16 Things Maryland is Known and Famous For

Right in the middle of the East Coast, you’ll find a strangely-shaped state. Maryland, the United States’ seventh state, is small but mighty. 

Maryland is known for blue crabs, the University of Maryland, and its major cities Baltimore and Annapolis. From the beaches of the Eastern Shore to the mountains of western Maryland, there’s a lot to see here. 

Let’s take a look at the 16 things I think everyone should know about Maryland:

1. Queen Henrietta Maria

Henrietta Maria, vintage engraved illustration

Let’s start with where the name “Maryland” even comes from. The state was created when Charles I granted the charter to Cecilius Calvert in 1632. The land was named Terra Mariae in Latin, meaning Maryland. 

But who was this namesake Mary? It was King Charles’ wife Henrietta Maria. She was a prominent Catholic in the mostly Protestant England, and it was her Catholicism that inspired Calvert to name the land after her. 

2. Antietam

Photo of The Fields of Antietam National Battlefield Featuring the Maryland and Connecticut Monuments

Fast forward a couple hundred years and you’ll find another important moment in the history of Maryland: the battle of Antietam. Confederate General Robert E. Lee and Union General George B. McClellan faced off near Sharpsburg, Maryland. 

This battle was unfortunately the bloodiest battle in history, with over 22,000 people dead, wounded, or missing. Both sides took major losses, but the Union claimed victory.

Despite its sad history, I think it’s an important place to visit and learn more about the important moments in the Civil War. 

3. Jousting

Men and horses dressed in period costume show how to catch a ring
Editorial credit: Grossinger / Shutterstock.com

After the battle at Antietam and the end of the Civil War, Maryland began to rebuild. Farmers trying to raise funds would hold jousting tournaments to rally the community. Since then, jousting has surprisingly remained a popular pastime and was even named the state sport in 1962. 

But the jousting here isn’t quite as violent as the matches you might imagine from the Middle Ages. Instead of charging at an opponent with a wooden lance, riders on horseback try to thread the tip of their lance through a small ring hanging from a post.

It’s a unique sport that somehow lives on in Maryland, though I’m not quite sure anyone understands why. 

4. Lacrosse

Women's lacrosse player holding a lacrosse ball in their lacrosse stick.

Jousting may be one official state sport, but Maryland does have another. Maryland is famous for lacrosse, officially recognized as the state team sport in 2004. With origins in Canada spanning all the way back to the 17th century, this fast-paced sport has gained popularity along the East Coast in the past few decades. 

For those unfamiliar with lacrosse, it involves two teams trying to score goals on the opponent’s net. Instead of passing a large ball with their feet like in soccer, they use sticks with woven pockets to move a small ball around.

There are lacrosse leagues that span all the way from youth to the professional level, including many in Maryland. 

5. University of Maryland

University of Maryland front entrance.

Maryland is known for elite college lacrosse teams like Johns Hopkins, UMBC, and the University of Maryland. But UMD is known for way more than just lacrosse. This prestigious state university located in College Park is famous for its programs in medicine, criminal justice, and education. 

Take a walk around the campus and you’ll understand why UMD is such an amazing university. From the beautiful McKeldin Mall to the popular bars like RJ Bentley’s and Cornerstone, there’s something for everyone in College Park. 

6. The flag

Maryland (USA) flag waving in the evening

Plastered all around the UMD campus and all around the state of Maryland, you’ll find a unique pattern of red, white, yellow, and black. If you’re not from here, I would understand if you’re a bit confused about this interesting choice of decoration. But this crazy design is actually the state flag of Maryland. 

The design comes from the colors of two prominent Maryland families: the Calverts and the Crosslands. George Calvert, first Lord Baltimore, created this coat of arms to honor his maternal and paternal family names. Maryland is famous for their wacky flag, and it’s featured on everything from t-shirts to tattoos.

7. Crabs

Maryland blue crabs with seafood utensils

If there’s one thing that’s even more emblematic of the state than the crazy flag, it’s the blue crab. This tiny crustacean is huge in Maryland, especially during the summer. Bushels of freshly steamed crabs make for an excellent outdoor feast.

If picking through whole crabs for tiny lumps of meat isn’t quite your style, there are other ways to get your blue crab fix. Restaurants across the state offer excellent crab cakes and crab dip, two delicious dishes with no hard work required. 

8. Old Bay

Image of Old Bay seasoning. Old Bay was founded in 1939 in Maryland.
Editorial credit: Julie Clopper / Shutterstock.com

Where there’s crabs, there’s always Old Bay. Steamed crabs are often coated in thick layers of this bright red seasoning, which gives them their deliciously salty and spicy flavor. It may not be the cleanest eating experience, but that’s all part of the fun.

