Welcome to Dorchester County, Maryland!
Updated Aug. 4, 2020
Whether you live in Dorchester County, Maryland or you’re planning to visit, here are some tips to have a safe and fun time here in the Heart of the Chesapeake. The Dorchester Visitor Center remains closed to the public at this time, but if you have questions that aren’t answered here, feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com or 410-228-1000. You can also follow the latest news on our I Love Dorchester County Facebook page or on our Instagram feed. Dorchester County is slowly and carefully re-opening, with our lodging, restaurants, shops, outfitters, and more taking special care to ensure the safety of their guests.
See the latest statistics on COVID-19 in Dorchester County from the Dorchester County Health Department.
- The Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Resort, Holiday Inn Express (NerdWallet on July 27 gave the Hyatt brand top marks in their response to COVID-19 for health and social distancing factors), Comfort Inn & Suites, Days Inn, and Best Value Inn, are open, and all have instituted procedures to keep their facilities clean.
- Various other accommodations, including Riverside Lodge on Hoopers Island, B&Bs such as Cambridge House Bed & Breakfast, campgrounds and some vacation homes, are accepting guests as well. See our list of Dorchester accommodations, or visit airbnb.com or vrbo.com.
Dining & Food
Many Dorchester County restaurants are offering indoor dining (with some restrictions to keep everyone safe) as well as outdoor dining and carry-out. We’ve put together a guide to those restaurants that we update frequently as hours, offerings, and more change. We’ve also included local food producers and farmers who are currently selling their products – crabs, oysters, meat, produce, and more – directly to the public. See the DoCo Eats Guide, Pandemic Edition.
Shops & Galleries
Most of Dorchester County’s retail shops and art galleries have re-opened. Many are open for in-person shopping (with safety precautions such as social distancing, limited capacity, and masks required); others are open only by appointment. See our list of indie shops and galleries, and then check with the merchant for specifics as the situation continues to evolve.
The Underground Railroad “conductor” who led more than 70 people from slavery to freedom was born here in Dorchester County. There are no re-opening dates yet for the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center, the Harriet Tubman Museum, nor Bucktown General Store. But you can still experience Harriet Tubman’s story and legacy through the road trip known as the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway. This self-guided driving tour includes more than 30 sites, many of them with outdoor markers or interpretive signs that share the story of that place. Highlights that you can see include the Harriet Tubman Memorial Garden (Site #2), Harriet Tubman Mural (exterior wall at Site #5, Tubman Museum), and Webb Cabin (Site #27). For full descriptions and stories of all the sites, go to HarrietTubmanByway.org and check out the Tubman Byway Map & Guide (available as a PDF or hardcopy). Also be sure to download the Tubman Byway Audio Guide to deepen the experience.
Fun for Families
- Cabin Fever Play Centre: Climbing, obstacle courses, slides, swings, and more for the kids! Plus a new arcade for all ages opening soon. Lots of health/safety precautions in place. Because of the latest state regulations, of July 31, all children over 5 years of age must wear masks when entering the facility, but may remove them during active play. Masks required for adults. Normal hours are Thurs-Fri 9am-8pm, Sat 11am-8pm, and Sun 11am-6pm. Closed daily from 2 to 3pm for disinfecting; check their Facebook page or call for the latest hours; 410-228-2122. Advance reservations recommended at cabinfeverplaycentre.com. Details on their Facebook page.
- Choptank Bowling Center: Open Tues-Thurs 10:30am-10pm, Fri-Sat 10:30am-10:30pm, and Sun 12-6pm. They have new sanitizing procedures in place. Masks and social distancing required. The on-site Paul’s Pub is open with eat-in and carry-out service. See their Facebook page for more info.
- Emily’s Produce: U-Pick opportunities (weather permitting), boats and bunnies and chickens to visit, children’s play area. Plus lunch specials and ice cream from Scottish Highland Creamery. Find out more.
- Cambridge Ghost Walks: Join in a guided walk along historic High Street, known as the most haunted street in Maryland! Learn the spooky and fascinating stories of lives lived and lost. Masks encouraged; social distancing required. See the schedule.
- Dorchester County Pool: Now open with a limited capacity of 200 people. Pool guests must bring their own masks and must maintain social distancing from other households. Details.
- Parks: Dorchester County park playgrounds, pavilions, and picnic tables are now open. Please continue to practice social distancing.
- Also see Self-Guided Tours, below, for more family-friendly ideas.
These days, wide open spaces and serene nature experiences are sounding mighty inviting. And that’s just what Dorchester County has been offering for generations.
- Blackwater Refuge: Wildlife Drive is open (with a nominal fee at the entrance). Walking trails are open (except for Marsh Edge Trail). Restroom facilities are limited to port-o-lets at the entrance to the Wildlife Drive and at the Woods Trail parking lot. The Blackwater Visitor Center remains closed for now.
