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Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States. Maryland was the seventh state to ratify the United States Constitution, and has three occasionally used nicknames: the Old Line State, the Free State, and the Chesapeake Bay State.
Maryland borders Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east. Maryland is the 9th smallest state by area, but the 19th most populous and the 5th most densely populated of the 50 United States. Maryland has an area of 32,133.2 km2. It is the 9th smallest state of the USA. Maryland possesses a variety of topography, hence its nickname, "America in Miniature." It ranges from sandy dunes dotted with seagrass in the east, to low marshlands teeming with wildlife and large bald cypress near the bay, to gently rolling hills of oak forest in the Piedmont Region, and pine groves in the mountains to the west. The highest point in Maryland, with an elevation of 1,020 metres, is Hoye Crest on Backbone Mountain, in the southwest corner of Garrett County, near the border with West Virginia.
The eastern half of Maryland has a humid subtropical climate, with hot, humid summers and a short, mild to cool winter. This region includes the cities of Salisbury, Annapolis, Ocean City, and southern and eastern greater Baltimore. Beyond this region lies the Piedmont which lies in the transition between the humid subtropical climate zone and the subtropical highland zone, with hot, humid summers and cool winters where average annual snowfall exceeds 50 centimetres and temperatures below -12 °C are annual occurrences. Farther into western Maryland, the higher elevations of Allegany County and Garrett County lie in the subtropical highland zone. Due to their elevation (more typical of the Appalachian mountain region) with milder summers and cool, and snowy winters, far west Maryland has a humid continental climate. Precipitation in the state is characteristic of the East Coast. Annual rainfall ranges from 890 to 1,100 mm with more in higher elevations. Because of its location near the Atlantic Coast, Maryland is somewhat vulnerable to tropical cyclones, although the Delmarva Peninsula, and the outer banks of North Carolina to the south provide a large buffer, such that a strike from a major hurricane (category 3 or above) is not very likely but is not impossible. Maryland averages around 30–40 days of thunderstorms a year, and averages around six tornado strikes annually.
There are three major airports that serve the Baltimore-Washington Area. Getting from each of these airports into town is a mixed bag. They all have the standard taxi, shuttle services and rental cars. Public transportation on the other hand is lacking.
1. Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI) - Located 10 miles (16 kilometres) south of Baltimore and 30 miles (48 kilometres) north of Washington, D.C., this airport's main carriers are Southwest Airlines and US Airways.
To/from Baltimore-Washington Airport
2. Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) - This airport is located 25 miles (40 kilometres) west of Washington, D.C., in Dulles, Virginia. United Airlines, JetBlue Airways and American Airlines are the main airlines in this airport.
To/from Dulles Airport
3. Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) - This airport is located three miles (5 kilometres) south of Washington, D.C. in Arlington County, Virginia. US Airways is the carrier with the most flights across the country.
To/from Ronald Reagan Airport
Many Amtrak trains travel to and from Maryland, mainly stopping in Baltimore:
Maryland is served by several main Interstate highways, and a number of other routes enter the state. Interstates 68 and 70 are the main east-west interstate highways in the state. In addition, US Routes 40 and 50 are major east-west arteries. Interstates 81, 83, 95 and 97 are major north-south routes. In addition, US Routes 219, 220, 29, 11, 15, 1, and 13 are major north-south arteries.
Maryland has a number of National Scenic Byways which offer a great way to explore the state crossing beautiful landscapes. Mostly, there are lots of national parks, state parks or monuments along the way and it's generally a better alternative than the faster but boring Interstate Highways.
Greyhound runs regular bus between all the major cities. There exist on the East Coast a system commonly referred to as the 'Chinatown Bus'. These buses are run by several companies, some use old retired buses to brand new ones. Tickets go from $10 to $20 roundtrip between Washington, D.C. Chinatown to New York City, with optional stop in Baltimore.
Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.
For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.
Without a doubt, the state is known first for its Maryland Blue Crabs, fished from the Chesapeake Bay, served in magnificent quantities, drenched in Old Bay (a peppery mix of celery salt, bay leaf, mustard seed, black and red pepper, cinnamon, and ginger), accompanied by copious amounts of beer, and a total, wonderful mess. Soft Shell Blue Crabs, another Maryland staple, are available throughout the world in fine restaurants as a high class delicacy; here they're everyday bar food in the summer.
Aside from crabs, shellfish in general are a classic cornerstone of Maryland cuisine, (no surprise, given "Chesapeake" is Algonquian for "Great Shellfish Bay") and raw oysters on the half shell are a local delicacy. They're typically appreciated with a dash of hot sauce, and clams are often served the same way. Steamed mussels can make for a warming winter evening dinner, and Bertha's in Baltimore serves the state's most famous (and tastiest) mussel.
Beer lovers will want to try a few of the state's great craft brews. Heavy Seas Beer, DuClaw Brewing, Brewer's Art Resurrection, and Oliver Ales are among the most popular. Local beers offer a variety of styles - stouts, porters, ales, ESBs, IPAs,and Goldens. Also, Wild Goose, Flying Dog, Blue Ridge Ales, Deep Creek, and Foggy Bottom are brands worth sampling.
The great drink of Maryland, however, has all but disappeared since Prohibition - Maryland rye whiskey. The distilleries that once dotted the Baltimore County countryside have all shut down, and production of rye whiskey is now centered around Kentucky. But the Baltimore hasn't lost its taste for the beverage, and in the city's dive bars you can still order a dirt-cheap and tasty rye 'n soda. Stores in the area sell "Pikesville Rye" at a great value, which is the only Maryland rye that never ceased production, although the operations have relocated to Kentucky.
There are dozens of hotel and motel chains, ranging from budget to top end. Allthough they are not the most charming accommodations, they usually have a very decent midrange service with good rooms and are generally good value. At least you know what to expect and in some cases they are either the only or the best option in the area. Some of them include:
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