St. Mary’s County: Celebrating Maryland’s 375th Birthday
at Maryland’s Birthplace

2009 is the year to discover the special place where Maryland began. On this Tidewater peninsula nestled between the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay, you’ll find a compelling blend of old and new and quaint and trendy that you associate with your favorite Chesapeake Bay destinations. St. Mary’s County is just a short drive south of Washington, D.C., Baltimore or Annapolis, so it’s an easy trip—travel by car or by boat and enjoy Maryland’s first place.

Easy and Affordable
At you can access a wealth of information for planning a trip or getaway to the place where the Free State took shape. It includes weekend getaway packages, family activities and prize drawings. The Web site links to the digital commemorative destination guide which may also be ordered or obtained at any Maryland Welcome Center. In the guide you’ll find the Discover St. Mary’s County Card, a value card linked to deals and discounts offered by participating attractions, restaurants and shops throughout the county.

More than 40 of the county’s annual events starting in early spring have added special “Celebrate 375” components. Not to be missed are the Piney Point Lighthouse Festival on May 9 and 10, and the Air Expo on May 23 and 24, featuring the Blue Angels. A special Maryland Birthday Celebration Weekend is set for June 19 and 20. On Friday night, the world premiere of a symphony commissioned for Maryland’s 375th will be performed at the popular St. Mary’s College River Concert Series. On Saturday at adjacent Historic St. Mary’s City, the 17thcentury will come alive with tall ships, re-enactments, pageantry, more music and fireworks.

In fact, 2009 is the year when Historic St. Mary’s City takes center stage. The 800-acre outdoor living history museum and archaeological park along the St. Mary’s River tells the story of the state’s first years when it served as the capital of Maryland. It was at Historic St. Mary’s City that America took its first steps toward the First Amendment right of religious freedom as well as toward participatory democracy. This once cosmopolitan town thrived with taverns but was later abandoned to sink back into the soil when the Legislature moved to Annapolis. Today, the “city” rises again with new stories to tell about life in early America. New attractions that join the Maryland Dove are the Godiah Spray Plantation, which includes the Brick Chapel of 1667 and the St. John’s Freehold—a state-of-the-art archaeological museum.

To truly appreciate the challenges faced by early Marylanders, be sure to include St. Clement’s Island in your visit. The St. Clement’s Island Museum on the mainland tells the story of the voyage of the first hopeful colonists. On Saturdays and Sundays from Memorial Day Weekend through the end of September, a water taxi makes the scenic run to the nearby island where the colonists landed. A large cross erected to mark Maryland’s founding now shares the island’s skyline with a new attraction, the reconstructed Blackistone Lighthouse. The lighthouse is open to the public the first weekend (Saturday and Sunday) of each month from June through October.

Add a leisurely stop in one of Maryland’s oldest towns to your travel agenda: Leonardtown. Restaurants, shops and galleries surround the old town square while the new waterfront park along scenic Breton Bay is great for a paddling adventure or an evening stroll. Stay at the new hotel located just off the square and enjoy a great getaway weekend.

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