SummerDestinations1

Summer’s pleasures can seem all too fleeting, but now’s the time to savor the season in all its sunny, color-drenched glory.

Thanks to Maryland’s diverse landscape, picturesque vistas dot every corner of the state. Many are perfect for taking in summer destinations –whether the view is by train, car, bike, or even from a kayak.

So come along for an easy summer sojourn. We’ll motor along historic roadways, take a lazy ride or rush down rivers, and wind our way through majestic mountains–all within a few hours of Baltimore or less.

Steamboat Cruise on the Eastern Shore – Talbot County, MD

The Patriot is a 65-foot steamboat replica in operation since 1969.

Summer’s charms come alive in the picture postcard town of St. Michaels in Talbot County, nicknamed the Hamptons of the Eastern Shore. Take a cruise down the tree-lined, scenic Miles River aboard the Patriot–a 65-foot steamboat replica in operation since 1969.

“The vessel heads 10 miles up the river, which is part of the Chesapeake Bay Estuary,” says captain John Marrah. “Views include wildlife, mansions and local watermen harvesting their catch.”

The Patriot departs from the dock next to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. For information, call 410-745-3100 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting or www.patriotcruises.com. Guided maps for walking are also available at the Talbot County Office of Tourism in Easton. www.tourtalbot.org.

Kayaking Down a River – Knoxville, Md.

Spend the day kayaking on the Potomac River.

The team at River and Trail Outfitters launched its trips four decades ago. Today, they do a brisk business giving adventure lovers a river view of trees, beautiful stretches of mountains and the historic town of Harpers Ferry, via raft, canoe, kayak or tubing.

Zipline adventures are other scenic outings that River and Trail Outfitters accommodates.

Itineraries vary, but options include traversing the Shenandoah, Potomac and Monocacy Rivers, and their tributaries, as well as Antietam Creek. Staffers say they can map your route, or provide trained guides; safety equipment as well as transportation to and from the river is included. And select trips include a picnic lunch.

Specialty trips in canoes or kayaks range from gourmet camping and whitewater excursions to jaunts that stop for beer at a local microbrewery. Knoxville is about an hour away from Baltimore. Costs vary but begin around $30 and range up to about $70. River & Trail Outfitters. 888-446-7529 or www.rivertrail.com

Stroll a Historic City – Annapolis, Md.

Annapolis is famed for its early American history, sailing culture, and serene beauty. With more 18th-Century brick homes and structures than anywhere else in the country, visitors can stroll cobblestone streets lined with leafy ancient oaks. Interesting stops include the Naval Academy, and the garden home of William Paca, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. There’s plenty of African-American history, and must-sees include statues of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall (a native of Baltimore) and Alex Haley, author of `Roots.’ Various tour operators also provide walking and sailing excursions, and don’t skip a water taxi ride to nearby Eastport, where First Lady Michelle Obama has dined. Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Conference and Visitors Bureau. www. visitannapolis.org

Ride the Rails – Walkersville, Md.

The Walkersville Southern provides beautiful scenic views.

A turn-of-the century train conjures a time when the world passed by a little more slowly. On the Walkersville Southern, the ride (a little over an hour) also means glimpsing a glorious procession of trees and pastoral farm-country. The tracks, built by the Pennsylvania Railroad, date back to 1872 and the passenger cars are vintage 1920s gems. Murder mystery and specialty trains run at various times during the year. Afterwards, stop by the museum across the street to see how the rails tie into local history. Walkersville Southern is just north of Frederick, Maryland, about 50 miles from Baltimore off Rte. 15. For information, 301-898-0899 or www.wsrr.org

Sunset Supper History Cruises on the Potomac – Solomons, Md.

Climb aboard the historic `Wm. B. Tennison’ for a leisurely cruise with a local historian. Learn fascinating facts about Solomons’ rich tradition of boat building. See old steamboat wharfs and hear about the important role they played in town life. View historic homes and landmarks. Discover where heroic battles were fought, submarines sunk, lighthouses lit, and Ghost Fleets docked. Watch the sunset over the horizon and enjoy a tasty supper provided by Lotus Kitchen. Only two of these special history cruises are scheduled: Saturdays, June 6 and September 12 from 6-8 p.m. The boat leaves from the dock of the Calvert Marine Museum; be sure to stop in for its educational exhibits. Tickets are $60 per person in advance. Email mccormmj@co.cal.md.us or call 410-326-2042, ext. 41. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, www.calvertmarinemuseum.com or call 410- 326-2042.

Hike, Bike or Drive the Historic National Road – Cumberland, Md.; and other cities, towns statewide

Some two centuries ago, American settlers in horse-drawn wagons heading west, got there via a partial dirt road that was the country’s first federally-funded highway. Authorized in 1806, the Historic National Road broke ground in Cumberland, took 40 years to finish, and eventually stretched from Baltimore to Illinois. Maryland’s portion (about 170 miles) is hospitable to hikers, bikers, bird-watchers and nature lovers year-round. With parks and scenery along the road that range from country creeks, to the Appalachian Mountains, it’s a sweeping way to experience summer pleasures. For more information, call the Allegany County Tourism office. 800-425-2067 or www. mdmountainside.com.