Article Archive >> Summer Tourism

Free or nearly free in Washington County

Free or nearly free in Washington County

There's always something to do in Washington County, and much of it won't cost you a cent.
Appalachian Trail - Footpath for the People
The Appalachian Trail is a 2,181-mile long public footpath that traverses the scenic, wooded, pastoral, wild, and culturally resonant lands of the Appalachian Mountains. Conceived in 1921, built by private citizens, and completed in 1937, today the trail is managed by the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, numerous state agencies and thousands of volunteers.
Greenbrier State Park
Greenbrier is a multi-use park providing many kinds of recreation. The Appalachian Trail passes through the park. The 42-acre man-made lake and beach draw many visitors who enjoy swimming, canoeing, hiking, picnicking, fishing and hunting. As with most of Maryland's State Parks, a park map is available at the park office.
Located in the Appalachian Mountains, this state park offers many recreational opportunities. Call 301-791-4767 for more information. Hours of operation: 8 a.m. to Sunset.
Catoctin Mountain Park
Catoctin's diverse cultural resources provide several vignettes of our nation's history in one small location. Native Americans quarried rhyolite for the production of lithic tools. A charcoal and iron industry is still visible today, along with smaller industries including farms, sawmills, and an old moonshine still. Historic structures and products of the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps, along with the site of our nation's first JobCorps Center, are tangible reminders of the capability of vigorous youth programs to strengthen the nation's economic and social fabric. The totality of resources found in Catoctin Mountain Park reflects much of the early fabric of our country. Park is located at 6602 Foxville Road, Thurmont. Call 301-663-9388 for more information.
Washington County Rural Heritage Museum
At the Washington County Rural Heritage Museum you will learn about our region's beginnings and history, and how our rural and agricultural heritage continue to play a role in Washington County today.
Located at the Agricultural Education Center in Boonsboro, Maryland, the Rural Heritage Museum is open year-round Saturdays and Sundays, 1:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m.
Hagerstown City Park
The City Park in Hagerstown is often referred to as "America's second most beautiful municipal natural park". The park's centerpiece is a 50-acre lake, home for more than 250 waterfowl. The park makes for a wonderful afternoon getaway anytime of year. Hagerstown's City Park is located at 501 Virginia Avenue.
Antietam National Battlefield
One mile north of Sharpsburg, Maryland, on Route 65, is the Civil War site that was established by Act of Congress on August 30, 1890, marking the end of General Robert E. Lee's first invasion of the North in September 1862. The battle claimed more than 23,000 men killed, wounded, and missing in one single day, September 17, 1862, and led to Lincoln's issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation.
Places to see: Bloody Lane, Burnside Bridge, wood fences, cannon displays, National Cemetery, monuments and much more. The Visitor's Center, with Museum Store, Audiovisual Program, Interpretive Programs, and tours, is open daily this summer until 6 p.m.
Western Maryland Rail Trail
14 miles of spectacular river views, vistas of hardwood covered mountains exploding with color in the fall, rock formations, dramatic tunnels, transportation history and pristine wilderness.
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
A visit to this quaint, historic community, at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers, is like stepping into the past. Stroll the picturesque streets, visit exhibits and museums, or hike our trails and battlefields. Spend a day or a weekend. We have something for everyone, so come and discover Harpers Ferry! Visitor information: 304-535-6029
Fort Frederick State Park
American history from the colonial period to the present can be discovered at Fort Frederick State Park. Our 585-acre park features a unique stone fort that served as Maryland's frontier defense during the French and Indian War. Call 301-842-2155 for more information. Hours of operation: 8 a.m. to Sunset, April-October 10 a.m. to Sunset, November-March.
South Mountain State Park and Battlefield
South Mountain State Park is a 40-mile long multi-use state park weaving along the South Mountain ridge from the Pennsylvania line to the Potomac River. It has no distinguishable boundary or entrance facility. South Mountain State Park can be accessed at a number of locations. Most of the park is only accessible by foot. Call 301-791-4767 for more information. Hours of operation: 8 a.m. to Sunset.
Pen Mar Park
Located on High Rock Road at the Mason Dixon Line, Pen Mar Park is one of the finest scenic areas in Maryland. There's a scenic lookout, picnic shelter, children's playground, a multipurpose pavilion, and a dance pavilion, with an induction loop system for the hearing impaired is where hundreds of people gather every Sunday afternoon from 2-5 p.m. for live music June-September of every year. The park is located at 11400 Pen Mar High Rock Rd, Cascade.
Washington County Museum of Fine Arts
The museum provides visitors with an outstanding permanent collection and an active schedule of exhibitions, musical concerts, lectures, films, art classes and special events for children and adults throughout the year. The museum is located in the Hagerstown City Park. Tuesday through Friday: 9 a.m.-5p.m., Saturday: 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Sunday: 1-5 p.m. Call 301-739-5727 for more information.
Hagerstown Roundhouse Museum
