Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Cecil County, MD

  • Published 2023/02/03

Cecil County is located in the northeastern corner of Maryland.

It borders the states of Pennsylvania to the north and Delaware to the east.

It was named after Cecil Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore, the first Proprietor of the Province of Maryland.

The region has been an important trading center since before its organization in 1674, having previously been part of the much larger Baltimore County.

The Piscataway had been trading with Susquehannocks near Conowingo, the Lenape of Delaware, and the Nanticoke people of the Chesapeake Bay.

Today, the county is composed of seven towns, including Chesapeake City, Cecilton, and the county seat Elkton, as well as 16 unincorporated communities.

Its strategic location between Baltimore, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and New York has brought commercial and cultural developments to the county.

Here are the best things to do in Cecil County, Maryland:

Spot Bald Eagles at Elk Neck State Park

Lighthouse at Elk Neck State Park

Jon Bilous /

Elk Neck State Park is a public recreation area on Turkey Point Road in North East.

The 2,370-acre park has varying landscapes, including marshlands, sandy shorelines, lush forests, and white clay cliffs.

The park is divided into four areas, and the Turkey Point Lighthouse Area at the southern tip of the peninsula features the historic Turkey Point Lighthouse.

A popular daytime destination is the North East Beach Area at the western part of the park, where there’s a swimming area, boat launch, picnic shelters, and grills.

A beach at Elk Neck State Park

Daniel Dror /

The Rogues Harbor Boat Launch Facility provides public access to the Elk River and fishing piers.

The Elk River Camping Area has over 250 campsites, 16 cabins, a playground, and a nature center.

The wooded forests are a favorite spot for Bald Eagles, so be sure to bring your binoculars should you decide to explore Elk Neck State Park’s trails.

The grounds of Elk Neck State Park

Jon Bilous /

Practice Shooting at Elk Neck State Forest’s Shooting Ranges

Located on Irishtown Road in North East, Elk Neck State Forest is a 3,571-acre parcel of land that’s a popular hunting ground for shooting enthusiasts.

Not to be confused with the Elk Neck State Park, which lies further south, the state forest has three access points: the main entrance on Irishtown Road and two more on Huminski Road and Starkey Lane, which are both blocked by gates.

The forest is rich with deciduous and evergreen trees, as well as azaleas, mountain laurels, wildflowers, and other native shrubs.

Inside the park are shooting ranges for bow, handgun, shotgun, and rifle that are available to the public.

To use the facility, you’ll have to secure permits from a self-service honor system at the Main Complex.

The Elk Neck State Forest has a trail system where you can observe the region’s biodiversity, including migratory birds.

Pick Apples at Milburn Orchards

Located on Appleton Road in Elkton is Milburn Orchards.

The farm is especially popular during the fall season when giant pumpkins are sold for Halloween decorations.

They offer U-Pick Adventures, where visitors are allowed to pick their fresh produce.

Depending on the season, you can pick cherries, apples, blueberries, raspberries, peaches, and grapes.

You’ll be asked to pick the container size of your choice (small to extra-large) and charged a fixed price.

Milburn Orchards hosts bonfire and barnyard parties, but you can also join the farm tour, where you will learn everything about growing apples.

Included in the tours is a tractor ride through the orchards and a visit to the apple packing house.

At the store, you can pick a dozen of their specialty apple cider donuts, pumpkin rolls, and other baked goods.

Feed the Animals at Plumpton Park Zoo

Ruined mill at Plumpton Park Zoo

Smallbones, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located on Telegraph Road in the town of Rising Sun, Plumpton Park Zoo is a wildlife sanctuary with exotic animals in a pastoral country setting.

Founded in Edward Plumstead in 1985, the zoo was initially a menagerie of deer and a few domestic animals on his family estate.

Today, it’s home to more than 180 exotic animals of over 60 different species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians.

Some of the animals include giraffes, tigers, bears, monkeys, and kangaroos.

Plumpton Park Zoo houses an impressive collection of rare birds from different parts of the world, including the Congo African Grey Parrot, Moluccan Cockatoo, and Silver Pheasant.

