St. Mary's City
Despite the name, and the slogan: "Once the Metropolis of Maryland," St. Mary's City is less of a city than a collection of outdoor and indoor historical exhibits around the historic sites of this former pioneer town—plus a small public liberal arts college at St. Mary's College. The former institution, the Historic St. Mary's City Museum, is a satisfying historical destination that is kid-friendly as well, with interpretational exhibits with costumed staff. St. Mary's College is a nice visit as well for its pretty grounds and waterfront. Perhaps the biggest draw, however, even more than the historic museum, is the waterfront Brome Howard Inn just to the south—considered by Washingtonian Magazine to be one of the D.C. metro area's top 10 inns.
Founded in 1632, St. Mary's City is the fourth oldest permanent settlement in British North America and the first state capital of Maryland. It was also the first Catholic community in North America allowed to practice openly, a major milestone in the story of America's embrace of religious freedom. The original colonists came on to the mainland from St. Clement's Island and moved into dwellings in a Yaocomaco village before building there settlement here. St. Mary's City grew over the years and became home to the first public buildings of Maryland, serving the provincial capital of the Maryland colony until 1708, when it was moved to Annapolis. Nonetheless, the St. Mary's City center never really caught on, as the local population was dispersed among the surrounding tobacco plantations.
St. Mary's City is best visited by car, as it is far from major public transportation routes. From the D.C. Beltway/I-95, follow exits for MD-5 South, which you can follow all the way straight to St. Mary's City, just make sure to bear right at Harpers Corner.
You can easily walk St. Mary's City, but exploring the surrounding area in St. Mary's County will generally require a car. Alternatively, bring a bike and pedal your way around the historic town center and off into the surrounding countryside.
St. Mary's City, apart from the open-air museum, is a quiet place—if you're looking for an activity-filled weekend, you might want to look elsewhere. Bicyclists will find plenty to do, however, just pedalling around the county roads along the waterfront, and down to Point Lookout.
You might want to check the Historic Museum's website for events, which range from special events for kids to archaeological digs to mock combat with the St. Maries Citty Militia.
The Brome Howard Inn has a full bar, but aside from that, you'll have to drive elsewhere for a beer. Nearby Solomons is definitely your best bet. Local options include the local and college favorite The Green Door (18098 Point Lookout Rd) and St. James Pub (19343 Three Notch Road).
For your cafeine fix, there's a Starbucks on campus at the Upper Deck (by the Quiznos).