If you’re thinking of catching the next plane to Florida, think again! Maryland has a lot of wintertime fun — and food — waiting for you. According to the Maryland Office of Tourism, 62% of people across the country find Maryland to be an enticing place to visit. 

“After the flurry of long-distance holiday travel, January and February are perfect months for enjoying nearby getaways to Annapolis and Anne Arundel County,” said Susan Seifried, spokesperson for Visit Annapolis and Anne Arundel County. “You don’t have to travel far to feel like you’re miles from home in a destination where history, the Chesapeake Bay, and the great outdoors welcome you with open arms and a host of possibilities.”

Notably new

In Edgewater, the Woodlawn History Center opened during the summer at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. The center provides a glimpse into the area’s Native American settlements and the families who lived there.

After undergoing a complete internal makeover, the National Cryptologic Museum reopened in October 2022. Located adjacent to the National Security Agency’s (NSA) headquarters at Ft. George G. Meade, the museum operates as NSA’s gateway to the public.

Learning local history 

Also in Edgewater, check out Historic London Town and Gardens and take yourself back to the days of the colonial seaport. Founded in 1683, it was an important trade center and home to one of the earliest European settlements in the region. 

Off the beaten trail

Explore Sandy Point State Park. It’s easy to spend the day at this 786-acre treasure on the northwestern shore of the Chesapeake Bay. Anne Arundel County is home to more than 137 county parks and natural resources areas encompassing 54 miles of paved trails that are perfect for biking and hiking.

Comfort food

In a survey cited by the Maryland Office of Tourism, 68% of respondents said if they knew more about local seafood in Maryland, they’d consider visiting. One way to get a good overview of the restaurant scene is to participate in Howard County Restaurant Weeks from Jan. 16 to 29, said Amanda Hof, executive director of Visit Howard County. 

Celebrating its 15th anniversary in 2023, Howard County Restaurant Weeks certainly includes seafood, added Hof. “In all those years it has remained a very strong program and people respond to it,” she said. “It’s really our longest running promotion and highest performing promotion.”

Plus, people need a reason to celebrate as the last few years have been challenging, Hof suggested. “People really see dining out as a celebration and an experience – a reason to treat yourself,” she said. “But it’s important to say that people can find very good prices and deals during Restaurant Weeks as well!”

A local renaissance

In 2021, visitors to Maryland spent $35.2 million – a boost to our local economy. And, as people are still trying to save money and may be still leery of traveling due to health reasons, places like Howard County are really affordable destinations, noted Hof. “We’re right in between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore,” she said, “You can stay here away from the hustle and bustle.”

From the Merriweather District to celebrity chef restaurants, Howard County has a mixture of an urban destination with small-town sites. 

“Ellicott City has really rebounded,” said Hof. “There are twice as many businesses there now.”

Savage Mill is also going though a renaissance of its own, she added, and is “really appealing to the trends out there – a lot of incubator-type spaces and experience-based businesses – among them a new fencing club – for people who want to learn new skills,” she said.