges of defending the capital during the Civil War. The Civil War Defenses of Washington Heritage Trail, a self-guided driving tour, takes visitors to key points of interest within the defense system, allowing them to learn about the various fortifications and the role they played in the war.

The park offers numerous interpretive programs and a visitor center with informative exhibits and displays that provide historical context. The Park was designated on September 22, 1977 by President Jimmy Carter.

Clara Barton National Historic Site - Glen Echo , MD

The Clara Barton National Historic Site is a poignant tribute to the life and humanitarian work of Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross. The site commemorates the former home and headquarters of Barton and her work as a pioneering nurse, humanitarian, and advocate for the wounded and suffering during the American Civil War. Her tireless efforts and dedication to humanitarian causes continue to inspire and serve as a testament to the impact one individual can have on society.

The Park features the Clara Barton House, which served as her home for the last 15 years of her life. It's furnished with original items, providing a glimpse into Barton's life and work. The visitor center offers informative exhibits and interpretive displays that detail her remarkable career, including her role as a Civil War nurse, her work in establishing the American Red Cross, and her humanitarian efforts.

Fort Foote Park - Oxon Hill, MD

Located along the Potomac River in Maryland, Fort Foote Park is home to the remnants of Fort Foote, a Civil War-era coastal defense fort that played a crucial role in safeguarding the nation's capital. Constructed between 1863 and 1865, Fort Foote served as a formidable installation, armed with heavy artillery and designed to protect the city from Confederate naval attacks and provide defense for the Potomac River.

The park features a range of interpretive displays and exhibits that detail the fort's history and its role in the defense of Washington, D.C. The site also boasts a number of original cannons and gun emplacements that were once instrumental in protecting the nation's capital.

Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine - Baltimore, MD

Designated as a national monument on March 3, 1925 by President Calvin Coolidge, Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine is an iconic symbol of American resilience and played a pivotal role during the War of 1812 when British forces attempted to capture the city and Fort McHenry. The fort's successful defense and the inspiring sight of the American flag flying over it during the Battle of Baltimore inspired Francis Scott Key to write "The Star-Spangled Banner," which later became the national anthem of the United States.

A highlight of visiting the Fort is the daily flag-raising ceremony. Guests can also enjoy well-preserved earthworks, historic structures, and interactive exhibits exploring the daily life of the soldiers who served there and the crucial role Fort McHenry played in American history. The visitor center offers informative displays and a comprehensive film that tells the story of the fort's role in the defense of Baltimore.

The Fort also offers ranger-led programs, living history demonstrations, and special events throughout the year.

Fort Washington Park - Fort Washington, MD

Fort Washington Park preserves the remnants of Fort Washington, a vital coastal defense fort constructed in the early 19th century. The fort played a crucial role in safeguarding the nation's capital during the Civil War and World War II. The park offers various activities for visitors, including hiking trails that lead to beautiful vistas of the Potomac River and the National Harbor. There are also picnic areas and opportunities for birdwatching and wildlife observation in the park's natural surroundings.

George Washington Memorial Parkway - Washington D.C., MD, VA

The George Washington Memorial Parkway is a scenic and historic parkway that stretches along the Potomac River in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. This parkway serves as a tribute to the nation's first president, George Washington, and offers a blend of natural beauty, historic sites, and recreational opportunities. 

The parkway provides access to a number of iconic sites including Mount Vernon, the former home of George Washington.

Glen Echo Park - Glen Echo, MD

Glen Echo Park is a historic cultural and artistic hub located in Glen Echo, Maryland. Originally established in the late 19th century as a trolley park, it transformed into a thriving amusement park before becoming the arts and cultural center that it is today.

The park features art studios, galleries, and performance spaces, and the historic Dentzel Carousel, built in 1921. Visitors can take a ride on this beautifully restored, hand-carved carousel that represents a slice of American amusement park history.

Greenbelt Park - Greenbelt, MD

Greenbelt Park offers a peaceful and scenic retreat from the hustle and bustle of the nation's capital. The Park's history is closely tied to the New Deal era and the creation of Greenbelt, one of three "greenbelt towns" built as part of the Resettlement Administration's efforts to provide affordable housing during the Great Depression.

Numerous hiking trails run throughout the Park, providing opportunities for picnicking, birdwatching, and wildlife observation. The paved Perimeter Trail is a popular choice for both hikers and bicyclists, and a family-friendly campground is ideal for accessing the Park's trails.

Hampton National Historic Site - Towson, MD

Hampton National Historic Site preserves the former estate of the Ridgely family, one of Maryland's wealthiest and influential families during the 18th and 19th centuries. The Hampton Mansion, a neoclassical architectural gem, served as a center for culture and society during its heyday.

Explore this Georgian and neoclassical masterpiece with its opulent rooms, period furnishings, and decorative arts that provide insight into the lifestyle of the Ridgely family and the enslaved individuals who labored there. The mansion is open for guided tours, allowing visitors to step back in time and appreciate the grandeur of this historic home.

Harmony Hall - Prince George's County, MD

Harmony Hall reflects the rich history of the early 18th-century colonial plantation known as "Sincerity" and the subsequent ownership of prominent individuals. It eventually became a vacation spot for wealthy urbanites in the 19th century and evolved into the modern-day Harmony Hall, which showcases the site's history and cultural significance. The mansion is open for guided tours, where visitors can step back in time and learn about its various owners and their contributions to the property.

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park - Harpers Ferry, WV, VA, MD

Harpers Ferry is nestled in the far eastern corner of West Virginia at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. It has a rich history of commerce, war, innovation, and also natural beauty. There are several sites visitors can explore in the park like Bolivar Heights, Camp Hill, Maryland Heights, or Lower Town. Each has its own story to tell.

