Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Charles County, MD

  • Published 2022/11/02

Visiting Charles County is like traveling back in time.

One of Maryland’s oldest counties, Charles County offers plenty of fascinating backstories and heritage.

With its vintage railroads and Civil War ghost fleets to centuries-old buildings, you’ll have an exciting time roaming through Charles County’s cities and towns.

It boasts unspoiled natural beauty and has plenty of hidden gems and historical attractions.

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

Relive History at the Thomas Stone National Historic Site

Exterior view of Thomas Stone National Historic Site

Jeffrey M. Frank /

The Thomas Stone National Historic Site, known by many as the Haberdeventure, is the property of one of the nation’s founding fathers, Thomas Stone.

You can visit this famous historical site along Rose Hill Road, west of La Plata.

Stone was one of the 56 signees of the nation’s Declaration of Independence.

The historical site is a fascinating place to learn more about the nation’s history through guided tours.

Corridor of Thomas Stone National Historic Site

Jeffrey M. Frank /

While touring, see various sections that narrate the story of Stone’s life and other significant historical information.

You can also tour the Stone Family Cemetery, the wooden tobacco barn, and the outbuildings trail.

To complete your visit to the Thomas Stone National Historic Site, head to its visitor center to buy an awesome souvenir.

Interior view of Thomas Stone National Historic Site

Zack Frank /

Watch Theatrical Performances at the Indian Head Center for the Arts

The Indian Head Center for the Arts is a magnificent place to watch live theatrical performances and learn theater acting.

You can visit this arts center along Indian Head Highway in Indian Head.

It’s widely renowned for its grassroots and development program for performing arts catering to youngsters.

Its official theater, the 80-seater Black Box Theater, offers patrons various shows featuring the arts center’s local performers, mostly graduates of its workshops.

Interested in an acting career?

Visit the Indian Head Center for the Arts and join its theater workshops and seminars.

At the same time, you can watch theatrical performances, literary readings, recitals, and exhibits at the theater.

Enjoy a Family Trip at Gilbert Run Park

Gilbert Run Park spans over 60 acres of a picturesque freshwater lake and is known in Charles County for outdoor recreation.

You can visit this attraction along Charles Street in Charlotte Hall.

The freshwater lake is popular for boating and kayaking.

At the same time, many anglers cast their line for some worthwhile fishing sessions.

Besides fishing, you can enjoy hiking through its trails.

If you’re after relaxation, the park has picnic areas, pavilions, and a playground for kids to enjoy.

With all its amenities, Gilbert Run Park is your go-to place for worthwhile family outdoor bonding.

Uncover the Mystery of the Ghost Fleet in Mallows Bay

Pier in Mallows Bay

grandbrothers /

Mallows Bay, off Sandy Point along the Potomac River on Maryland’s side, is best known as the location of the Ghost Fleet.

Dubbed the “Western Hemisphere’s largest shipwreck fleet,” it’s a fascinating place to uncover the mystery of nearly 200 ill-fated ships.

Visiting this place allows you to join guided tours, but you can also explore it on your own.

View of Ghost Fleet in Mallows Bay

M Huston /

Besides the Ghost Fleet, you can also discover how the United States built over a thousand wooden merchant ships within 18 months during World War I.

Today, you can see many of the ships’ remnants on Mallows Bay.

Besides historical exploration, you can enjoy other activities such as hiking, boating, and sightseeing.

View of Ghost Fleet in Mallows Bay

Alexanderstock23 /

Indulge in Craft Beer at Patuxent Brewing Company

Make one last stop at the Patuxent Brewing Company before returning home.

You can visit this brewery along Industrial Park Drive in Waldorf.

It’s a worthwhile place to drop by, enjoy a mug or bottle of its finest craft beer, and join locals hanging out at its taproom.

Patuxent Brewing Company takes pride as Charles County’s first brewery, making it a fascinating place to enjoy drinks and learn some history.

Its taproom offers a cozy and welcoming atmosphere that adds to the relaxing experience.

This place is an ideal stopover before you wrap up your Charles County tour.

Experience a Spooky Golf Session at Scary Strokes

Scary Strokes is a wholesome but spooky place to enjoy a mini-golf session with your family.

You can visit this indoor attraction along Technology Place in Waldorf.

It features an 18-hole mini-golf course filled with nightmarish creatures, such as ghouls, ghosts, and werewolves.

If you’re not into mini golf, head to its arcade featuring dozens of vintage arcade games and modern virtual reality video games.

After a tiring but fun-filled activities with your family, treat them at Scary Stroke’s restaurant, Graveyard Grill.

It serves family meals such as classic American comfort food.

Traverse the Indian Head Rail Trail

Telescope along the Indian Head Rail Trail

Daav Maan /

The Indian Head Rail Trail is a former railroad corridor throughout Charles County.

The entire trail stretches over 13 miles and connects the towns of White Plains and Indian Head towns.

The former railroad corridor served as the U.S. Navy’s weapons transport hub in 1918.

Street view of Indian Head Rail Trail

DanTD, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It’s an excellent location to stretch your muscles for some hiking along with fellow hikers, nature enthusiasts, and off-road bikers.

This trail is a special place to explore since it passes through the picturesque Mattawoman Creek Stream Valley.

If you’re a hardcore hiker, you can reach Washington D.C.’s metro area, just a few miles from the Indian Head Rail Trail.

Train at Indian Head Rail Trail

DanTD, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Explore the Dr. Samuel A. Mudd House Museum

Another significant historical attraction to visit is the Dr. Samuel A. Mudd House Museum.

You can find this house museum in Waldorf.

Historically, it’s the original St. Catherine home of Dr. Samuel A. Mudd.

