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“A neglected historic treasure”

Historic St. Mary's City
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: Historic St. Mary's City is a museum of colorful living history and fascinating archaeology on the site of Maryland's first capital. The living history exhibits are open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Useful Information: Activities for older children, Activities for young children
Forest Hill, Maryland
Level 3 Contributor
20 reviews
15 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
“A neglected historic treasure”
Reviewed July 30, 2013

My husband and I took our three grandchildren, (ages 3, 5 and 9), to historic St. Mary's City, located south of St. Leonard's, in Southern Maryland. Our 9 year old granddaughter is interested in history and we thought she would like the see the site of the first settlement in Maryland, our home state. We visited on a Wednesday and had the site to ourselves. The visitors center has a small but informative museum and film. Our first stop was the native village with three reconstructed native buildings. The park guide at the site was wonderful with the children and we spent an hour learning about games, building the huts and building fires. The children could handle everything, and tried on the lobster back helmets worn by the English and the fur capes worn by the natives. The site has paved walking paths and our 5 year old granddaughter had fun following the map to each restored location. The restored buildings are located on the original foundations. At the town center costumed interpreters explained about life in the early settlement. Since we were the only visitors, it felt like we were getting a private tour. The staff were wonderfully friendly and paid special attention to talking directly to the children. The highlight of the visit was climbing aboard the Maryland Dove which is a replica of the type of ship used by the first settlers to travel to Maryland. The children were allowed to explore the ship with no restrictions except climbing the rigging. Although we thoroughly enjoyed the lack of crowds, we felt it is a shame that such a wonderful historic site, that is as important to Maryland history as Jamestown is to Virginia should not have a greater visitor base. In addition to the restored area, the site has a working plantation that we did not have time to visit due to time and hunger. We had to travel back to St.Leonard's to get lunch. On our next visit I will take a picnic lunch so we do not have to leave the area.

Visited July 2013
4 Thank Suzanne C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Susan W, Public Relations Manager at Historic St. Mary's City, responded to this review, July 31, 2013
Picnics are always fun but there are several alternatives for dining nearby, including the museum's Inn at Brome Howard. The casually elegant Inn offers scrumptious and reasonably-priced soups, sandwiches, salads, and a daily special. Don't forget to save room for dessert!
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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109 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Southern MD
Level 5 Contributor
75 reviews
35 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 58 helpful votes
“Excellent mix of education and relaxation”
Reviewed July 24, 2013

As a southern Maryland local, our visits to Historic St. Mary's City are frequent and varied.

You can visit during a special event like Maryland Days, and see great demonstrations. For example, check out the local Spinners and Weavers Guild demonstrations where men are impressed by the mechanics of a spinning wheel and women are impressed by the quality of yarn produced by the spinners. ). Or board the Dove for an enlightening tour through a replica of the ship that crossed the Atlantic in 1634.

This attraction has both fee and non-fee usage.

Drop by early in the morning before the area opens and walk your dogs through the scenic paths.

Visit the museum for a well-presented history of Maryland's first capitol and the seat of religious tolerance in the colonies.

On weekends, pay the admission fee and wander the Historic area, visiting each demonstation area, such as Godiah Spray Farm, many of which are manned by well-informed docents, many of them college students who are patient with children and quick with adult jokes.

Of course, keep in mind this is a college area (St. Mary's College of Maryland), so be prepared to enjoy the scenery of the youthful and carefree college students moving to and from classes along the road to the Historic area.

Visited March 2013
4 Thank muse_clio
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hurlock, Maryland
Level 3 Contributor
15 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
“A step back in time”
Reviewed July 9, 2013

My daughters and I visited St. Mary's City on a Saturday in July. While it was very hot and humid, there were plenty of areas to find shade and being on the water or in open field provided a nice breeze. We found the area of Indian history very interesting and informative, with several different types of buildings and activities going on. There were students doing archeological dig and study on the day we were there, and they were happy to share with us information on what they were doing and what they were finding. The highlight of the trip for us; however, was the tobacco plantation. There were 3 reenactors here who were so realistic that it was easy to become transported in your mind to a time long ago. Their dedication to preserving the past in this way provided to be an amazing history lesson for myself and my children. This was a great low-key getaway, packed full of history, in a beautiful setting.

Visited July 2013
1 Thank Sara E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sanibel Island, Florida
Level 4 Contributor
43 reviews
18 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
“well worth the trip back in time!”
Reviewed July 5, 2013

Absolutly must see with your kids! The historical value is worth the trip. Please fill up before you head south. Not much in the area. Bring your lunch plenty of picnic tables. I was married here so it is a great setting for weddings too! Checkbout their website for event schedule too.

Visited June 2013
2 Thank mary s
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chestertown, MD
Level 3 Contributor
20 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
“Living history”
Reviewed June 8, 2013

Maryland's first capital, as revealed by archaeology! This gradually growing historic site has some great reconstructions, ranging from the old state house and sailing ship Dove to newer reconstructions such as the chapel. Check out visitor's center before you start, for a good overview. IN the summer, there are usually excavations going on the historic area. St. John's is a little off the beaten path (you have to drive over to St. Mary's College), but it is WELL worth a visit. Don't miss it!

Visited October 2012
2 Thank PaleoDoc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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