- Boating: Dorchester is the only county on the Mid-Shore that does not require permits and fees to launch at our 25 public boat ramps. Here’s a guide to boating during COVID-19. Or go for a different on-the-water experience with a crabfeast, lunch, dinner, murder mystery, or sightseeing cruise with Choptank Riverboats. See the schedule.
- Paddling: Have your own kayak, canoe, or SUP (stand-up paddle board)? Here’s a map of soft launches and boat ramps. Also see our Dorchester Paddling Guide. Don’t have your own vessel? Blackwater Adventures offers rentals and guided tours. Over Board Paddle & Fitness offers stand-up paddle boarding in the form of lessons, sunset SUP, and floating fitness.
- Fishing: You can fish from land or your boat (with a proper fishing license), as long as you maintain physical distancing. Dorchester County has become a hotspot for snakehead fishing. Learn more. Please respect the no parking signs.
- Cycling: With quiet roads, amazing wildlife watching, and beautiful landscapes and waterscapes, Dorchester is popular with cyclists of all abilities. Check out our free Dorchester Cycling Guide.
- Birding: Across the country, interest in birding has soared during the pandemic. Dorchester has long been a destination for beginner and expert birders alike. While we’re in the midst of updating our Dorchester Birding Guide, you can still view or download it online.
- Golfing: River Marsh Golf Club is open at the Hyatt Chesapeake with 4, 9, or 18 holes. (The 4-Hole Loop is great for families!) Reserve your tee time.
- Parks: Dorchester County park playgrounds, pavilions, and picnic tables are now open. Please continue to practice social distancing. See a list of Dorchester’s larger parks.
- Dorchester County YMCA has re-opened with indoor classes and more, all with new safety guidelines. Details.
- Heirloom Athletics has re-opened with CrossFit and more. Details.
- Fair Winds Cambridge has re-opened with yoga, acupuncture and nutrition counseling, all with new safety guidelines. Reserve ahead.
- Powerhouse Gym Fitness Center Cambridge has re-opened with new policies and procedures; group fitness classes begin July 1. Details on their Facebook page.
- Anahata Yoga has re-opened. Must reserve ahead of time at anahatayogamd.com.
- Over Board Paddle & Fitness offers floating fitness. More at overboardpaddleandfitness.com.
- Cambridge Fitness Club has re-opened with 24-hour access. Details.
Many of the major annual events in Dorchester County have been rescheduled or cancelled for 2020. See below. For events that are still happening, see our events calendar.
- Seafood Feast-I-Val – normally in mid-August; cancelled for 2020
- Groove City Culture Festival – had been set for the third Saturday in August; cancelled for 2020
- Taylors Island Boat Docking – had been set for Aug. 30; cancelled for 2020
- Dorchester County Relay for Life – rescheduled for Sept. 11
- IRONMAN 70.3 Eagleman triathlon and IRONMAN Maryland – had been set for Sept. 19. Cancelled for 2020.
- Hoopers Island Waterman’s Rodeo – normally in September; cancelled for 2020
- Native American Festival – had been set for Sept. 18-19; cancelled for 2020
- Dorchester Center for the Arts Showcase – normally in September; cancelled for 2020
- Car & Truck Show at Johnny’s Tavern – rescheduled to Sept. 27
- Hoopers Island Gun Bash – normally in October; cancelled for 2020
- Hurlock Fall Festival – normally in early October; cancelled for 2020
- Six Pillars Century Cycling Event – originally set for May; rescheduled for October 10.
- Chesapeake Mural Trail: Grab the family and explore the Chesapeake Mural Trail by car, while listening to the free audio app.
- Cambridge History: Explore Cambridge through two of our award-winning audio guides. While these were designed as walking tours, you can try them as driving tours; they’re also great for armchair travel. One tells some of the interesting history of downtown Cambridge; the other has locals sharing stories about the historic African-American Pine Street community. Download the apps. More
- Historic Handsell: Stroll the grounds at historic Handsell near Vienna while listening to their audio guide; call 410-858-4173 to tune in for free. Details. While you’re in the area, check out the replica Captain John Smith shallop, on public view at 113 Ocean Gateway in Vienna.
- Spocott Windmill & Village: Get a taste of what life was like in the 1800s. You can stroll the grounds and learn the stories by reading the signs. The grounds are open dawn to dusk. Find out more.
- Dorchester County heritage: Explore the county’s historic and cultural treasures from home by reading our three Heritage Trail Guides. Order the hard copy brochures or download them as PDFs: 1-Cambridge and the Neck District, 2-Waterfront Villages, and 3-Side Trips Off Route 50.
- Harriet Tubman Byway: Explore the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway from your car or from your armchair, while listening to the free audio guide that brings the history to life. Also check out the Tubman Byway Map & Guide (available as a PDF or hardcopy).