Things To Do In Dorchester Right Now
Sunrise at the Choptank River Lighthouse in Cambridge, Maryland. Photo by Jill Jasuta.
Get away from it all in Dorchester County on Marylands Eastern Shore. Located less than two hours from Baltimore and Washington, D.C. this quiet, friendly community offers wide open spaces, beautiful waterways, and outdoor fun the perfect balm for these pandemic times. Just about all of our lodging, restaurants, and shops are open, taking special care to ensure the safety of their guests.
Hiking In Hardy Country
View from Eggardon Hill, between Dorchester and Bridport
As mentioned a few times already, Dorchester is right at the heart of Thomas Hardy Country. The author used a fictionalised version of the county, which he renamed Wessex, as the setting for almost all his books.The Hardy Trail is a long walking route which connects many of the key locations that figured either in Hardys life or in his fiction. Starting in Dorchester, the trail loops through various villages and towns, passing through the heaths, grassy vales, and idyllic countryside which filled Hardys novels and poetry.
Drive: Blackwater Wildlife Refuge
A major migratory stop on the Atlantic Flyway, Blackwater Refuge is one of Dorchester County MDs premier attractions, and known by birders the world over.
Drive the 4-5 mile road, past stalks of dead trees in brackish water, stands of Loblolly Pines, and cattail-rimmed ponds.
Pull over and walk the trails or observation boardwalks. You might observe Sika Deer, muskrat, otters, White Pelicans, Blue Heron, Merganser Ducks and an abundance of other birds and wildlife. Stop in at the Visitors Center, to get your bearings and ask questions. From there you can see the new Harriet Tubman Visitors Center, which backs up to the Refuge. $3 at gate, Visitors Center open Mon-Fri 8-4, Sat/Sun 9-5.
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Frequently Asked Questions And Answers
What are people saying about things to do in Dorchester County, MD?
This is a review for things to do in Dorchester County, MD:
“Awwwww!!! They are TEMPORARILY CLOSED, probably due to COVID-19 but this is an AMAZING place to visit solo, with family and friends!!! Absolutely AMAZING, extremely very educational, soooo relaxing walking the grounds and visually seeing things take place !!! I learned so much and wish that I had taken many more photos too!!! This museum is ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS, FREE to enter just leave a donation if you would like to help!!YES!!! I will, DEFINITELY, re-visit when they re-open and will I will ALWAYS leave a donation !!!”
From Diane And Jeffs Travelogue:
The county was formed in 1669, but of course, Native Americans were living in the area well before that. The Algonquin people were very prosperous during European colonization. At that time, tribes and bands were present in most colonies, and Maryland was no exception. Of the Algonquin subtribes living in Maryland, the four most prominent were the Choptank, the Delaware, the Matapeake, and the Nanticoke. As coastal people, these subtribes spent the warmer months hunting and fishing in or near the Chesapeake Bay. Due to tribal wars and colonial incursions, a large portion of the Maryland Algonquin had emigrated by the end of the 17th century. Some Algonquin, however, chose to stay, including the Nause-Waiwash band of Dorchester County. With European settlers also came slavery with Dorchester County being the home of Harriet Tubman. We visited the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park and Visitors Center during our last visit, along with parts of the Underground Railroad Byway, and is highly recommended. This time we crisscrossed parts of the county that Harriet Tubman traversed as she escaped from slavery and worked to guide others to their freedom.
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Business Assets & Strengths
With more than 700 businesses employing 8,800 people, Dorchester has a strong and diversified mix of sectors in the heart of Marylands Eastern Shore.
Historically, manufacturing, food processing, fishing and agriculture were dominant industries. Today, tourism, business services and fulfillment operations have created new economic and employment opportunities. Coupled with a thriving entrepreneurial community, Dorchester is a county on the move.