Exterior view of Dr. Samuel A. Mudd House Museum

Preservation Maryland, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

He treated the wounded John Wilkes Booth after assassinating President Abraham Lincoln.

Today, the house museum remains a famous historical attraction.

Visiting this place allows you to explore back as far as the 1690s through its two-story main area.

The best way to explore the Dr. Samuel A. Mudd House Museum worthwhile is by joining guided tours.

Besides the house, check out the escape route leading to the dense Zekiah Swamp.

Shop Until You Drop at St. Charles Towne Center

St. Charles Towne Center is a charming bi-level shopping center in Waldorf.

You can have a wonderful leisure time at this shopping center in Saint Charles, a planned community.

This mall, constructed in 1988, serves as the regional mall in Southern Maryland.

It spans over a million square feet and is home to over 130 stores and dining choices.

If you’re yearning for some retail therapy and want to indulge in a shopping spree, this mall is home to dozens of anchor stores.

It has Dick’s Sporting Goods, JCPenney, Macy’s, Sears, H&M, Kohl’s, and more.

Meanwhile, St. Charles Towne Center also has dozens of restaurants you can choose from to satisfy your cravings.

Head to this shopping center for some top-notch leisure activities.

Cross the Harry W Nice Memorial Bridge

View of Harry W Nice Memorial Bridge

Khairil Azhar Junos /

The Harry W Nice Memorial Bridge connects Maryland and Virginia across the Potomac River.

This bridge in Newburg in Charles County lets you cross and visit King George County, Virginia.

Historically, this 1.7-mile bridge got its name from Governor Harry W. Nice.

Straight view of Harry W Nice Memorial Bridge

Khairil Azhar Junos /

Crossing this famous bridge in Maryland allows you to see the Potomac River clearly from above.

At the same time, you get to various towns in Virginia, adding more fun to your travel adventure.

Besides crossing the Harry W Nice Memorial Bridge, you can take photos from a distance below as your souvenir for your tour around Charles County.

Distant view of Harry W Nice Memorial Bridge

Dmclane101, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Pick Fresh Fruits at Shlagel Farms

Schlagel Farms has been growing various crops, vegetables, and fruits for over a century.

Situated along Shlagel Road in Waldorf, this family-owned farm of German immigrants is famous for its fruit-picking activities.

At the same time, it’s also one of Charles County’s most prominent vegetable producers.

Visiting this farm allows you, including kids, to enjoy strawberry picking during its harvest season in May.

You can pick as many strawberries as you can with your loved ones and pay for them after.

Schlagel Farms offers pumpkin-picking activities in October as part of its fall and Halloween celebration.

Visiting this Charles County farm is a wholesome and fun-filled activity you shouldn’t miss with your family.

Set Up Camp at Smallwood State Park

Scenic view of Smallwood State Park

Visiting Smallwood State Park is like hitting two birds with one Stone.

This state park along Sweden Point Road in Marbury is a public recreation destination and a historic preservation area near Mattawoman Creek.

Historically, this state park served as General William Smallwood’s residence, a well-known Revolutionary War officer and the 4th governor of Maryland.

Boardwalk at Smallwood State Park

F Delventhal from Outside Washington, D.C., US, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Here you can visit his restored retreat home for a historical side trip.

At the same time, you can enjoy boating through Sweden Point Marina, which provides access to the Potomac River.

Setting up camp and spending your night with your family or friends is the best way to enjoy Smallwood State Park.

Travel Back in Time at La Plata Train Station Museum

The La Plata Train Station Museum is a proud testament to the town’s growth through the years.

Situated along Kent Avenue in La Plata, this train station constructed in 1887 now serves as the town’s main historical attraction.

Also known as the La Plata Amtrak Station, this attraction isn’t just famous for its rich history and gorgeous and restored art deco-style structure.

It also allows you to dig deeper into fascinating railroading history.

At the same time, it’s an excellent place to learn about La Plata’s history.

While touring inside the museum, you can see collections, scrapbooks, and personal experiences from well-known people in La Plata back in the day.

You’ll also come across countless photos of the La Plata Train Station Museum featuring the station’s former waybills, actual trains, and workers.

Watch the Blue Crabs Make a Home Run at the Regency Furniture Stadium

Governor attending a game at Regency Furniture Stadium

MDGovpics, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Take a break from exploring Charles County’s past and head to the Regency Furniture Stadium for some top-notch baseball action.

This stadium along St. Linus Drive in Waldorf is where the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs play their home games in the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB).

Watch the team play inside this stadium with a 4,200 seating capacity and join fellow baseball fans in cheering in the stands.

Constructing this sports venue cost over $25.6 million—it doesn’t just feature a standalone museum but also a line of restaurants and eateries.

Besides the Blue Crabs, countless musicians and artists have performed at the Regency Furniture Stadium, making it a must-visit place in Waldorf.

Test Your Outdoor Skills at the Chapel Point State Park

Chapel Point State Park is an outdoor recreation area along the Port Tobacco River, a Potomac River tributary.

You can visit this place along Chapel Point Road in Port Tobacco.

Many locals frequent this place for fishing and hunting since it has a boat launch for kayaks, canoes, and personal watercraft.

The entire natural area spans over 600 acres, mostly undeveloped, so it can also be a nice place to spot local wildlife.

However, the best way to experience Chapel Point State Park is to cast your line on your boat and enjoy the scenery while waiting for your catch.

Besides being a top-notch fishing destination, this state park also offers a serene atmosphere, making it an ideal place for relaxation.

Final Thoughts

Charles County is a rare gem in Maryland that you must include on your travel bucket list.

Besides history, its state parks and natural areas make it a great outdoor destination.

To make your visit to this place more awesome, pin this list of the best things to do in Charles County, Maryland, for your itinerary.

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