If you want a more up-close and personal interaction with the animals, you can buy a cup of feed and go around the zoo to feed some of the more domesticated animals, including the goats, sheep, alpacas, and donkeys.

Learn about Cecil County’s History at The Historical Society of Cecil County

Located on East Main Street in Elkton is The Historical Society of Cecil County.

The society was established in 1932 with a mission of collecting, preserving, and interpreting artifacts relevant to the county.

It operates as a non-profit organization and relies on volunteers and donations from museum visitors.

HSCC has a collection of postcards, slides, prints, negatives, and photographs depicting important events, everyday life, leisure, places, and landscapes throughout the county.

There are manuscripts, including wills, land and business records, as well as personal letters that serve as firsthand accounts of life in the county during its early years.

The Historical Society of Cecil County also has a genealogical library where genealogists and people looking to trace their roots can do their research.

Enjoy Winetasting at Chateau Bu-De Winery & Vineyard

The 440-acre family-owned and operated estate prvides scenic views, including dramatic sunsets.

Brenda and Warren Dedrick opened it after traveling the world and sampling different wines.

Winery & Vineyard prides itself as the producer of the finest Maryland wines while sticking to the sustainable process of winemaking.

Chateau Bu-De Winery & Vineyard also has a Tasting Room where you can enjoy your choice of wine by the bottle with some wine pairings.

The Tasting Room’s menu changes seasonally, but the current offerings include meat and cheese charcuterie boards, sandwiches, desserts, and some seasonal specials.

Admire the Architecture of the Historic Gilpin’s Falls Covered Bridge

Exterior of Gilpin's Falls Covered Bridge

agilard /

Gilpin’s Falls Covered Bridge is a Burr Truss wooden covered bridge located on North East Road in North East.

Constructed in the autumn and winter of 1860 to 1861, the bridge crosses the millpond formed by Samuel Gilpin’s mills and dam.

Local bridge wright Joseph George Johnson constructed it using Eastern White Pine for the trusses, beams, lateral bracing, and ties.

History marker of Gilpin's Falls Covered Bridge

Famartin, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The bridge spans 100 feet and is 119 feet in length and is closed to all vehicular traffic, but you can always walk on foot to cross it.

Gilpin’s Falls Covered Bridge has undergone some restorations over the years, most notably in 1959 when the roof collapsed the year before.

Walk through the bridge and admire how the arches and beams are almost entirely made of wood.

Interior of Gilpin's Falls Covered Bridge

Niagara, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Eat Crab Cakes at Schaefer’s Canal House

Schaefer’s Canal House is a seafood restaurant on Bank Street in Chesapeake City.

It’s known for its nautical-themed setting that’s been the go-to for boaters for many years.

The waterfront restaurant has scenic views of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal from the dining room and the outside veranda.

Schaefer’s Canal House’s menu—which includes Maryland’s specialty crab cakes—was designed to complement the seafood-rich waterways of the state.

Another favorite is the creamy lump crab dip with cheese and bacon that’s served with tortilla chips and soft pretzels for dipping.

If you’re looking for a showstopper, get the stuffed flounder filled with lump crab imperial and topped with lemon cream sauce.

Have Dinner at Chesapeake Inn Restaurant & Marina’s Deck

Chesapeake Inn Restaurant & Marina is a bi-level, waterfront restaurant on 2nd Street in Chesapeake City.

Gilda and Gianmarco Martuscelli founded it more than 25 years ago, and it is now one of the premier dining spots in the state.

The Dining Room is the go-to spot for intimate dinners and special events as it has overlooking views of the water.

Its dedicated menu consists of hand-cut steaks, fresh seafood, and pasta.

Meanwhile, the lower-level Deck is known for its casual pub fare menu and live entertainment.

Its menu includes brick oven pizzas, sushi, sandwiches, and other appetizers.

With its 60 boat slips, Chesapeake Inn Restaurant & Marina is popular among boaters looking to stay for a quick bite or overnight.

Hike to Turkey Point Lighthouse

Exterior of Turkey Point Lighthouse

George Sheldon /

Atop the Turkey Point Lighthouse Trail in North East is the Turkey Point Lighthouse.

Sitting at the head of the Chesapeake Bay, the historic 35-foot tower was built by John Donahoo in 1833.

