Good Sam RV Travel Guide & Campground Directory
Recommended Tent Camping Locations - MD, MA
Maryland Tent Camping Trip
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Maryland can be explored by railway and canal boat ride. She has legendary airports and plantations, general stores, taverns, artist colonies, and antique markets. Harbor towns, ocean boardwalks, offshore islands, and a military academy are waiting for you to see for yourself. You’ll find symphonies to hear, visit forts, aquariums and lighthouses and, of course, there is seafood to savor. Maryland tent camping adventures are everywhere for the taking in this great state.
Start in the westernmost part of the state. The town of Oakland, on Hwy. 219, is the site of the Historic B & O Train Station and Visitors Center in the western portion of the state. With its circular tower and unique bell-shaped roof topped with “fish-scale” shingles, this circa 1884 Queen Anne-style depot is one of the most celebrated train stations in the U.S.A. Also in Oakland, Steyer Brothers Maple Syrup has been made on a family-run farm for over a century. In late winter and early spring, you can take tours to learn about the steps involved in maple syrup production, and you can buy the Steyer’s tasty golden-brown syrup all year long. Swallow Falls SP is one of the great Maryland tent campgrounds to check out in the area.
Spruce Forest Artisan Village is in Grantsville, off historic Hwy. 40. Potters, woodcarvers, and other artists work and display their crafts in late-1700’s log cabins, schoolhouses, and a church that were moved to the area and converted to studios and museums in the 70’s and 80’s. There’s even a restored 1797 gristmill that processes grains today, just as it did back in the 1800’s.
Northeast of Oakland, Hwy. 219 merges with U.S. 40 and meanders to Cumberland. Canal Place Heritage Area at the Maryland Railway Station offers boat tours of the famed C&O Canal as well as scenic train rides. There are plenty of good restaurants and shopping venues, including Arts at Canal Place, a co-op gallery featuring the work of more than 40 area artists such as jewelers, painters, and photographers. It’s a good place to park your RV and set out on foot since the Heritage Area is within easy walking distance of Victorian Cumberland. The historic district there treats visitors to a mix of eclectic shops, galleries, and cafes. It’s also the site of the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad & the Old Frostburg Depot, where you can board a restored 1916 steam engine train for a 32-mile ride through Maryland’s picturesque mountains.
Continue east to Clear Spring, which lies just north of Hwy. 40. Wilson’s circa 1840 General Store and One-Room Schoolhouse will carry you far back in time. Enter the store with a healthy appetite, since you’ll probably be enticed by the old-fashioned candy counter, home-baked goodies, and fresh-fried potato chips.
Hwy. 40 crosses into Hagerstown. The town has a unique trio of not-to-be-missed attractions, each interesting in its own right. The Maryland Symphony Orchestra has showcased the talents of musical professionals since 1982 and the two-decades-old Beaver Creek Antiques Market houses 150 vendors selling antiques and collectibles at friendly prices. Another Hagerstown draw is the self-guided tour of the prolific fish ponds at Albert Powell Trout Hatchery, a 1949 establishment where as many as 200,000 rainbow trout are raised to be used as stock fish in “Old Line State” waters.
In central Maryland, at Emmitsburg Antique Mall north of State Highway 77, you’ll find all sorts of old treasures to help you experience that nostalgic feeling again.
Hwy. 40 descends into central Maryland and merges briefly with Interstate 70. Historic downtown Frederick is the home of Delaplaine Visual Arts Center, a regional arts and crafts facility located in a circa 1800’s Mountain City Flour Mill. Artistic specialties like photography, ceramics, printmaking, and painting are highlighted in Delaplaine’s classes, studios, and gallery exhibits. Emporium Antiques, another downtown Frederick attraction, is housed in an authentic 1918 warehouse. The Emporium contains 130 individual antique dealerships that handle books, china, silver, linens, and countless other vintage items.
On State Highway 191 in Potomac, the C&O Canal National Historical Park offers something way out of the ordinary– mule-drawn barge rides on the canal.
Off Interstate 495 in College Park, the circa 1909 College Park Airport qualifies as the world’s oldest continuously operated airfield. It’s also the nostalgic site where high-flying brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright taught aviation lessons to America’s earliest military flight crews.
