C&O Canal National Historic Park

A marvel of engineering, the C&O Canal was designed to stretch alongside the Potomac River from the Chesapeake Bay to the Ohio River. Construction on the canal began in 1828 but was halted here in 1850 by the Appalachian Mountains. The park's protected 184.5-mile corridor includes a 12ft-wide towpath, now a hiking and bicycling trail, which stretches from here to Georgetown in DC. The Cumberland Visitor Center, also located here, has displays chronicling the importance of river trade in eastern seaboard history.

At the visitor center, look for the helpful Towpath to Town brochure, which shares lodging and restaurant options in eight small canal towns along the route.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby attractions

1. Cumberland Visitor Center & Museum

0.02 MILES

The national historic park visitor center stocks numerous brochures about the C&O Canal towpath and related attractions. A mock Paw Paw Tunnel connects…

2. Allegany Museum

0.08 MILES

Set in the old courthouse, this is an intriguing place to delve into Cumberland's past, with exhibits by local folk artist and woodcarver Claude Yoder; an…

3. Switchbacks Sculpture Garden

8.46 MILES

Sculptures with a cycling theme dot the switchbacks that link the Great Allegheny Passage with the Frostburg Depot.

4. Thrasher Carriage Museum

8.62 MILES

A variety of horse-drawn vehicles from the late 1800s and early 1900s take the spotlight in this small museum – a branch of the Allegany Museum in…

5. Flight 93 National Memorial

28.87 MILES

Here you can pay your respects to the passengers and crew who struggled to retake control of their plane from hijackers on September 11, 2001, at the…