It originally used 11 wicks and reflectors to guide ships plying the Bay, but in 1855, it was upgraded with a Fresnel lens with a single lamp.

Top half of Turkey Point Lighthouse

George Sheldon /

The lantern was again upgraded in 1867 with a better lens and was completely automated by 1942.

Turkey Point Lighthouse historically had a large number of female lightkeepers, with Fannie Salter, the last female lightkeeper in the country, only retiring because of its automation.

The land around the lighthouse is part of Elk Neck State Park.

Marker of Turkey Point Lighthouse

George Sheldon /

Drink Craft Beer at the Granite Run Taproom

Granite Run Taproom is an American restaurant and taproom located on South Main Street in Port Deposit.

It boasts a food menu that showcases fresh and local ingredients and craft beers on tap.

There’s live music every Friday and Saturday night, as well as Open Mic nights once every month for those who want to try their hand at performing in front of a crowd.

Try the Crabby Pretzel, a baked braided pretzel with house-made crab dip, cheddar jack cheese, and Old Bay.

You also won’t go wrong with the burgers, which are made fresh daily using locally sourced ground beef.

Granite Run Taproom has a rotating selection of 11 craft beers on tap, as well as bottled and canned options.

Try Horseback Riding at Painted Horse Ranch

Located on Bradley Run Road in Elkton, Painted Horse Ranch is a family-friendly ranch that offers horseback riding lessons and trail rides.

Riding lessons are open to all levels aged four years and up and include learning how to groom, tack, and ride.

These lessons are charged by the hour, so the duration will depend on how fast you learn.

The trail rides last an hour and take you through untouched woods where you’ll see lush greeneries and some wildlife.

Along the trail is a creek where your guides will let the horses drink and play in the water.

Painted Horse Ranch also offers monthly horse leasing, boarding, Gymkhana events, and horse transportation.

Eat Fresh Oysters at Lee’s Landing Dock Bar

Lee’s Landing Dock Bar is a waterfront bar on Rowland Drive in Port Deposit.

The Key West-inspired eatery serves fresh seafood bites and offers live music.

With sweeping views of Bohemia River, you can enjoy a serving of their Seafood Bowl, which has shrimps, mussels, clams, potatoes, and andouille sausage all bathing in melted butter.

They also have a Tiki Bar, which serves handcrafted cocktails, mocktails, beers, and wines.

Every Friday, Lee’s Landing Dock Bar has the Buck-A-Shuck promo, which is essentially like Happy Hour but for fresh oysters.

Get Alpaca Fiber Knitwear at Painted Sky Alpaca Farm & Fiber Mill

If you need a new pair of gloves or a beanie for the winter season, visit Painted Sky Alpaca Farm & Fiber Mill.

Located on Knight House Lane in Earleville, the family-owned and operated farm offers fiber processing services for different types of wool, including alpaca, wool, and llama.

Painted Sky Alpaca Farm & Fiber Mill makes high-quality yarns that they turn into socks, gloves, scarves, and beanies that can surely warm you up during the colder months.

Join the Farm & Mill tours, where you’ll meet the alpacas up close and personal, and learn a thing or two about them.

You can even adopt an alpaca for a yearly fee!

Other Things to Do Nearby

Enjoy a Glass of Wine inside a Greenhouse at Old Westminster Winery

Aerial view of the Old Westminster Winery

Pereze75 /

Located on Old Westminster Road in Westminster, Old Westminster Winery is a 134-acre estate in Carroll County’s rolling countryside.

On the grounds of the family-owned and operated winery are warm greenhouses where guests can enjoy a glass of wine during winter months.

They have a seasonal wine and food menu, which includes wood-fired pizzas, pastries, and donuts.

Old Westminster Winery offers Wine Club memberships where members will receive three bottles of wine every other month as well as access to small-production wines.

The best part is, for every bottle, they donate $1 to charitable institutions in the country and abroad.

Final Thoughts

Cecil County has the right mix of nature, history, and modern finds.

From vast nature preserves and historical sites to beloved restaurants and local wineries, this region does not run out of interesting sites.

On your next adventure, consider trying these best things to do in Cecil County, Maryland.

© All rights reserved.