As a federally designated HUBZone, a Dorchester location provides federal contracting opportunities for qualified small businesses located here. The County has two Maryland State designated Enterprise Zones at the Dorchester Regional Technology and Hurlock Industrial parks.
Category leaders and headquarter companies include Amick Farms, Cambridge Engineered Solutions, GKD-USA, Protenergy, LWRC International and the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort.
Small businesses are the heart and soul of our economy. Entrepreneurs like JT Merryweather, Chris Brohawn, Adrian Green Holmes, and Adam Xenides have built businesses around their passions.
Learn about Dorchesters business strengths and employers here:
Shire Hall Historic Courthouse Museum
Image credit: Marcin Wisniewski
Shire Hall was Dorsets courthouse from 1797 until 1955. Several famous local trials took place within the striking neoclassical building during that time, including the 1834 trial of the Tolpuddle Martyrs and the 1856 domestic abuse case that inspired Thomas Hardys Tess of the DUrbervilles.
Today, the Shire Hall Historic Courthouse Museum offers an immersive glimpse of local history. Visitors can explore the original cells, courtroom, and dock. There are also loads of fun, interactive exhibits, puzzles, and dress-up opportunities to keep kids entertained.
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Things To Do In Dorchester
Dorsets historic County Town of Dorchester is on the edge of the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, in the heart of so-called Hardy Country. With beautiful countryside on its doorstep, plus the beaches and wild cliffs of the Jurassic Coast just seven miles away, the town makes an ideal base for exploring the rest of the county. There are also loads of great things to do in Dorchester itself.
From fabulous local museums and iron-age hill forts, to boutique shops and delicious independent eateries, theres something for everyone in Dorchester. I was born and raised just down the road in Weymouth, so have visited the town a lot. Especially as my sister lives in Dorchester these days. So, I like to think theres no better guide to Dorchester out there! This round-up features the very best things to do in and around the town, as well as a run-down of the top festivals and events to add to your diary. Enjoy
Visit: Long Wharf And Choptank River Lighthouse
Walk on docks past working watermen boats to get to this replica built in 2012. The original stood a couple of miles upriver from the 1920s to the 1960s, when the Choptank was the Route 50 of its time a transportation artery for oysters, steamboats and rumrunners.
Slave ships came up this river from the Chesapeake. One carried Harriet Tubmans grandmother, Modesty Green.
Peer out the window and you can just imagine it. See several excellent exhibit here stories about the Underground Railroad and a clear-cut demonstration of how a Fresnel Lens works.
If youre lucky, the docent on duty will be Jim Duffy, author of the wonderful Eastern Shore Road Trips and an upcoming Harriet Tubman Byway Companion.Lighthouse open for self-guided tours May-October daily, volunteer docents Friday-Sundays.
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Popular Attractions In Dorchester County
Get Wheeling With Two Wheels Or Four
Grab the bicycles and explore flat and quiet country roads and scenic landscapes and waterscapes, or bring the kids to the four-mile Wildlife Drive at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. Take a look at some suggested routes, from 10 to 55 miles in our free Cycling Guide. Prefer to stay in the car? Wander the back roads to one of our destination restaurants such as Old Saltys or Suicide Bridge Restaurant, take in the marsh scenes, or try one of our audio guides .
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Things To Do With Kids In Cambridge Md
- TripBuzz found 41 things to do with kids in or near Cambridge, Maryland, including 29 fun activities for kids in nearby cities within 25 miles like St. Michaels, Easton and Tilghman.
- From Blackwater Paddle & Pedal to Lucky Dog Catamaran Company, the Cambridge area offers 73 different types of family activities, including: History Museums, Boat Rentals, Bowling and Movie Theaters.
- A large city on Maryland’s east coast, Cambridge is a lakefront community with several historic districts including its downtown area. Downtown Cambridge is made up of a mixture of cafes, fine dining restaurants and specialty shops. A thriving arts and culture community, the city is also home to various art galleries along with the Dorcester Center for the Arts.