The Museum is filled with artifacts, photos, railroad art, model railroads, a library, a roster of Western Maryland employees, and a gift shop. There is something for everyone at the Museum. There are trains for kids to run, and specials events include the Trains of Christmas and Railroad Heritage Days.
The Museum is located at 300 S. Burhan's Blvd. (US11), Hagerstown, in a historic building on the edge of the CSX yards and is open on Fri, Sat, & Sun from 1 to 5PM. Telephone: 301-739-4665. Admission is $3.50 for Adults, $.50 for children 4 through 12 years old, and 3 years and under is free.
Sideling Hill Wildlife Management Area & Exhibit Center
This 3,100-acre tract of mixed mixed oak forest with scattered stands of Virginia Pine is a must for outdoor enthusiasts who love mountain scenery and wildlife. The property has a rolling to steep topography with elevations ranging from 500 to 1,500 feet. Nearby is the Sideling Hill Visitor's Center, where the geology of the area and of the deepest road cut east of the Mississippi River is fully explored.
In the spring, turkey gobblers strut through the forest and forest clearings, displaying their beautiful array of feathers. Black bears are occasional visitors to the area. White-tailed deer, grouse and squirrels will challenge the forest hunter. Anglers will enjoy fishing for stocked trout in the shallow creek. Canoeing is only possible during the spring melt, but canoeing the creek is splendid at that time of year. Old logging roads are scattered throughout Sideling Hill WMA, creating both easy and challenging walks for hunters and hikers. For additional information, contact Indian Springs Wildlife Office at 301-842-2702.
Pry House Field Hospital Museum
This new museum is located in the historic Pry House, which served as Union Commander General George B. McClellan's headquarters during the battle. The museum is sponsored by the National Museum of Civil War Medicine and is open daily, Memorial Day through October and weekends in May and November 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Call the museum to confirm the hours on 301-416-2395 or call the main Frederick museum on 301-695-1864. A $3.00 donation is suggested.
Exhibits include a re-creation of an operating theater, interpretive panels and objects relating to the care of wounded and the effects on the civilian population in the area, and information on the Pry House. Take the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of Abraham Lincoln who visited the house two weeks after the battle.
C&O Canal
184.5 Miles of Adventure! Preserving America's early transportation history, the C&O Canal began as a dream of passage to Western wealth. Operating for nearly 100 years the canal was a lifeline for communities along the Potomac River as coal, lumber and agricultural products floated down the waterway to market. Today it endures as a pathway for discovering historical, natural and recreational treasures! The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park is open during daylight hours year round. Call 301-582-0813 for more information.
Walking Tours of Downtown Hagerstown
Come and see Historic Downtown Hagerstown for yourself! Visit the Visitor Welcome Center, just off the Public Square at 6 North Potomac Street. Start your walking tour there!
Jonathan Hager built his first home in Hagerstown in 1739, and set up a prosperous trading post. The City of Hagerstown was laid out in 1762 by Jonathan Hager. Originally called it Elizabeth Town, after his wife, Hager created the groundwork for Hagerstown-Washington County. Hager served in the French and Indian War, and gained positive renown. Unfortunately, Hager was killed in 1775 during an accident, while building a church on land that he had donated. In 1814 an assembly of the town agreed to change the name of the town to Hager's Town, which later evolved to Hagerstown.
Hagerstown has always been the largest town in Washington County and was originally nicknamed the "Hub City" because of the large network of railroads that intersected here. Today it remains a center of activity with many roads and other transits that intersect here. Downtown Hagerstown has a vast history, often overlooked by those traveling through the city. Come explore the hidden history of Historic Hagerstown. For more information visit
Washington Monument State Park
Located atop South Mountain, Washington Monument State Park is named for the first completed monument dedicated to the memory of George Washington. The Washington Monument is a rugged stone tower that was initially erected by the citizens of Boonsboro in 1827. The park is located at 6620 Zittlestown Road, Middletown and is open 8 a.m. to Sunset (April to October) 10 a.m. to Sunset (November to March). Call 301-791-4767 for more information.
Events that take place throughout the year are often free as well. Here's just a few:
Western Maryland Blues Fest runs Thursday through Sunday every May/June. Concerts at the Hagerstown City Park are free.
Bridge of Life Church offers a free movie night every other Saturday in Hagerstown at 14 S. Potomac Street. They encourage to you come out and enjoy a movie, free popcorn, and soda in a safe, family-friendly environment. For more information call 301-791-1674.
Salute to Independence takes place every July at Antietam National Battlefield in Sharpsburg. A concert, different each year, starts at 7:30 p.m. with fireworks at around 9:45 p.m. Just bring a blanket, picnic food and drinks, a flashlight, and the family!
Washington County Free Library offers tons of things to do for little to no cost such as read-aloud story time, craft building, and movies for kids; game, book, and movie nights for teens and tweens, as well as movies and workshops for adults. Visit for a complete listing.
William M. Brish Planetarium
The William Brish Planetarium is featured at with Skylights, a regular series of podcasts featuring a monthly sky tour, and previews of planetarium programs and special events. Call 301-766-2898 for more information.

Printable version

<< back to Articles on Summer Tourism
<< back to All Articles