Waldorf is an unincorporated community in Maryland under Charles County, just a few miles from Washington, D.C.
Known as a suburb, Waldorf isn’t particularly a tourist hotspot, but there are a couple of interesting and free places you can check out here if you’re passing by the community.
Community parks and several forests and wildlife areas make up most of its topography.
Close to many nearby tourist attractions, Waldorf is ideal if you’re planning on an itinerary that features Charles County as a whole.
To give you a glimpse of what this community is like, here’s a list of the free things to do in Waldorf, Maryland:
Drive along Crain Highway
Crain Highway is one of the main thoroughfares of Waldorf, connecting it to neighboring towns and communities like Brandywine and St. Charles.
Driving along this highway is one of the best ways to see the rich urban life in Waldorf.
Here, you can see tons of malls, shops, and restaurants that give you a glimpse of what the community has to offer.
Most of the bustling areas in Waldorf are centered along the highway, as it’s packed with many dense woodlands outside of it.
Going through this highway will also lead you eventually to Washington, D.C.
Observe Wildlife at Waldorf Wildlife Autonomy Zone
Waldorf Wildlife Autonomy Zone is one of the best places to experience the forested areas of Waldorf.
It’s home to various small mammals and overgrown vegetation, making this area a great place to trek and take photos.
Far from the busy highways and packed residential areas, this place is a wildlife sanctuary that’s teeming with deer, squirrels, and various birds.
There is also a creek in Waldorf Wildlife Autonomy Zone if you venture deep into the forest.
This area is free to explore, but you can donate if you want to support the volunteer group here that helps improve the habitat of the animals.
Waldorf Wildlife Autonomy Zone can be accessed through Raby Road in the eastern part of the community.
Take a Scenic Walk at O’Donnell Place
O’Donnell Place is one of the best places to relax in the heart of Waldorf because it’s right next to a large pond.
The pond has a beautiful wooden boardwalk along its shores, making it a great place to stroll along the area.
It's so picturesque that Waldorf Hilton Garden Inn made the place its home.
The boardwalk spans a couple of meters from Smallwood Drive to St. Patrick’s Drive, covering the entire eastern portion of the pond.
The large St. Charles Towne Center across the other side of the pond also accentuates the view at O’Donnell Place.
If you get hungry after your walk, there are also a few restaurants nearby.
Read a Book at Waldorf West Library
At O’Donnell Place is another free attraction that you can visit—Waldorf West Library.
A quaint public library managed by St. Charles County, this place is a tranquil respite right by the pond.
You can spend hours searching and reading books and journals that are part of their sizable collection.
It’s a fantastic place for younger children as well since they have a play area where kids can work on puzzles and other fun games.
There are also desktops available in case you need to do a bit of work.
A great place managed by a team of friendly and helpful librarians, Waldorf West Library, is a great addition to your itinerary.
Go on a Picnic at Pinefield Community Park
Pinefield Community Park is one of the few urban parks you can visit in Waldorf.
It’s a scenic spot surrounded by lush trees that get amazing foliage during the autumn season.
This is a popular place to visit if you want to go on a picnic with friends or family, accentuated by the clean and vast open areas in the park.
Beyond its beauty, Pinefield Community Park also has several amenities to play sports like basketball and soccer.
There’s also a playground for younger children and several areas where you can spot small animals like insects and squirrels.
Pinefield Community Park can be accessed along Pinefield Road in the northern part of Waldorf.
Experience the Planetarium of James E. Richmond Science Center
James E. Richmond Science Center is a free learning center that’s part of St. Charles High School.
This is an underrated spot that has a free planetarium for you to enjoy and learn more about the cosmos.
Called the Planetarium Sky Show, James E. Richmond Science Center showcases the winter and spring skies with themed stories.
A lot of the educational material here involves the sustainability and protection of the Earth, making this a great spot for children and teenagers.
Other interesting exhibits are available year-round at James E. Richmond Science Center.
You can find it in St. Charles High School along Piney Church Road.
Go Fishing at St. Charles Business Park Lake
St. Charles Business Park Lake is a nice little stretch of water where you can do some fishing during your downtime.
Located along Industrial Park Drive, St. Charles Business Park Lake is conveniently located in the epicenter of the community.
This is a popular fishing hole for locals, as the lake is home to several species of edible fish.
It's also one of the relaxing hidden gems of Waldorf, similar to O’Donnell Place.
It has a sizable shore where you can do some light jogging or simply relax and enjoy the waters.
Go for a Hike at Brown and Green Trailhead
A few yards north of Dr. Samuel A. Mudd House are dense forests where you can do plenty of hiking and nature exploration.
One that’s under Waldorf is the Brown and Green Trailhead, which is accessible along Forest Road.
Brown and Green Trailhead is an extension of a nearby attraction in Waldorf, the Cedarville State Forest found in Brandywine.
Even if you don’t plan to go there, Brown and Green Trailhead is a fantastic outdoor area, thanks to its proximity to swamps and ponds.
