St. Mary’s County: where Maryland got its start [classic article]

Maryland celebrated its 378th anniversary on March 26th. “Maryland Day” celebrates the date Leonard Calvert — representing his brother, the second Lord Baltimore — founded a colony that would be hospitable to Catholics and all faiths. St. Mary’s County is in the southernmost part of the state.

What to do:

Historic St. Mary’s City was the fourth permanent settlement in British North America. It’s spread across hundreds of beautifully preserved acres, looking as they did 378 years ago. The non-profit that runs HSMC has reconstructed the 17th century chapel commemorating the founding of Catholicism in what became the USA.  Also in the city are active archaeological digs, reconstructed original villages, and lots more to explore.

You can board a tall ship, The Maryland Dove, a reconstruction of one of the ships that brought colonists. It leaves the dock on special occasions. Also at HSMC, the Woodland Indian Hamlet shows how the local Yaocomaco Indian tribe lived. Historic re-enactors walk the grounds.

For chic interior design in your own home and elegant gifts, check out Traditions of Loveville in Loveville, MD. Down the road is Zimmerman’s Greenhouse, an Amish-owned business. They have homemade baked goods and crafts in a shop run with a minimum of electricity. Port of Leonardtown Winery is a co-op building of Southern Maryland wine growers right in town. Enjoy wine tastings daily and live bands on weekend nights.

Fuzzy Farmer’s Market is another co-op in downtown Leonardtown, run by women sheep, goat, rabbit, and alpaca farmers and fiber artists. They sell everything from handcrafted blankets to jewelry.

Big Larry’s Comic Book Café is a family-friendly comic book/gaming store in downtown Leonardtown where you can also grab a snack.

Learn about a German U-boat found in the Potomac and climb to the top of a historic lighthouse at Piney Point Lighthouse, Museum & Historic Park. Point Lookout State Park has fishing, swimming and was the site of a notorious federal POW camp for Confederate soldiers.

Where to stay: Stay on site at historic St. Mary’s City at the romantic and beautifully decorated Inn at Brome Howard. Special packages that include tickets to visit Historic St. Mary’s City, start at $160.

Woodlawn is an estate, bed and breakfast and destination for wine tastings from its sister vineyard, Slack Wine. The property belonged to Leonard Calvert. It’s located on a serene cove that opens onto the Potomac. Rooms in the historic accommodations have been modernized with luxurious touches like hot tubs and heated towel rack. Rooms start at about $140 per couple.

Island Inn and Suites is on St. George Island. All rooms either face St. George Creek or the Potomac; everyone gets a water view. Dock your boat at the hotel or borrow a kayak free of charge. Their bar and crab house serves local seafood and produce in a relaxed, island getaway atmosphere. Rates start at just under $100 a night.

Scheibel’s is a hidden locals’ secret: it’s a charter fishing center on Smith Creek, local catch of the day seafood restaurant and a karaoke lounge alongside a modestly priced/furnished fisherman’s motel, starting at $40 a night.

Where to eat: Café des Artistes in Leonardtown serves exquisite French fare in a casual, neighborhood setting. They feature classic specialties like Lobster Thermidor and fois gras.  Chef/owner Loic Francois Jaffres has won the elite acceptance into Académie Culinaire de France and Commanderie des Cordons Bleus de France. In warm weather, there’s outdoor seating on the sidewalk.

Kevin Thompson of Kevin Thompson’s Corner Kafé in Leonardtown comes from a family who’s been in the seafood business for decades. Try Maryland favorites like crab, rockfish and stuffed ham sandwiches in a family friendly restaurant designed to look like a boathouse.

Stuffed ham sandwiches are an exclusively St. Mary’s County delicacy. They’re corned ham – like corned beef – rolled around greens such as kale, collard greens or chopped celery. Each part of the county has a different recipe. W.J. Dent & Sons is a grocery store with one of the most popular versions. If you fall in love with it, they’ll ship to you.

Maryland celebrated its 378th anniversary on March 26th. “Maryland Day” celebrates the date Leonard Calvert — representing his brother, the second Lord Baltimore — founded a colony that would be hospitable to Catholics and all faiths. St. Mary’s County is in the southernmost part of the state.

What to do:

Historic St. Mary’s City was the fourth permanent settlement in British North America. It’s spread across hundreds of beautifully preserved acres, looking as they did 378 years ago. The non-profit that runs HSMC has reconstructed the 17th century chapel commemorating the founding of Catholicism in what became the USA.  Also in the city are active archaeological digs, reconstructed original villages, and lots more to explore.

You can board a tall ship, The Maryland Dove, a reconstruction of one of the ships that brought colonists. It leaves the dock on special occasions. Also at HSMC, the Woodland Indian Hamlet shows how the local Yaocomaco Indian tribe lived. Historic re-enactors walk the grounds.

For chic interior design in your own home and elegant gifts, check out Traditions of Loveville in Loveville, MD. Down the road is Zimmerman’s Greenhouse, an Amish-owned business. They have homemade baked goods and crafts in a shop run with a minimum of electricity. Port of Leonardtown Winery is a co-op building of Southern Maryland wine growers right in town. Enjoy wine tastings daily and live bands on weekend nights.

Fuzzy Farmer’s Market is another co-op in downtown Leonardtown, run by women sheep, goat, rabbit, and alpaca farmers and fiber artists. They sell everything from handcrafted blankets to jewelry.

Big Larry’s Comic Book Café is a family-friendly comic book/gaming store in downtown Leonardtown where you can also grab a snack.

Learn about a German U-boat found in the Potomac and climb to the top of a historic lighthouse at Piney Point Lighthouse, Museum & Historic Park. Point Lookout State Park has fishing, swimming and was the site of a notorious federal POW camp for Confederate soldiers.

Where to stay: Stay on site at historic St. Mary’s City at the romantic and beautifully decorated Inn at Brome Howard. Special packages that include tickets to visit Historic St. Mary’s City, start at $160.

Woodlawn is an estate, bed and breakfast and destination for wine tastings from its sister vineyard, Slack Wine. The property belonged to Leonard Calvert. It’s located on a serene cove that opens onto the Potomac. Rooms in the historic accommodations have been modernized with luxurious touches like hot tubs and heated towel rack. Rooms start at about $140 per couple.

Island Inn and Suites is on St. George Island. All rooms either face St. George Creek or the Potomac; everyone gets a water view. Dock your boat at the hotel or borrow a kayak free of charge. Their bar and crab house serves local seafood and produce in a relaxed, island getaway atmosphere. Rates start at just under $100 a night.

Scheibel’s is a hidden locals’ secret: it’s a charter fishing center on Smith Creek, local catch of the day seafood restaurant and a karaoke lounge alongside a modestly priced/furnished fisherman’s motel, starting at $40 a night.

Where to eat: Café des Artistes in Leonardtown serves exquisite French fare in a casual, neighborhood setting. They feature classic specialties like Lobster Thermidor and fois gras.  Chef/owner Loic Francois Jaffres has won the elite acceptance into Académie Culinaire de France and Commanderie des Cordons Bleus de France. In warm weather, there’s outdoor seating on the sidewalk.

Kevin Thompson of Kevin Thompson’s Corner Kafé in Leonardtown comes from a family who’s been in the seafood business for decades. Try Maryland favorites like crab, rockfish and stuffed ham sandwiches in a family friendly restaurant designed to look like a boathouse.

Stuffed ham sandwiches are an exclusively St. Mary’s County delicacy. They’re corned ham – like corned beef – rolled around greens such as kale, collard greens or chopped celery. Each part of the county has a different recipe. W.J. Dent & Sons is a grocery store with one of the most popular versions. If you fall in love with it, they’ll ship to you.

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