Waldorf, Maryland, is a town of nearly 70,000 residents about 20 miles from downtown Washington, D.C. The location makes Waldorf both a bedroom community of the nation’s capital and a commercial hub for southern Maryland. Waldorf visitors will find it an excellent spot to explore the gently rolling and surprisingly rural corner of the U.S.
The community was originally named Beantown after the surname of early settlers. In the mid-1800s, the Maryland legislature changed the name to honor William Waldorf Astor, a wealthy American businessman who later became a British nobleman.
Today the most famous Waldorf attraction is the home of Dr. Samuel Mudd. The country doctor earned notoriety after he treated (and briefly sheltered) John Wilkes Booth, the man who shot President Abraham Lincoln in 1865. Mudd was convicted of aiding Booth in the assassination and served time in prison. The Mudd home is open Wednesdays and Saturdays from March to November and part of December.
Nearby is Haberdeventure, Waldorf’s one National Historic Site. The home was constructed in 1771 by Thomas Stone, one of 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence. On Wednesdays through Sundays, park rangers lead 30-minute tours through the restored home and farm buildings. The site also encompasses 322 acres of parkland and the Stone family cemetery.
The American Indian Cultural Center is run by the Piscataway Indians, native to southern Maryland. The center includes a museum, a full-scale reproduction of a Native American longhouse and a trading post. Special events are hosted throughout the year.
About 12 miles north, Maryland’s sole theme park, Six Flags America, is located in Upper Marlboro. Packed with more than 100 rides, slides and attractions, Six Flags is a great place to spend a day or two in warmer weather. Highlights include Roar, a large wooden roller coaster; Looney Tunes Movie Town, geared toward small children; and Hurricane Harbor water park.
Waldorf visitors should not miss the 4,200-seat baseball park, Regency Furniture Stadium. The arena is home to the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, the region’s minor-league team. Kids in particular love the two on-site amusement areas: Crabby Cove, a pond with bumper boats, water cannons and a waterfall; and Pinch’s Playground, with a rock-climbing wall and inflatable climbing structures.
Among Waldorf’s outdoor attractions, White Plains Regional Park offers an 18-hole golf course. The park also includes soccer, baseball and football fields as well as tennis and basketball courts.
For even more natural pursuits, outdoor types can head to Cedarville State Forest, just east of Waldorf, to find campsites, hiking trails, and picnic and recreation areas. Cedarville also allows visitors to hunt and fish.
Waldorf is Southern Maryland’s prime shopping destination. For visitors, the best Waldorf shopping is found in the two-level St. Charles Towne Center. The sleek, modern mall boasts 130 stores.
Before finishing a visit to Waldorf, be sure to visit the Black Box Theater in nearby Indian Head. Year-round concerts, theatrical performances and lectures make this intimate 84-seat venue another popular Waldorf attraction.