The park is open all year, with the exception of major U.S. holidays. Be sure to check the park calendar for Ranger programs and guided tours of the park.

Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park - Cambridge, MD

The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park  is a tribute to one of America's most iconic abolitionists and conductors of the Underground Railroad. It preserves the landscapes and places associated with the life and heroic efforts of Harriet Tubman. The park encompasses several key sites including the visitor center, the Brodess Farm, and the Jacob Jackson Home, which played crucial roles in Tubman's work as a conductor on the Underground Railroad.

The Park was designated on December 19, 2014 by President Barak Obama.

Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area - MD, PA, VA, WV

Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area follows the Old Carolina Road from Gettysburg in Pennsylvania to Thomas Jefferson's Monticello in Albemarle County, VA, and connects communities in Maryland and West Virginia along the way. Historic sites, Civil War battlefields, and plenty of natural beauty are what's in store for visitors who decide to explore the area. The NHA is 180 miles long and about 75 miles wide.  National Park Service Sites that are a part of the Heritage Area include Eisenhower National Historic Site and Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania, Fredricksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park in Virginia, and Harpers Ferry National Historical Park in Maryland/West Virginia.

Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area was established in 2008, and in 2009, the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Scenic Byway was established. Be sure to visit the official website here for more information.

Monocacy National Battlefield - Frederick, MD

Monocacy National Battlefield commemorates the Battle of Monocacy, often referred to as the "Battle that Saved Washington". The conflict occurred on July 9, 1864 when Union forces defended the nation's capital against Confederate General Jubal Early's advance. The park offers a range of activities, including guided tours, hiking, and picnicking. The visitor center houses informative exhibits, artifacts, and displays that provide insights into the Battle of Monocacy and its role in the Civil War.

Oxon Cove Park & Oxon Hill Farm - Oxon Hill, MD

Oxon Cove Park & Oxon Hill Farm is a unique park and working farm offering visitors a glimpse into the region's agricultural history and rural heritage. It is set on the shores of the Potomac River and features a variety of historical and cultural attractions. 

Visitors can tour the historic farmstead with farm buildings, livestock, and gardens, providing an authentic representation of a working farm from the early 20th century. Guided tours and interpretive programs introduce visitors to the farm's history and the agricultural practices of the time. Families can enjoy hands-on experiences, including animal encounters, wagon rides, and special events that showcase the heritage of rural life in the Washington, D.C. area.

Piscataway Park - Accokeek, MD

Piscataway Park is a culturally significant area located along the Potomac River in Accokeek, Maryland and plays a vital role in preserving the natural beauty of the Potomac River shoreline and the cultural heritage of the region. Piscataway Park is a tribute to the rich history of the Piscataway people, the indigenous inhabitants of this land, and their enduring connection to the Potomac River. The park boasts stunning views of the Potomac River, making it an ideal location for picnicking, birdwatching, and enjoying the tranquility of the riverfront. Several walking trails meander through the park's forests and fields, offering opportunities for hiking and wildlife observation. 

One of the park's most prominent features is the National Colonial Farm, an authentic living history farm that immerses visitors in the daily life of a colonial-era farmstead.

Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail - DC, MD, PA, VA

The Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail is part of the larger Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail Network that runs throughout the Potomac River Corridor. Popular activities here include hiking, cycling, paddling, and other regional activities. There is also plenty of American history to explore as well.

Other popular trails within the Potomac Heritage Network include the Laurel Highlands Trail, Great Allegheny Passage, Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Towpath, and the Civil War Defenses of Washington Trail. It also crosses the Appalachian Trail at Harper's Ferry, West Virginia. The trail is managed by the National Park Service with help from the Potomac Heritage Trail Association along with other supporters.

Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail - DC, MD, VA

The Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail traces the events and locations associated with the War of 1812, specifically the Chesapeake Campaign. This historic trail spans over 500 miles, from Virginia through Maryland to Washington, D.C., and serves as a living memorial to the events that inspired Francis Scott Key to write "The Star-Spangled Banner," which later became the national anthem of the United States. The trail connects a series of sites, battlefields, and landmarks that played crucial roles during this pivotal period in American history.

Thomas Stone National Historic Site - Port Tobacco, MD

Thomas Stone National Historic Site is dedicated to preserving the home and legacy of Thomas Stone, one of the lesser-known signers of the Declaration of Independence. Stone was a prominent lawyer and statesman during the American Revolutionary period and visitors can can explore the life and times of Stone, gaining insights into the early days of the American Republic. 

The site includes the restored home of Thomas Stone, where guided tours provide a glimpse into the lifestyle and political ideals of this influential figure. The visitor center offers exhibits and displays that delve into the history of the site and the broader context of the American Revolution. Visitors can engage in ranger-led programs and special events that bring the history of the period to life.

Washington-Rochambeau National Historic Trail - MA, RI, CT, NY, NJ, PA, DE, MD, VA, DC

The Washington-Rochambeau National Historic Trail denotes one of the most successful troop movements in the Revolutionary War - one that led to victory over the British in Yorktown, Virginia, and eventually led to America's independence. General Rochambeau of France combined his forces with General Washington's, moving 680 miles over land and water to secure victory for the allies.

The Washington-Rochambeau National Historic Trail was formally recognized by Congress and singed into law by President Obama in 2009. The trail spans Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and what is now Washington D.C. It celebrates America's alliance with the French during our fight for independence and also highlights the historical and military significance that proved to be a pivotal moment in American history.