Leonardtown, Md. Looking for the perfect get-away without dealing with the airport? You can find it less than two hours from Baltimore, Richmond, and Northern Virginia in beautiful St. Mary’s County, Maryland — where the Chesapeake Bay, the Potomac and Patuxent Rivers meet.
Nearly surrounded by these historic waterways, the county offers a multitude of parks, historic landmarks, fishing spots, seafood restaurants, cultural activities, hotels and two colleges..
I visited Leonardtown this past weekend when the temperature hit 100 degrees. Even on the hottest day, cooling breezes came off the water as I paddled a rented kayak three miles on McIntosh Run from the Port of Leonardtown Winery to the Wharf at Breton Bay. After some cold water and a snack, I explored the craft and food vendor tables in the park, where tourists and locals gather throughout the season.
Visiting St. Mary’s is a chance to combine a nature trip, geology class, a history lesson, and recreation all in one.
A visit to the Point Lookout Lighthouse captures all those experiences. Opened in 1830, it served the shipping community navigating the Chesapeake and the Potomac.
Kayaking on McIntosh Run
A swan paddles in the Chesapeake Bay, Point Lookout, Md.
A turtle in McIntosh Run.
Point Lookout Lighthouse
St. Clements Island.
During the Civil War, the strategically located waterways became a crossroads for troops and supplies. About a half-mile north of the lighthouse is the site of a former Civil War hospital for Union troops, and a prison, cemetery, and monument to Confederate soldiers.
Wildlife abounds. A beautiful white swan floated in the Chesapeake as people fished from the rocky breakwater. At the Leonardtown Wharf, three osprey sat roosting in their nest. Blue herons flew above us, and we caught a glimpse of a Bald Eagle over McIntosh Run. Turtles sat in the sun on downed trees, only to slip into the creek when they heard our paddles hit the water. Other scenic spots include St. Clement’s Island, easily reached by purchasing a seven dollar ticket for the water taxi. The 10 minute open-air ride from the St. Clements Island Museum takes you to nature trails, fishing spots, more picnic areas, and the Blackistone Lighthouse. Across the Potomac, one can see Horse Head Cliffs and Fossil Beach in Westmoreland County, Va.
Hotels and motels are plentiful throughout the area, with the newly renovated Inn at Leonardtown within walking distance of the Wharf, restaurants, shoppes and local history.
That's my most recent adventure. To plan or promote your outdoors excursion or share your story, contact All Seasons PR to start your journey!