Point Lookout State Park
At the tip of St. Mary's County, at the confluence of the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay, Point Lookout State Park (tel. 301/872-5688) offers visitors a chance to see both bodies of water at one time. The park's 1,046 acres offer a beach on the Potomac, a fishing pier on the Chesapeake, Civil War era prisoner-of-war camp Fort Lincoln, docks for boating and catching the cruise boat to Smith Island across the bay, and campsites and cabins. The lighthouse at the tip of the peninsula, built in 1830, is now dark but open to visitors 1 weekend in November. Day use at the park is $5 for state residents and $6 for nonresidents on weekends and holidays, May through September. On weekdays and out of season, the fee is $3 or $4 per vehicle. The boat-launch fee is $10, $11 for out-of-state visitors.
Day-use facilities with a guarded beach for swimming are on the Potomac side, past the fishing pier. There's a pet beach north of the causeway, too.
Visitors interested in fishing can cast their lines just about anywhere except the beach swimming area. Favorite areas are the pier on the bay side and the point on either the bay or riverside. The pier is closed mid-December through March. Night fishing is the only activity allowed in the park (except camping) after sunset. Campers can also fish at designated piers near campsites. A fishing license is required only for the bay shoreline. Boat and canoe rentals are available at the camp store off Route 5.
The park offers 143 campsites (26 with full hookups). The cost is $25 to $35 per site. Cabins sleeping four cost $50 a night. Reservations can be made up to a year in advance by calling tel. 888/432-2267. The office (tel. 301/872-5688) is open from 8am to 11pm in summer.
Smith Island Cruises (tel. 410/425-2771; www.smithislandcruises.com) offers day trips from here to Smith Island, a 1 1/2-hour trip across the bay, on the twin-hulled Chelsea Lane Tyler. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, boats depart Wednesday through Sunday at 10am and return to Point Lookout at 3:30pm. Cruises continue from September to mid-October on weekends only. Round-trip fare is $30 for adults, $15 for children 3 to 11. For details on Smith Island,
Chesapeake Bay Fishing Parties (tel. 301/872-5815) operates the Honey Bee charter boat and a headboat called the Lucky Charm from Ridge. Charters run $550 for seven people on weekdays, $6,500 for nine on weekends and holidays ($50 for extra passengers). Headboat rates are about $60, with $5 for rod and bait.
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.