Chesapeake Bay: Captivating Culture in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, DC

Discover the beauty and culture of Chesapeake Bay through its parks, wildlife refuges, maritime museums, historic sites and water trails

sailing, Chesapeake Bay, Virginia, bridge, USA
Sailing the Chesapeake Bay
Annapolis Maritime Museum, entrance, Maryland, attraction
Annapolis Maritime Museum
Jamestown, Virginia, Godspeed, ship, reenactor
Jamestown Settlement, replicas of the three ships that sailed from England to Virginia in 1607
Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, St Michaels, Maryland
Discover Maryland's maritime history at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, St. Michaels
Great Falls Park, Virginia
Great Falls Park in Virginia
Aerial view of Fort McHenry, Baltimore, Maryland
Fort McHenry, birthplace of the United States National Anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner”
sailing, Chesapeake Bay, Virginia, bridge, USA
Annapolis Maritime Museum, entrance, Maryland, attraction
Jamestown, Virginia, Godspeed, ship, reenactor
Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, St Michaels, Maryland
Great Falls Park, Virginia
Aerial view of Fort McHenry, Baltimore, Maryland

Just off the Atlantic Coast, the massive Chesapeake Bay is America’s largest estuary and a key part of the region’s culture, economy and cuisine. Explore the Chesapeake Bay entry points below to pick your preferred way of experiencing this noteworthy natural attraction.

Maryland Attractions

Annapolis Maritime MuseumThe museum is located on the shores of Back Creek and boasts unequaled views of Annapolis Harbor and the Chesapeake Bay. Take a once-in-a-lifetime tour of the Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse, an icon of the Bay.

Fort McHenry National Monument & Historic ShrineFort McHenry successfully defended Baltimore from the British during the War of 1812 and is the birthplace of the United States' national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner” by Francis Scott Key.

USS ConstellationLaunched in 1854, the USS Constellation is the last all-sail ship built by the U.S. Navy. Discover life on board this Civil War-era vessel through demonstrations and activities.

Blackwater National Wildlife RefugeEncompassing more than 25,000 acres on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is a major stop on the Atlantic Flyway. Huge flocks of ducks, geese and swans migrate through the refuge in November and December. Blackwater is home to the largest nesting population of American bald eagles on the East Coast.

Chesapeake Bay Maritime MuseumThe museum’s 12 exhibit buildings sit on 18 waterfront acres offering vistas of the beautiful Miles River. Encounter Chesapeake Bay history first-hand through the 1879 Hooper Strait Lighthouse, a working boatyard, traditional craftsmen and original exhibits.

Historic St. Mary’s CityHistoric St. Mary's City is the site of Maryland's first capital and the fourth permanent settlement in British North America.

Virginia Attractions

Great Falls ParkAt Great Falls, the Potomac River builds up speed and force as it falls over a series of steep, jagged rocks and flows through the narrow Mather Gorge. The Patowmack Canal offers a glimpse into the early history of this country.

George Washington Birthplace National MonumentGeorge Washington was born on his father's Popes Creek tobacco farm on Feb. 22, 1732. See costumed interpreters recreate the sights, sounds and smells of 18th-century plantation life.

Tangier IslandLocated 12 miles out in the bay, this remote island is accessible only by air or sea. Visit the Tangier History Museum to learn more about the people who have lived and worked on the island for more than 250 years.

Yorktown Visitor Center & BattlefieldYorktown Battlefield is site of the last major battle of the American Revolutionary War.

Jamestown IslandJamestown was the first permanent English settlement in the New World. On May 13, 1607, 104 Englishmen arrived in three small ships and moored them to the trees on this island. The following day, the English came ashore – never to leave.

First Landing State ParkOn April 26, 1607, English settlers landed here and established the first elective government in English America before pushing up the James River to establish Jamestown. The park offers a chance to explore a habitat featuring lagoons, large cypress trees and rare plants. 

Washington, DC Attractions

Anacostia ParkAuthorized almost 100 years ago as a multi-use park, Anacostia Park serves as a playground while protecting the natural scenery and water quality of the Anacostia River.

More Water Attractions

Discover a variety of beach and water adventures around Virginia, Maryland and Washington, DC!


Outdoors & Nature
Tours & Trails

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