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There are three reasons to set aside half a day to visit the remnants of London Town, one of Maryland's oldest towns: the 1760 house set high above the South River, the lush 8 acres of gardens surrounding the property, and the ongoing archaeological research to uncover the lost buildings of this once thriving seaport. Although it was central to the state's trade, with a busy ferry in the 1600s and 1700s, by the 1800s it was just a memory. Today, only the William Brown House remains.

The three-story brick mansion, now a National Historic Landmark, is worth a look for its 18th-century furnishings and its tavern, which covers much of the first floor. Don't miss the antique clock (with only an hour hand), leather water buckets, and prints by Elizabeth Blackwell. Children will like the basement, with its toys, clothes, and hats to help them "get into" the 18th century. Knowledgeable docents lead tours on the hour of either the historic area or the Brown house, tailoring their presentations to the ages of their guests. Stop first at the new visitor center to get oriented.

In the gardens, native plants, wildflowers, camellias, and hollies cover 8 acres overlooking Almshouse Creek and the South River. The mile-long trail is delightful when the azaleas in spring or 200 camellias in fall are in bloom. The historic area re-creates activities that would have happened here including rope-making, tradesmen's houses, and a carpenter shop.

Historic London Town & Gardens (tel. 410/222-1919; www.historiclondontown.org) is open year-round, except major holidays, Wednesday through Saturday 10am to 4pm and Sunday noon to 4pm. Admission is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors, and $5 for children 7 to 18. Between January and March, the Brown House is closed, but the property is open Wednesday to Friday 10am to 4pm.

To get here, take U.S. 50/Md. 301 to exit 22, Aris T. Allen Boulevard. Exit onto Route 2 south, go over the South River Bridge, and continue a half-mile. Turn left onto Mayo Road, go 3/4 mile, and turn left onto Londontown Road. Go 1 mile to the end of the road and enter the site through the gates.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.