Expand Relocate Or Return To The Heart Of The Chesapeake
Home to industrious, innovative and creative individuals, Dorchester Countys landscape defines not only where but who we are. Shaped and surrounded by water, our community reflects the character and culture of all who live, work and are lured to this place of incomparable beauty. Discover an authentic Chesapeake lifestyle on Marylands Eastern Shore.
Dorchester County boasts attractive and affordable housing options from waterfront estates to rural developments and city condos, townhouses and apartments. Local amenities include shops, restaurants, parks, marinas, and public entertainment venues within walking or biking distance.
Cambridge Dorchesters County seat is an authentic seaport community on the shores of the Choptank River. The citys rich maritime heritage and working waterfront are on display along the shores where watermen, sail makers, ship chandlers and boat captains make their living among the museums, restaurants and attractions.
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Popular Types Of Attractions In Dorchester County
Stop In: Bucktown General Store Bucktown
Brochures call Bucktown Village Store the site of the 1st known act of defiance in the life of Harriet Tubman. Susan Meredith, wife of Jay the 4th generation of Merediths to own this historic place since the end of the Civil War keeps this story alive.
Walk in, and Meredith will first reveal artifacts found during restoration: an original newspaper announcing the $300 Reward for Minty and her two brothers, dog tags worn by slaves to identify their owners, a bill of sale for Linah , and much more.
Lean up against the blue-washed wooden counter, concave and worn by thousands of such leanings over the years, mysteriously sliced in some places. Meredith is the type of person who wonders about such things: what were they cutting here?
Why are the floorboards so bowed to the left of the front door and not to the right? Its easy, through Merediths surmising, to imagine Harriet Tubman walking through the door.
As was customary in the early 1800s, Tubman was leased to a farmer, Thomas Barnett, up the road to harvest, comb, and weave flax. This one particular day, she had come in to the store for provisions.
Her parents named her Araminta , and she was both. .
Tubmans Head Injury
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Eat/drink: Rar Brewing Cambridge
Ten years ago, Cambridge was a desolate town. But within the past few years, thats changing partly because all of the interest in Harriet Tubmans birthplace. But also by virtue of business owners like Chris Brohawn and JT Merryweather, who made their RAR Brewing a centerpiece of Cambridge downtown.
With its signatures, Nanticoke Nectar IPA and Groove City Hefeweizen and seasonals like Country Ride Pale Ale, Hyde IPA , Strawberry Ten Layer Stout, and Bucktown Brown Ale, the duo bring in slews of locals and visitors.
They renovated this 1936 pool hall, which had gone under in 2006, exposing original brick and tin ceilings. The brewery moved here in 2013. A second business, the farm to table RAR Eats, opened in the space next door.
Do: Walking Tour Of Historic High Street Cambridge
This one hour tour is jam packed with history and gossip, made even more entertaining by the older members of the West End Citizens Association, who serve as costumed guides. My docent was the feisty Marge Hull, who began the tour in Long Wharf Park.
Learn about the movements and motives of John Smith, who sailed up the Choptank, seeking an acceptable place to settle. Smith determined that the available fresh water, hardwood, temperate weather for farming, and friendly natives made this land ideal for colonization.
The British named the town in 1684. Large ships and schooners bound for England and South America were laden with timber. Ships from southern countries returned with pineapples and other exotic delicacies. These trades opened up Cambridge Maryland to the world.
The FDR Cambridge MD Connection
But, the Great Depression killed the town. In 1932, the boats stopped coming.
However, help was on the way. One of FDRs first WPA Projects was the redevelopment of Long Wharf as a place to dock the Presidential Yacht, The Potomac, on the Presidents tour of the Eastern Shore.
After FDRs death, his ship was berthed here from 1946-1960. Now a special artifact serves as a permanent Roosevelt Memorial: the dummy smokestack that hid the elevator Roosevelt used to conceal his disability.
