Guide to St. Mary's County, MD.
Saint Mary’s County is a county located in the U.S. state of Maryland near its southern terminus. Today, the area is mostly recognized for its unique and historic culture, as well as for housing a famous college and a Naval Air Station.
Located on the St. Mary’s Peninsula
Anchored on the St. Mary’s Peninsula, the county is largely bordered by water; the Patuxent River flows to the northeast, the Chesapeake Bay to the immediate east, the Potomac River to the southwest, and the Wicomico River to the west. Thus, its coastlines occupy numerous coves, tidal creeks, bays, and inlets. The state of Virginia and its border is across the Potomac River, while the interior of the county is hilly to varying degrees, with forests and agricultural fields. In addition, there are coastal plain areas, much of which are also under agriculture or under new development with residential development having been increased for the past decade.
Named for Mary—the Mother of Jesus
The name of this county is in honor of the Catholic saint Mary, the mother of Jesus as told in the Bible. Evidentially the area was first settled by English Catholics, and is considered to be the birthplace of religious freedom in North America, at a time when the British colonies were settled primarily by Protestants. The county was also home to the first Maryland Colony, and the first capitol of the Colony of Maryland. Saint Mary’s County also contains some of the oldest still-standing buildings in English North America. Many of these properties are listed on the National Registry of Historic Places and date back to the 1600s and 1700s.
Major Roadways and Airports
Over recent years there’s been an increase in long-distance Washington, DC commuters living in Saint Mary’s County. It has been undergoing a decades-long transformation and has thus grown in popularity. Commuter bus service to the capitol is provided by MTA, but there’s limited local buses provided within St. Mary’s. The nearest commercial airlines are at Reagan National Airport in Washington, DC and the BWI Airport in suburban Baltimore. St. Mary’s County is also served by a general aviation airport called Captain Walter Duke Regional Airport which sits in the county seat; Leonardtown. Major roadways in the county include Route 4, 5, 235, 242, and 244. Thomas Johnson Bridge connects drivers to Calvert County in Solomons.
One of the Fastest-Growing Counties
The county’s population has doubled since the 1970s and the main reason for this is not just its location to Washington, DC but also for its military basses’ and the recent growth of St. Mary’s College of Maryland. Today, the area is filled with single-family homes with a number of sought-after properties situated on the coastline. People here love the vibrant history and culture, but being one of the fastest-growing workforces in the state also attracts a lot of new homeowners to move to this county. Besides waterfront houses, there’s also rural atmospheres, new and modern subdivisions, as well as townhouse properties.
Waterside Eateries and Other Local Restaurants
Courtney’s Restaurant is located near the southern terminus of the county and is an informal outpost of local seafood and full bar in a no-frills interior of a cinder-block building. The service is top-notch, while the family atmosphere and the homemade care in the daily catches are other reasons why this spot is a favorite in Wynne. Sea Breeze Restaurant is situated in Mechanicsville and is a seafood spot specializing in shellfish. They also provide gorgeous river views and local vibes with a tiki bar, live music and karaoke. Blue Wind Gourmet is in California and is an Italian restaurant with a basic wine shop and deli serving wraps, sandwiches, and salads with locally sourced ingredients.
For further eclectic eats, try Bollywood Masala which is also located in California. This high-quality eatery features authentic Indian cuisine and beer amid stylish decor and warm surrounds. The food can be on the spicy side, but if you’re unfamiliar with Indian food it can be more than enough to fill you up. More restaurants and bars found in Saint Mary’s County include Captain Pats Seafood, Linda’s Cafe, Tall Timbers Marina, Asahi Japanese Steak and Seafood, as well as the Front Porch—a Cajun restaurant serving Southern fare, clever cocktails, and craft beer in a cozy, historical house with porch seats.
Museums and State Parks
Down the street from the Front Porch is St. Mary’s River State Park. Located in Leonardtown and adjacent to another state park, this green area is a popular destination in the county as its perfect for lake fishing, hiking, biking, and horseback riding, as well as hunting by permit. Greenwell State Park is adjacent to the Patuxent River in Hollywood and is a wonderfully underrated state park. This spot offers vast woods and parklands with facilities for lodging, horseback riding, fishing, kayaking, and picnicking. Point Lookout State Park is another notable spot and is located on the southern terminus of the county. The area is mostly known for preserving the site of an American Civil War prisoner of war camp and for containing the Point Lookout Light, which was built here in 1830. At this park, residents can also enjoy a fishing pier, boat launch facilities, public beaches, overnight camping sites, and historical Civil War remains.
In addition, the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum is another eye-catching destination located in the county and features aviation history, including history of test pilots and naval aviation development at PAX River NAS, with many aircraft's on display.