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Nicknamed ‘America in Miniature’, Maryland is one of North America’s smallest states in terms of area, but its diverse range of landscapes means that it provides the visitor with an interesting mix of everything that the country has to offer.
To the west the leafy trails and roaring rivers of the Appalachian mountain range are paradise for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. The central region is home to the busy port cities of Baltimore and Washington, and to the east you’ll find the sleepy fishing villages of Chesapeake Bay and the sandy shores of the Atlantic. And you can drive from one end to the other in just five and a half hours.
Maryland’s largest city is one of fascinating contradictions. This quirky metropolis is an appealing mixture of its gritty, industrial, working-class past and the urban-professional revitalization of its present.
In the historic neighbourhoods of Mount Vernon and Fells Point you’ll find row after row of elegant 19th century stone houses, and some of Baltimore’s best cafés and bars. Alternatively take a hike up to Federal Hill for some unbeatable views of the city’s skyline and inner harbour.
Photo credit: Mount Vernon by Ian Freimuth via Flickr Creative Commons license
Once home to literary icons Edgar Allan Poe and F. Scott Fitzgerald, Baltimore is now famous for its world-class museums, trendy shops, boutique hotels, and international restaurants.
Photo credit: Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse by Intiaz Rahim via Flickr Creative Commons license
Maryland is best known for its blue crabs, drenched in Old Bay (a peppery mix of celery salt, bay leaf, mustard seed, black and red pepper, cinnamon, and ginger), soft shell blue crabs, and crab cake. One of the best places to sample these in the city is at Faidleys – a standing room only establishment in Baltimore’s Lexington Market.
Photo credit: Blue Crab by Aptmetaphor via Flickr Creative Commons license
Just 31 miles south of Baltimore, Maryland’s distinctly smaller city has actually been the state’s capital since 1694. Annapolis has preserved its heritage well, boasting narrow, time-worn streets, and grand colonial architecture.
There’s more 18th century buildings to be found here than anywhere else in the United States, as well as a beautiful, historical harbour front that’s perched on the edge of Chesapeake Bay.
Photo credit: Winter Sunrise at Annapolis City Dock by Charlie Stinchcomb via Flickr Creative Commons license
If you want to be perfectly located to explore both cities, La Quinta Inn and Suites puts you in Glen Burie, just south of central Baltimore and close to highway 79, which runs into the centre of Annapolis. There’s an outdoor pool and garden here and the hotel runs a free shuttle to and from the airport.
Alternatively the Crowne Plaza Annapolis represents incredible value for money just three miles east of downtown Annapolis.
Stretching approximately 10 miles along a narrow barrier island off Maryland’s Atlantic coast, the broad sandy beaches at Ocean City draw millions of tourists every year. There’s a three-mile long boardwalk with nothing but sand on one side and a congested array of hotels, eateries, and shops on the other.
Photo credit: Ocean City Maryland Boardwalk by m01229 via Flickr Creative Commons license
If you want to be right on the seafront, bag a room at the Plim Plaza Hotel. There’s even a long covered porch with wicker rocking chairs that overlooks the boardwalk and the beach.
Another option is the spacious and family friendly Coastal Palms Inn and Suites in the northern part of Ocean City, where you’ll find some of the resort’s quieter beaches.
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