Old Bay has become such a Maryland staple that it’s often used for dishes other than crabs too. It makes a great addition to chili, fish, chicken, you name it. It’s not a real Maryland kitchen without that signature yellow tin in the spice cabinet.

9. Chesapeake Bay

Sunrise view of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge from Sandy Point State Park, in Annapolis, Maryland

Old Bay was actually named for a local ship company from the state’s famous Chesapeake Bay. This important body of water is essential to the state’s water supply and animal population. The Chesapeake is the nation’s largest estuary, which is a body of water where fresh and saltwater mix.

The Bay is home to over 3,600 species of plants and animals, including many species of fish, birds, and shellfish. It separates central Maryland from the Eastern Shore, with the iconic Bay Bridge connecting the two. 

10. Deep Creek Lake

An aerial view of Deep Creek Lake during sunset in the fall season

Another body of water that is near and dear to many Marylander’s hearts is Deep Creek Lake. This lake in Western Maryland is a popular year-round vacation destination.

Visit in the winter and you’ll find some excellent skiing or snowboarding. Fall is rich with colorful foliage, and spring is the best time to go for a crisp hike. Summer is my favorite time to visit and actually enjoy the lake itself with tubing, kayaking, swimming, and fishing.  

11. Diverse regions

An aerial view of a Western Maryland neighborhood at dusk during the fall season.

For such a small state, Maryland is surprisingly diverse in its geography.

Western Maryland is known for the Appalachian mountains and acres of farmland. This area is quite rural in comparison to central Maryland, which is known for big cities like Annapolis and Baltimore. Finally, over on the Eastern Shore, you’ll find stunning beaches and marshes rich with wildlife.

As someone who grew up in Maryland, I might be a little biased. But I think it’s one of the most interesting states in the country. Drive just an hour in any direction and you’ll find a completely different landscape. There’s truly always something new and exciting to discover.

12. Appalachian Mountains

The strenuous but rewarding Maryland Heights Trail

Now that I’ve mentioned all these different regions, let’s take a deeper look at each. We’ll start in western Maryland with its stunning mountains. The iconic Appalachian mountains cut through the western part of the state, as does the famous Appalachian Trail.

While the trail section is only 41 miles from bottom to top, it offers lovely vistas and historic sites. Even if you’re not hiking the whole Appalachian Trail, the Maryland section provides a nice challenge for those looking to do a multi-day hike.

13. Baltimore

Long exposure of the Baltimore Skyline and Inner Harbor Promenade, Baltimore, Maryland

As we move to the central part of the state, we reach its most famous city: Baltimore. This city is what most people imagine when they think of Maryland. Whether you think of the Ravens or Orioles, the TV show The Wire, or the infamous accent, Baltimore has left its mark. 

Baltimore is an important tourist destination for the state, but it’s also home to many businesses where Marylanders work. It’s no New York City, but the hustle and bustle of Baltimore does give you the feel of a big city.

14. Annapolis

Annapolis, Maryland, USA from Annapolis Harbor at dusk.

Another famous Maryland city is Annapolis, the state’s capital. While not as well-known as Baltimore, Annapolis offers a unique experience for visitors. It’s known as one of the country’s sailing capitals, with thousands of boats docked in its harbor.

In keeping with its maritime theme, Annapolis is also home to the prestigious Naval Academy. Boating is a big deal here, with many races being held every week during the main racing season. If you’re a sailing fanatic, this is definitely the place to be.

15. Suburbs

n aerial view of residential neighborhoods in Montgomery County.
Editorial credit: Nicole Glass Photography / Shutterstock.com

Just outside the main Maryland cities, you’ll find the ever-popular Maryland suburbs. They’re famous for impressive public schools and sprawling shopping centers. Towns such as Potomac and Bethesda are consistently ranked as some of the best places to live. 

One unique and popular suburb is Columbia. This planned community was designed by developer James W. Rouse and features 10 “villages” that all surround the main Columbia Mall. This idyllic suburb features many walking paths and recreational areas, making it an ideal place for families.

16. Ocean City

Aerial view of town of Ocean City Maryland

We’ll finish up our tour of Maryland on the Eastern Shore. The most popular destination here would definitely have to be the beach town of Ocean City. Known for its impressive boardwalk and crazy nightlife, Ocean City is a destination like no other.

With miles of sandy beaches and plenty of delicious food to keep you satisfied, OC is always the place that Marylanders go to spend their summer. Whether you enjoy the wild oceanside bars or relax on the quieter bay side, there’s always something to do in Ocean City.

An aerial view of historic Annapolis, situated on the Chesapeake Bay, during an early November morning.

Maryland is a state near and dear to my heart, and I hope I’ve been able to show you why it’s such an amazing place to visit. Any other Marylanders out there? I would love to hear what you think Maryland is famous for. Let me know in the comments! 

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