The Chesapeake Bay Region is home to many national parks and national park sites, giving us thousands of acres of the great outdoors to explore.
Visiting a national park is a great way to spend a vacation in pretty much every season. There is a national park for everyone and many of these parks offer a huge array of activities, like camping, hiking, biking, climbing, horseback riding, boating and historic sites.
National Parks of Washington DC
National Mall is a landscaped park within the National Mall and Memorial Parks.
Washington Monument – built to commemorate George Washington, Commander-in-Chief and the first president.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated and built in 1982. The memorial is complemented with the statue of The Three Soldiers and the Vietnam Women's Memorial.
Jefferson Memorial is a presidential memorial built to honor to the Founding Fathers of the United States and to Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence.
Lincoln Memorial is built to honor Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President.
World War II Memorial is a memorial of national significance dedicated to Americans who served in the armed forces and as civilians during World War II.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial is a granite statue, called the Stone of Hope. The granite statue honors Civil Rights Movement leader Martin Luther King Jr.
Koreans War Veterans Memorial was dedicated in 1995 to honor those who served in the Korean War.
Theodore Roosevelt Island was transformed from neglected, overgrown farmland into a memorial to the 26th president with miles of trails through wooded uplands and swampy bottomlands honor his legacy.
Civil War Defenses of Washington: The Civil War Defenses of Washington, also known as Fort Circle, were a group of Union Army fortifications that protected the federal capital city, Washington, D.C., from invasion by the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War
- Battery Ricketts was constructed to protect the Maryland or eastern end of the two bridges crossing the Anacostia and to occupy the heights above the Navy Yard and Washington Arsenal.
- Battery Kemble held two 100-pounder Parrott rifles, placed in such a way as to sweep Chain Bridge and Virginia beyond.
- Battleground National Cemetery was established shortly after the Battle of Fort Stevens in the summer of 1864. The battle, which lasted two days (July 11 through July 12, 1864) marked the defeat of General Jubal A. Early's Confederate campaign to launch an offensive action against the poorly defended nation's capital.
- Fort Bayard was built to overlook River Road, a historically important route into the capital from the north.
- Fort Bunker Hill was built in the fall of 1861 by the 11th Massachusetts Infantry and was named after the Revolutionary fortification at Bunker Hill, Massachusetts.
- Battery Carroll and Fort Greble were two defense sites north of the Potomac that guarded the gateway to Washington during the Civil War.
- Fort Chaplin was constructed in 1864. Its function was to cover the flank of Fort Mahan and force an enemy to detour around Fort Meigs by prolonging the obstructed line to that fortification.
- Fort Davis was built to serve as an outer defense of the City of Washington, DC.
- Fort DeRussy was built on a high hill with the purpose of providing cross fire upon the approaches to Fort Stevens on the 7th Street Pike (now Georgia Avenue NW).
- Fort Dupont was built to protect a critical Ridge Road (Alabama Avenue) intersection.
- Fort Foote was built in defense of the Potamic river against an enemy's armed vessels.
- Fort Greble and Fort Carroll were two defense sites north of the Potomac that guarded the gateway to Washington during the Civil War.
- Fort Mahan, situated on an isolated hill belonging to Dr. William Manning, was built to guard the approaches to Benning's Bridge which crosses the Anacostia River.
- Fort Marcy and nearby Fort Ethan Allen and other batteries on the northern bank of the Potomac River were built to protect Leesburg Pike and Chain Bridge.
- Fort Reno was originally named Fort Pennsylvania, and was built during the winter of 1861 shortly after the disastrous defeat of the Union Army at the First Battle of Manassas. Barnard chose the location of Fort Reno for its strategic importance in guarding the Rockville Pike (present-day Wisconsin Avenue NW).
- Fort Slocum was built by the 2nd Rhode Island Infantry and named after Colonel John Slocum of the 2nd Rhode Island Infantry. The fort had 25 guns and mortars, and commanded the intersection of the left and right forks of Rock Creek Church Road.
