It’s sometimes said, if you want to know where Maryland began, come to Southern Maryland. The three counties of Southern Maryland – Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary’s – are a unique combination of history and technology, combining the past and future of Maryland.
Maryland was established in 1634 when settlers landed at St. Clement’s Island in St. Mary’s County. The first Roman Catholic settlement in North America was at St. Mary’s City in extreme southern St. Mary’s County. Port Tobacco Village in Charles County is one of the oldest towns on the East Coast, founded in 1684. In Calvert County, the Chesapeake Bay has given the county a rich heritage of fishing, boating, and crabbing.
But Southern Maryland is also looking toward the future thanks to the presence of the Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Lexington Park, St. Mary’s County; and the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Indian Head, Charles County – as well as the counties’ proximity to Washington, DC; Northern Virginia; and Andrew Air Force Base. Technology and research is thriving here as government and defense contractors, tech companies, and the region’s high-skilled workforce develop the technologies of tomorrow.
Those who enjoy the outdoors will find much to love about Southern Maryland: miles of bike trails; boating on the Chesapeake Bay, Patuxent River, and Potomac River; hiking and shark tooth hunting at Calvert Cliffs; or picnicking and playing at the region’s many parks and playgrounds. Green abounds in Southern Maryland!
And arts lovers will find a home here, too. Spend an afternoon wandering the sculpture-laden paths at Annmarie Garden in Calvert County. Or, attend one of the many special events that happen throughout the year: several summer concert series, local theater, seasonal festivals, and arts and crafts fairs. Many artists live and work in Southern Maryland, and there are plenty of opportunities to watch, enjoy, or purchase their work.
Bordered by the Chesapeake Bay and the Patuxent River, Calvert County is the smallest county by land size in Maryland – just 213 square miles, and only nine miles wide at its widest point. Calvert has one of the highest standards of living in Maryland. Residents work in defense contracting, information technology, and tourism, and the county’s location close to Washington, DC, and the Patuxent River Naval Air Station make it the choice for many commuters. Two incorporated towns – North Beach and Chesapeake Beach – sit along the bay, and other organized areas in the county include Price Frederick (county seat), Dunkirk, Owings, Huntingtown, Lusby, St. Leonard, and Solomons.
Charles County is located a few miles south of the nation’s capital, with banks on the Potomac River. It was founded in 1658 and named to honor Charles Calvert, the third Lord Baltimore. There are three incorporated municipalities in Charles County: La Plata (county seat), Indian Head, and Port Tobacco Village. There are also a number of unincorporated areas, such as Waldorf, which served as a crossroads for region in its early days. Today, Waldorf has become a retail center and seen tremendous growth as many of its residents commute to Washington, DC, and other areas in Southern Maryland and Northern Virginia.
St. Mary’s County
With 500 miles of shoreline on the Chesapeake Bay, Potomac River, and Patuxent River, St. Mary’s County truly represents Maryland’s past and its future. The population is young, drawn by the high-tech jobs at and supporting the Patuxent River Naval Air Station. But there is farmland, too, and a large Amish population. Busy shopping areas in Lexington Park, California, and Leonardtown are growing, and there is a strong local food movement through farmer’s markets and locally owned restaurants. Leonardtown (county seat) is an incorporated municipality, and other areas include Lexington Park, California Hollywood, St. Mary’s City, Charlotte Hall, and Ridge.