Attention, shoppers! The late 1800’s railroading town of Bowie, off Hwy. 391, has an Old Town district with more than two dozen antique shops beckoning you. History buffs should take a walking tour of Bowie’s Belair Mansion, the plantation house and gardens of Colonial Governor Samuel Ogle. His landmark home was built more than two-and-a-half centuries ago and was revitalized in the early 1900’s.
The city of Baltimore is brimming with outstanding museums highlighting lots of different locales, entities, and events. The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, Maryland’s streetcars, slugger Babe Ruth’s birthplace, the Civil War, U.S.S. Constellation battleship, and Underground Railroad each commands its own museum. In Baltimore, historic points of interest are also well represented. One local favorite is at Fort McHenry, the site where Francis Scott Key penned the “Star Spangled Banner” during the War of 1812. Today’s Fort McHenry is a National Monument & Historic Shrine.
Baltimore’s Inner Harbor offers much to see and do. Start with a sight-seeing cruise on one of many available vessels. And be sure to budget enough time to see the fabulous National Aquarium, Maryland Science Center, and the Top of the World Observation Level. The oldest continuously running fresh food marketplace in America is at Baltimore’s Lexington Market, founded in 1782. And if running horses are your passion, plan to visit Baltimore’s famed Pimlico Race Course, home of the Preakness.
On Maryland’s renowned eastern shore, Perryville, just south of U.S. 40, is the home of Rodgers Historic Tavern. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and friends frequented the 1700’s tavern back in their day and you can follow in their footsteps when you visit the restored Perryville tavern, one mug of ale at a time.
If you hanker for more waterfront adventures hop onto Interstate 97 to Annapolis, the state capital of Maryland. If the opportunity arises, cruise out onto the Chesapeake Bay to see the National Landmark Thomas Point Lighthouse, an 1875 screwpile offshore light currently operated by the Coast Guard. The U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis has been educating Naval officers since 1845. At the visitor center, you can browse through exhibits and join a walking tour of the campus, chapel, and final resting place of John Paul Jones.
In southern Maryland off Colton’s Point at the end of State Highway 238, St. Clement’s Island-Potomac River Museum is accessible via seasonal water taxi. The island marks the 1634 setting of Maryland’s very first colonial landing.
At historic St. Mary’s City on State Highway 5, guides in period costumes talk about the reconstructed 1676 State House of Maryland’s colonial capital. You’ll gain a firsthand view of an early tobacco plantation, step aboard a replica of a 17th century tall ship, and see a re-created Woodland Indian Hamlet, where Native Marylanders met incoming colonists.
In the old shipbuilding and trading town of Chestertown on State Highway 213, there are plenty of places to check out– a number of revitalized 1700’s homes, shops, galleries, as well as a bustling downtown farmer’s market.
The city of Salisbury is found where Hwys. 50 and 13 intersect. Shop and sightsee at the historic Downtown Plaza and reserve time to watch skillful artists make hand-crafted metallic pieces at Salisbury Pewter.
Maryland’s most fun city is also within short striking distance. Located at the Atlantic end of Hwy. 50, Ocean City’s old-fashioned boardwalk is in the vicinity of numerous tourist attractions, including restaurants, specialty shops, souvenir spots, and family-oriented amusement parks. Trimper’s Rides of Ocean City features more than 100 boardwalk-based rides, including a 100-year-old, hand-hewn carousel. Another waterfront mainstay is Ocean City Pier Rides and Amusements, home of the town’s tallest Ferris wheel, a looping rollercoaster, Boog’s Barbecue, and world-famous Thrasher’s French Fries. Frontier Town’s Western Theme Park has rootin’ tootin’ Wild West shows, stagecoach, ceremonial American Indian dancing, and a highly-rated full-service campground right next door. Jolly Roger Amusement Park presents a whole host of thrills and games plus go-kart track, water park, and mini-golf. You may want to check out some of the Maryland tent campgrounds in nearby Berlin.
On your way out of the “Old Line State,” schedule a dinner break in Crisfield on State Highway 413. You won’t regret setting your sights on a Maryland-style blue crab feast in the “Crab Capital of the World.”
