Charles County Public Library

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Crab cakes and Old Bay. That’s what often comes to mind when people think of Maryland. While the great food shouldn’t be overlooked, there are all sorts of wonderful reasons to love Southern Maryland.

Charles County, home to approximately 155,000 residents, is located approximately 30 minutes from Washington, DC. within one of the nation’s busiest urban corridors. The County offers residents a high quality of life, featuring both urba
n pleasures and scenic vistas, particularly with the hundreds of miles of shoreline along the Potomac River. The diverse and growing population work in a variety of businesses, from agriculture and maritime pursuits to military, research/technology and commercial enterprises. La Plata is the county seat, while Waldorf (original name: “Beantown”!) and St. Charles are the population centers. If you stood at the southwest tip of the county, where Route 224 makes a southern bend, you would be north, south, east and west of the state of Virginia, all at the same time! Plus, you’d have a terrific view of the Potomac River.


As one of the first colonial settlements, and located on waterways that were key to the development of our young nation, Maryland is rich in history. Today, visitors to Southern Maryland can learn how the region was shaped by its colonial beginnings, the War of 1812, tobacco farming and more. Among the numerous museums, Revolutionary War era homes, plantations and churches open for exploration are:

Thomas Stone National Historic Site (aka Haberdeventure) — Stone was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. His colonial home, resembling a Southern Maryland tobacco plantation, was nearly leveled by a fire in 1977. The National Park Service restored the property in the 1990s and now offers tours.

Dr. Samuel A. Mudd House Museum — Samuel Mudd was the physician who set the broken leg of John Wilkes Booth after he assassinated President Abraham Lincoln. Dr. Mudd was charged and imprisoned for aiding and conspiring in a murder when he failed to report Booth’s whereabouts to the authorities. His home is open for tours and is a featured location on Maryland’s Civil War Trail detailing Booth’s escape.

. Ignatius Church and Cemetery — founded in 1641, St. Ignatius Church is one of the oldest continuously active churches in the country. St. Thomas Manor, which is part of the complex, is the oldest Jesuit residence in continuous use ion the world.

Historical Society of Charles County maintains and provides tours of Friendship House, a reconstructed colonial home on the campus of the College of Southern Maryland.

Port Tobacco was once the county seat and a busy seaport until tides and silt made a portion of the Port Tobacco River unnavigable. Today, the area is a
historic district where visitors can tour the Port Tobacco Courthouse and other historic structures.

Mallows Bay, recently designated as a national marine sanctuary, is considered the graveyard with the largest shipwreck fleet in the Western Hemisphere.

The Great Outdoors

Charles County is located on miles of shoreline along the beautiful Potomac and Patuxtent rivers and is home to about 30
county parks, boasting acres of athletic fields, nature trails, dog parks, equestrian areas and facilities to skate, swim, fish, golf, and more.

The Charles County Department of Community Services operates several
community centers in the county, offering scores of programs to entertain and educate people of all ages and interests.

The county is also home to several state parks and nature areas, including:

Chapel Point State Park — This is one of Maryland’s lesser developed state parks, located on a tributary of the Potomac and used for fishing, hunting, camping, and hiking.

Purse Area — Formerly a Maryland State Park, this region is now part of the Nanjemoy Wildlife Management Area located along the Potomac River and is popular for activities including fossil hunting, regular hunting, birding, and fishing.

Smallwood State Park — A restored 18th century plantation house is one of the highlights of this 600+ acre park that also includes a marina, picnic and camping areas and a playground.

Chapman State Park — This park on the Potomac is home to an antebellum mansion and a rich biodiversity of plants and animals, including some very rare specimens of each.

moy Creek Preserve — The Nanjemoy Creek is called “the green thumb” of the Potomac River. The preserve was established in 1978 to protect a large breeding colony of great blue herons. Although the herons now prefer other habitats, a vast number of other creatures, trees and plants still abound in the preserve.

Cedarville State Forest — Located on the northern border of the county, this area is known for its woodlands and swamp, plus its abundance of wildlife.

Arts and Entertainment

Cultural arts, festivals, and special events make Charles County a vibrant place to be.

The Charles County Arts Alliance (CCAA) serves as the county’s umbrella organization for artists, art activities, art venues and funding. CCAA has a special tie to the Charles County Public Library, as it manages a gallery space at the Waldorf West Library.

If it’s a Friday night in the summer, residents head to La Plata, home to a
summer concert series. La Plata also hosts a Fall Festival and many other events celebrating holidays or seasonal activities.

The Fine Arts Center of the
College of Southern Maryland is located in La Plata and is home to some of the college’s wide variety of arts events, including a children’s theatre, fine arts exhibitions, theatre and dance performances, and concerts.

Black Box Theatre and Indian Head Center for the Arts houses a small theater with an intimate setting for musical and dramatic performances, workshops, and more.

Mattawoman Creek Art Center seeks to “encourage the practice and appreciation of the visual arts” through monthly exhibits, workshops, classes and other means.

Every September, the
Charles County Fair entertains crowds with food, carnival rides, competitions, and live entertainment.

Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, a member of the independent Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, play 140 regular season games at Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf. In 2020, they are the proud hosts of the Atlantic League All-Star Game.

St. Charles Towne Center and the many antique stores throughout Charles County offer lots of options for shoppers.

Dining choices are plentiful throughout
Charles County and the rest of Southern Maryland — but of course, those crab cakes and Old Bay continue to reign supreme.


Families in Charles County are served by the
Charles County Public Schools.

Nearby colleges and universities include:
College of Southern Maryland
University of Maryland, Charles County Extension
Washington, DC Colleges and Universities

Other Information

Charles County Tourism
Meet Charles County
Destination Southern Maryland
Southern Maryland (Maryland Office of Tourism)
Washington DC tourism

Photo attributions: Haberdeventure, Wood Barn, Cobb Island, Mallows Bay courtesy of Explore Charles County; Port Tobacco photos by MD Gov Pics Flickr, licensed under CC BY 2.0 ; "Cedarville State Forest Pond in Waldorf, Maryland" by Watson Media from Lynchburg, VA, USA - Cedarville State Forest Pond. Uploaded by Gary Dee. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikipedia Commons;