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Pride Journey Outdoors: Maryland

Maryland, known as America in Minature has mountains to the west, sandy beaches to the east, with the largest estuary in the country in the middle, the Chesapeake Bay. Maryland has everything you can experience in the country in one state (with the exception of a desert).

Beaches - From walking on the world-famous Boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland to camping alongside wild ponies and horses at Assateague Island, Maryland has some of the most pristine beaches. Assateague Island National Seashore allows visitors to camp right on the beach (Bay or beachside) with wild horses roaming around. Hike and/or bike along trails and see the famous wild horses that roam the park, bald eagles that soar above, along with dolphins and whales that swim nearby. Driving from Maryland's Eastern Shore to the west, once crossed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, stop by Sandy Point State Park for stunning views of the Chesapeake Bay, as well as swimming, fishing and hiking opportunities. Just minutes away from downtown Annapolis, Sandy Point offers boating, as well as making boating accessible to disabled people.

Biking/Hiking - Bike/hike 28 miles along the Western Maryland Rail Trail with actual trains passing by or bike/hike along the C&O Canal Towpath which stretches from Washington DC to Allegheny County, Maryland. Along the Towpath, there are several lockhouses visitors can stay in, from rustic lockhouses to lockhouses that have full amenities. Peddle along the Great Allegheny Passage, 159 miles of stunningly beautiful scenic views from Cumberland, through Frostburg onto Pittsburgh. The trail takes visitors through historic tunnels, viaducts and bridges for a smooth mostly flat journey through the Appalachian Mountains with friendly small towns along the way.

Nature/Bird Watching - Maryland is positioned in the Atlantic Flyway, making it a prime location to watch an astonishing array of birds flock to the south for the winter. With intermittent barrier islands, scenic cypress swamps and Eastern Shore Bays, Maryland is home to a diverse assortment of bird-watching sites and natural habitats. Sandy Point State Park is along the Atlantic Flyway which is an ideal spot for bird watchers and wildlife seekers. Antietam National Battlefield in Hagerstown, Maryland, a historic battlefield that is also a breeding ground for birds returning from Central and South America, with over 77 bird species or head over to Meadowside Nature Center for beautiful views of migratory birds, colorful wildflowers and butterflies. Blackwater Wildlife Refuge, known as the Everglades of the North, is a major bald eagle nesting area and waterfowl wintering ground. Visitors can hike and bike the mainland trails, along with take a kayak/canoe out in the water trails.

Fossil Hunting - Calvert Cliffs State Park is a natural bay beach that offers swimming, hiking and fossil hunting (for shark teeth not T-Rex). Fossil collecting along the sandy quarter-mile stretch of the beach boosts more than 600 species of fossils including a massive megalodon shark teeth that dates back 20 million years.

Water Activities - Get in on the local tradition with grabbing an inner tube and tube down the Gunpowder River. On a hot day, nothing beats the cold waters of the Gunpowder to beat the summer heat, with light rapids and pools. Tube rentals and shuttles to get back upriver and available nearby. Paddle around Janes Island, James Island State Park is 30 miles of sheltered, secluded water trails that are perfect for canoeing, not to mention the pristine beaches and gorgeous sunsets. Visitors can stay overnight in one of the campsites on the mainland or venture out to one of the back-county sites along the water trails. Up for a faster pace, go rafting on the Youghiogheny River, which posts popular rapids that are Class IV-V. Also in Western Maryland, Deep Creek, 69-miles of shoreline is the state's largest man-made late, with a swimming beach and boat rentals. Nearby, experience a number of restaurants and attractions, such as Adventure Sports Center International which is a man-made white-water course.

Camping - Visitors can camp on beautiful oceanside beaches or in the thick forests of Western Maryland, Maryland is ideal for camping and glamping. From a rustic off the grid getaway to a fun campground resort, Maryland has it all. Little Orleans Campground offers tent and RV sites, along with cabins for rent at their 222 acres of land in upper Potomac River valley. Take a hike, go horseback riding, boating or have a picnic near the fishing pond. For a glamping experience, head to Frontier Town, an award-winning vacation experience along the beautiful Sinepuxent Bay five miles from Ocean City. A water park with a lazy river, miniature golf, zip line, rope courses and a Western theme park is all onsite.

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Photos Courtesy of Maryland Office of Tourism and Worchester County Tourism

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