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Massachusetts Tent Camping Trip
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Once, US-6 was the nation’s longest continuous stretch of road. The highway even managed to survive the onslaught of construction as highways changed, were cut up, or turned into interstates. Known as the Grand Army of the Republic Highway, today US-6 is still the second longest highway in America as it travels more than 3,500 miles from California to the tip of Cape Cod. US-6 makes a brief but memorable pass through Massachusetts as it heads through the region south of Boston to Provincetown on the Cape’s tip.
Your Massachusetts tent camping tour begins in the ethnically diverse town of New Bedford, located along the waters of Buzzard’s Bay. Get started by introducing yourself to the Massachusetts whaling industry at the New Bedford Whaling Museum, which boasts the world’s largest ship model. The museum houses hundreds of historical artifacts and unique works of art that provide a glimpse into this adventurous and dangerous industry. Not ready to get back into the rig yet? Take a stroll along the water by visiting one of several docks that feature attractions for the entire family. To get ready, stop by the Waterfront Visitors Center on Fisherman’s Pier. Next, visit Tonnessen Park and then amble over to State Pier to tour a retired Coast Guard ship. A New Bedford landmark for you consider seeing is the Milk Bottle Ice Cream Parlor. Be on the lookout for the giant milk bottle, certainly one of the oddest buildings you’ll come across on the road. This building is so famous it was once featured on a PBS documentary about roadside oddities.
Consider a trip to the venerable leisure hub of Martha’s Vineyard, a favorite for vacationers and day-trippers alike. Ferries regularly leave from New Bedford. Cars can be rented on the island, but you might choose instead to “go native” and explore the island by renting a bicycle from one of the many rental shops in sight as soon as you get off the ferry.
Heading east you’ll soon find yourself in the nostalgic wonderland known as Cape Cod. Let your foot off the gas here and slow down to enjoy the sights and wonders around ever corner. Start in the town of Sandwich, with a visit to the Thornton W. Burgess Museum and Nature Center. Once home to the author most famous for his “Peter Rabbit and Briar Patch” stories, the museum and gardens are a magical part of Cape Cod serenity where it seems children’s stories actually do live. Revisit more childhood nostalgia at the Yesteryears Doll Museum, which boasts dozens of historic and unusual dolls collected from around the world. Cape Cod Campresort & Cabins is one of the Massachusetts tent campgrounds to check out in this area.
Keep trekking east along US-6 and you’ll reach the furthest part of Cape Cod. At Eastham be sure to visit an authentic 1869 school house. This one-room site is evidence of what life was like on Cape Cod during the late 19th century. Also here are historic artifacts from the whaling, fishing, and farming industries that were so critical to the growth of Cape Cod. While in town, seek out the 1783 Grist Mill, the oldest windmill on the Cape. Nature lovers will relish this part of the world that features the Cape Cod National Seashore. More than 27,000 acres of marshland, woodland and, of course, plenty of pristine beaches, call out for your lengthy exploration.
Much the same can be found at Wellfleet, a charming seaside town. But really, aren’t they all charming around here? More outdoor appreciation can be had at the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary and its more than 1,000 acres of salt marshes and woodlands.
Your final stop along US-6 will be at the very northern tip of Cape Cod in the village of Provincetown, or “P-Town” as the locals call it. Get aboard a local cruiser and enjoy a whale watching tour, a favorite pastime for visitors to this region. A one-of-a-kind Cape Cod experience can be enjoyed at the Expedition “Whydah” Sea Lab and Learning Center. Here, learn about the Whydah, an actual pirate ship that sank off the Cape Cod coast, its priceless cargo lost. Today, the recovery of the ship’s cargo is designated a National Geographic Society Special Event, which has turned the archaeological search into an interactive museum – the only one of its kind. Afterwards, an appropriate place to end your US-6 journey has to be the place where it all began…almost. In 1620 the Pilgrims landed in Cape Cod, much to their dismay. Eventually, they pressed onward and sailed across Massachusetts Bay until they reached Plymouth. But Provincetown is very proud of this footnote in American history. More about the Pilgrims brief stay in P-Town can be explored at the impressive Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum. There are a couple Massachusetts tent campgrounds to check out in this area.
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