- Fort Stanton was constructed in September 1861 to defend the Navy Yard.
- Fort Stevens is one of many fortifications that surrounded Washington, DC, during the Civil War and the place where President Abraham Lincoln came under fire from Confederate forces.
- Construction of Fort Totten began in August 1861 and was finished by 1863. It occupied a high point in advance of the Soldiers' Home, President Lincoln's summer home.
- Major General George B. McClellan statue is an equestrian monument to Major General George Britton McCllean, U.S. Army, who served as general-in-chief and first commander of the Army of the Potomac during the American Civil War. The statue was sculpted by American Artist Frederick William MacMonnies and dedicated in 1907.
Maryland National Battlefields
Antietam Battlefield, Sharpsburg, MD: The Battle of Antietam ended the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia's first invasion into the North and led Abraham Lincoln to issue the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.
Monocacy Battlefield, Frederick, MD: The battle, labeled "The Battle That Saved Washington," was one of the last the Confederates would carry out in Union territory as the Confederacy carried out a bold plan to capture Washington, DC to turn the tide of the Civil War in their favor.
Maryland National Trails
Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route, PA,DE,MD,VA,DC: In 1781, the French Army joined forces with the Continental Army to fight the British Army in Yorktown, Virginia. With the French Navy in support, the allied armies moved hundreds of miles to become the largest troop movement of the American Revolution, declaring victory at Yorktown and secured American independence.
Harmony Hall - Prince George's County, MD: The 18th century Harmony Hall mansion is located on a 62.5-acre open pasture land estate along the Potomac River. Surrounded by a rich landscape, it offers visitors many chances to connect with Colonial History.
Maryland National Monuments, Shrines and Historical Sites
Fort McHenry, Baltimore, MD: Located at the tip of Baltimore City protruding out into the harbor, protecting the port, Fort McHenry provided the key for the American troops defeating the British in the War of 1812. The exploding shells and rocket fire from British warships inspired Francis Scott Key to pen the lyrics to the “Star-Spangled Banner.”
Thomas Stone Historical Site, Port Tobacco, MD: Thomas Stone, one of 56 men to sign the Declaration of Independence, built a house known as Haberdeventure. The property was declared a historical site in the 1978.
Maryland National Parks
Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, Potomac River, DC,MD,WV: The park was established in 1961 as a National Monument to preserve the neglected remains of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal and its original structures. The trail extends 184 miles along the Potomac River from Georgetown, D.C., to Cumberland, Maryland. In 2013, the path was designated as the first section of U.S. Bicycle Route 50.
Fort Washington Park, Fort Washington, MD: Built to defend the river approach to Washington, DC, Fort Washington Park is a scenic venue overlooking the Potomac River.
Glen Echo Park, Glen Echo, MD: Glen Echo Park began in 1891 as a National Chautauqua Assembly "to promote liberal and practical education." Still to this day offers year-round cultural and recreational activities.
Greenbelt Park, Greenbelt, MD: Visit to enjoy affordable camping, peaceful grounds and National Park Service hospitality. Greenbelt Park has a 174 site campground, 9 miles of trails and 3 picnic areas.
Fort Foote, Oxon Hill, MD: Constructed in 1863 atop Rozier's Bluff to strengthen the ring of fortifications that encircled Washington, D.C. Two of the Guns that protected Washington are still there along with the remains of the fort's earthworks.
Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad, Cambridge, MD: Harriet Tubman is the Underground Railroad’s best known conductor and before the Civil War repeatedly risked her life to guide nearly 70 enslaved people north to new lives of freedom. This new national historical park preserves the same landscapes that Tubman used to carry herself and others away from slavery.
Oxon Cove Park & Oxon Hill Farm, Oxon Hill, MD: Experience farm life and how its changed over time. Explore how the park evolved from a plantation home during the War of 1812, to a hospital farm, to the park you can visit today.
