Charles County is a study in contrasts. Dotted with farms and state parks, this section of Southern Maryland also offers all the amenities of a bustling metro area. In other words, it's ideal for anyone who wants to enjoy the ambience of rural life without sacrificing urban conveniences and opportunities. Town by town, here are some of the standout features and benefits of living in Charles County.
La Plata, located in central Charles County, is the county seat and home to about 9,000 residents. Commerce and new-home construction are growing steadily, but family-oriented events and a walkable layout keep the community tight.
"It's like a quaint small town, but with all your conveniences right here," says Michael Mazzeo, a lifelong Charles County resident who has lived in La Plata since 1988.
Affordable housing, good schools and a low crime rate make this community a favorite for young professionals and families with children. Nature-lovers can enjoy Clark Run Nature Area and Laurel Springs Regional Park, a LEED-certified town hall, and green-building grants attract the environmentally conscious. The College of Southern Maryland and the community-oriented CIVISTA Medical Center round out La Plata's amenities.
"And if you want to get out on a Saturday, we're within 45 miles of the entire D.C. area," Mazzeo says. "There are so many places you can visit."
Though unincorporated, Waldorf is home to about 68,000 people, roughly half the county's population. Located in north Charles County, just 11 miles from the Beltway, this community is ideal for Capital commutes. Waldorf is oriented around the St. Charles planned community, which offers a range of housing types and a full complement of amenities including neighborhood schools, recreation centers and even a weekly farmers market.
"Waldorf has the hustle and bustle and the great public transit that people want in an urban area," says Mary Pat Berry, a lifelong Charles County resident who lived in Waldorf for more than 20 years. "But it also has a real sense of family and community."
Indian Head, located on the great Potomac River in northeast Charles County, is perhaps best known as the home of the Naval Surface Warfare Center. Near the base, Indian Head Science and Technology Park offers an in-county location for defense and other federal contractors and vendors. But Indian Head isn't just about the Navy.
Assets like the Indian Head Rail Trail encourage the town's 3,500 residents to enjoy abundant natural scenery and wildlife. Meanwhile, Indian Head Center for the Arts offers black-box theater and arts education. Indian Head is just 20 minutes from the Beltway and 30 minutes from D.C.
Port Tobacco Village
Port Tobacco Village, located in central Charles County, is the smallest incorporated town in Maryland. Originally the county seat, Port Tobacco is steeped in history.
"I love that, when I walk around town, I'm walking in the footsteps of people from the Revolutionary War," says Mary Pat Berry, who now lives in Port Tobacco.
"Aside from the history, Port Tobacco is the place for people who want the rural life," Berry says. "It's quiet, almost no traffic. I can sit on my back deck and watch the eagles fly over the river."
While these four towns offer a cross-section of Charles County life, there's certainly more to be found in this slice of Southern Maryland. Charles County is also home to Bennsville, Bryans Road, Hughesville, Potomac Heights and 25 other distinct locales. So, wherever you choose to settle, Charles County has plenty of places you can call home.
Read about more great neighborhoods in La Plata, MD.