Full of beautiful foliage during the autumn months, this trailhead is a must-visit if you’re looking for a rustic experience of Waldorf’s wilderness.
Other Things to Do Nearby
Enjoy the Potomac River at Piscataway Park
Piscataway Park is another natural attraction near Waldorf that only takes a 20-minute car ride.
The park is famous for its access to the Potomac River, a body of water that borders Maryland and Virginia.
You can do several activities along the shores of the Potomac River, most prominently fishing and wildlife observation.
There’s also a visitor center here where you can talk to the rangers, along with two farms that serve as tourist attractions as well.
Full of woodlands and wetlands with scenic boardwalks, Piscataway Park is one of the prettiest nature spots in Maryland worth checking out during your trip.
Explore Cedarville State Forest
If the Brown and Green Trailhead isn’t enough for your outdoor adventure, head to Cedarville State Forest, a quick 10-minute drive from the heart of the community.
Boasting 3,500 acres worth of wilderness, swamps, and creeks, Cedarville State Forest showcases Maryland’s rich forestry.
Camping is one of the most famous things to do here because of the scenic camping grounds.
If you’re planning on doing just a day trip, Cedarville State Forest has sprawling trails that lead you to various unique terrains.
Don't forget to pack some insect repellant, as the forest is home to many insects.
Bike along Indian Head Rail Trail
There’s another way to enjoy the sprawling forests of Maryland, and that’s through the Indian Head Rail Trail along White Plains, which only takes 10 to 15 minutes to reach by car from Waldorf.
The Indian Head Rail Trail is a scenic bike trail that spans several miles, repurposing the old rails tracks of Maryland found throughout the southern towns and communities of Charles County.
Riding your bike across this long bike trail provides opportunities to visit many neighboring attractions in Waldorf.
Many locals bike along the Indian Head Rail Trail, which was named after the town of Indian Head that’s right by the Potomac River.
A scenic place that’s also a perfect way to tour Charles County, the Indian Head Rail Trail is a must-visit if you’re a cycling enthusiast.
See the War Relics at Fort Washington Park
Only a 20-minute car ride from Waldorf, Fort Washington Park is one of the best attractions in Maryland, thanks to its rich history and architecture.
Both a historical site and a state park, Fort Washington Park is brimming with relics and artifacts from the wars of the 19th century.
The fort serves as the primary defense of the Potomac River, which serves as a thoroughfare for British naval ships trying to infiltrate Washington D.C. back in the early 1800s.
Some of the things you can see here are vintage field cannons, antique furniture, and the high-arching 19th-century lighthouses and fort walls.
Plenty of information boards are scattered throughout Fort Washington Park, from which you can learn about 19th-century American history.
Take a Tour of the Thomas Stone National Historic Site
Another historical landmark that you can enjoy for free is the Thomas Stone Historical Site which only takes a 25-minute car ride south from Waldorf.
Thomas Stone is an American Founding Father from the 18th century, one of the most prominent political figures from Maryland.
At Thomas Stone National Historic Site, you can see the estate where Stone resided and his tobacco house.
There are free tours here, which are supervised by friendly and knowledgeable rangers, which makes the experience all the more memorable.
A gorgeous estate teeming with remnants that date as far back as the 1700s, Thomas Stone National Historic Site is a must-see on your trip to Waldorf.
Traverse the Cheltenham Wetlands
Cheltenham Wetlands is an outdoor spot within its namesake community, just 25 minutes north of Waldorf.
Free to explore, Cheltenham Wetlands is one of the best places to go birdwatching, as the habitats here are mostly untouched by human intervention.
There are a lot of rugged terrains here, but information boards and wooded boardwalks are also available to guide you.
This spot is also a great place to ride if you have a dirt bike or ATV.
Cheltenham Wetlands is one of the best nearby locations if you want a rustic wildlife experience.
Experience Mattawoman Creek at Mattawoman State Natural Environmental Area
Mattawoman Creek is one of the most prominent bodies of water in Maryland, which you can best experience at Indian Head, a 30-minute drive from Waldorf.
This quick road trip will lead you to Mattawoman State Natural Environmental Area, one of the best areas to experience the creek because of its wide surface area.
You’ll see tons of water lilies in Mattawoman State Natural Environmental Area, something the creek is known for.
Besides its rich and scenic fauna, the creek also boasts a lot of big fish, making it a popular spot among locals for fishing.
If you have your own kayak, Mattawoman Creek is also a great place to do some boating, all for free.
Waldorf is a humble community that’s more known for its residential areas and shopping districts.
However, the community also has several interesting places that you can visit for free, such as its public library, wildlife zone, and city parks.
Close to various historic sites and nature spots found in Charles County, Waldorf is a convenient addition to any Maryland-Washington D.C. itinerary.
To help you save up on your trip to Charles County, revisit this list of the free things to do in Waldorf, Maryland.