Piscataway, Accokeek., MD: Piscataway Park is home to bald eagles, beavers, deer, foxes, and ospreys. To complete the park experience there is a public fishing pier and two boardwalks over fresh water tidal wetlands, a variety of nature trails, meadows, and woodland areas.
Baltimore National Heritage Area, Baltimore, MD: The Baltimore National Heritage Area includes the following National Historic Landmarks:
- Basilica of the Assumption (Baltimore Basilica): The historic Baltimore Basilica, built from 1806-1821, was the first great metropolitan cathedral constructed in the United States after the adoption of the Constitution.
- Edgar Allan Poe House: Visit the former residence of the world renowned poet.
- Star-Spangled Banner Flag House: The Museum preserves the historic 1793 structure and interprets the life of Mary Young Pickersgill, a 19th-century female entrepreneur and craftswoman of the flag that inspired the National Anthem.
- Mount Clare Station and Roundhouse - Mount Clare is considered to be the birthplace of American railroading and holds the oldest passenger and freight station in the United States and the first railroad manufacturing complex in the country.
- Phoenix Shot Tower – The shot tower is a circular brick structure that produced “drop shots" for Molten lead was dropped from a platform at the top of the tower, through a sieve-like device, into a vat of cold water at the bottom of the tower to produce the bullets.
- Steam Tug Baltimore - The oldest steam-powered tugboat in the United States, has been repair and restored to Baltimore Museum of Industry.
- USS Constellation - is a sloop-of-war, the last sail-only warship designed and built by the Navy.
- USS Torsk - Commissioned for the Navy on December 16, 1944, the USS Torsk was the only submarine out of its fleet to see service during World War II.
Maryland and Virginia National Seashore
Assateague Island, MD,VA: Visit a place recreated each day by ocean wind and waves. Life on Assateague Island has adapted to an existence on the move. Explore sandy beaches, salt marshes, maritime forests and coastal bays. Rest, relax, recreate and enjoy some time on the edge of the continent.
Maryland and Virginia National Historical Trails
Captain John Smith Chesapeake, VA,MD,DE,DC,PA,NY: The Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail is a series of water routes extending approximately 3,000 miles along the Chesapeake Bay, the nation's largest estuary. The historic routes trace the 1607–1609 voyages of Captain John Smith to chart the land and waterways of the Chesapeake.
Potomac Heritage, Between the Chesapeake Bay and the Allegheny Highlands, DC,MD,PA,VA: National Scenic Trail network includes 710 miles tracing the outstanding natural, historical, and cultural features of the Potomac River corridor, the upper Ohio River watershed in Pennsylvania and western Maryland, and a portion of the Rappahannock River watershed in Virginia.
Star-Spangled Banner Trail, DC,MD,VA: The Trail tells the stories of the events, people, and places that led to the birth of the U.S. national anthem and commemorates the Chesapeake Campaign of the War of 1812. Consisting of water and land routes, the trail extends from Virginia, through southern Maryland closely following the shores of the Chesapeake Bay.
Virginia National Monuments
Fort Monroe National Monument, Fort Monroe, VA: Fort Monroe National Monument is located at the southern tip of the Virginia Peninsula. The Fort is the largest six-sided bastion fort by area ever built in the United States and it was designed to guard the ship channels of the Bay, important rivers, shipyards, and naval bases.
Booker T Washington Monument, Hardy, VA: The birthplace of Booker T. Washington celebrates his life and his accomplishments. He was born a slave in April 1856 on the 207-acre farm of James Burroughs and became the first principal of Tuskegee Normal and Industrial School. As an adviser, author and orator, his past would influence his philosophies as the most influential African American of his era.
George Washington Birthplace, Westmoreland County, VA: Established to honor the 200th birthday of the first president of the United States, the Birthplace represents more than a century of local, state, and national efforts to memorialize Washington.
Virginia National Historic Site
Maggie L Walker Historic Site, Richmond, VA: Walker’s home is preserved as a tribute to her enduring legacy of vision, courage, and determination after devoting her life to civil rights advancement, economic empowerment, and educational opportunities for Jim Crow-era African Americans and women.
