Historic St. Mary’s City, Maryland

St. Mary’s City was the fourth permanent English settlement in North America and the first capital of the Province of Maryland. The first statute providing for (limited) religious toleration was enacted in the State House that is reconstructed on the site. The site features very little in the way of reconstruction, however, making it something an anti-Williamsburg, leaving most of the city’s colonial appearance to the imagination. (Which approach is more to your taste is something like the difference between preferring television or radio: it is endlessly debatable but in the end, you can enjoy both.) The site is off the beaten track (although a reasonable drive from Washington, D.C., or Baltimore) and seldom crowded, providing a wonderful atmosphere for leisurely viewing the exhibits in the Visitor Center and roaming the grounds to give the imagination time to do its work. One special feature is that archaeologists are busy on the grounds during the summer season. It’s usually possible to get a close-up look at their work and to find an eager archaeological field student to explain what they’re doing.

Located off Route 5 in Southern Maryland, travel time to Historic St. Mary’s City is less than two hours from Washington, D.C. and Annapolis and less than three hours from Richmond and Baltimore.

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