Charles County, Maryland, is a captivating escape just outside the nation’s capital and a short drive from Baltimore, Maryland, Richmond, Virginia, and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Follow the threads of these Southern Maryland communities’ rural roads, waterways and trails to learn about stories of the past and the stories that have yet to be told. Charles County may seem quaint, but it is more than just a historic area. It’s mysterious, fun, romantic, and naturally beautiful. Join the women of Charles County Tourism as they share their fondest memories and advice on where to travel around the county.
MALLOWS BAY PARK
Travel Counselor Kim Seaman’s favorite place to visit is Mallows Bay, also called the Ghost Fleet of Mallows Bay. “I love looking out and seeing the ferry ship just sitting there, knowing that the ships from WWI were brought in and sunk just amazes me. Why did they choose Mallows Bay? I am looking forward to taking the Kayak tour with Atlantic Kayak Tours. Walking the trails is also one of my favorite things to do. Seeing all of the wild animals and the natural growth of plants is very relaxing for me. I was very excited when they made it a National Marine Sanctuary.”
KRIS KRINGLE CHRISTMAS MARKET
The German inspired market held the second weekend in December hosts an abundance of seasonal food and drink, local arts and crafts, carolers, a live nativity, and ﬁ reworks. “When you visit the market, you are automatically ﬁlled with the holiday spirit, from sipping hot chocolate around the ﬁ re to a stroll through the light displays… it is Charles County’s own winter wonderland,” says Kellie Hinkle, Chief of Tourism. “My ﬁrst visit to the market included perfectly timed and picturesque snowfall-watching ﬁ reworks – maybe yours will, too!”
GILBERT RUN PARK
Sharon Fox, travel counselor, says every other year her family gets together and goes to Gilbert Run Park. “It is a 60-acre, freshwater lake where you can rent pedal boats, canoes, and take part in other water activities, including ﬁ shing. There are also jungle gyms, rock climbing for kids, and best of all ducks. The kids love to feed the ducks bread and follow them all around. The park has covered pavilions with BBQs and plenty of picnic tables, clean bathrooms, horseshoe pits, and so much more. It is a wonderful place to spend the day with family and friends.
ST. IGNATIUS CHURCH
St. Ignatius Church is located on a high bluff overlooking the Port Tobacco River on Chapel Point Road in Charles County. There are stained glass windows that, when the sun is shining through, are truly breathtaking and rival anything you see in European cathedrals. In 1994, a needlepoint project was begun by the parishioners and by 1998, each of the kneelers in the pews was adorned with a unique work of art. “I really love looking at the workmanship and effort put into each one,” says Mary Lewis, lead travel counselor. “Weekdays or Saturday afternoons are the best time to visit so as not to interfere with a worship service.”
One place that is always on the agenda is Haberdeventure, the Thomas Stone National Historic Site. Stone was one of the Maryland signers
of the Declaration of Independence and a large landowner in Charles County. Travel counselor Donna Gryn (aka the Travel Maven) says the visitor’s center presents a short ﬁ lm on his life, and once you reach the house, an informative tour is conducted by a park ranger. The home’s layout is unique, and a charming term is used to describe it: “casually symmetrical.” The property itself is beautiful, changing in every season, and walking from the visitor’s center to the home, past the family cemetery (and outlying markers showing the enslaved burial ground), offers guests a wonderful opportunity for quiet reﬂection of the sacriﬁces made by those who went before us.
THE TOWN OF LA PLATA
Charles County is not only rich in history, but also rich with entertainment, whether it’s a comedy show at the Black Box Theater in Indian Head or a live play at the Port Tobacco Players Theater. Constantly looking for something new or different to do, I decided to spend time in La Plata,” says JoAnn Foster Queen, travel counselor. “It was a beautiful day that started with a walk at Laurel Springs Park, and in the early evening, I gathered with my sister and some of our younger family members for appetizers and iced tea at Casey Jones (now The Charles Restaurant), and then we leisurely walked across Charles Street to the Port Tobacco Players production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Not to worry, the town provides ﬂ ags for walkers to get safely across Charles Street. It was an absolutely, fabulous day!”
DR. SAMUEL A. MUDD HOUSE MUSEUM
Nestled on 200 acres in rural Charles County, the Mudd House Museum remains shrouded in a calm quiet that has existed since the Civil War. “Being the fi rst place in which I worked after moving to Maryland, it gave my love of history a place to belong,” said Kate Taylor, lead tour guide. “The house looks as it did when the Mudd family resided inside. Many of the original furnishings are still in place as though the residents have simply stepped out and will eventually return. My favorite event is Victorian Christmas, held the fi rst weekend in December. There is nothing like seeing the decorated house illuminated under the moonlight as it was that fateful April of 1865. The site is open Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.
MATTAWOMAN CREEK ART CENTER
Charles County is a place where you feel free to explore legends at your own pace. Tourism Marketing Manager Catherine Herbert says her favorite location to wander in amazement is Mattawoman Creek Art Center on the shore of the Potomac River in Western Charles County. “This pleasant rural setting is celebrating their 30th Anniversary. Every year, the volunteers pour their passion for original visual arts in creating themed gallery shows and programs, and special events. The changing art placed in the gallery and serene setting offers space to reﬂ ect on the art with an option to purchase for yourself or as a gift, therefore sharing the unique talents found here in Charles County. Every volunteer and artist at Mattawoman Creek Art Center are legends to behold, come see for yourself.”
SOUTHERN MARYLAND BLUE CRABS
A beautiful, well-designed sports venue in Charles County is Regency Furniture Stadium, home to the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, an independent Minor League baseball team. Baseball is America’s pastime and Eileen Minnick, Director of Recreation, Parks & Tourism, thoroughly enjoys a night out to watch a professional game so close to home. Tickets are reasonable, seating is comfortable, and the between inning family fun activities are both engaging and entertaining. Everyone enjoys interacting with the comical team mascot “Pinch” who can be found getting into mischief throughout the stadium. The Southern Maryland Blue Crabs organization supports our community year-round, and what better way to return the favor than sitting in the stands cheering the team onto victory. “Did I mention the awesome ﬁ reworks display at the end of game? What a wonderful way to spend an evening!”
HISTORIC STAGG HALL
Site Coordinator Carin Diggle feels extremely fortunate that one of Charles County’s historic sites is also where she works part time. Located in Port Tobacco Historic Village, Stagg Hall was purchased by the Charles County Government in 2013. Since 1903, the house has been a private residence. The building was constructed in 1766 by merchant Thomas Howe Ridgate and served as his ofﬁ ce and headquarters. Ridgate’s inventory still exists and was used to furnish the building’s current merchant ofﬁ ce and store, providing guests a chance to interact with the bygone past of Port Tobacco.
One event Tour Specialist Maggie Boyden looks forward to each year is Roctoberfest. Held annually, it is hosted by Island Music Company and local small businesses to raise money for music and preforming arts within Charles County Public Schools. The Town of La Plata shuts down from main street to town hall and sets up multiple stages for local bands, food trucks, vendors, and a kid zone. There is something for everyone! The music never stops at this all-day event, when one stage ﬁ nishes the next stage begins, highlighting all the local musical talent from high school bands to country and good old rock and roll. Music lovers come from miles around to “Rock La Plata for Good” each year at Rocktoberfest.
Visit Charles County today to create your own adventures, memories, and stories in this legendary place. Go to ExploreCharlesCounty.com to learn more about Charles County and for upcoming events and popular attractions.