Maryland Scenic Drives: Chesepeake Country Scenic Byway

Highlights of Chesapeake Country Scenic Byway

The C&D Canal crosses Chesapeake Country Scenic Byway.
The C&D Canal crosses Chesapeake Country Scenic Byway.

Painting a picture of the Chesapeake Country Scenic Byway requires only a leisurely drive along some of Maryland's most scenic roads. A canvas of pastoral countryside is the perfect background for scenery that includes historic churches, bays, beaches, and stylish 18th century main streets. Travelers will be delighted at the sight of a perfectly situated town among the landscape of the byway. Colors of a grassy field or a windswept shore combine to create a drive for every kind of artist.

Along the byway, sights of rolling farmland with streams that border the fields provide a look at a land that has changed very little over the last two centuries. The fields have been supporting residents for generations. Every so often, there is a break in the farmland and a panoramic view of the Chesapeake Bay appears to delight travelers and entice them to come closer. There is nothing so enchanting as the sight of a schooner gliding along the water. Occasionally on your drive, a flock of birds will fly overhead as an indication that you are entering a marshland area.

Though there is a mix of pastoral scenery and rural bustle along the Chesapeake Country Scenic Byway that will entice you to stop and tour the tiny villages, browse in unique shops, and enjoy some tasty Maryland crabs freshly harvested from the bay, this itinerary gives the traveler a sampling of the agricultural and water-based heritage that has continued to sustain the area from the beginning.

Stevensville: Surrounded by the waters of the Chesapeake Bay, Kent Island is home to the quaint village of Stevensville where the tour begins. Stevensville's historic district has nearly 100 well-preserved buildings amidst quiet narrow streets. Among the historic structures worth noting are the Stevensville Train Depot, the Cray House, and the distinctly different Christ Church.

Centreville: Crossing over onto the Eastern Shore and traveling north on Maryland Route 213, Centreville captures the essence of small-town America with a distinctly colonial flavor. Wright's Chance is an early plantation house, circa 1744. Now home to the Queen Anne's County Historical Society and open to the public, it has an exquisite collection of Chippendale and Hepplewhite furniture and Canton china.

Queen Anne's Museum of Eastern Shore Life: Also in Centreville is Queen Anne's Museum of Eastern Shore Life, displaying artifacts telling the story of the unique life of those who have called this area home. The collection includes antique farm implements, tools, and specialized equipment used to harvest the bounty of the Chesapeake Bay, Native American artifacts, and household items.

Chestertown: Farther north on the byway is the port town of Chestertown. Turn left onto Cross Street, and head into the heart of downtown, once a colonial port on the Chester River. In fact, Chestertown was the Eastern Shore's chief port for shipping both wheat and tobacco between 1750 and 1790. Wealthy merchants and planters built the elegant brick townhouses that dominate the historic district and waterfront. Be sure to stop by the Kent County Office of Tourism for information about Chestertown and Kent County.

Waterman's Museum: Just past Chestertown turn left for a brief detour onto Maryland Route 291, then bear right onto Maryland Route 20 West (this will be taking you in a southerly direction). The Waterman's Museum in Rock Hall was created to tell the story of local watermen, a way of life that continues in Chesapeake Country. This unique nautical center of recorded history includes exhibits on oystering, crabbing, and fishing. A reproduction of a shanty house is also on display, along with historical photographs, local carvings, and of course, boats.

Chesapeake Farms: Returning back the way you came on Maryland Route 20, turn right on Ricauds Branch Road to visit Chesapeake Farms. Though the history of the Chesapeake Country Scenic Byway dates back to colonial times, the 3,300 acres of Chesapeake Farms is thoroughly modern in its techniques. It is a scientific area devoted to the development, evaluation, and demonstration of new and superior agricultural and wildlife management techniques. An extensive self-guided driving tour of the farm is available.

Turner's Creek Park: Return to Maryland Route 20 and back to Maryland Route 213, heading north. From Maryland Route 213 take Maryland Route 298 East to Turner's Creek Road. Turn right and follow the road to Turner's Creek Park. Here visitors can tour historic structures such as the Latham House, circa 1700. Also at the park on the first and third Saturdays of the month, tours are available of Kent Farm Museum, where visitors can view antique farm machinery, a collection of antique implements from a variety of other occupations, and other artifacts of early rural life.

Mount Harmon Plantation: Continue north on Maryland Route 213 through villages full of charm and history. Just past the town of Cecilton, turn west on Maryland Route 282, and follow the road to Mount Harmon Plantation. Originally a thriving tobacco plantation shipping its bounty off to England, the manor house dates back to 1730. The property is bordered on three sides by water and offers a superb vista. Visitors can tour the main house, the tobacco house, and outdoor colonial kitchen.

Let the Chesapeake Country Scenic Byway introduce you to one of the last truly special landscapes of the Mid-Atlantic Region.

Find more useful information related to Maryland's Chesapeake Country Scenic Byway:

  • Maryland Scenic Drives: Chesapeake Country Scenic Byway is just one of the scenic byways in Maryland. Check out the others.
  • Rock Hall: Find out what there is to do in this city along Chesapeake Country Scenic Byway.
  • Scenic Drives: Are you interested in scenic drives beyond Maryland? Here are more than 100 scenic drives throughout the United States.
  • How to Drive Economically: Fuel economy is a major concern when you're on a driving trip. Learn how to get better gas mileage.