Virginia National Battlefield
Petersburg Battlefield, Petersburg, VA: The Petersburg National Battlefield Park commemorates the ten month siege of Petersburg. The park includes 13 separate sites with three visitor centers along a 33 mile driving tour route. A full day is required to experience the entire battlefield park.
Virginia National Historical, Scenic and Battlefield Parks
Appomattox Court House, Appomattox, VA: On April 9, 1865, the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia in the McLean House in the village of Appomattox Court House, Virginia ended the Civil War.
Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial, Arlington, VA: Arlington House is a memorial to Robert E. Lee. It honors him for his role in promoting peace and reunion after the Civil War.
Cape Henry Memorial, Fort Story, VA: English colonists first landed here in April 1607, erected a wooden cross and gave thanks for a successful crossing to a new land. In 1781, Americans could watch from Cape Henry our French Allies defeated a British fleet in the largest naval battle of the Revolutionary War.
Cedar Creek & Belle Grove, Middletown and Strasburg, VA: Located near Middletown in Northern Virginia, this battlefield and park is the site of the Civil War Battle of Cedar Creek and the Belle Grove Plantation. The battlefield tour is highly acclaimed.
Colonial Jamestown and Yorktown, VA: In 1607, Jamestown was established as the first permanent English settlement in North America and it would become a historic landmark in American History. Jamestown and Yorktown also mark the beginning and end of Colonial America.
Yorktown Battlefield, Yorktown, VA: Explore the site of the last major battle of the Revolutionary War. Here at Yorktown General George Washington, with allied American and French forces, surrounded General Charles Lord Cornwallis’s British army. Cornwallis surrendered, effectively ending the war and ensuring independence.
Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania, Fredericksburg, VA: This park commemorates four major battles in the Civil War: Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Wilderness, and Spotsylvania--this is America's battleground, where the Civil War lost the most lives. It is visited by 500,000 people each year.
Great Falls, McLean, VA: At Great Falls, the Potomac River falls over a series of steep rocks and flows through the Mather Gorge. Great Falls Park has many opportunities to explore history and nature, all in a beautiful 800-acre park only 15 miles from the Nation's Capital.
Green Springs, Louisa County, VA: Green Springs National Historic Landmark District in Virginia’s Piedmont is over 14,000 acres. Its landscapes and structures, privately owned today but seen from public roads, offer a view of rural architecture with little change. Many of the farmsteads, dating to the 19th century, are preserved.
Historic Jamestowne, James City County, VA: Walk in the steps of Captain John Smith and Pocahontas where a successful English colonization of North America began. Despite early struggles to survive, the 1607 settlement evolved into a prosperous colony.
Manassas Battlefield Park, Manassas, VA: A 5,000-acre park that was the scene of two major Civil War battles, Manassas and Bull Run.
Prince William Forest, Triangle, VA: In 1936, Chopawamsic Renamed Prince William Forest Park and have welcomed generations of campers, hikers, bikers and nature lovers. Discover Northern Virginia's best kept secret!
Richmond Battlefield Park, Richmond, VA: The Richmond National Battlefield Park commemorates 13 American Civil War sites around Richmond, which served as the capital of the Confederate States of America. The park showcases Tredegar Iron Works, maker of artillery, and Chimborazo Hospital, the confederate’s largest hospital.
Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, Vienna, VA: The Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts is located on 117 acres in Northern Virginia. From May through September, multiple amphitheaters in the park present performances such as musicals, dance, opera, jazz, and popular and country music.
Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge, Cape Charles, VA: The National Wildlife Refuge on the Eastern Shore was previously a military base. The tip of the Delmarva Peninsula, including Fisherman Island, is a stunning area and one of the most important bird and butterfly migration paths in North America. The old military base is utilized well to preserve the wetlands. You can view an old graveyard, a historic cannon, bunkers to see the salt marsh and it all happens where the Chesapeake Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean.