Stores, shops, and eateries attract visitors on the Ocean City boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland, USA. Editorial credit: George Sheldon /

These Towns in Maryland Come Alive in Spring

As Marylanders fly south for spring, their homeland blooms with flowers, booms with music, crawls with crabs, and bubbles with beer and maple syrup. Maryland, in spring, is undoubtedly different than Florida and Hawaii, but it makes up with cooler weather and more extraordinary attractions. this isn't just big-city events, either. The following spring break destinations are communities with fewer than 10,000 people. See more of Maryland than just Baltimore.


Aerial summer view of colonial Chestertown on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, USA.

Aerial summer view of colonial Chestertown on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, USA.

In May 1774, several months after the Boston Tea Party, residents of Chestertown, Maryland, held their own "tea party" to protest British colonial rule. Legend has it that they tossed British tea into the Chester River. Two and a half centuries later, a reenactment of the tea sabotage remains the highlight of the Chestertown Tea Party Festival, which is held each Memorial Day Weekend. Aside from the reenactment, the festival features races, live music, craft vendors, children's activities, street performances, a raft race, a block party, and a parade. Moreover, there is a festival within the festival called Beer Fest, which is a celebration of local craft brews held on Sunday.

Being a former colony, Chestertown offers a walking tour of historic sites for residents and springbreakers alike. Buildings along the route include the Hynson-Ringgold House and Widehall—both of which date to the Pre-Revolutionary Period.


Loys Station Covered Bridge in Thurmont, Maryland.

Loys Station Covered Bridge in Thurmont, Maryland.

Thurmont should be renamed Springtown for all the spring staples within its borders. First to the plate is sweet maple syrup offered to the public during the Maple Syrup Festival. This event spans multiple weekends in March and takes place at Cunningham Falls State Park. Beyond watching tapped sap boil and tasting the spoils, attendees enjoy live bluegrass music, a pancake breakfast, a hayride through the maple grove, and even a flapjack race. Then, in mid-May, spring breakers can watch the boiling of another type of liquid as part of the Maryland Iron Festival, which honors the town's ironmaking history with metal activities like blacksmithing demonstrations, feats of strength, and molten iron pouring. They can decompress with fruity samples at Thurmont Main Street Farmers Market, which also sells local veggies, baked goods, meat, sauces, crafts, and even unique items like goat soap and kombucha.

As May turns to June, Thurmont's Springfield Manor Winery Distillery Brewery blossoms with numerous English lavender plants and then ushers in summer with the Maryland Lavender Festival, which features lavender-based gifts alongside music and food.

St. Mary's City

Colonial ship at St. John's Site Museum, in St. Mary's City, Maryland, USA.
Colonial ship at St. John's Site Museum, in St. Mary's City, Maryland, USA. Editorial credit: Regine Poirier /

As the first European settlement in Maryland, St. Mary's City is more a museum than a town, but it still contains a sizeable resident population. Many of the residents work for historical exhibits and events, which draw tons of tourists - especially during spring. On Saturday, March 23, St. Mary's City is to commemorate Maryland Day with a ceremony at the Margaret Brent Pavilion. Things are expected to pick up the following week with St. Mary's-specific spring break activities like farm animal feeding, cordmaking, and weir weaving. Tourists may stay in town for May Day, a traditional European celebration of spring's arrival. Festivities revolve around nature and a maypole. This year's May Day in St. Mary's City falls on Saturday, May 4.

St. Mary's City closes out spring with its own BeerFest, a celebration of food, music, and craft brews set for June 22 at the Reconstructed State House of 1676.


Ladew Topiary Gardens in Monkton, Maryland.

Ladew Topiary Gardens in Monkton, Maryland.

You can feel like a monk while tending the Ladew Topiary Gardens in Monkton, Maryland. Rated one of the most incredible topiary gardens on Earth, Ladew comprises more than 100 majestic topiaries, a mile-long nature walk, and a butterfly house spread across 22 acres. It is set to open for the season on April 1 and host an annual Garden Festival on Saturday, May 4. Going into its 16th year, GF is considered the premier plant and garden antique market in the region. Everything from perennials to mini trees to furniture to urns have been available at the festival.

Tourists can pair the visual and olfactory spectacle of Ladew with the audio spectacle of Monkton Music Fest, which is scheduled for Saturday, May 11, at the Puh'tok in the Pines campground. Announced musical acts include Caleb Stine & The Brakemen, Ed Hough's Dead Collective, and the Kelly Bell Band.


Courthouse of St. Mary's County, established in 1637, in Leonardtown, Maryland.

Courthouse of St. Mary's County, in Leonardtown, MD. By Dougtone - Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Leonardtown is a small town on Breton Bay that comes alive in spring with crabs, who then die for St. Mary's County Crab Festival. This year's festival, which is set for Saturday, June 8, at St. Mary’s Fairgrounds, will be its 38th iteration and feature steamed crabs, crab cakes, crab soups, crab crafts, and crab picking. The heaviest "pickings" win a prize. The Lions Club operates the festival and spends most of the proceeds on community service programs such as hearing and vision support.

Rather than crabs, tourists can pick other spring events in Leonardtown. The Camp Maria Spring Music Festival is to be held on Sunday, April 14, at the scenic Camp Maria Retreat Center, while the Southern Maryland Spring Festival is scheduled to run from May 2 to 5 and consist of carnival rides, games, crafts, food, and so much more. The latter has been going strong for over 25 years and takes place at the same fairgrounds as the crab festival.

Ocean City

Boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland, United States.
Boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland, United States. Editorial credit: Yeilyn Channell /

Oceanside Ocean City has only around 7,000 residents year-round, yet roughly 300,000 during summer weekends. As such, it is rightfully considered a summer town, but that does not mean it is dead in the spring. In fact, Ocean City has some of the best spring events in the state. The biggest of these is Springfest, a four-day, early May festival of food, music, and fine art in a lot off the boardwalk. This will be its 33rd birthday. Celebrating its sixth birthday on April 27 with wine, beer, oysters, seasonal dishes, and a disco band is Island Wine Fest, which is hosted by Fager's Island Restaurant and Bar. Perhaps Ocean City's best spring event will be the Maryland International Kite Expo, which is set to run from April 26 to 28 and release your inner child.

Spring Splendor in Maryland's Towns

The state of Maryland in spring is extraordinary. Although people pass it over for more southerly destinations, Maryland contains myriad spring-enhanced activities like maple syrup sampling, crab picking, historical event recreating, butterfly viewing, wine tasting, and kite flying. All of those happen in small communities and attract tourists who know to elope with rural Maryland from March to June. Those are the months where MD is most serenely sublime.

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