Though the 29-mile Baltimore-Washington Parkway opened in 1954, it, or a similar transportation system, was envisioned by the original architect of Washington, DC—Pierre Charles L’Enfant. With the inhibiting cost of construction, the concept of free-flowing transit between the two cities lay dormant until the allocation of the necessary funds to construct it was finally approved. After WWII, three factors dictated the necessity of finally building the parkway: the perceived need for quick military personnel movement, the nuclear weapon threat, and the expansion of government facilities to the suburbs. Today, the Baltimore-Washington Parkway is a well-dressed, four-lane system with a wide median meticulously landscaped to provide an extra element of elegance for visitors approaching Washington, DC. The National Park Service (NPS) manages the District of Columbia (DC) portion of the parkway, while Maryland is responsible for the section within its boundaries. The parkway construction opened areas between the two cities, encouraging suburban growth and establishing communities such as Laurel, Severn, Bowie, and Greenbelt.
The Baltimore-Washington Parkway leads to much more than the nation’s capital; the parkway allowed the development of several communities, most of which hold essential governmental facilities. Many towns built parks with hiking trails, fishing lakes, and museums dedicated to significant individuals or subjects. Nearly every mile of the parkway holds a hidden gem for visitors to explore.
The Savage Historic Mill Trail runs alongside the Middle Patuxent River. Hikers hear the river as it gurgles smoothly along, providing several inspirational views. The end of the trail is at the textile mill site that used the waterfall to generate power.
Washington, DC, is a city of monuments and memorials. To take in its splendor, celebrations, and acknowledgments of courage, go on the Walking Tour of Monuments and Memorials. The tour begins at the White House, goes through the National Mall, edges the Reflecting Pool, travels around the Tidal Basin, and ends at the U.S. Capital building and the Supreme Court.
A personal tour of the Patuxent Wildlife Refuge, the only national wildlife refuge established to support wildlife research, begins with a Patuxent Wildlife Visitor Center visit. The center presents several programs on the value and preservation of wildlife. Located along the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, this center allows you and your family to walk through one or more of the three wildlife research areas to get a firsthand look at animal habitats.
10901 Scarlet Tanager Loop, Laurel, MD 20708
Enjoy an oasis surrounded by an urban area when you visit Greenbelt Park. The park includes picnic areas, a fishing lake, hiking trails, and a swimming hole. Locals take their families here during the summer months to enjoy a generous splash amongst the wildlife and birds that flock to the park.
6565 Greenbelt Road, Greenbelt, MD 20770
One of the exciting facets of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway is its influence on developing communities between the two cities. The history of Greenbelt is indicative of that development. At this museum, visitors discover the benefits of government works to improve transportation, working conditions, and parks.
10B Crescent Road, Greenbelt, MD 20770
Visit the world’s oldest continuously operating airport at College Park, MD, where Wilber Wright established the first runway to give flying lessons. The 27,000 square-foot building houses some of the most intriguing aircraft experiments since those early days of operation. The College Park Airport is on the National Register of Historic Places and includes a 1919 airmail hanger.
1985 Corporal Frank Scott Drive, College Park, MD 20740
Arundel Mills, with 236 shops in one location, is one of the country's largest shopping malls. Located a short distance from the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, this mall includes various stores, many of which are famous brand name franchises.
7000 Arundel Mills Circle, Hanover, MD 21076
When you get ready to look for the perfect souvenir for your trip down the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, drop by NT Souvenir. The shop is located near the Capitol Building in downtown Washington, DC. This store either creates its own designs or orders them from local artists in the District Of Columbia, Maryland, or New York.
525 Morse Street NE, Washington, DC 20002
There are many exotic restaurants in Washington, DC, but Le Diplomate is one of the most elegant. They provide some of the finest French meals in the city. Try their grilled loup de mer or their trout amandine to experience the difference real French cooking makes.
1601 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
Enjoy a meal with a view of the Potomac River at the Thames Street Oyster House. The theme at this restaurant is seafood. Whether you like lobster, hake, lingcod, or sea bass, this restaurant provides them all in an intricate and impressive menu.
Many highways intersect with the beautiful Baltimore-Washington Parkway. At the time of its initial construction, the parkway crossed six highways; today, there are 30 junctions with highways, streets, and cloverleaves along the 29 miles of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. A significant portion of the traffic comes from the north through Baltimore from northeast cities like Philadelphia, PA. To approach the parkway from Philadelphia, get onto Interstate 95 South (I-95 S) and drive 85.24 miles. Keep right to take exit 62 toward Interstate 895 South (I-895 S). Stay on I-895 S for 1.63 miles to merge onto Maryland Highway 295 South (MD-295 S) via exit 4. Go on MD-295 S for 25.93 miles. Take the right exit toward Maryland Highway 450 (MD-450). Travel on MD-450 for 1.48 miles and merge onto Maryland Highway 201 (MD-201) via the left ramp. After another 0.81 miles, take a slight right to access Maryland Highway (MD-769). Go 0.3 miles and stay straight ahead, and you will be on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.
Except for instances of extreme inclement weather, the Baltimore-Washington Parkway is always open. Though trucks are not allowed on the parkway, RVs are welcome, as are busses and limousines. Traveling this parkway on the way to the nation’s capital is an elegant approach to a monumental city.
6565 Greenbelt Road, Greenbelt, MD 20770
Fee: Entry fee $0
Americans traveling the Baltimore-Washington Parkway enjoy a scenic drive with the nation’s monuments on the horizon. Taking an RV trip to Washington is a comfortable way to introduce the entire family to one of the world's greatest cities.