Places to Go, Things to Do in the Chesapeake Region

Bay Bridge View from Greenbury Point - AJ Metcalf - 1171x593

AJ Metcalf/CBF Staff

11 magical Bay watershed destinations to explore this spring and summer

One of the best ways to recharge your love of our watershed is to get out there and connect with the resource. This list comes from some of CBF's talented educators. Over the last 50 years, they have brought environmental education experiences to more than 1.5 million participants. Here are some of the places they go and things they do when they're off duty.

Yellow Breeches Creek, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania

Yellow Breeches Creek is a favorite place to cool off in the summer! Whether it is a lazy Sunday float or a dip-your-toes-in session with the family, this river has provided hours of exploration and enjoyment. The tree cover, the wildlife, the little rapids, going to Yellow Breeches is like taking a mini vacation right in our backyard. This is a popular summertime spot and activity, so it also provides endless hours of people watching!

– Liz Yocom, Professional Learning Team Assistant

Joseph Binder

Patapsco Valley State Park, Ellicott City, Maryland

I grew up visiting Patapsco Valley State Park in Ellicott City, Maryland. The park is huge with multiple entrances and places to explore. Some highlights include: Cascade Falls, the Swinging Bridge at Orange Grove, Daniel's Dam, McKeldin Rapids, and a disc golf course! I love this park in the springtime to watch the plants start to pop up, listen for the calls of songbirds, and catch a glimpse of baby animals. There are so many trails to explore for hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders. I especially love to see how different the Patapsco River can be in different places. You can see why the Algonquian pota-psk-ut named it Patapsco, loosely translating to 'backwater' or 'tide covered with froth.'

– Jessica Jenkins, Baltimore Harbor Program Manager/Educator

Jessica Jenkins

St. Michaels, Maryland

One of my favorite spots in the watershed is the quaint town of St. Michaels. From the brick sidewalks with wrought-iron gates to the waterfront with the Hooper Island Lighthouse, a sense of peace and familiarity radiates and settles over the locals and tourists alike. Stepping off of your boat or out of your car and taking that first breath of brackish air feels like a sigh after a long, tense day. You can visit the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, check out the dozens of shops and restaurants, relax in a spa, or just stroll around the town at your leisure. Every time I visit, it feels like coming home to the heart of the Chesapeake Bay.

– Damien Gibbons, Potomac River Program Captain/Educator

Monte Morton

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Nestled in the western part of Virginia, Shenandoah National Park is 311-square-miles of beautiful forests, hikes, and stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. As a graduate of James Madison University, the Shenandoah Valley feels like home. The communities surrounding the area offer glimpses into the history of agriculture in the state and welcome you to breweries, shops, and some of my favorite memories on trails like Old Rag, Reddish Knob, and Jones Run Falls.

– Caleigh Remocaldo, Virginia Student Leadership Coordinator

Natalia Tull

Saxis, Virginia

My absolute favorite place on the Eastern Shore is Saxis, Virginia. This is a charming, small community on the water. It almost feels preserved in time as its surrounding marshlands are protected as the Saxis Wildlife Management Area. Enjoy fishing from their pier into the Pocomoke Sound, launch your kayak, or simply observe the incredible birds. Its shoreline is also one of the best places to prog at low tide for sea glass and old pottery. I also hope you visit the Saxis Island Museum to learn more. Don't forget to check the tides for the day, and please be respectful of this hidden gem!

– Shayla Keller, Karen Noonan Center Program Manager/Educator

Mike Keller

Cole Mountain, Vesuvius, Virginia

One of my favorite spots in the watershed is the quaint Cole Mountain, near Beuna Vista, Virginia. It offers a spectacular six-mile loop in George Washington National Forest, and it boasts one of the most unique viewpoints of any Central Virginia hike. Unlike the small, rocky summit views typical of most trails in Virginia, Cole Mountain's summit houses a sprawling meadow and 360-degree views of the surrounding area. In the warmer months, the trail can get a bit crowded, but the lush, green meadow and beautiful wildflowers are truly something out of a fairy tale and well worth a visit!

– Amanda Deans, Virginia Rivers and Streams East Manager/Educator

Amanda Deans

Kiptopeke State Park, Northampton County, Virginia

Kiptopeke is my favorite beach location on the Eastern Shore. It is a site that holds a special place in my heart because my late father took me here often as a child. Indeed a beautiful natural landscape, it is also what I consider part of my ancestral home, part of my roots. Through genealogical research, I discovered that my paternal ancestor, Levin Moses, was a fisherman at Magothy Bay (the Atlantic side of Kiptopeke). It is quite likely that he worked on the bayside of Kiptopeke as well, where my family can be traced back to 1800.

– Vanessa Moses, Port Isobel Assistant Manager/Educator

Kent Eanes

Pagoda and Oriental Gardens, Norfolk, Virginia

The Pagoda is a small area in downtown Norfolk on the Elizabeth River with gardens, a large koi pond, and trails that wrap throughout. This is my favorite area to visit in the spring when everything is still blooming and waking up. It's a great area to watch for birds and a space I can go to relax with some fresh air or even go and get some work done. The Elizabeth River is where I began working on the water and its where much of my appreciation for the watershed began. I enjoy taking photos there and letting that be a place to get creative and further my hobbies of videography and photography.

– Josh Gilliland, Hampton Roads Program Manager/Educator

Josh Gilliland

Buchanan to Arcadia on the James River, Botetourt County, Virginia

Leaving Buchanan on this remote paddle in the headwaters of the James River, you pass under a swinging foot bridge, a small mine. Then it is just you and the river. Beautiful cliffs on the northern side give way to fertile farmland to the south. Railroads flank both sides of the river and are some of the only reminders of civilization. Two miles downriver there is a chance to see part of history. An old lock rests on the north side of the river just before a tricky section of rapids. Absolutely worth a hop out of the boat to look around. Even if you don't want to step on land, you can always see signs of my favorite insect, the hellgrammite. Dotting the sycamores, bridges, and lock are white egg masses laid in precisely the right location, so larvae fall right into the water to begin life after hatching.

– Sumner Askin, Virginia Rivers and Streams East Program Manager/Educator

CBF Staff

Chester River, Queen Anne's County, Maryland

My family and I live near the Chester River on Maryland's Eastern Shore. We travel along the river by boat fishing, exploring shorelines, and meeting up with friends. Even if you don't have access to a boat, there are many ways to connect with the shores of the Chester. From Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge at the mouth of the river to the various parks upstream, there are plenty of great day trips to plan on the beautiful Chester River.

– Claire Jaeger, Associate Director of Education Operations

Mark Dignen

Tangier Sound, Virginia and Maryland

Boating and fishing in the Tangier Sound is a great way to pass the time in the warmer months. Along both the eastern and western sides of the Sound are small winding passages that weave through marshlands and around secluded islands. Locally, they are called guts for their twists, turns, and dead ends. No matter the end point, they take you through parts of the Bay that feel untouched by human hands and forgotten by time.

– Doug Walters, Karen Noonan Center Program Captain/Educator

Doug Walters

Check out our interactive map and share your favorite places while there.

Check out other articles from the Spring 2024 edition of Save the Bay magazine.

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