Discover why a couple of homes were cut in half . Hear a tale about a reviving corpse. And get an earful of evil slave-catcher Patty Cannon folklore .
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Snappers Waterfront Cafe And Tiki Bar
Snappers Waterfront Cafe and Tiki Bar allow guests to sit back and relax as they dine on Maryland and Caribbean-inspired fare as they watch local watermen out on the Cambridge Creek. The famous tiki bar is the perfect place in Cambridge, Maryland for sipping a refreshing cocktail while sitting with toes in the sand. Laura and John Sydnor opened the cafe and bar in 1994 with the mission of creating a place that both tourists and locals alike can treasure, as well as a place where people can enjoy some of the freshest seafood on the Eastern shore and Caribbean-inspired dishes.
112 Commerce St, Cambridge, MD 21613, 410-228-0112
Visitor Center At Sailwinds Park East
4.5 based on 86 reviews
Reviewed By 740mindyg – Martinsburg, United States
Sailwinds is a perfect stop for any family traveling through Cambridge. There is a wide variety of playground equipment between the visitors center and the shore, beautiful and educational exhibits in the visitors center and a lovely walking trail along the shoreline.
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Visit: Dorchester County Visitors Center At Sailwinds Park
You cant miss this noteworthy building on the Choptank River with its towering sail awning. Come in for helpful advice on what to do in the area, and for several exhibits on local life.
Step outside on the deck to see one of six murals in Dorchester County , Ode to Watermen by muralist Michael Rosato, whose work appears in museums and offices around the country.
Goose on the Caboose in town is the second mural by Rosato, and exactly what it sounds like.
Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge Cambridge Maryland
Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is a gorgeous National Wildlife Refuge originally established in 1933, located along Maryland’s Eastern Shore just outside of the city of Cambridge. The beautiful refuge stretches for more than 28,000 acres throughout brackish tidal wetland, freshwater impoundment, and mixed evergreen and deciduous forest habitats. Today, it serves as a major waterfowl sanctuary for birds migrating the Atlantic Flyway, named in honor of the dark-colored waters of nearby Blackwater River and Little Blackwater River. More than 250 bird species call the refuge home, along with a wide variety of threatened and endangered plant and animal species. Recreational opportunities abound, including changes for wildlife watching, hiking, fishing, hunting, crabbing, and paddling.
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Have An Adventure At Insight Activities And Henley Hillbillies
The Dorset countryside around Dorchester is the perfect place for an adventure so why not get outdoors and try something new? At Insight Activities, you can try your hand at a range of woodland weaponry, such as archery, crossbows, and axe-throwing. Whether you fancy yourself as a medieval night or a modern-day Rambo, this is the perfect place to try your skill!
A little further afield, Henley Hilbillies also offer unique outdoor activities. Theres a great line up including quad biking and clay pigeon shooting. You can also try your hand at flying a hovercraft! So its ideal if youre looking for more unique things to do around Dorchester.
Best Places To Live In Dorchester County
Explore the best places to live in the U.S. based on crime, public schools, cost of living, job opportunities, and local amenities. Ranking based on data from the U.S. Census, FBI, BLS, CDC, and other sources. Read more on how this ranking was calculated.
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Niche User: I love the local area because of the hospitality and friendliness. We have a really nice downtown area with amazing food and local shops. I would come back to live here but I would live outside the city limits if I did because I like the country over the small town/city atmosphere. This could be a better place compared to other places in the country because we have little to do for teenagers in the local area. I can see this area becoming more industrialized in the future because it is slowly becoming that way now…Read 1Review
- grade C+
Current Resident: Beautiful town on the water. Lots of attractions, museums, a brewery, restaurants, shops, and much more. Dont miss historic downtown and Sailwinds park. Local artists have created murals. Annie Oakley and Harriet Tubman lived here and there is a rich history…Read 41Reviews
- grade C+
- grade B minus
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- grade A minus
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